Vibiemme Domobar Super
Conclusion


1st-line equipment To help you in your buying decision, the introduction promised a close look at the Vibiemme Domobar Super characteristics that separate it from other E61-based alternatives. So does the Vibiemme Domobar Super stand out in the crowd? In my opinion, it does.

Vibiemme brings a long list of standout features to the market. Vibiemme holds true to the legendary Faema E61 brew group (afterall, Vibiemme was founded by a group of employees from the defunct Faema company). Thanks to the well regulated thermosyphon, reliance on the barista to manually adjust the flush amount before brewing is reduced. A shorter flush and slower recovery makes sense in the more leisurely pace of the typical "home cafe."

While it does take slightly longer to heat the Vibiemme Domobar Super's boiler, you are rewarded with copious amounts of steam and good temperature stability. The option of a black case adds a nice contrast to the world of mirror polished stainless. The black housing is much more fingerprint resistant than polished stainless and provides a nice accent to the polished stainless and chrome plated brass. I am reminded of a quote by Henry Ford when asked about his Model T: "You can have any color you want, as long as it is black." In this case, if gloss black is not to your liking, you can go with polished stainless steel.

Joking aside, the Super is available in several models: Lever actuated, semi-automatic or automatic, stainless steel or black case, vibratory (rotary vane pump model is planned for 2008). When was the last time you had to make so many decisions when looking at ONE model of espresso machine? Thankfully the changes are about aesthetics and convenience, not the base performance, which benefits from a time-tested heat exchanger / E61 group design. That means you can focus on which consumer features appeal to you, knowing that the espresso and steaming quality will remain unchanged among the various models.

If you've read other E61 heat exchanger espresso machine reviews on this site, you'll note that they're clustered around the exceptional espresso score of 8.5. The Vibiemme bests its first cousins in this ranking by a hair, meriting a 8.75, because its double espressos retained slightly more clarity than other E61 group espresso machine that I've used. It also pulls a smidgen ahead in an equally important consideration for the new home barista, the "morning after" score. This score reflects the expectations of the barista in the early weeks of ownership. In other words, it reflects the likelihood that they'll be pulling good shots or pulling out their hair. Because the Super is less fussy about the flush amount than others in the same class represented in the site reviews and because the shots were very easy to dial in, it merits a small uptick to 8.0 for its morning after score.

The 2.7 liter boiler out steams every 1.5 liter espresso machine I have used. Some new baristas may find its steaming power imposing and will prefer to throttle it down by only opening the steam valve a crack, or replacing the stock steam tip with the low-volume single hole tip manufactured for the Expobar line of espresso machines. More experienced baristas or those who steam large quantities of milk would rate the Super higher than those who typically steam single servings. Given the divide between those who love the Super's ample steam and those who find it too powerful, the cappuccino lover's score splits the difference at 9.0, though it edges towards 9.5 if you're firmly in the too much steam is never enough crowd.

Having owned a couple of pour over machines, there is nothing more maddening than having a perfect shot cut short when the water tank runs low. Then there is the constant hassle of pulling off the cup warming tray and filling up the reservoir on those puny little shiny boxes. The 3.8 liter reservoir on the Domobar Super just keeps going. Top it off every couple of days and you are set. The driptray is similarly voluminous. Other features like free moving steam wand and water tap, good handle grips for the driptray and cup warming tray put the Vibiemme in the same class as its E61 cousins. There are, however, a few noteworthy unique features like the three position power switch and extension to the chamber at the bottom of the group to reduce splashing that justify a higher-than-most 9.0 for its convenience and features score.

Commercial build quality is reflected in things as simple as the three way power switch and the boiler support bracket, items that pro baristas take for granted but are bonuses in the home environment. Combine that with commercial quality pressurestat, commercial sized grouphead, commercial UL certification and you have one robust machine. It almost looks like Vibiemme took one of their four group commercial machines and sliced out a cross section, thereby earning it another higher-than-most 9.0 for its materials and workmanship score.

Exceptional
Espresso

Morning
After

Cappuccino
Lover's

Convenience / Features

Materials / Workmanship

Vibiemme Domobar Super

8.75

8.0

9.0

9.0

9.0

Ala di Vittoria La Valentina

8.5

7.5

8.5

8.5

8.0

Hopefully this review has revealed the unique qualities of the Domobar Super that will help you decide if it's right for you. Having owned the Isomac Tea for years and operated others like it, I fully appreciate how the Vibiemme Domobar Super embodies the spirit of a true E61 espresso machine for the home barista.

Acknowledgements

My thanks to 1st-line Equipment and Jim Piccinich for providing two (!) Vibiemme Domobar Supers for our tag-team evaluation. Stefano Cremonesi of Stefano's Espresso Care also provided technical support during this evaluation. I would also like to recognize Dan Kehn and Team HB for their technical and editorial support. Home-Barista.com would like to gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the following coffee roasters:

Without the support of coffee sponsors, these reviews would be fiscally impossible, not to mention far less interesting for our palates. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and the fruits of your work with us.

Want more information?

The Appendix contains espresso geek worthy information that goes beyond the scope of the 'typical buyer' information. Additional information can also be found in The Bench forum in the Buyer's Guide to the Vibiemme Domobar Super thread.


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