Who Should Buy
For normal volume espresso shots, a lever machine can do everything a profiling machine can, and just as well. For heavy use, making one kind of coffee at a one grind setting and dose, an automatic profiling machine that can optimize the extraction for that set of parameters is the right tool. So where does the Bianca fit in?
A story: I have the sample box from Gesha Village, an Ethiopian coffee coop that purportedly grows the original version of the famed Finca Esmeralda Geisha. One of the samples smelled amazing early in the roast, so I ended the roast faster and lighter than usual. This turned out to be a bit of a heartbreak, since the coffee tasted flat as espresso, as pourover, or as French press, even with all the usual variations and adjustments. With the sample running out, I pulled two singles on the Bianca, the first at a 1:4 brew ratio, the second fine tuned at a 1:5 ratio, both at a fine but not superfine grind, and at about 25 seconds of soft preinfusion. Finally, the coffee showed more than just toasted sugar and a mild whiff of flowers; almost all the promise of the dry aroma was in the cup (I've never had a great coffee where **all** the promise of the dry aroma gets into the cup).
The moral is simple. If I had to find the tastiest way to prepare a coffee new to me; I'd find it faster using the Bianca than any other combination of brewing gear. The unparalleled ease and precision of the needle valve control allows it to make shots with any grind and at any brew ratio. Think of an espresso machine, a mochapot, a Steampunk, and a Clover brewer all rolled into one, with a Chemex and French Press thrown in for good measure. When the word gets out, I expect to see the Bianca, or more likely, a way more expensive knockoff by a higher profile manufacturer, at every self respecting third wave brew bar in the world.
But I'm still not exactly sure who should buy the Bianca. The machine could have been custom built for me. I like to walk up to a shelf full of coffees and decide which one I want, and how I want it. I don't refer to recipes when I cook, nor when I make coffee; instead I improvise depending on my mood (or fall into well oiled routines in the early morning). I have no idea how widely shared this style of coffee making is. Judging by the market growth of exotic coffees, single dose optimized grinders, and profiling or otherwise workable espresso machines, it's a growing group. So if this improvisational style of Home Barista-ing appeals to you; this machine is well worth your consideration.