This machine stands shoulder to shoulder with the BEST machines in its HX/E61 class. There is no doubt that you will be happy with this purchase.
Positive Product Points
- A monster sized espresso machine with lots of real-estate for cups,saucers, etc. (24 espresso cups) - Simple in design, but makes a MAJOR statement in any kitchen - E61/HX delivers consistent results - Commercial quality components - More steam than most would ever need - Able to run continuously w/o any negatives - Cup warmer is exceptional - Although I bought the pour over model it came equipped to convert to direct connect - The standard drain valve is an option I can't live without now
Negative Product Points
- Drip tray was a little difficult to remove (not a big issue I use the drain valve which came installed see Detailed Commentary) - Due to the commercial nature of this machine it takes some getting used to (calls to Terry Z late at night the first couple of days) - Water container is about 64 oz. (not a big negative but it is if you are forgetful) - Hot water is waaay HOT and it is a little erattic when you turn it on so WATCH OUT ( i got hit with HOT WATER)
(the format pays homage to dan kehn's La Valentina review) **DISCLAIMER: This review may not be as cool as the first 3 times I tried to post this review when unexpectedly my window closed throughout the day**
INTRODUCTION (My Espresso Story in Short Form)
I started my journey into espresso/coffee world with a brief visit to CoffeeGeek that has turned into home sweet home. This website is the reason I bought Rancilio Silvia in the first place a little over 10 months ago. Silvia was an easy first choice with 50 plus super positive reviews how could I go wrong. Silvia fit my BASIC needs, was an awesome addition to my kitchen, and It prepared my fiance for what was to come. That being said ITS DAYS WERE NUMBERED. I was hooked quickly and I got the UPGRADE SNIFFLES early on. UPGRADING is the nature of the beast with hobbies. If you hang out at CoffeeGeek you get UPGRADE FEVER. The HX machine is a unique machine that requires a UNIQUE JOURNEY tailored to the buyer. I went deep into the minute differences between machines to pick my machine.
WHY HX/E61 ANYWAY
Let it be known: As of 3/04 I don't even really drink milk drinks so why did I need the upgrade. Picture it lots of people visiting you saying wow that looks cool, but NO WAY am I sipping an espresso. TRUTH BE TOLD: Most people DO NOT drink straight espresso. HX/E61 lends itself to having company and sharing the coffee experience through milk drinks. (Short Version of UPGRADE FEVER)
Truth be told. Size/Form/Function. My cabinets are full of plates, cups, beer steins, etc. My coffee equipment did not have a home. Cups were without a place to stay. YES I WILL ADMIT IT. I bought an espresso machine because it had the MOST real estate. (24 espresso cups versus 9 with most other HX machines need I say more). If you read the forums HX machines are pretty much a wash when it comes to performance. They all stand up to each other in competition. So the final decision on buying an HX machine means taking the time to look into why you are buying a machine. When it comes down to spending your money then things like how it fits into your kitchen and your space, etc. come into play.(That being said you almost can't go wrong in the above 800 dollar crowd of espresso machines)
HISTORY OF WEGA
I don't know. I know that it is the DARK HORSE/MAVERICK of the CoffeeGeek Website. Most members did not but this machine, but ALL members who know about this machine RESPECT this machine. It is a great machine and there is no real reason NOT to buy it unless you don't have the real estate in your kitchen because IT IS BIG....
OUT OF THE BOX
This is a large machine. It is as big if not bigger than most of the machines in its class. The difference between Wega and its comrades in the over 800 dollar crowd is that it has as much real estate on top of the machine as the total footprint of its dimensions. Most of the other machines have large footprints but it is due the drip tray rather than the whole machine. Wega really reminds me of Silvia in style. Silvia is built as a box with a section cut out of the box for the grouphead and the cup to fit. Imagine BIG rectangle with a section cut out of the front. The machines dimensions are 16.75"x18"x13". It is AWESOME and HEAVY at 75 lbs even though it feels like 90lbs. My first excited moment was when I saw that I could hook up the drain valve so it drained directly into the sink. NO MORE coffee water on the floor. If you don't know what I am talking about because you are not MESSY then ignore me.
USAGE & MAINTENANCE
It has been two months so let's be realist there hasn't been much in the way of maintenance since the first week. My first use of this machine was a misfire. I actually have a UV water filter and my water was TOO CLEAN. I had to trick the machine into recognizing I had water in the boiler and in the resevoir..... A positive for me but a bummer on my first night. I had issues off an on for a week dealing with this issue. This is where customer service came into play. Terry called me multiple times beyond the call of duty to make sure my machine was working. It took a bit of tweaking but I finally got the boiler to kick into gear. It was worth the wait. I was initially a little put off by the fact that it did not work immediately, but going through the steps of diagnosing my machines problem I learned a lot about high end prosumer espresso machines. The quality inside these machines is on par with the money you spend.
A word of warning is that this much brushed steel or polished steel is going to get dirty so make sure you are prepared to clean up. My machine looks pristine maybe twice a week. The other days it looks like it makes espresso a few times a day. This is putting it delicately. It actually looks like WW2 rolled through the kitchen. All my fault not the machine. Everything works fine now and I did not have to send my machine back. She purs like a well tuned automobile when she makes espresso. Lots of crema and lots of steam are characteristics of a good day with this machine. All I need now is to LEARN how to make latte art.
MY SHOPPING EXPERIENCE (The Contenders):
ECM Giotto Premium - The runner up to Wega in my book. It has NEW & COOL FACTOR going for it. Isomac Tea – This is the POPULAR CHOICE. It is a Classic. Too popular for me to have it. Expobar Office – I like this machine. Especially for the price, but I DID NOT want to regret not spending the money. La Valentina - Dan Factor almost got me to buy this machine. I just never was completely sold on buying this machine Millenium - I like this one but the lines of the machine never sold me. Pasquini Livia 90 - no E61 group. It is too classic. It needs to be updated.
As I said my final decision came down to useable real estate on top of the espresso machine because almost all the performance factors are equal. All the espresso machines I mentioned all make EXCELLENT espresso if you look at the reviews they get. Wega was being sold by a West Coast distributor who has an excellent reputation. It was not the obvious choice but it was the choice for me. I am happy and would do it again, and again, and again until La Marzocco ends up in my kitchen one day.
I AM espressoDOM in the forums.... say Hi and feel free to ask me if you have any questions about this machine
Brian and Terry Z @ home-espresso.com and espressoparts.com made my buying experience a memorable one! Brian was very patient with me even as I called twice a week until my machine arrived at my door. He also fielded a bunch of pre-purchase questions for me. He actually put espresso cups on top of the machine answer the question of how many cups would fit on top of the Wega. He also priced an extra tamper head "The Skull head only" to add to my order since I already had a Lava Tamper. Terry Z sealed the deal as a class act when he gave me his cell phone and called me 4 times to follow up with my initial user issues with my new machine. I would highly recommend them as a West Coast distributor regardless of what you are buying. Terry and company are ACES in my book.