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.