About this review:
My intention here is to add my 2 cents to the previous 27 reviews (as of this posting), possibly repeating, possibly giving a different spin to what others mention. IMO, Chas Rimpo’s review is the place to start to find out about the machine, and then follow his link to the La Spaziale user site and forum that he manages. Following are some of the features that make the La Spaziale a unique “package” and a desirable machine at its price point.
This means a dedicated boiler for steam and another for brewing instead of both functions sharing a boiler. Having plenty of steaming power available is the big feature here. IMO, a mid-range, single boiler, HX machine is likely to give most home users (myself included) all the steam they need--so what if there’s a bit of a lag when 3 friends want a *bks-sized latte? OTOH, all that power is nice—no drop off, sure and smooth control knob. In fact, there’s a learning curve if you are used to a weaker steamer. I leave the brew boiler on 24-7, but only turn on the steam in the a.m. for cappas—the heat-up is very quick.
There are several power arrangements that I won’t detail here. I have my machine on a 20 amp dedicated circuit as recommended. This allows both boilers to be powered at the same time instead of cycling one and then the other. However, lots of users use a 15 amp option, and I don’t recall anyone finding it to be a big problem.
Of course, many machines direct plumb, others give you a choice, and many or most reservoir machines can be modified for direct plumb. I find this feature so helpful as to be essential. Obviously, I recommend it. Plumbing the La Spaziale was an absolutely simple matter, and the John Guest fittings (ordered from Chris Coffee) make the hook-up, literally, a snap. It may seem like a no-brainer that if you are likely to move residences or you live in an apartment, you would not want to make a “permanent” plumbing connection. Could be, but don’t be so sure. If you have access for a ¼” plastic tube between the machine and the cold water shut-off, machine mobility might not be a crucial decision factor.
Quiet and smooth (note, the whole machine is free from rattles and buzzes). I’m not in a position to comment on any preference for shot quality compared to a vibe pump or to comment on the quality of this rotary pump as compared to others.
Programmed Temp Control: Easy.
Maybe not as accurate as a correctly-installed PID, but I don’t know that for sure. Certainly, it’s close enough for me to match optimal temp for the particular beans and roast I’m using--and to do so on a shot-by-shot basis (which I don't). Best of all, it's well integrated into the design of the machine. Certainly a leap beyond lifting the hood of my Isomac Tea and adjusting the pressurestat with a tiny screwdriver and flashlight (and still not having temp confirmation until pulling several shots and dial measuring.
As nearly as I can figure, this is what makes a machine “auto” instead of “semi-auto.” Frankly, I thought (assumed) that this feature was useless when I first got the machine. After all, I was a wannabe barista who carefully read the flow from my bottomless pf and cut the flow at the precise moment before blonding. Wrong.
As a matter of taste, I have the machine programmed to dispense 2 ounces of water for short regular (or long ristretto) shots. Amount of water, then, is not a variable to control for most shots, although I will, on occasion, stop the shot “short” simply by cutting the water. Instead, shot quality emphasizes correct and carefully adjusted grind. Water can also be dispensed in a semi-auto fashion with the added advantage of “saving” the volume of one shot so it is repeated on subsequent shots. It was pretty effortless easing into the auto dosing routine once I got over my prejudice.
Features You Want at a Price You Are Willing to Pay.
This machine is more than the sum of its parts and features. I did not find and still haven’t seen anything comparable that isn’t well beyond the LaSpaziale’s under $2 k. Importantly, this is not a cheap version of a “real” double boiler auto, but a unique, robust machine that stands on its own merits.