Dalla Corte Mini - Second Look

Behind the scenes of the site's upcoming equipment reviews.
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another_jim
Team HB

#1: Post by another_jim » Dec 15, 2008, 10:28 pm

Double boiler espresso machines continue to garner great interest from the home barista communities as more choices become available and the prices of commercial-quality units drift closer to more home enthusiasts' budget. Technology continues to improve, offering buyers more compact machines with precise temperature control and lots of steam... oh yes, lots of steam! One model that is well known to home baristas overseas but new to the United States is the Dalla Corte Mini and now carried by WholeLatteLove. At only 14 inches tall and 10 inches wide, it can easily fit into the most compact of spaces.

Join me and co-reviewers Dan Kehn and Ian Stewart for a fresh look at one of the smallest double boiler espresso machines to hit the market.

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Jim Schulman

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woodchuck

#2: Post by woodchuck » Dec 16, 2008, 12:54 pm

I picked up the machine from Dan at our regular Friday morning Counter Culture Coffee get together. I took home a bag of Aficionado to give her a test run on. As usual, everything was well packed. The mini is a heavy a machine for it size. Hauling it up and down the stairs to my studio definitely worked up a taste for some good espresso.

I have a bit of work to do to really setup the machine but I did do a quick temperature measurement (over the lip thermo probe), dialed in my Macap M4 and pulled a couple of shots.

I do have a rotary in my kitchen so the vibe was a bit noisier. That said, after a couple of attempts I did get some respectable shots from her. I like the temperature pot on the front, engineers do have to twiddle.

The carbon fiber group enclosure sure makes her stand out. It will take me some time to decide whether or it appeals to me or not.

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The material used in the group head is P6AV, a carbon composite for those interested.

I did spend time today cleaning the machine. It was pretty gummed up from its demo days. Easy enough to clean. The filter and dispersion disk are screwed into the group with a single bolt similar to the La Spaziale S1. I also refilled the water tank. It took a few tries for the machine to start pulling in water again. I guess there was some air in the hose. Not sure how to get around this other than clip the tube somehow when removing it from the tank or fill the tank while it's in place.

Coffee wise I am converging. I find the machine needs a bit finer grind than my current machine. About 3/4 of a turn on the M4. This may be due to a difference in brew pressure as much as anything. I haven't measured weights yet just filled to a nice round level, tamped and pulled. Lots of steam from the double boiler. No problem with an 8 oz pitcher. The steam arm is articulated but it would be nice if you could raise it up a bit higher than it currently goes.

Taste wise the temperature seems pretty stable. I have just done a quick flush to heat the group up and pulled the shot. I'll do some more detailed measurements as we get further down the road.

I don't have a bottomless for this machine so I am going mostly on taste so far. I did find the finer grind helped with some early blonding I was getting and taste has definitely improved.

Looking forward to testing what looks to be a great machine.

Cheers

Ian

Beezer

#3: Post by Beezer » Dec 16, 2008, 2:38 pm

I'm really looking forward to reading this review. Thanks for doing it.
Lock and load!

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woodchuck

#4: Post by woodchuck » Dec 18, 2008, 1:47 pm

Antonella at Dalla Corte was kind enough to shoot me a users manual so played around with some of the settings today.

First off was pre infusion. I think the pre infusion works by allowing hot water (slightly more pressure) through the group before the pump kicks in. Taste wise the 4 seconds seemed better to me. I also setup the volumetric dosing buttons for 1oz and 2oz. - my singles and doubles. The steam boiler pressure is running a bit high so I'll tune that down tomorrow and take some pictures when I have the shell off.

The baskets on the Dalla Corte are 54mm. Bummer because all my other stuff is 53mm. Back to NESW/Staub until I can find a 54mm tamper. The La Spaziale pf I have seems to fit but the baskets are 1mm too small. Too bad, I miss the bottomless. Anyone have a 54mm bottomless pf they want to lend me :-)

Shots are pulling well. I'm used to slightly soggy pucks from the La Spaziale and the Dalla Corte's are no different. I think it might have something to do with the deeper puck geometry compared to the wider but shallower 58mm E61s.

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The vibe pump is noisy. I have learned to love the rotary so this is a small con for me. Taste wise I don't think there is a whole lot of difference between vibes or rotaries. But it is noisier. Perhaps some more damping would help.

Will post some more pics later when I open her up.

Cheers

Ian

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another_jim
Team HB

#5: Post by another_jim » Dec 18, 2008, 6:46 pm

Thanks for getting started. Unfortunately, I won't be able to start my reviewing until after the New Year.
Jim Schulman

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Bluecold

#6: Post by Bluecold » Dec 18, 2008, 7:17 pm

I still think the machine is lacking designwise. So, happening to have a totally legal copy of photoshop, I photoshopped some ideas for the dallacorte peoples.
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LMWDP #232
"Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death I Shall Fear No Evil For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing."

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timo888

#7: Post by timo888 » Dec 18, 2008, 8:40 pm

I don't much like the wings but the lever ... yes :)
(quieter than the vibe pump)

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woodchuck

#8: Post by woodchuck » Dec 19, 2008, 5:16 pm

Jim, no problem. I'll just putts along until you get up and running.

Cheers

Ian

JackJ

#9: Post by JackJ » Dec 19, 2008, 6:10 pm

I too am really looking forward to this review. This diminutive dual boiler category really seems to be gaining momentum.

However, try as I might, I just can't warm up to the carbon group enclosure. It's not that I'm infatuated with the exposed E-61 look. I can even live with some plastic on an expensive machine (though it's hard to beat shiny stainless). But carbon? To my eye, that's just taking plastic and making it gaudy. I guess it's keeping the weight down, as WLL says the machine tips the scale at 48.5 oz.

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networkcrasher

#10: Post by networkcrasher » Dec 20, 2008, 12:42 pm

3 LBS?? Wow, I need to swap out some of my stainless for carbon fiber!

And, I'd love to get ahold of some of those 49th parallel cups.. I love how they look, but I hate paying 50 bucks for shipping!