This is truly a very beautifull, stunning, commercial one group machine. A work of art, made of polished steel and chrome. The ultimate in coffee extraction and taste.
Positive Product Points
This is the new model (see: http://www.elektrasrl.com/sixties_models.shtml) , the T-1 (or the manual A-3) that replaced the older delizioso from Elektra. Elektra makes really stunning machines and this model is no exception. Its like the big brother of the ECM giotto that I once had. With a volumetric pump, 6 liter tank and direct water connection, it gives the ultimate in coffee taste extraction ( or near ultimate). Its basically a machine of sheer beauty (altough a matter of taste). I bought it 2 month old, at $2,700 Can (a steal!).
Negative Product Points
The only negative, and its really a warning, is that the group head is HOT! Try not to touch it! At 77 pounds, its a beast; but you only need to set it up once, do you? Also, the drain is a bit strange. I connected a tube drain to a pail. When you flush the head after making a coffee, the drain eventually gets clogged from the coffee grains. Possibly this would not happen if the drain was conected to a proper drain.
Also, for such a beautifull machine, Its a wonder, why on earth Elektra does not put a light on the front top of the macine. The light would really show off the chrome and gleaming parts of the machine in dim or lower lighting in a room. I will probably write to the company about having a light for the machine.
The t-1 Elektra delizioso, is the automatic model. You have a series of buttons programmed for the amount of coffe you want. Their is also a manual button that starts and stops the pump. It is really a very very good looking machine and no amount of writing will do justice to the photo at the Elektra web site (http://www.elektrasrl.com/sixties_models.shtml).
Warming up the machine is fairly rapid if you get rid of the steam build up at regular intervals. Warm up time is 20 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on your level of patience for your coffee. I use the machine in my office and turn it off overnight. Because of a previous experience with a leaky electro water valve, I shut off the water to the machine when I am not there (connected a ball valve in line).
Steam is ample; you will not experience any steam difficulties like the Giotto or the Tea (as commented by reviewers).
I bought the machine second hand, with 2 month of usage. The mesh head was full of coffee grinds. I took the head apart using a flat head screwdriver. I could not get rid of the coffee grinds stuck in the screen element. So I called the store that sells Elektra in Montreal; the employee explained to me that I had to use a simple propane torch to burn the coffee grinds... I did this (holding the piece with a vise-grip plier), and in no time the screen element was clean.
Also, if you are going to own such a toy, you need to use a water decalcification unit (about $250 to $350 dollars Can) so not to harm the machine internals. Also, the electric plug had been changed for the 110 volt american connection. The plug was loose inside and caused the machine to sometimes not work and the lectric plug would heat up. I thus changed the electric plug to a high quality one and making very secure connections inside it. Finally, the machine perfomed well after this simple repair.
As for the taste of the coffee, its seems to be marginally (just a little) better than the older Elektra model of the same model I was using. Compared to my Gaggia at home, its a world of difference in the taste and nuances. But the difference in the taste is not as great as the difference in costs.
Note that such a machine is mostly used quite a bit and for commercial use.It works on the heat exchange principle, that heats up the water for the coffee by passing through some tubing in the hot water tank. For the hot water spout, it come directly from the hot water tank... A similar system is used for the ECM giotto. So,...before a coffee can be made in the morning, even if the machine has been left on all night, its recommended to expel about 2.5 liter of water from the hot water dispenser (say 5 times .5 liter). Then, its also recommended to expell about a liter of water from the group head...
This type of machine is more maintenance but worth the effort; I just find its part of the routine of getting a great coffee.
Any event with such a machine, I have to go back to trying different types and blends of coffee.
I must say that the machine was at the coffee store Café Creme in Montreal. The machine was there on behalf of a customer who did not need it anymore and had used it for 2 months. Nicola, was kind enough to inform me that it was for sale with the grinder at about half what the customer had paid. Since I was really pining for this machine, I am really greatfull to the customer and the owner of the store, Nicola. Elektra machines are really beautifull. You could buy a manual commercial Rancilio, one group for a lot less ($2,600 Can + 15% tax versus $4,400 Can+ tax for the one groug automatic Elektra) but it has a plastic body and its shape is quite modern.