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Francis Francis X3 - Jimmy Oneschuk's Review
Posted: June 13, 2004, 6:48pm
review rating: 7.7
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
Francis Francis X3
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More About This Product
Arrow The Francis Francis X3 has 15 Reviews
Arrow The Francis Francis X3 has been rated 7.81 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Francis Francis X3 reviews have been viewed 92,956 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Richard Greenleaf 8.57
Brad Gom 8.50
Mats Grip 8.50
Paul Wood 8.00
Jimmy Oneschuk 7.66

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.0
Manufacturer: Francis! Francis! Quality: 10
Average Price: $499.00 Usability: 7
Price Paid: $350.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Kitchen Toys + Tools Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 1 year Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: Pro Barista Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Moka pot, Rancilio Rocky
Bottom Line: Consider X3 if you are considering Silvia.  Especially f you have a skeptical sig. other stingy on counterspace; he or she may be convinced to make room for the X3.
Positive Product Points
  1.  Beautiful retro styling.  Has a humane, playful feel to it - something postwar Italian designers are famous for.  2.  Lotsa room on top for cups.  I can fit two Illy cappuccino cups and two Illy espresso cups up there.   3. Heats up quickly, if you steam first.  4.  Heavy duty portafilter  5.  You can create professional level microfoam for latte art.  6.  You can pull beautiful espresso shots with tiger-striping.
Negative Product Points
  1. No three-way solenoid to relieve pressure in the grouphead after pulling a shot.  This causes the famous portafilter sneeze: the moment you twist open the PF, pressurized water and grinds tend to spill out.  This only creates a problem if you need to make 2 or three drinks in a row.  I also have to wonder if the dispersion screen would be easier to clean if it had the 3-way valve.  2.  The dispersion screen is rather small, and the grill itself has large holes instead of a mesh.
Detailed Commentary

LUST FACTOR:  you better believe I like the way this machine looks.  I have the silver (non stainless) model, which matches my DeLonghi retro toaster.  I'm a fan of Italian design.

GIRTH:  The machine has a heavy-duty build throughout.  The metal used in the frame is quite thick, buttons have a heavy feel and the PF is also sturdy.  If you're skeptical about the machine being flimsy on account of its looks, don't.    Drawbacks:  The drip tray doesn't sit flush with the base, which allows, occasionally, spills to enter.  But easy to clean that up.   The steaming knob is plastic painted silver-it has held up well, but seems like the weak link in the design.  I wished they used metal instead.  

SUPERHEATEDVAPOURIZEDWATER:  Has enough power to steam milk for one big latté, and if you're doing two, the machine will cycle the boiler.  Not really a pain; this is to be expected at this price point.   I wish the wand was longer and more maneuverable.   This machine can create microfoam for latte art.  I turn my machine so the resevoir faces me, turn the wand to 10-11 o'clock (in relation to operator) so I can see the air-hole on the backside of the wand.  You should be able to observe a stream of milk enter the hole, creating a light whirlpool effect.  10-15 seconds later, you should have enough foam, so immerse the wand deeper, until desired temp is reached.  C'est fin.

H-TOO-OH: Open the steam knob, place cup under wand, press brew button, and voila: hot water.  A good feature if you need a reason to justify the machine to a tea-drinking significant other.  

S-PREZ-OH:  Plan to spend at least around $150-200 CDN for a burr grinder - you won't be sorry.  I used a blade grinder for way too long.  Also factor in a Reg Barber tamper, in 57mm (I used a look-alike for awhile, which I recently gave to a friend).   Generally to get good espresso, I run the steam element for 10-15 seconds, then turn it off, and drain the heated water through the machine (2 oz).  Now that the machine is hot, take your PF, giver a wipe dry, grind into the PF, tamp to 40 lbs, lock PF.   If your beans are fresh (within 10 or so days) you should be seeing some decent crema.  

OTHER THOUGHTS:  You made it to the end.  Congratulations.  All in all, this machine is fully capable of high quality drinks, it just might not be as fast as other machines - but those other machines also cost north of $1000.  There is quality in this machine where it counts - the brewhead, PF and wand are about as good as it gets.  Here's the kicker: I'd also say that this is the best looking machine in its class - and does so without taking up a lot of counter space (it's the FF! compact model).

Buying Experience

I bought it at a local kitchen store which is now out of business.  BOYCOTT HOME OUTFITTERS!

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review rating: 7.7
Posted: June 13, 2004, 6:48pm
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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