Very well made, quality components such as the water dispenser and steaming arm, very large waste catcher. The valves are really nice, of a type that appears won't wear very quickly, unlike my Saeco.
Negative Product Points
Big and heavy, if you can call these negatives. Oh yeah...it also takes about 30 minutes to get to temp. After 3 months, I try to let it warm up at least 45 minutes, preferably 1 hour in the morning.
I have just sampled my first cappuccino with the Rancilio S24. I rushed things a little bit, because I couldn't wait any longer, but I am very happy. The machine just oozes quality, from the heavy duty portafilters, the stainless steel base over the water catcher, to the 360 degree steamer and hot water dispenser. I really loved the microfoam I got from the steamer. It worked very well! I had no problems at all getting great microfoam, even though I was using the small frothing cup. And considering the coffee I was using, the espresso had good color, not bad crema, no appearances of channelling, and the timing seemed to be right on. Now I know it wasn't me, when I was struggling with the KitchenAid Espresso machine! I also really loved the tamper. I didn't realized what a difference a good tamper would make!
The ‘first look’ was what I wrote to the vender 4 hours after receiving my 2 year old used Rancilio S24 a few weeks ago. Since then, I have been in bliss, experimenting with different grinds and coffees. My girlfriend calls me a coffee geek, and I agree. I never expected this to happen, but it can happen very easily, once you have experience the “God Shot” .
My odyssey started when I bought a KitchenAid Proline Espresso machine to replace my dying Saeco Via Veneto. I was able to get ½ of a ‘god shot’ which started me down this road. I won’t go into my trials and tribulations here. If you want to read about it, visit my review of the KitchenAid Proline Espresso machine. The end result was, after 3 months of frustration, I found myself searching for a new machine. I missed a great deal on a Vibiemme Domobar Super by about one week. That was really frustrating. For two weeks, I researched the new and used market. I really wanted a used machine, because I wanted the higher end type of equipment, but didn’t want to spend the necessary money. So, I put out a plea for help on the CoffeeGeek WTB/WTS section. I was contacted through my email address, and then the research on the Rancilio S24 started.
I spent the next day searching diligently over the web, but couldn’t find much on it. This bothered me at first, until I decided that must mean the Rancilio S24 is a rock solid machine. So…after talking with the vender for over an hour, we closed the deal.
Now, after using my S24 for about three weeks, I will comment on it. I found it very easy to get good shots from it. I needed to experiment with grind settings and tamp pressure to get the best out of my coffee, but over all, that was no problem. The steamer has loads of steam and pressure. I found the 3 holes in the tip to be just right for making great microfoam in all three of the different sized frothing pots that I have. I do have to pay attention, because it gets the milk hot much faster, so if I want the best microfoam, I have to be right on it. I also found quite quickly, as a few coffeegeeks had mentioned to me, that my grinder was limiting. I adjusted my grinder, but still found it limiting. Hence, the search for a commercial coffee grinder, but that is a hole nother story. Check out my upcoming review on the Compak K5.
Every time I use the S24, I never cease to be amazed at the quality of the components on the S24, from the high quality universally jointed water dispenser and steaming arm, to the three heavy duty Rancilio portafilters. I haven’t opened it up yet, but that is soon to come. I have seen complaints in the past about how often it is necessary to refill the water reservoir, but that has not been an issue for me. I always filled my Saeco before using it anyway, and I still do for the Rancilio. Over all, I continue to find the Rancilio S24 a joy to use. I have reduced my time making two 16 oz cappuccino’s in the morning from 15 minutes with the Saeco Via Veneto to about 7 minutes with the Rancilio S24. The results are much more consistent and tastier. I expect that I will want to upgrade again, but at that time, I expect it will be because something has come out that I really want, not because the machine is wearing out.
Very good. I bought this machine used, from a stranger but fellow coffeegeek, from the other side of the country. I was a bit nervous at first, but after talking with the vender for over an hour, my concerns were addressed. I had to pay quite a bit for shipping, but I consider it worth it, because my machine arrived with no damage. I still ended up getting a great deal, because the machine had been extremely well maintained during the two years he had it.
Three Month Followup
One update, I find it better to give the machine at least 45 minutes, better an hour to warm up in the morning. I normally leave it on all day (I work from home most of the time) turning it off after my last drink of the evening, around 9 PM.
I have learned a lot about using this machine. It took a while to get a handle on the cooling flush. It seems I wasn’t flushing it long enough, and I was taking too long to start my shot after the cooling flush. Following advice from JonR10, I started putting the portafilter into the group head immediately following the cooling flush and drawing my shot. That made a huge difference. Also, it doesn’t take long to get hot following my first shot, so I often have to draw a short cooling flush prior to my next shot.
Steaming also took a little while to get a handle on. I found that it heated up so quickly, that I had very little time to do my thing. I also found that my 12 oz and 24 oz frothing jugs were either too small or the shape wasn’t right. I ended up buying a 32 oz jug, and that combined with placing the jug in the freezer about 10 minutes before, helps. I had to change my frothing technique a little in order to deal with all the extra steam power and the heat. If I put the tip too low into the milk, the milk heats up way too fast. So…I would put my tip into the milk, start the steaming, and sort of lightly bob the jug during the stretching phase, then, at 100 dF, I would lower the tip just a little bit, until it reached 140 dF. With the lag in the thermometer, this would end up leaving the milk at a temperature of between 145 dF and 150 dF. I will tap the jug against the counter a few times, swirl the milk, then tap it again and swirl. The result is really nice creamy milk foam, beautiful for latte.
At this point, I would clean my steaming tip and give a quick burst of steam to clear the nozzle.
I think I will continue to get better with this machine, and I feel it will meet my needs for quite a while. I have no upgrade-itus, and if I buy another machine, it will be a project machine, just for the fun of it. If it replaces my Rancilio, it will be because I lucked out on the project.
One Year Followup
After a year of using it, I haven't changed my opinion about this big beautiful machina. I love it!!! My friends always laugh when they see it for the first time, but they love the drinks I make with it. I have had no problems at all with it, and feel like I spent my money very well. I have no regrets. It sits proudly in the middle of my counter.
The only problem I have, is it is very hard to find a good coffee shop now. There are only a few in this area where I can get a better drink, and I have a really hard time when I travel.