In the pecking order of home espresso machines, dual boilers reside at the top of the heap. Like great steam belching dragons, they impress and intimidate with their sheer size, power, and price tags. With this comparison in mind, it’s safe to say that machines in this class face fierce competition when it comes to standing out. With recent improvements made to its steaming power thanks to a clever update, the ECM Synchronika makes a compelling argument for its position as one of our top dual boiler machines.
Video Review - PID Update ECM Synchronika and Pro 700
If you turn back the clock by just a few years, Profitec’s Pro 700 was making waves among home dual boilers. It was around this time that we heard that a similar machine was in the works, a new ECM dual boiler to offer an alternative to the behemoth Controvento. Fast forward to the present and the Synchronika has moved beyond myth to become one of the most discussed machines on the market.
Starting with the basics, the Synchronika brews and steams with a pair of insulated stainless steel boilers, each regulated by a PID controller. As of 2018, refinements were made to the PID and the safety valve, allowing the Synchronika’s steam boiler to reach temperatures up to 272° F and up to 2.5 bar of pressure. This update also introduced an eco mode which can be set to switch off the machine after a set period of inactivity. Borrowing several feature from machines in ECM’s Profi line of espresso machines, the Synchronika also has a near-silent rotary pump (allowing for plumbing and line pressure pre-infusion), a set of angled portafilters, and spring loaded joystick style steam and hot water knobs.
A hallmark of ECM’s design is the visual distinctiveness of their machines, something achieved via subtle and sometimes not so subtle means. The first we’ll discuss is the custom E61 group which is present on all of their home machines except for the Casa V. While E61s are a staple on most heat exchange and dual boiler machines, ECM has made several improvements to the classic design to bring it more in line with their aesthetics. The group is topped with a patented stainless brew bell, while the brew lever is smooth plastic, capped with chrome; it seamlessly mirrors the chrome capped portafilters included with each machine. Updates have also been made to have the group taper slightly down towards the portafilter.
Moving on to what is likely the most outwardly notable feature of the Synchronika, the frame is powder coated in anthracite. The black provides a clean contrast to the stainless paneling, but what exactly is anthracite? Also known as “hard coal,” anthracite is a type of coal with a high carbon content (roughly 92 - 98%) and a submetallic luster (causing it to sparkle slightly). In the Synchronika’s case, it’s applied via powder coating and is even present behind the drip tray. If it really strikes your fancy, powder coated variants of the Synchronika and the V-Titan 64 grinder are also available.
Post PID upgrade, our testing puts the Synchronika’s steaming performance about even with the La Marzocco GS3. If you’ve never seen it, the machine also shares some quality of life features that would make Breville’s Phil McKnight jealous. Its dual purpose PID shot timer and new storage space beneath the drip tray for a blind filter basket and an extra steam tip make so much sense that you might wonder why they’re absent on other machines. It’s these kinds of small details, coupled with its performance and build quality that make the Synchronika so special.
Compared to a value oriented machine like the Expobar Brewtus IV-P ($1,849) you truly get a sense for how ECM is committed to producing luxury home products. Even when stacked up against the stylish Rocket Espresso R58 ($2,800), the Synchronika edges it out at $2,999 as our second most expensive non-commercial dual boiler machine. Is it worth it? I think I’ll let our customer reviews speak for themselves.