La Spaziale S1
Conclusion


Contents

Introduction
Espresso Primer
First Impressions
Getting Started
Espresso Performance
Steaming Performance
Conclusion
La Spaziale S1 Cheat Sheet (download)
  

Whew! If you’ve read this far, you probably feel that you’re due a brief summary of how these machines compare. If you cheated and skipped directly to this conclusion, please go back now and read the rest of the article.

These three machines are all among the top of their class. There is however differences in the espresso and steaming results that distinguishes them from each other. In the hands of an experienced barista, I believe that many of these differences would fall by the wayside and what remains would be mostly convenience features, appearances, and a few noteworthy strengths one holds unequivocally over the others. With this caveat, I’ll define a few scores to help explain my overall evaluation.

Home-Barista.com

The first is the exceptional espresso score™. This is a relative scale of the espresso quality a barista with moderate experience should expect on a daily basis. The Amica squeaks by the others in this category, scoring a solid 9.0. The Rituale narrowly slips by the S1 with an 8.5 for reasons explained in the next paragraph, leaving the S1 in good standing with an 8.0.

The next score is the “morning after” score. This is another relative scale that considers those who are learning and what they should reasonably expect in the early days following delivery—assuming of course that they have read the manual, usage notes, and so on. Here the S1 rules, meriting a 9.0 thanks to its incredible temperature control and deep, channel-resistant portafilter basket. The Amica follows closely behind with 8.5, assuming of course that you’ve waited for the top of the boiler heating cycle to deliver that extra bit of temperature accuracy. If you’re rushed or not exceptionally demanding, choosing a “pull whenever I darn well feel like it” approach would only lower its worst-case score to 7.0. The Rituale lags on this account because of its heat exchanger design. It is a great idea and works very well but does demand more hands-on attention than the two other represented machines, scoring a very respectable 7.0. The Amica and Rituale also increase their score slightly because the gentle pressure ramp up of the E61 preinfusion system indeed demonstrates to me that their reputation as forgiving machines is warranted.

That’s all about espresso. What about the cappuccino and latte lovers among us? The S1 speed and ease of producing exceptional microfoam has it dominating this category among the three, although the Amica at the top of its game vies for first runner-up in single-serving frothing. The Rituale gains on the Amica because it can deliver steam on demand, leading to a cappuccino lover’s score of 9.5 for the S1, 8.0 for the Rituale, and 7.0 for the Amica. If you limit the comparison to a single cappuccino and allow for some patience, I would raise the Amica’s score to 8.5. Otherwise the Amica merits its moniker of the “espresso purist’s choice.”

On my final ranking, the convenience and features score, the S1 also takes a decisive lead. The auto-dosing and on-the-fly temperature adjustments have it blowing by the others with all cylinders firing. It also provides for convenient rinsing of the portafilter, a go-anywhere steam wand, large drip tray, easy cleanup, and waterfall-like water tap performance that will have Americano lovers squirming with excitement. This is where the Amica takes its biggest hit mostly because its steaming ability, which while definitely worth waiting for, requires considerable patience. The lack of a water tap also costs it some points. The score in this category is S1 9.5, Rituale 8.5, and Amica 7.0.

I won’t offer an overall score because honestly that depends too much on the relative weight you place on each of the other scores. And I wouldn’t dream of proffering an aesthetics score because to quote an old adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Lastly, to help you better appreciate the relative scale of these admittedly subjective numbers, I’ll offer the same off-the-cuff scores for one advanced entry-level espresso machine that I hold dearly in my memories, the infamous Rancilio Silvia, as shown in the table below. And in what may be considered cruel, I will also toss in the mix the ubiquitous steam-type (no pump) espresso machine and what one could expect from cafés in my area, if only to put things in proper perspective.

Exceptional
Espresso

Morning
After

Cappuccino
Lover’s

Convenience / Features

La Spaziale S1

8.0

9.0

9.5

9.5

Isomac Rituale

8.5

7.0

8.0

8.5

Isomac Amica

9.0

8.5

*7.0

7.0

Rancilio Silvia

7.0

3.0

6.0

5.0

Steam-type

2.0

1.0

2.0

3.0

Typical café

4.0

n/a

4.5

n/a

* score is 8.5 if a single cappuccino and you’re very patient

It’s a bit cold to reduce the La Spaziale S1, Isomac Rituale, and Isomac Amica to mere numbers. It doesn’t really do them justice. Nonetheless, it will hopefully give you some insight into what separates these very close competitors. Weeks and weeks of information gathering, comparisons, and asking questions inextricably leads to the decisive moment. Rest assured that you are not the only one who may have invested as much time and effort (or more!) into this decision as many do when buying a car or even a house. At this level of semi-commercial and prosumer machines the differences are frustratingly subtle, and the value of each distinction as subjective as the definition of a perfect espresso.

Good luck in your selection whatever it may be!

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