Lelit Bianca · Espresso Machine User Review

Coffee and espresso equipment reviews by the site's members.
From the Team HB review of the Lelit Bianca:

Image After the first week of using the Lelit Bianca, the show tune "anything you can do, I can do easier; I can do everything easier than you" comes to mind. Since the Lelit Bianca has been reviewed on other sites, we'll focus on its performance, comparing it to lever and other profiling espresso machines. Interested in having full manual control of flow and pressure? If so, the Lelit Bianca is worth close consideration.

CONVENTIONAL USE: The Bianca can be used like a conventional E61 machine, if you leave the paddle unused, all the way to the right. The display turns into a shot timer, and a bottomless portafilter is part of the kit. Get good at making shots that take about 8 to 10 seconds before the first drops emerge, and another 20 seconds of flow to make a standard espresso (about 1.5 ounces volume or 30 grams weight for the double basket).

Once your mechanics are sound; experiment with different combinations of finer grind/lower dose weight or coarser grinds/higher dose weight until you become proficient at making all these combinations. Note the difference in espresso taste. For most people, using most coffees, finer grinds and lower doses lead to a softer tasting shot; and higher doses with coarser grinds lead to a punchier tasting shot.

Finally, when your shot making mechanics are sound at different grinds and doses; experiment with different temperature settings. For most people and most coffees, lower temperatures lead to a more acidic balance, while higher temperatures lead to a more bitter balance.

LEVER-LIKE USE: Working with grind/dose and temperature variations on a conventional espresso machine runs into limits. Coffees from Central America and East Africa, especially roasted light, have been treasured for regular brewed coffee since the early 20th century. However, these are often too intense and acidic for classic espresso, even if you use a fine grind and a high water temperature. Lever users noticed that they could make concentrated espresso shots from these acidic coffees that were much better balanced. Similarly, very dark roasts could be pulled with creamy tobacco and dark caramel tastes and no bitterness. Bottom line, levers can make good shots from a wider range of coffees, including those that are challenging on regular espresso machines.

So how does this work? When you pull down a spring lever, the water seeps int the puck at a pressure of 1 to 3 bar. And baristas can maintain this for as long as they want. Then when the lever is engaged, the pressure goes up to 8 to 9 bar, then declines as the spring stretches out, keeping the flow steady and maximizing the extraction.

The exact same thing can be done on the Bianca with somewhat less effort than on a lever.

SUMMARY: 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?

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, expect to see the Bianca design reflected at every self respecting third wave brew bar in the world.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ (no reviews)