One for All Four Seasons!
Well I am back again! Did you miss me? So, I recently had the extreme pleasure of getting to play with a brand new La Spaziale S1 Mini Vivaldi II espresso machine. What can I say? I am spoiled! I’ve been able to play with a number of prosumer machines like the Rocket R58, the Expobar Brewtus IV-R, the Alex Duetto II, and even the commercial Dalla Corte Mini. It took a lot of begging to get them to bring over the La Spaziale, but I am a completely hands on learner and just had to test it out. Anyone can read a brochure and try to sell a machine, but I take the time to really get to know them.
So, without further ado, my review of this machine. I won’t lie, I had some apprehensions before using this machine: the amount of plastic on the machine, the size of the portafilter, the control for the steam wand. Well these were debunked after I unwrapped the La Spaziale. The machine is very tastefully built and the plastic wrap jives very well with the design and look of the machine. I wouldn’t mind it at all sitting on my countertop.
As for the portafilter, in most prosumer machines you will find that they feature a 58mm portafilter. The La Spaziale however, uses a 53mm portafilter. The theory behind a larger portafilter is that it will pull a better shot because of the increased surface area. I’ve tested this and I do believe in it. So why would La Spaziale go with a 53mm? Well, the design uses the same amount of coffee but allows for a deeper puck. This in turn leads to the water being in contact with the coffee longer allowing for more extraction. You would think this would lead to over extraction and a bitter shot. Well I am here to say it didn’t and it brewed a beautiful shot of espresso with plenty of mouthwatering crema.
Last but not least, I love my cappuccinos. So of course I fired up the steam wand to froth me some milk. While this machine was able to make great micro foam with its 4-hole steam tip and ample steam pressure; I will say this feature in my opinion needs a bit more refinement. The steam wand has one speed. GO.
|I do prefer the other prosumer models frothing systems which allow complete control over the amount of steam you would like to use. These kinds of machines allow for smaller amounts of milk to be either steamed or frothed. I wouldn’t really call it a total drawback as it still works well and of course this is more of a preference then anything else. If anything, it actually eliminates a variable in your frothing by providing consistent steam pressure.|
Before we go, a feature that I really liked that I haven't mentioned yet is the location of the water reservoir. It comes out of the front of the machine. Great idea! In closing it was a great experience using this machine. I would happily suggest the La Spaziale S1 Mini Vivaldi II to someone who is looking for a great dual boiler machine. Till next time!
I have always been fascinated by machines and have come to appreciate painstaking workmanship and carefully engineered and tested designs. Finding the very best quality design and craftsmanship at a reasonable cost in an espresso machine can be a daunting task. In some cases the beauty and quality is only skin deep and doesn’t extend beyond the polished metal finish, as the structure and type of components can be affected by the manufacturers desire to be cost competitive.
In a quest to find a really good espresso machine one must first think about what makes a great shot of espresso. Clean water, correctly ground beans, careful preparation of the grounds and very precise control of the brew-water temperature and brewing dwell-time along with plenty of steam for milk drinks. Once you find a machine that will help you meet the criteria for great espresso you are well on the way to being a gratified espresso machine owner. And in the case of the class of machines known as semi-automatic it comes down to filtering the water, and controlling water temperature, pressure, volume, and dwell-time for brewing and making steam for milk additions.
The best of breed for controlling water temperature for both brewing and steaming are machines with dual boilers. One boiler is dedicated to making a large volume of hot water and steam for making americanos and frothing and heating milk for lattes and cappuccinos. The second, and by the nature of its job, smaller boiler is dedicated to producing precisely temperature-controlled water for brewing shots of espresso. With this dual boiler plumbing arrangement many features can be added to keep critical temperature needs monitored and controlled.
Thinking about these facts I admire two machines in this class, the Breville BES900XL Dual Boiler and the LaSpaziale Mini Vivaldi II Espresso machines. Both machines have programmable controls and pay very careful attention to the brew temperature. Breville as a manufacturer has earned consumer respect for producing very high quality appliances for the home, and the Breville espresso machine is a modern sleek looking design with a great deal of carefully engineered features under the skin. LaSpaziale has a respected Italian heritage, commercial quality components, and very good craftsmanship. And by looking at buyer reviews of the LaSpaziale it is clear that it has a rock solid reputation for steady performance and a growing fan base.
When you get ready to become an espresso machine owner and avail yourself of great coffee drinks either at home or in the office, it would be worth your effort to take a careful look at both of these machines and to compare them to any others in their class.