A unit i'd recommend to anyone for superior coffee with lots of room to move- also very easy to make 6 espressos or cappucinos at once.
Positive Product Points
Great looks, easy to use, stable temperature, fantastic coffee, easy to make a reasonably number of milk based drinks with no fuss due to large boiler two very well made portafilters very quiet pump
Negative Product Points
Coffeefilter baskets undersized- 6g and 12g, steam wand is fixed which limits the use of steam jugs to 1 litre
I bought the unit after much research and phone calls and checking out other units. I'd been using a Saeco Via Venezia, which does a pretty good job, when I got top use an Isomac Millenium at work- after dialing that in on the pressurestat for less heat- 93C - I was stunned by the rich creamy espresso I got. I couldn't get that smoothness with the Saeco although the crema was heavier- pressurised portafilter- even with the cunill grinder dialled in. I tried a friend's Rancilio Silvia, and even though that was nice it wasn't in the league of the Isomac taste wise- particularly in that it was a bit tricky to get my chosen temperature easily and reliably- see all the stuff on temperature surfing. I was initially attracted to the slightly larger boiler- 400ml as against 300ml in chrome or nickel coated copper as against brass- great conductor and size= stable temperature. I also liked the temperature gauge which I found great but not in the way I had expected- it gives temp at group head meeting boiler not coffee temp that flows into cup. It is a good indicator for ballpark temperatures and if you forget to turn off the steam switch- also great to see if the unit is really heated up, not just heating light has gone off. I used the thermocouple on my digital multimeter and found that 93C into the cup is reliably and accurately reached just as the temperature light goes off and it stays that way for a while with the larger copper boiler. Regarding the filter baskets- even though I was getting reliable temperatures, the coffee from the Isomac was always richer and I was disappointed- it was when I looked at the coffee baskets of the two machines that I saw why. The Isomac baskets were a lot deeper. I saw a coffeegeek article which said the same thing when comparing machines against the Isomac. I got a larger basket from coffeeparts- a la Marzocco 18 g one- bigger again than the Isomac 14g one. A friend- Ian at Blue Mountains Coffee Roasters measured that the 12g basket held about 14g, the Isomac 14g held about 16g and the Marzocco about 20-21g. The trouble was that neither the Isomac or ECM portafilter would take the larger basket- Ian gave me a grungy old Boema one on its last legs, which was deeper and easily took the basket. Wow what a difference- the ECM could reproduce the richer Isomac espresso and both machines produced sunning coffee with the 18g Marzocco basket!- get one and try it. Regarding steam- I'm a fan of E61 machines like the Isomac for great microfoam. The ECM has a huge amount of steam pressure- even more than the Silvia which is enormous anyway. You can steam a litre jug of milk in seconds- downside? You need to be caregul when trying to get microfoam wiht that amount of steam- but it definitely can be done. SOLVED THAT PROBLEM! As with the comparison with the Isomac and baskets- I got the same conical 2 hole tip as the Isomac has (coffeeparts.com) and same steaming abilities. To speed up getting the boiler to steam temperatures, turn the steam button on just as you begin to extract and as soon as extraction has stopped begin bleeding off boiler water. Regarding a comment on this forum about getting the temp down from steaming- here's a great cheat: you can turn the steam switch off when the temp light decides to come on (if it does) while steaming, but the easiest is to turn the steam switch off when you finish, then in a second jug, turn on the the hot water switch and the steam valve and bleed the unit from the steam wand until hot water comes out of the wand and the temp light goes on- the unit very quickly heats back to brewing temp- just when the light goes out.
Saeco Via Venezia, Via Veneto stove top Bought from Caffe Bianchi Leichhardt, Sydney who I've been buying superlative coffee from for years. I shopped around for price and they would match the best price I'd found on the internet. It's great to have that face to face contact with people you really trust.
Three Month Followup
I've updated the review with information about a new smaller conical 2 hole steam tip from coffeeparts.com- works great. The machine went in for a service and was promptly dropped on a concrete floor by the technician- they gave me a brand new one.
One Year Followup
I recently installed one of Jim Gallt's PID kits- www.pidkits.com- and now the beautiful Botticelli makes consistently rich sweet coffee with zero temperature surfing/ flushing. Should have done this much sooner- the machine is on a par with most of the hx machines I've used, except for the wait for steam. Making consecutive coffees on a PIDed large single boiler involves almost no waiting between shots. By the time I've demand ground and dosed and tamped, I'm back at set point temp, ready to brew. Wouldn't bother with the 18g basket now- a good 14g one does the job when you aren't playing to disguise over temperature. Also I'm using a dosing method recommended for the ECM Giotto- fill to mound, settle on bench by banging, level off, sit heavy tamper on top, remound, level, tamp. This helps with the Bott's high showerscreen. I'd highly recommend one of Greg Pullman's custom tampers for this.