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Francis Francis X1 - Steve Strawman's Review
Posted: February 4, 2006, 3:36am
review rating: 8.0
feedback: (4) comments | read | write
Francis Francis X1
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Arrow The Francis Francis X1 has 43 Reviews
Arrow The Francis Francis X1 has been rated 7.20 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Francis Francis X1 reviews have been viewed 247,844 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Scott Smith 8.75
Patrick Moss 8.00
Josh Alwitt 8.00
Steve Strawman 8.00
Phil M 7.60

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 5.4
Manufacturer: Francis! Francis! Quality: 4
Average Price: $799.00 Usability: 3
Price Paid: $150.00 Cost vs. Value 5
Where Bought: eBay Aesthetics 8
Owned for: 3 months Overall 7
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: Probably more style than substance, but capable of making decent (not great) espresso; a high-maintenance trophy-wife.
Positive Product Points

Styling - a classic design (in basic black).

Negative Product Points

Manufacturer support.
Lack of labeling (front panel switches/indicator lights).

Detailed Commentary

Having done much research on the site, I was looking for a first espresso maker to develop my skills.  This may not have been the best choice, but with the good looks and a decent price, this is my "starter" machine.
Being an engineer from the slide-rule days, the natural starting point was to completely disassemble the unit, looking for things to improve along the way (as well as the cleaning-up of each individual part).  This is where it got interesting in a hurry.
Apparently, the previous owner had never performed any maintenance on the machine.  Steam wand was plugged, boiler was coated with scale (aluminum boiler), and there was a bit of slight surface oxidation on the ferrous parts (read rust).
Okay - not a problem here, having rebuilt everything from the engine in my Lotus Europa to many Canon SLR's, this was a mild challenge.  The only problem was getting parts from the manufacturer.  Being the older aluminum boiler model, they did not have everything that I needed.  I substituted a dispersion screen and outlet nozzle from a similar model espresso machine and made some minor modifications to improve water flow out of the boiler.  As an aside, there is a service company that represents the Italian manufacturer in the USA - not my idea of a business model suited to getting customers that "warm-fuzzy feeling".
Got her all back together without a problem and worked on the brew temperature.  The circuitry is rather sophisticated for temperature control; a center well in the boiler holds the thermocouple and feeds a solid-state controller.  Adjusted the variable resistor to get the closest to 90Centigrade in the portafilter (snaking my thermocouple up the hole in the bottom of the portafilter).
After all of this, I've had decent results with the extraction and steaming abilities of Francis.  Certainly the small boiler is a negative from temperature stability and steam output, but it has been a learning experience for me.
Most of my shots have a fair amount of crema, only after careful grinding/tamping.  Have used the ESE adaptor for the can on Illy pods the seller included, but was not overly impressed with them in comparison to careful grinding/tamping;seems more like a convenient way to get espresso for someone that doesn't want to "get their hands dirty".
It has been a bit like dating a supermodel and finding out she doesn't know that France is in Europe - you just gotta live and learn.  Imagine the newer brass-boiler machines are superior to the aluminum from the scaling viewpoint, so I wouldn't recommend this model to the faint-of-heart.
Now, lets check on the pricing of that Livia........

Buying Experience

Hey, it was a nice lady on eBay that just didn't take care of her machine.

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review rating: 8.0
Posted: February 4, 2006, 3:36am
feedback: (4) comments | read | write
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