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Isomac Zaffiro - Kevin Whyte's Review
Posted: May 10, 2003, 11:43pm
review rating: 5.8
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Isomac Zaffiro
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More About This Product
Arrow The Isomac Zaffiro has 10 Reviews
Arrow The Isomac Zaffiro has been rated 9.04 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Isomac Zaffiro reviews have been viewed 79,204 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
David Blackman 9.50
Dan Kehn 7.86
Bob Dunsig 7.30
Marc Lewis 6.50
Mike Walsh 6.42

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.0
Manufacturer: Isomac Quality: 10
Average Price: $895.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $795.00 Cost vs. Value 8
Where Bought: chriscoffee.com Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 6 months Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: In my opinion, head-and-shoulders above the others if you only make espresso.
Positive Product Points

Great thermal stability from the e-61 group head.  Solid construction.  Huge drip tray.  Easily adjustable brew tempurature.

Negative Product Points

Dispensing hot water is clumsy.  Group head gasket difficult to remove.

Detailed Commentary

In deciding what to buy, I considered four basic choices:

 Cheap (like the Carrezza) : obviously price is an advantage, but I was pretty sure I'd be disappointed in the espresso (probably due to my lack of skill rather than the machine), and so I'd just end up buying a higher end machine anyway.

 The Silvia:  Still cheaper than the "prosumer" machines, but produces great shots.  Another plus is the wide base of users.  I'm just not interested in the MacGyver-like mod's people make to their machines.  I know some people are very much into the process of making espresso - I'm really just interested in a great, convenient shot.

 HX prosumer machines (like Giotto, Tea, etc)  These can be left on full time, which makes thing convenient, can steam/brew without delays, etc.  I gather that the HX makes the machine too hot after awhile, but a blank shot or two brings things back down.  These are pricey (although now the Oscar seems to be a nice price point), and since I only make espresso (I don't like the milk drinks) so I felt like I'd be paying for something I mostly wouldn't use.

 A spring lever (like the Elektra) : Ok, so this isn't about convenience. They look cool and take up less space.  There's something really appealing about the simplicity of a spring - cheaper, more even pressure, etc. than any of the pumps (certainly superior to a vibe pump).  In the end, the tempurature stability problems, small boilers, etc.  made me decide against them.  Why is it hard to make a manual machine with reasonable tempurature control?

 When I heard about the Zaffiro, it seemed to be the perfect answer for me - the best temp. stability of anything vaguely in the price range, can be left on full time (or better, all day on a timer), etc.  Another big plus for me is the easily adjustable brew temp. - I tend to like shot brewed at a higher temp than most machines are set for.  It's easy enough to adjust here that I even adjust for different blends.

 It produces fantastic espresso, on par with any I've had, and far more consistently than other machines I've used.  I would certainly buy it again. Two positive surprises - the pressure gauge has been really helpful in fine tuning my grind+tamp, and the drip tray is huge.  I would definitely buy it again.  Here are my (minor) complaints:

  1.  Too expensive - I don't really care that it looks good, and I feel like I probably paid a lot for all that shiny metal.

  2.  Hot water is tricky to dispense - it starts off as very wet steam, and it's difficult to manage.  So, for americanos, I find it easier to steam cold water, which is slower (but maybe tastes better).

  3.  I recently tried to remove the dispersion screen to clean it (it's been in use for several months now), and removing the gasket is a royal pain.
Buying Experience

Chris' coffee is great, as per all the reviews here.  I have no valid complaints. Invalidly, after reading all the reviews here, I had expected something super human, with a fantastic package discount on machine + grinder, lots of useful little freebies, etc.  Instead, all I got was a good price and great customer service.

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review rating: 5.8
Posted: May 10, 2003, 11:43pm
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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