Solid construction. Great looks, even beautiful. Produces excellent espresso, the best I have had at home, and better than most every commercial shop prepared espresso that I have experienced. Simple to use. Includes a pressure gauge, a cup warmer on the top that really heats the cups, and a hot water spigot for tea. You can froth and brew espresso at the same time. Recycling is fast so there is no wait time between drinks.
Negative Product Points
Large countertop footprint. Expensive.
The Giotto ECM is a commercial machine for the home. The advantage of the Giotto ECM over say a used commercial machine is that the Giotto ECM will fit under a cabinet above a typical countertop, requires only regular electrical current, and does not need to be plumbed in.
The Giotto ECM is arguably the best looking home espresso machine, thereby in no real way detracting the kitchen décor. The Giotto ECM has separate outlets for steam, hot water. There is a knob for controlling the amount of steam (not a switch), and a knob for hot water. The pump switch activates by way of a lever, giving the feel for an old-time espresso lever. There is also a pressure gauge that even many high-end machines competing with the Giotto ECM don’t have. It has a very rapid recycle time. The Giotto ECM comes with both single and double portafilters.
I purchased my Giotto ECM from www.Zabars.com for $950. Other vendors have been selling the Giotto ECM for between $1,600 and $2,400. My machine arrived double packed via Federal Express, in excellent condition. No assembly was required. Just add water, plug in, warm up, and go.
Warm up time is ten minutes. I leave my machine on most of the day and evening. It has a large water holding tank which for my home use does not need frequent refilling.
There is no screw head or obvious way to remove the screen from the brew group for cleaning.
It does not come with a blind filter for back-flushing. Documentation does not indicate whether back-flushing is a good thing or not for this machine. ECM and Zabars are not known to have responded to several Giotto ECM owners’ queries about this.
The steam pressure will not be suitable for some folks. The steam pressure (not to be confused with pressure for making the espresso, which is excellent) is for frothing the milk. The steam pressure is fine for frothing a 1/6 liter of milk at a time, which is fine for my home use. However, in a commercial setting, a much larger amount of milk will be frothed and set on the counter, and used before it goes flat. At the same time, there is virtually no wait time between “frothings”, so many 1/6 liters can be frothed, which is how I like to do it. So, if you want to froth a large volume of milk at a time, then the Giotto ECM may not be for you.
The espresso tamper that comes with the Giotto ECM is very cheesy. And frankly, for $950 I would have expected more than an ill-fitting plastic tamper. I subsequently ordered a 58mm $50 Reg Barber tamper to go with it. Presumably, this strategy allows the customer to choose which tamper to use.
The documentation is adequate, but very rudimentary. No detailed instructions are provided for cleaning, such as back-flushing. No documentation is provided for plumbing in if you choose to go that route. Documentation is also not provided for repair and maintenance.
How did I choose the Giotto ECM:
Would I do it again? Yes! Do I have buyer’s remorse? No. I am demanding of my espresso, and this machine meets my demands. I made my decision based upon information on coffeekid.com, also alt.coffee on www.deja.com, a very favorably reviewed at http://www.lucidcafe.com/cafeforum/schomertable22.html, and the $950 price at Zabars. Had Zabars not been offering the Giotto ECM for $950, and if instead it were at its formerly much higher price, then I would have looked more closely at the Pasquini Livia 90 and the Salvatore.
I preferred the knobs, gauge, and looks and price of the Giotto ECM over the Salvatore. However, if steam pressure is what you want for frothing a lot of milk at a time, look at the Salvatore www.salvatore.com
These are my first impressions upon receiving my new Giotto ECM on 1/31/2000. I have now used it for fifteen days. This is from my post on alt.coffee at www.deja.com
My new Giotto ECM arrived today via Federal Express from Zabars. I unpackaged the Giotto. I must say, this is the first time I have been intimidated by a coffee pot. Yikes! was my first impression! It does loom large in comparison with the various espresso machines I have used over the past decade. You know, the kind you can buy at "Bed Bath and Beyond" etc.
I placed the Giotto on the kitchen counter - good thing I have a large kitchen and a lot of counter space. I seldom read the instruction manuals and just plow ahead. Usually I get it right. This time, however, I read the entire manual from cover to cover before I plugged it in.
The manual is a fast read. It is a photocopy and very brief. It is adequate, but does not add to the enjoyment of the purchase. I had been using a Krups Novo 3000 for two years. In comparison to the Krups, which is no more intimidating than a Mr. Coffee drip pot, you know just by looking at the Giotto that it is a very serious machine and not to be trifled with.
You can read the specifications of the Giotto ECM elsewhere. Here, I will give you my first impressions. The Giotto simply shines. "Acres" of shiny metal. And large. It has curves, so it does not give one a boxy impression. Instead, the Giotto just flows and shines. My first impression was that this machine has spouts coming out from just about everywhere: the center, the left, and the right. Sure the manual clearly points out what everything is. Still, my first impression was there is a lot of knobs and spouts. And a gauge. However, after a very few minutes of study it becomes obvious what everything does. It turns out not to be a very complicated machine at all.
I plugged it in. The pump made a loud noise filling the boiler for the first time. "Yikes," I thought again. In about ten minutes the machine was warmed up and ready. To be ready the gauge must read "1 bar." Before I placed grounds in the machine, I ran some blanks to clean it out and to get the feel of the machine. I tried all the knobs and spouts.
After I was satisfied that "I can deal with this machine", and had run through several tanks of water, I jumped right on in and made my first cup of espresso.
First I frothed some milk. In about 20 seconds I could smell the milk cooking - not frothing. My first frothed milk lacked body and was not as good as produced by the Krups. "Hummmm. This is not what I expected, I thought.
Next, I pulled my first espresso. The first pull was much better than what I could create with my Krups Novo 3000. Not bad, but not great either. With the same beans I had been using in my Krups, the Giotto produced on the first pull much more intensity of flavors than I had ever been able to get with the Krups. Still, the improvement in quality was not of the magnitude that I was expecting or wanted. However, I figured "not bad for the first pull, and it will get better. It had better get better!"
I am not one to toss out good espresso made with good beans. So, while I was drinking my first espresso, I mentally listed all those things I probably did wrong. My goal was simple: improve upon my first pull. Some improvements would need to wait, such as a better grinder. That will have to wait until FedEx drops off my new grinder.
I took a break about an hour later and pulled my second espresso. This time my frothed milk surpassed that of my old Krups. Very nice indeed. And the espresso was fantastic. Lots of the right colored cremora. Very intense flavors. Now, this was more like it.
My second pull was better than I had ever gotten commercially. While I have used espresso machines almost exclusively for more than a decade for my coffee, I have never personally used a machine of this caliber or capabilities before. I know I have a lot to learn and skills to master with this machine. However, my first two pulls have me very enthused. Mastering the necessary skills is going to take some time. But, that time spent is going to be a lot of fun.