If you are serious about espresso this is the machine to buy. Itís not a toy itís a commercial grade quality well-built machine with excellent components in this price range. It is also extremely easy to operate and makes an excellent espresso.
Positive Product Points
German Engineering Extremely well made commercial quality build Small foot print Beautiful looking machine on any counter Polished Stainless steel body (heavy gauge) Excellent heat stability Gicar controller brain unit Sirai pressurestat Quiet Rotary vane pump (Stainless steel 1.8 liter boiler) Two beautiful heavy duty professional quality portafilters (single and double shot) Insulated side panels Pre-infusion Thermosiphon Excellent steaming power Large capacity water tank ( 3.1701 U.S. Quarts ) Hinged top easy access More than adequate sized drip tray OPV adjustability in rear of machine (to access remove housing) Duel thermostats Easy to read top of machine duel gauges for boiler and pump pressure E 61 Group HX heat exchanger Hot water and Steam wand Professional joystick locking lever valves for steam and hot water 58mm coffee filter baskets (single and double) Excellent cup warming Heavy machine 51 Lbs. (no movement when locking portafilter) Made in Heidelberg Germany
Negative Product Points
Uninsulated boiler Water tank gets too hot; I have placed insulation between the boiler and the water tank. Provided ECM filter baskets style produce wet pucks switched both filter baskets No water tank lid side guards to protect finish No Drip tray end guards to protect finish Inability to adjust steam and hot water must be held to adjust flow Inability to use deep filter basket 14g with provided portafilters Long warm up time Multiple steps required to remove machine housing cover. Machine does not have no burn to the touch steam and hot water wands
This is a new line of espresso machines now sold in the U.S.A. coming from ECM Heidelberg Germany. It is my understanding that ECM Heidelberg is a separate Company from the ECM Company in Italy that makes the Giotto and the Rocket machines. I have the ECM Tecknika IV Professional tank model only. They now make a switchable plumb to tank model I have now owned this machine for nine months, what attracted me most was the build and quality components it provided for the price mainly the stainless steel boiler, and rotary vane pump. Stainless steel boilers are usually reserved for machines costing twice as much as this machine. It is also my understanding that this yearís model now comes with an insulated boiler as opposed to insulating the side panels of the machine which was done on last yearís model. I believe this will help with the water in the water tank getting too hot issue that I have with this machine. Owning an E 61 Group has been a learning experience for me especially taking the group apart for regular maintenance cleaning and lubrication. Remember that all machines will require regular maintenance at one point in time. The frequency of the maintenance on a E 61 group machine depends on how much detergent is actually used for backflushing and how much the machine its self will actually be used on a day to day basis. Over time with regular usage the valves within the E61 group will eventually need to be either lubricated or replaced due to normal wear and tear. I currently use Dow 111 lubricant for all internal E- 61 group valves and brew handle. Itís an excellent lubricant is long lasting does not run out of the machine and is impervious to hot water. The dispersion screen is also easy to remove and clean its under the group head and has an indented slot where it can be simply unscrewed using a coin or a round metal washer. I have also bent the steam wand slightly outwardly on this machine for better positioning of the pitcher when steaming milk. I have no complaints so far with the machine the rotary pump is very quiet and the machine is working very well. I am currently using a Mini Mazzer grinder and occasionally a naked portafilter. I have also installed an E 61 group thermometer which I purchased from Chris Coffee which is easy to use and easy to install. Using freshly roasted coffee once I have dialed in the grind from my Mini Mazzer tamping with the Espro calibrated 30 lb. convex 58mm tamper and using the grouphead thermometer I am now able to regulate grind , tamping pressure and water temperature for every shot I pull. As a result the shots from this machine have all been amazing with plenty of crema and flavor.
The machine is very consistent and does make a great espresso my pump gauge is factory set at 10 bar and my boiler gauge is factory set at 1.25 bar. I currently have not made any adjustments to either the brew pressure or the boiler pressure. I do descale regularly with a non-toxic citric acid based descaler as well as clean, lubricate and dismantle the group head and check for group head valve wear and tear and replace accordingly. I do recommend that you use water in your machine with a neutral PH of 7.0 to 7.2 and water that is also low on the hardness scale that would then be low in calcium and magnesium. This will help reduce the buildup of scale deposits within your machine. I use Puly Cafť to backwash the grouphead and to clean portafilters or anything that comes in contact with coffee. Itís made in Italy and itís an excellent product. Now that I utilize the brew group thermometer I can honestly say that my machine does have to be flushed at least once before brewing to bring the water to the proper brewing temperature between 195 F to 205 F for a proper espresso extraction. The group head when left idle for an hour or more can reach a temperature of 208 F to 211 F. I think it would be safe to say that almost all E 61 group machines sold in the U.S.A. run on the hot side and will require some flushing before brewing unless you purchase a Marzocco which I hear does maintain constant brew temperature at all times with no flushing required. Minor negative is that it does take this machine a good hour or so for the E-61 grouphead to heat up and reach the proper brewing temperature. Although micro foam is fairly easy to achieve with this machine I would have preferred knobs instead of joystick locking controls for both the steam wand and the hot water wand. Knobs would make it a lot easier to control the steam flow especially when working with a small quantity of milk. To pre-infuse the coffee with this machine, I basically lift the brew handle up one notch without engaging the pump. What this simply does is lift the valves within the E 61 group slightly to allow unpressurized water to be released from the group onto the coffee grinds sitting in the portafilter. After 5 seconds of the pre-infusion process after wetting the puck I then lift the brew handle all the way engaging the rotary pump to complete the espresso extraction.
Unless you are heart set on getting a dual boiler machine which is all the rage right now, the ECM Tecknika IV Professional for the money will not disappoint you. With fresh coffee and a good grinder the machine will provide an excellent shot of espresso time and time again. Coffee nirvana when the espresso Gods come down from the heavens into to your espresso cup can easily be achieved with this machine.
With proper care cleaning and maintance this machine will last you a very long time it is that well made. I feel itís an excellent purchase with respect to its value to price ratio.
I purchased the machine from Jim at 1st-Line Equipment Company. Jim is a great guy and will provide you with excellent service. Jim will be there long after the sale to answer and assist you with any issues or questions you may have. Since I was new to E-61 group lever machines Jim answered and guided me through the learning process and maintance procedures for my machine. I would highly recommend purchasing this machine from Jim at 1st-Line Equipment Company. I would definitly buy a machine from them again.