The Vibiemme Domobar is available in two versions: one with a single boiler, and a more expensive one (the "Domobar Super")with a heat exchanger that can also be plumbed in.
Itís operated by a lever that has three positions: up, middle and down. The middle position doesnít do anything.
The Vibiemme has an E61 grouphead, and I think the praise of the E61 has been sung enough elsewhere on this site not to have sing it again. Do a search for ďE61Ē, read, be convinced. No complaints. I believe the high E61 grouphead is pre-infusion, which causes the eight seconds or so delay before the pour starts, but Iím not techie and I could be mistaken about this.
Positive Points Elaborated
One big plus for the Vibiemme is the retro-ish design. Itís what first attracted me to it. And itís not a Francis!Francis! sort of design: this machine is entirely functional. You have your pressure gauge, your lever, a steam/hot water wand and two buttons (hot water and steam) to make the steam wand deliver the correct goods. Form follows function here.
This machine is one powerfull beast! Coming from a Krups toy that used Nespresso pods, I was impressed with its ability to deliver me some 10 bar on the grounds.
The water tank rests on a sort of scale, so that it pump shuts itself off when thereís not enough water available. Chances of you ruining your pump and your machine through negligence are almost zero. Which, for me, is a big plus.
Negative points elaborated
Negative points are rather few, I believe.
In order to fill it, you have to lift the cup warmer, fill the reservoir, make sure the tubes are immersed and the tank is full enough. Itís a bit of a hassle, but then, the reservoir is large enough and most other machines operate the same way.
It's a high standard machine, but it does expect your standards to be on the same high level.
If you use old beans, you will need to grind finer to compensate, and you will still taste it in the cup.
You really need a decent grinder. I use a Rocky, but I feel I will fall victim to the Mazzer Mini upgrade fever in a year or so. I had some trouble with my Rocky in the beginning: it wouldn't grind fine enough. That caused my shots to run through too fast (something like 15-20 seconds). The problem is now solved, and the machine performs very admirably.
The machine will be harsh on stale beans (tastewise), but rather forgiving regarding the amount of grinds you use: it doesn't matter if you use a gram or two more or less coffee. Just use the standard espresso SOP and you'll be fine (on one condition: that your grinder is up to the task). This SOP, to be complete, would be:
- slightly overfill the PF basket with ground coffee
- level the grounds off with the back of your measuring spoon
- tamp (the standard Schomer 20 lb. tamp, you know the drill)
- sweep any left over grounds off the ridge of the basket (I guess this is to prevent them from sticking to and caramelizing into the gaskets)
- pull shot and enjoy
(I realize that this is a 180 degree turn on the review I wrote back when I was still experiencing trouble with my Rocky. I then stated that the VBM is an "unforgiving machine". I was wrong: as long as your grinder is up to the task, it will produce wonderful espresso.)