La Spaziale S1
First Impressions


Contents

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

La Spaziale S1 viewed from back

Approximately the same width
as a compact microwave

Ideally you are on good terms with your UPS delivery person because this machine comes in a large and heavy box (over 70 pounds and oversized). Plan to enlist a volunteer to help you lift it out of the box and place it on the countertop.

I’ve opened a number of manufacturer shipping boxes from Italy. With few exceptions, they use cardboard cutouts to protect the contents. This works acceptably for off the shelf delivery but falls short of protecting the contents if shipped cross-country. There will be no worries for the S1 since not only is it snuggled in custom foam packaging, Chris’ Coffee Service puts the original box inside a larger box with thick foam corners and fill foam to help support its weight. It’s cheaper to buy an extra box and some packing foam than replace a damaged machine!

It looks smaller on the countertop than I expected based on the website pictures. Maybe this is because it has a commercial look to it, I anticipated similar large proportions. The S1 is about as wide as a compact microwave (0.6 cubic feet) and slightly taller. Including space for a grinder, you should plan on approximately twenty-four inches of countertop to allow ample elbowroom. The S1 is short enough that the cups on the warming tray have good clearance when the unit is located under kitchen cabinets. I could even stack two espresso cups—a relative rarity among prosumer machines. The necessary side clearance is minimal since all the action takes place directly in front across its wide drip tray.

20 amp plug

Turned prong indicates
20 amp circuit is
required

You will need to consider how you will power the S1. The five-foot long cord for the 20 amp version is beefy with a large plug that has one prong turned ninety degrees. This indicates that the machine requires a 20 amp circuit. Some kitchens will have several “normal” 15 amp outlets on the same 20 amp circuit. This allows a couple of high-wattage consumers like toasters and microwaves to run at the same time. The S1, however, can consume much of those 20 amps all by itself, so plan for its supply needs before ordering. A local electrician can estimate the cost of adding a dedicated circuit. Otherwise, the S1 can be configured for 15 amps before shipment. The 20 amp model can switch to “economy” mode by pressing and holding the BOILER button for 10 seconds until the ECON light illuminates. This setting is remembered even if the unit is unplugged and assures that only one boiler will activate at a time in order to remain below a 15 amp load. Note that the plug itself extends about three inches from the outlet. If the outlet is located directly behind where you want to place the S1, keep in mind that the machine won’t fit flush against the wall. That was my situation, however because the S1 isn’t very deep (dimensions), it wasn’t an issue. If you want to recover those few inches, ask your electrician about a flush-mount plug similar to the ones used for electric ovens.

You will also need to plan for the S1’s water hookup. With this unit, the days of filling a reservoir are gone, gone, gone! The S1’s water hookup is a standard 1/8” inner diameter NPT fitting that Chris’ Coffee Service technicians can adapt to whatever plumbing fixture you have available under the sink or from the icemaker hookup (3/8” outer diameter tubing is also available). They recommend John Guest push-in fittings and 230 PSI flexible water tubing. Your local Home Depot may not stock these fittings under the John Guest brand. If this is the case, look for the equivalent Watts brand. Note that my local store stocked every imaginable Watts fitting but only the lower-pressure 120 PSI tubing so it’s worth ordering everything you need to plumb the S1 from Chris’ to avoid delays. My local water pressure is 60 PSI but I prefer installing over specification when it comes to plumbing. I already had a John Guest compatible water filter and softener system for my own machine, so adding the new supply line was a quick snip-n-push and the S1 was ready to go.

La Spaziale S1 viewed from side

Curved back and large
service area. Panels are
available in black,red,
or light gray

Owing to its mixture of black side panels and chrome, the look of the S1 is more subdued than its chromed E61 cousins. Visitors have commented that it is stylish and would complement most kitchen décors without drawing undue attention to itself. The S1 reminds me of the espresso machines that I saw in Milan’s working-class cafés, thanks to its curved back and wide service area. Like most commercial machines, it offers an interesting back and profile view for its customers—it would look sharp situated across your own home espresso bar. Prosumer E61 espresso machines, in contrast, reserve their gorgeously sculpted group and lever for the front as delicious eye candy and generally present simplier-looking backs and sides. La Spaziale’s retro appeal and convenience features show it’s designed to get down to business. Indeed, whether it is dust, splashes, fingerprints, or a mixture of water and grinds in the drip tray—little shows on this machine. Keeping it looking spiffy is a snap. Should you prefer something other than black, you can order the accent panels in red or light gray instead.

You may be disappointed by the comparatively light gauge chromed steel panels over the backsplash area, front, and across the top and back of the S1. There is however good attention to detail and fitting, such as the vents for the cup warming tray that form a pattern of small squares with quarter-circle cutout corners. Arguably few will notice but it shows that somebody was thinking about style even in small details. The frame is sturdy black-painted angle iron and the interior component layout is logical and neat, demonstrating that the designers were considering ease of service details too. The painted pin striping and oversized “S1” emblem is a little garish for my taste. Some of my coffee buddies liked the five languages represented on the steam knob—just in case you were unable to figure out the international symbol at the center. Lastly, the drip tray holds well over forty ounces of liquid and empties easily. Like the side panels, it is made of plastic.

Portafilter channel

Portafilter locks in easily thanks to this
cutaway

I really like a nice, hefty portafilter. This is the little wonder that you handle most frequently and it has the responsibility of retaining heat as well as conveying a good feeling of quality. Since I knew that the S1 had a 53mm basket rather than the 58mm on the Isomac line, I anticipated a dainty portafilter. That is not at all the case. In fact the S1’s portafilters are the heaviest of all that I have worked with, including Rancilio and La Marzocco. In addition to good heft, the La Spaziale portafilters have a rubber end grip that helps when locking them in and cushions when you place them down. Two portafilters are included, one for singles and another for doubles. The spouts are open channel types; the double spout is without flow adjustment vanes.

The sound of the grinder doser going clack, clack, clack is familiar and so is what follows: Locking the portafilter in! The S1 has enough weight and breadth that it didn’t slide at all despite my habit of tightening the portafilter down very snuggly (my own espresso machine is bolted to the countertop for this reason). I also noticed that the exposed grouphead has a neat feature that other manufacturers should consider emulating: A cutaway that corresponds to the opening of the lock-in. You won’t have to guess where the portafilter tabs align with the channel in the grouphead since you can see it easily from above.

This machine has reasonable clearance underneath. That is probably to allow for NSF health code requirements, since this machine was designed for light commercial use and therefore must allow for easy cleaning and inspection underneath

Enough looking around—it’s time to hook it up to the water supply, plug it in, and power up! I’m anxious to see how well the electronic temperature control works and of course how powerfully it steams. After all, enhanced temperature accuracy, lots of steam, and convenience is the name of the game in the double boiler world.

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