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Fracino Heavenly - Nigel Holling's Review
Posted: November 9, 2012, 3:58pm
review rating: 8.0
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Fracino Heavenly Espresso Machine
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Arrow The Fracino Heavenly has 1 Reviews
Arrow The Fracino Heavenly has been rated 9.80 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 8, 2012.
Arrow Fracino Heavenly reviews have been viewed 6,658 times (updated hourly).

Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.8
Manufacturer: Fracino (UK) Quality: 10
Average Price: $2,000.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $500.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: ebay Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 4+ years Overall 10
Writer's Expertise: Professional Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: la pavoni lever, salton 1960, aeropress, Atomic
Bottom Line: Reliable great looking machine that makes making great espresso really easy. Great for making multiple coffee's in a short space of time.  It's a little on the large side so make sure it will fit in your space
Positive Product Points

Great individual 'retro' look
Fast temperature recovery time
Robust and reliable
Easy to use and make great espresso

Negative Product Points

Shallow drip tray
Large footprint

Detailed Commentary

I love this machine so much I now own 2, with my main machine used exclusively for commercial operations and my second machine sits in reserve in my kitchen doing domestic service and waiting for the day when my main machine has a problem.

Machine 1 is 8 years old (Iíve had it for four) and so far I have had one pump fail and Iím about to replace the pressure switch. I reckon this is pretty good considering the many thousands of coffeeís Iíve produced.

Fracino coffee machines are produced in Birmingham, England and to the best of my knowledge they are the only machines produced in the UK. The Heavenly is promoted as being suitable for heavy domestic or light commercial use. My home machine produces maybe 10 coffees a day but when I am working commercially these machines have produced in excess of 250 coffees over a 4 hour period

Visually, the Heavenly offers something different to other prosumer machines. The body being wrapped in curved and scalloped stainless steel creates an effect that evokes the 1950ís. It wonít be to everyones taste but I think it looks good and adds character. The front end is fairly standard with a full size group, a pressure guage showing tank pressure and heating and filling lights. There is a steaming wand and depending on your model there may be a hot water outlet. The curved drip tray looks good but is a little shallow once you start producing large numbers of drinks. On the top there is a screw cap accessing the water reservoir (no mains water required) and the cup storage area is surrounded by curved wire retainers.

All the machines I owned prior to this one were great but being small domestic machines their downfall came when you had to make multiple coffeeís for guests. I can remember taking over 20 minutes making 4 Ė 6 coffees on the pavoni. This was far from ideal as Iím a social coffee drinker.

The Heavenly works at the speed of a full commercial machine, so 2 shots poured in 25 seconds, if you want Americano the boiler will serve 2 and be back up to temperature in under a minute. Steamed milk for two coffees is ready in around 45 seconds.

The vibrating pump is a little noisy in use but to be honest this is a minor problem as it is still quieter than the steaming process

As for the quality of the coffee well, get the group to temperature, get the grind right and tamp firm and this machine will make perfect tiger striped espressoís all day long. Iím not sure about temp surfing, etc. the machine seems to produce smooth espresso irrespective of the bean blend in use. I use Iberital MC2 and MC5 grinders.

The biggest problem I have is getting consistant micro froth, but I think this may be more to do with the milk I use than the machine. Strangely the milk doesnít froth as well when the cows have been fed on silage as when they have been grass fed, it also works better with homogenised milk. With a 4 hole tip milk froths up in about 45 seconds so you need to be sharp to get froth before the milk overheats. Not a problem commercially but if youíre a perfectionist.......

After I bought my first machine on ebay I took it to the Fracino factory for a once over check, Frank, the founder and chairman took the time to come and say hello which I thought was a really nice touch.

I had to replace the vibrating pump about a year ago. I got great phone support from Fracino before the pump was shipped out and the repair was easily achieved using the online exploded diagrams.  Repair costs were fairly high but compared favourably with other brands.

Build quality is exceptional. This machine is constantly manhandled in and out of vans and has been used in all weathers. Iíve even run it in temperatures of -15c without problem. Used in a domestic environment it has proved to be faultless.

Buying Experience

First machine wasn't great as the vendor didn't describe the age of the machine and its usage accurately. The second machine was accurately described and in really excellent condition

Three Month Followup

New pressure valve fitted and full service.... plus a tour round the factory while I waited :-)

One Year Followup

So two years and many thousands of coffees on from my original review the Heavenly continues to produce great coffee.

Since replacing the pressure valve two years ago there have been no further problems and the machine is now just over 10 years old. I simply cannot fault it, the coffee is great, the customer service has been exceptional and the look of the machine continues to draw comments from the people that see it

Here's a couple of useful snippets of information that I was given by the engineer when getting the machine serviced:

  1. Only use softened water that has been through a Brita filter or similar. Don't used bottled water in the machine, this is very often mineral water which as it's name suggests has more minerals dissolved in it waiting to release as limescale than ordinary tap water.

  2. The E61 type group head works by thermo-syphoning water through the group head. This has a two-fold benefit, firstly warming the group head to ensure accurate brew temperatures whilst also ensuring that the brew water doesn't get too hot during rest periods between shots.... this explains why I don't have to temperature balance on this machine and still get consistently great shots
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Posted: November 9, 2012, 3:58pm
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