Great machine - buy it used and love it all the way!
Positive Product Points
A "small" truely commercial espresso machine. This is a supremely capable, high quality, rotary-pump machine capable of creating awesome espresso in the hands of a talented barista.
Negative Product Points
It's BIG. Real big. I had to remove the legs to fit it under my cabinets...it is 3 or 4 times bigger than Livia. It is also a plumb-in model - so this is a boon for some, a bust for others.
I was buzzing around Sweet Marias in Emeryville in preperation for purchasing a HotTop roaster and bought some "Activated Descaler". When I got home, I dissolved three packets in hot RO water and fed it to the machine. I ran a few oz through the HX, refilled the boiler with the rest. At first I couldn't get any water out of the boiler through the hot water nozzle (scale chunk stuck) so I left it for a day and tried again, I got a little water out. I did this again and again over several days and now the machine is perfectly clean! Yeah! Now I am going to take the whole machine apart and have the frame powdercoated bronze and the side panels powdercoated a deep red. Housemate and I are also going to make a new brainbox that more accurately tracks the temp throug the pour.
I have been in love with the Industrial Chic Rancilio S-20 line since it came out almost a decade ago. Since then, every time I see one, I have found myself drifting towards it in admiration.
When the opportunity came up to own one so reasonably, I jumped at the chance. While in need of a little restoration and a thurough deep clean, this much neglected old machines reletive good shape is a testament to the robust construction Rancilio puts into its commercial machines.
After 8 years of near non-use, I was able to flush the boiler a few times, re-adjust all the valves and buttons, and pull a pretty good shot of espresso. I suspect few other machines are so well built.
The specs on the S-27 are most impressove: the 4 liter boiler provides nearly inexhaustable steam, the HX keeps brew temp stable, the Procon pump is huge, powerful, and quiet. 5 Custom adjustable brew buttons allow for all manner of specific volumetrically-consistant espresso shots to be pulled.
I have reprogramed mine as follows:
#1 - 2oz pour to preheat cups #2 - 40 ml Ristretto rout #3 - 2oz Doppio pour #4 - 3oz Lungo pour #5 - 4oz hot water for Americano (the water wand button)
Cleaning, maintaining, and using the machine are all very easy to do. The steam wand is much easier to use than Livias stock wands so microfoam cappas can be made quickly and easily.
Weekly backflusing and a microfiber towel wipe-down daily are all I do for maintenance.
From a guy in South Dakota - bought sight unseen (he neglected to mention that the picture of "it" was someone elses machine). It shipped in a plywood crate Fed Ex ground. The Fed Ex guy asked me if I knew who had sent it and if I wanted the police to open it! It was a heck of a journey, but has worked out OK.
Three Month Followup
I am still a very happy camper with this machine - but what endears it to me so much is the hands-on approach that Rancilio requires to make great coffee. I regularly re-adjust the pressostat for my different roasts, reprogram the buttons to take best advantage of the particular beans/weather/roast/ & my mood. I love that I can take the body panels off once a week and dishwasher them, that at the end of a week of coffee-making I have 1 gallon of coffee-drain-water that my composter loves, and finally, that I have a tool which, by virtue of its consistant quality, helps me make better coffee. I am a happy owner; although I suppose I would be happier if I actually got around to replacing the bushings in the steam valve ;-)