With a couple of mods and a bit of patience, this machine will extract with the best of em.
Positive Product Points
Low Cost Heat Exchanger Very stable temp with large boiler Excellent steam on demand OPV Auto refill and low level sensors in boiler.
Negative Product Points
Stock portafilter is unsuitable Horrible drip tray and small reservoir Plastic casing No vacuum breaker valve; suffers from vapor lock every time unless you open the steam wand No fancy gauges Very little clearance between group head and drip tray (most problematic) Loud vibe pump (to be expected) Not very heavy, will slide on counter when locking PF No hot water button makes for difficult descaling
This is a great machine that you can get a decent price. It might lack some of the frills of newer machines with gauges and stainless finish, but I assure you it is fully equipped under the hood where it counts.
Quality of Product: 9
This is a good machine. Since receiving the machine I have made two simple adjustments. The OPV valve (referred to as a Safety Valve by NS) was completely closed and I used a gauge to open it and achieve 9 bars of pressure. Also, I adjusted to Pressure Stat to keep a proper brew temperature as it was much too hot when I first used it. These modifications have made this capable of producing top notch espresso.
The machine is sturdy and looks to be built to last.. it is not a terribly complicated design and there does not look to be much that can go wrong. The machine could survive in a catering or light commercial setting and would be more than capable of pulling 50+ shots a day.
Elli has a pretty simple layout. There are 2 lights and 2 buttons on the front. The lights are for low water and to signal the heating element is on. The buttons are power and brew. It is that simple. The first time I turned the machine on it took a while pumping as the boiler filled. The only real complaints here are the small drip tray and reservoir (the machine can go from plumb in to pour over), the low clearance between the group head and drip tray and the fact that the machine vapor locks and cannot be put on a timer.
Another thing to note is that the stock portafilter must be changed immediately. I purchased a Nuova Beach pf and filed it down to fit (do not mess this up or you will have a $50 paper weight and a leaking grouphead.) I neutered my stock pf with a hole saw and it acts as an excellent bottomless portafilter.
The group diffuser is the final thing that erks me with this machine. The standard brass diffuser that comes with the machine only has four holes and looks like the pod diffuser sold for the Oscar by ChrisCoffee. I have not made it around to replacing this with a diffuser that would better disperse the water, and i am not sure if I will. Nothing indicates i must, as my naked pf does not channel, but when you do not have a portafilter locked in water shoots everywhere (maybe a good thing).
Cost vs. Value: 9
I bought this machine for what I consider to be a steal. The extra pf and a hole saw are the only other purchases i have made for the machine. I think it is a great value all in all
This is the main knock on the machine, and rightfully so. Elli is kind of ugly. I am okay with that. The machine is sort of retro and boxy plastic, but anyone who has anything bad to say won't after they have tasted the delicious product she turns out.
Overall Rating: 8
Overall I would rate the machine very highly. The main knocks on the machine are all with design and layout of the drip tray and reservoir. This machine can produce a great cup and that is what counts. If you are looking for a machine that will get you into an upper echelon of home espresso at half the price of Miss Sylvia, this one is for you. If you are looking for a machine that you will not have to mess with and will come perfect out of the box this one is not for you. With a little bit of time and a couple of mods, I have turned this into a great prosumer machine. Having owned a Rancilio Audrey (same inner parts as Silvia) I am positive there is no way I would go back to owning a single boiler machine.
Would You Buy Again?
In a word. Yes. I am happy with the machine and, again, think it is a great value at the price. This seems like the lowest dollar amount to get into the HX game and this machine has pulled some of the best shots I have tasted already. This machine is adequate to produce fine espresso if you have your skills honed, a good grinder and a good blend. If you put a stainless steel shell on the machine and a 1000 dollar price tag many people would be talking about this as a top notch HX machine.
Rutger from CafeParts.com sold this to me on his personal eBay account. He was pleasant to deal with and sold me a good machine at a good price