The Puristika Espresso Machine has been a long-awaited addition to ECM’s lineup, and it’s finally here. This compact, espresso-only machine is perfect for the aficionado that likes to drink straight espresso. It boasts features like an adjustable pressure gauge and PID temperature control that make it the perfect addition to any espresso purist’s setup. If you’re wondering whether or not a Puristika would be right for you, here’s everything you need to know about this espresso machine to help you make your decision.
The ECM Puristika’s Design and Purpose
ECM has been showing prototypes of the Puristika for some time, and now it’s finally out in the world. One of the most distinguishing features of the Puristika is its size – at 12.4 inches high, 7.7 inches wide, and 13.7 inches deep, its compact size is incomparable for the quality of the machine. The Puristika has ECM’s trademark anthracite and stainless steel housing that you also see on machines like the Synchronika. The simple, neutral design of the Puristika makes it so it will fit into virtually any kitchen or coffee setup. The compact size is partially achieved because the water tank is not housed in the machine, and instead is a separate 2-liter glass reservoir. The reservoir is attached to the machine with a flexible braided steel water intake and return lines that allow you to place the tank on either side of the machine or behind it. The flexibility lets you really customize your setup to make the Puristika perfect for any space.
This single-boiler espresso machine is designed to exclusively brew espresso, so there’s no steam wand or option for dispensing hot water with the Puristika. Instead, you have an extremely high level of control over all of the factors that can impact the espresso brewing process with PID temperature control and adjustable brew pressure using an external over pressure valve (OPV).
With the OPV, ECM advertises that you can adjust the pressure from 8.5 to 12 bars, but during our tests we found you can actually adjust from 6 to just below 12 bars, so you have a lot of flexibility over the brew pressure. This range may also vary depending on the machine, so you would need to find out what the exact range is for the machine that you’re using if you want to find out the highest and lowest possible settings. The average shot of espresso is pulled using 9 bars of pressure, so you’re getting an incredible range of control to experiment with. If you want to play around with an espresso machine and learn about how different adjustments impact your shots, the Puristika is a perfect choice.
ECM is a German company started in 1996 that is dedicated to creating high-quality, handmade espresso machines. They’ve been instrumental in bringing the Italian espresso culture to Germany, though their machines are available in quite a few countries today. You may recognize their brand from the best-selling ECM Synchronika Espresso Machine or the ECM Classika PID. Their machines are sleek, thoughtfully designed, and are often inspired by classic espresso machines with innovations and upgrades that make them perfect for modern use.
Using the Puristika
The most noticeable feature that pops out when you see the Puristika in person is just how compact it is. Though I knew that one of the main features of this espresso machine is that it’s small and designed just for espresso, I didn’t realize how true that was until I actually saw it. The design is simple, sleek, and overall makes it easy to picture it fitting into any kitchen’s design. The braided steel water intake and return tubes are flexible enough to make adjusting the water reservoir extremely simple, and I had no issues with moving this to a few different places around the office. It fit easily on the countertop I tested it out on and had a lot of clearance from the bottom of the cabinet above it. I’ve lived in some very small apartments, but I can still imagine that this could fit just about anywhere you want to place it without being obstructive.
When using the Puristika, you can leave the machine at popular settings for pressure and temperature and dial in as you would for any other machine, but you also have the option of playing with the temperature and pressure. I found it as easy to dial in as any other espresso machine, and from there I was able to experiment with the pressure settings to see how they impacted the shots. If I had this machine at home, I could definitely use what I found to dial in with the added variable of pressure as well.
I had a slight issue with temperature when I was doing my first round of tests, and I realized after I’d pulled about five shots in a row that I wasn’t allowing the boiler to fully heat back up between shots. This resulted in me having to entirely redo my experiments with the different pressure settings, so if you’re pulling shots back to back make sure you double-check that the Puristika is fully heated up between shots. However, this will likely not be an issue in normal day-to-day use. Still, you should make sure that you’re letting your machine fully, properly heat up for the best possible shots.
I wanted to find out for myself what the difference would be if the coffee, dose, and temperature were exactly the same but the pressure was adjusted. To test this out, I dialed in at 9 bars, which is the average pressure of an espresso machine (like the Gaggia Classic Pro). After I was dialed in, I pulled shots at 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11 bars to compare to the control shot. For all of my testing, I used a fresh roast of Whole Latte Love’s Crema Wave. The control shot that I pulled at 9 bars was creamy with nutty and dark chocolate notes. I used this shot to compare all the other shots I pulled, and the main thing that I noticed between the different textures was a change to how thick the crema and the overall shot felt. Lower pressures resulted in a creamier mouthfeel while higher pressures resulted in a thinner crema and muddy texture to the espresso shots. This was, of course, with the coffee I was using already dialed in for 9 bars.
I also found there was a slight difference in the timing for each shot when the pressures changed. I made sure to use the same exact dosing and ratio for each shot, but the timing changed along with the pressure, which was expected since less pressure means a lower flow rate and in return a longer shot time resulting in the finished cup. Here’s what I found:
Overall, there wasn’t a big difference in the taste when the pressure was adjusted by a bar. However, there was definitely a noticeable difference between the lowest pressure I tested and the highest. While with both the control and 6 bars I tasted some nuttiness and dark chocolate and the shot had a creamier quality because of the crema, the shot pulled at 11 bars was more bitter, muddy, and overall I couldn’t taste the subtle notes much at all. However, this could be because I was using a very fresh bean (roasted about 3 days before my test), so a lower pressure is what is recommended for fresher beans as it’s easy to over-extract them.
If I were to perform this experiment exactly the same a week or two later with the beans less fresh than they were, it’s entirely possible that the 11 bars of pressure would produce a much better shot of espresso as higher pressures can help with older beans. Fresher is always better, but it’s understandable if you want to finish the bag of coffee you already have, and the Puristika would allow you to adjust the pressure if needed as the age of your beans increases.
In all, I really enjoyed brewing with the Puristika. If you’re someone who prefers drinking straight espresso shots, this machine is a great choice. This machine is compact and pulls consistently great shots of espresso once you dial in. The adjustable pressure makes it easy to get the most out of whatever coffee you’re using, and the design was created with the user experience in mind. With the Puristika, you can pull delicious shots and hone your espresso skills.
If you've tried out the Puristika for yourself, make sure to leave a review on the product page so others can hear your thoughts! To make sure you’re always up to date with the latest product releases, sales, and promotions from Whole Latte Love, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and sign up for our email newsletter!