Review of ECM Synchronika Espresso Machine

by Marc Buckman September 19, 2016

 

So the new ECM Synchronika joins machines like Profitec’s Pro 700, Rocket’s R58, Izzo’s Alex Duetto III and Expobar’s Brewtus IV-R in the category of dual boiler, PID, rotary pump, E61 group, plumbable machines. And it’s currently the most expensive of the bunch.

Now, I’ll get into why that’s the case. And, If you’re at all familiar with those other machines it should be easily apparent. If you’re not, I’ll get into the reasons why you might consider spending a little extra for the Synchronika. I’ve got to say right off the bat this machine is incredible, it’s innovative and in my opinion sets a new standard for design and construction quality.

So the first thing I do when we get a new machine is get under the hood to have a look at how it’s all put together. And when I opened up the Synchronika I was blown away. Now I feel a little silly getting all worked up, but I mean I was really blown away! It’s put together like no other machine in its class.

A Tour Inside

First, It’s so easy to get inside. I’ve sped it up a bit here, but it takes less than a minute to remove 6, 2.5 millimeter Allen head screws to get in - and they’re all on top. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve sliced fingers trying to get at interior panel screws on other machines. Take out those 6 screws and all the body panels come right off

So to make that happen take a look at the base. it’s one complete solid piece. I love the powder coated finish. This has gotta be the most rigid frame I’ve ever seen. A real innovation in the design of these machines.

The components are what you'd expect to find in most dual boiler machines. Gicar PID and controller, solid state relays, RPM motor, Fluid-O-Tech rotary pump, and so on. What sets it apart from some other machines is the overall design. There’s an elegant simplicity to it all and a lot of space in the case. No wire jungles and very efficient copper and braided stainless plumbing with short runs and no crazy turns. A great example of that? You’ll find just one solenoid valve in here. Now those are a common point of failure and it’s not uncommon to find other machines with 3, 4 and even 5 solenoid valves.

I love how the electronics are covered on the side and top by a metal shield to protect from heat and moisture. And how the vacuum relief is piped so any moisture from that ends up in the drip tray. In some machines it’s just open to the inside and dumps moisture there every time the machine heats up.

As for the boilers, copper is tradition and stainless steel well that’s the future. And Stainless is what you’ll find in the Synchronika. Both boilers have a high-quality insulating jacket. The steam boiler is 1,200 watts and 2 liters in volume while the brew boiler is 1400 watts and .75 liters. In the PID setup the brew boiler gets priority first. So it gets up to temp then the steam boiler heats. If your just brewing the steam boiler can be turned off with a switch behind the drip tray.

A few other things of note: very secure boiler mounts to the machine’s faceplate, and nice rubber mounts of the motor to the chassis for smooth and quiet operation. Underneath the machine Is the connection for plumbing It which swivels making waterline routing a piece of cake. And next to that is the mechanical valve to select waterline or plumbed operation. Now I prefer the mechanical valve to the solenoid you’ll find on some machines.

A Word on Craftsmanship

Moving to the exterior of the machine, It’s a beautiful mirror finish—some of the best I’ve seen. All edges are wrapped and the finishing work is extremely detailed. One place I always check on a new machine are the interior corners of the drip tray. The Synchronika’s are beautifully polished with no visible weld marks. A clear indication of the level craftsmanship put into this machine.

ECM Synchronika gauge

Gauges for steam and brew pressure are mounted up high. They are larger and feature a new font and design as compared to those found on other ECM machines. The PID display has a new look that blends into the machine. It alternates between displaying temps in the brew and steam boiler and if you prefer, you can turn the display off. When brewing it automatically switches to a shot timer - love that! And it can be set to alert users to clean the group at predetermined intervals.

Steam and hot water valves are sprung levers for low wear and can be throttled for temporary operation or locked in for constant pressure. Wands come out at an angle for easy positioning and are insulated internally to reduce the chance of accidental burns. For steaming the Synchronika comes with a 2 hole tip.

You’ll find extra detail on the E61 group with custom top and bottom fittings. These compliment the levers chromed end which in turn matches the detail on the portafilter handles. The machine comes with double and single portafilters and baskets. And I like those angled handles. The double rests flat for easy tamping and that angle makes attaching to the group a lot easier than straight handle designs. And speaking of tampers, This ECM is one of a very few machines that comes with an actual usable one. It’s heavy and the polished finish complements the design of the machine

The drip tray includes a removable platform for smaller cups and its pre-drilled for a permanent drain line attachment to an included collection cup.

Why the Synchronika?

So why consider this machine over another. Well, a good comparison is with a Profitec Pro 700. The specs are almost identical, but the Synchronika is priced about 200 more. Now the Pro 700 is a wonderful and well respected machine and there’s no reason why the Synchronika would produce a better espresso. But it will look better doing it. Now I’m really impressed with the case design and the chassis - it’s a real innovation. And then there’s the details like the extras on the group and lever, The new PID display that blends into the machine, the angled portafilters and a matching tamper included. In my opinion, at this level the extra investment is worth it for a machine that’s likely to give you decades of service.

That’s the ECM Synchronika, available now at Whole Latte Love. If you have any questions on this machine or anything coffee use the comments below and I’ll get you the answers. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come back soon for more of the good stuff on everything coffee.

Marc Buckman
Marc Buckman

Marc is Whole Latte Love's resident videographer and expert on everything coffee. He built our YouTube channel from the ground up in 2009, demystifying the world of coffee for upwards of 100k subscribers by producing over 1000 in-depth videos. Marc enjoys hiking, scuba diving, and saving the lives of his coworkers when the kitchen runs out of coffee by sharing some of his own.