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Francis Francis X3 - Dusan D's Review
Posted: September 4, 2005, 4:14pm
review rating: 6.4
feedback: (0) 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 93,327 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: 9
Average Price: $499.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $270.00 Cost vs. Value 8
Where Bought: Ebay Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 1 week Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: I recommend this machine.
Positive Product Points

Beautiful machine.
Brass boiler, grouphead and filterholder. Also some brass couplings.
Brews both pods and ground coffee.

Negative Product Points

Could be of a sturdier construction.

Detailed Commentary

I won the bidding for this machine on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday at 5am on Ebay. As the seller would not ship to Canada I had it shipped to Ship Happens in Sumas, a company which provides interested consumers with a US address. 4 days later I was in possession of a “nearly new” Francis, Francis! X3, a work of Art which was going to open an additional dimension of my generally happy universe. I could not wait to open the box. Christmas time!
I ripped off the paper, then plastic, and to my horror noticed the heavy condensation all over the machine. I carefully took it out, and as I tilted it in the air more water dripped out of the hardware compartment of the machine. Oh my, definitely not a good sign!
I wiped out what moisture I could see, examined the “nearly new” machine and noticed tiny signs of fresh rust beginning to form in some crevices of the machine. Ok, I’ll deal with those later, thought I, and make some espresso to calm my nerves. As I have read the consumer review for this machine here on coffee geek earlier, I knew to read the instruction manual before turning it on. The manual was concise, easy to understand and follow. No problems there. Soon I had the X3 plugged in, turned on, and the delightful little orange light on. Loaded and locked, my new cappuccino cup underneath I pressed the brew button and vala, beautiful rich looking espresso started pouring into my cup. For about 3 seconds. Then was followed by steaming hot water leaking out of every opening and crack from the upper compartment of the machine. Fudge!!
I took off the upper cup warming plate exposing the innards of my new X3. Water everywhere.  I turned on the pump and watched in disbelief as water started gushing out of where the two boiler halves meet, flooding the compartment! Nearly new?? What the….!!
The inside of the machine is fairly simple. A brass boiler, heat control gyzmo, pump, and wires and tubes leading to and from various parts and switches. All this sits on top of millimeter thick plate (chassis) made from what looks like zinc plated aluminum, which in turn is attached to the body of the machine. Thinking myself really smart I took photos of the innards, disconnected all the wires, detached the chassis and lifted out the whole works. I should add that I have never done this before – as a matter of fact I have never seen the insides of an espresso machine, however it quickly became apparent that the boiler was not assembled correctly. Someone attached the upper half and the lower half with the chassis sandwiched in between rendering the seal useless as the two boiler halves did not connect with each other.  Wow! Unbloodybelievable!!
Anyway, I took it all apart, broke in half one of the bolts because it was so oxidized and could not be removed, got a near perfect replacement from the Home Depot who are not fully aware that we have switched to the metric system, cleaned, reassembled, used an automobile touch up paint to get rid of the tiny rust spots and gave a good final wipe to the now fairly familiar X3.
Plugged in, turned on, primed, loaded and locked, I warily pressed the grey button…
Beautiful rich thick espresso began pouring into my eager cup, with crema covering the whole top of the surface,… tantalizingly delicious!!
Oh man! This is living!
Even though I am a complete novice at making espresso, I have been enjoying it for some time. I travel to Europe at least once a year and developed a dependency for this rich, aromatic, and divine liquid. I drink Café Crème, which is a super long single shot espresso made into a cappuccino cup. I started getting interested in an espresso machine when my local Starbucks received the new super duper automated espresso machine with preset drink settings, and had to top off a single long shot with hot water to bring up the level in the cup. A bit weak to say the least.
Anyway, in spite of being a newbie I was producing decent shots pretty much right away. My crema always covered the whole surface of the drink, but I still can’t get the thickness that Mark Prince got when evaluating the machine (but then, I buy pre-ground coffee). It can only get better!  I also tried out the pod brewing method for which a separate portafilter and Illy pods are provided.  The taste and  crema was ok, but not as enjoyable as using ground coffee. I put the pod portafilter into a drawer where it will reside unused.
Anyway, that is my story with this lovely machine (in spite of being a bit labour intensive in the beginning).
Now, I seem to be reading that I need to ground my own,…that means I will need a grinder…Ebay here I come!
I should also mention that I have contacted the seller and described the "nearly new" state of the machine and she had graciously promised to reimburse me for some money, so decent people are still around.

Buying Experience

As fore mentioned, I got the machine on Ebay, a relatively painless experience, and then shipped to Sumas as the seller would not ship to Canada. It was ready for pick up in 4 days, incredibly fast delivery as I am used to waiting up to a month for Ebay items from the States to Canada. Having gotten of a 12 hour graveyard shift, ignoring fatigue and the need for sleep I drove to the Sumas border crossing. I had my passport and crossing into the States was painless. Not the same can be said about coming back through Canadian Customs. I declared the machine, showed him a printed copy of the paypal bill transaction, and he asked me to park and go pay for it. In an airport like receiving area a young lady asked me what I was bringing across, and then to see the bill. As I had also purchased a Briel Duo espresso machine on Ebay and had it shipped to Sumas (it had not arrived yet so I did not have it with me) I had the two bills stapled together with the driving instructions to Ship Happens.  Right away she displayed more interest in the Briel and began asking me what I want the espresso machine for. Dumbfounded, I answered in a conspiratory tone that I want to make espressos.  Hm. She did not appreciate that. Why do I need two machines!? (I bid on the Briel because it was a good price, then on the Francis after reading about the importance of brass etc.)
I said that I will keep the Francis and perhaps sell the Briel.  I thought I saw a feeling of pure pleasure flash momentarily across her youthful yet well-fed features as she proceeded to inform me that in that case I must purchase a license to import with the intent of reselling. I proceeded to experience socially unacceptable feelings and thoughts of instant violence I did not know I possessed, but exercising uneasy self control, I only said; Ok. I won’t sell it then. Her Eyes pierced me as she said that I better decide what I am going to do with it as I am in the computer now. All this for a machine that had not even arrived yet!! Holy!! I hope she is off work when I have to go pick up the Briel.
Anyway, I am on my third café crème and Sumas and Canadian Customs seem far, far away…

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review rating: 6.4
Posted: September 4, 2005, 4:14pm
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