When my first espresso machine finally passed away, I decided after much decision making to buy a La Pavoni Pro Lever, a handpulled espresso machine. I had looked at a lot of other espresso machines, especially dual boilers and H/X shiny "monsters" with E61 groupheads, but I fell for the Pavoni due to the challenge of pulling great espresso shoots by hand. However, the learning curve was huge and even when I got the hang of things results were inconsistent - with pathetic shots being mixed with good ones. But the biggest problem was when we had guests. Not only was it difficult to serve a party of more than two persons, it was almost impossible to educate family staying with us to properly use the machine for their personal habits.
So after three years, I decided to upgrade to an H/X E61 grouphead shiny "monster". The criteria were: good looking, ease of use, and great espresso shot and steaming capabilities. For years I had had my eyes on the ECM Giotto, but since I knew this would require handsome investment I decided to be broad-minded and explore the market first. I ended up with the Giotto and the Andreja being my shortlisted options. Although the Giotto was slightly more appealing in looks, I was really amazed by the amount of thought that had gone into building the Andreja. Whereas the Giotto had more less stayed the same for several years, the Andreja had really attempted to fix all the shortcomings of other similar machines. With price being more or less the same, I opted to go for the quality in the design, rather than the looks of the design. Having said that, the Andreja is also very much a beautiful machine to look at.
I've had the machine now for three years and I thought I could provide you with my exprience from it.
THE ANDREJA PREMIUM
The Andreja is a really well built machine where a lot of thought has gone into making smart decisions when designing it. I have not once during three years had any problems with my machine (knock on wood), and I use it multiple times daily, so I can safely say I think it is a quality product. But it's not just the quality in the machinery and the parts, it's also in the thought process behind it. The devil's in the details:
- The water tank is big and for someone using the machine often that is a blessing. It's also easy to fill up: I can lift up the top panel and pour in water, or take the whole tank out and fill it under the tap. Or I can open the little plug in the top panel and refill through the opening there.
- The boiler itself is also big, meaning that I can serve a large party without having to wait for output water being reheated after a few cups.
- The drip tray is huge, no need to constantly empty it.
- The steam wand is made in a no burn material and it is adjustable both sideways and in/out, making steaming and frothing simple and hazzle-free, for left-handed people as well as right-handed.
- Sturdy temperature-holding E61 grouphead with pre-infusion functionality providing optimal conditions for excellent espresso performance and quality.
I could probably go on, but there are just too many things under the hood that I don't even know about. What I do know is that the Andreja is very easy to use. As long as you have a grinder and found a good setting when grinding the beans, making excellent espresson is easy. Now when my mother-in-law stays with us, she operates the machine without problems and to her own satisfaction. When using the machine optimally, producing god-shots is no big deal. So is using the steam functionality. In fact, I have since I got the Andreja changed my morning habits from having a ristretto to making myself a nice perfectly frothed-up cappuccino. I would say the steaming and frothing capabilities of this machine is even better than its' espresson making capabilities. And the fact that I can steam and make the espresso at the same time is useful on stressy mornings.
On the negative side I only have a few minor things to report.
- The rotary pump is quite noisy, which can be a hazzle if you're the first one up in the morning as you risk to wake people up when the Andreja starts.
- The E61 grouphead gets really warm, but I think there is enough warning about this so for me this is no real negative aspect.
- The red and green light indicators are probably the only thing that hasn't been thought through in this machine. They simply don't make sense. The left green light indicates that the machine is on (which make sense). The red and green light on the right side keep blinking on and off completely randomly - when the red light is on, the green is off, and vice versa - but most of the time machine works regardless of which light is on. However, when the tank has reached its' lower treshold, the machine stops working as a protection from running the boiler empty, which also turns on the red light. But at this point, you are no longer worried about the red light being on, since it goes on and off most of the time, so you don't realize that now it's red for a reason. The first time it happened to me, it took me ages to figure out it was the tank that was empty. It would just have made sense to have a red light turn on when the tank is empty or the boiler is heating up, and when the red light is off everything is fine. The toggle green light does not add any value and I suspect it's only there because espresso machines "should have" blinking green lights.
As you can read, this is a machine that is unproblematic. It is a pleasure to work with, it produces great coffee and steams perfectly, and lack many of the small an irritating shortcomings of other equivalent machines. I am a really happy customer.