Best buy between a Rancilio Silvia and a Pasquini Livia
Positive Product Points
Commercial group, portafilter. 3 way selenoid valve. All polished stainless steel(bright annealed) except sides made with 1/4 steel plate with powder coating! This machine is built to last forever!!! The back is "dark shade gold" ..i am not a fan of gold but i must admit, it looks pretty good (much better than the picture). 1.7 liter (more than 50 oz) drip tray capacity! Possibility of direct plumming with a kit ..After shopping for the last 2 months, i can tell you there is NO COMPETITION (in this price range of course)for this machine!!!
Negative Product Points
Drip tray cover (in stainless steel) is a hassle to remove..untill you find a trick! No hot water dispenser (you cannot use the steam wand to get more than half cup of hot water). Not an easy access to poor fresh water in. The design is ..commercial..(like it or not) The auto shut-off feature (if out of water) is working for the pump only..the element is still heating. (but there is a warning light to wake you up!!)
After shoping espresso machines for the last 2 months (yes 2 months!), i saw this machine on a web retailer (San Giorgio Coffee : http://www.sangiorgiocoffee.com/professional_eg.html ..but for 798$ i would have prefer the Pasquini Livia...Since it is pretty difficult to have a good idea of the products you see on a web site, i tried to find a retailer in the Montreal area. Nobody was selling this machine! I then send an e-mail to La Spaziale (Helena) in Italy and found out there was a distributor of this machine ...with no retail store to see it :( . Zaca! He told me he would order one for me..and if i dont like it, he'll sell it to someone else...pretty fair deal. So i waited for 2 weeks. During that time i decided to buy rather a ECM Giotto or (second pick) Rancilio Silvia...So when Zaca called me after he received "the machine", i was trying to find a way to tell him i was not interrested anymore...till i saw it. WOW!!! after 2 seconds it was a done deal for 450$ U.S. !!! (He gave me distributor price since i told him we could add espresso equipment to our BBQ line-up!!! If you put this machine side to side with the Silvia...you realize the Silvia is not in the same ball game!!! Period..for the same money (exclusive deal to us)!!! The Professionale has all the main features of the Silvia (pro group and portafilter, 3 way selenoid valve, Ulka vibration pump) plus: A 1.7 liter drip tray (plastic with a stainless steel cover), a double side nickel plated copper boiler, a stainless steel cup warmer big enough for 15 espresso cups, a auto shut-off pump!!!..and it look more "commercial" (like it or not). I have this machine for 2 weeks now, and after the first couple of shots (adjusting my Innova grinder for this machine)...it was pretty close to nirvana (at least as good as the coffee shop):) ...shot after shot.. This is the most important feature for me: Espresso quality. This machine deliver... It is not coffee that came out of the portafilter, but almost 100% crema!!! wow. The steam is very powerfull but "fade out" after the first 30 sec or so (i dont mind because you can froth 16 oz of milk in 15 sec with this machine!!!). If you ever have to work inside this machine, it is pretty easy: just remove the 2 screws on the top (under the fresh water cover) and everything is there..easy access. If you dont like to pour water (2.5 liters) in it, you can buy a kit for direct plumming. As you see, i am very pleased with this machine. On the negative side, they could improve the drip tray cover (it is not easy to install / remove ..and could scratch the finish if you dont pay attention doing so) .You have to remove (with 2 hands) the top cover and open another cover (reservoir) to pour water in it..could be easier. The low water sensor is in the reservoir cover (2 stainless steel rods)...could be on the bottom (like the Pasquini Livia). They should think adding another rocker switch to use the steam wand as a hot water dispenser (as well as stam!). Since Zaca does not have a retail shop, he makes the maintenance/repair of commercial machine on the spot). If you are shopping for a Silvia but want more steam, huge drip pan, auto-shut-off feature...you should take a look at the La Spaziale Professionale...you will change your mind! If you are shopping for a Giotto or a Livia, maybe you should have a look on La Spaziale Profesionale, of course, you wont be able to steam and brew at the same time (nobody does it anyway) ..but if you are steaming before brewing, there is NO WAITING TIME...and you keep 400$ in your pocket.
Three Month Followup
We love this machine. (We have sold it last week and already miss it). Since last spring, we add espresso equipment to our line-up because of this machine :) We are now an espresso equipment retailer (an pround to sell La Spaziale Profesionale) !!!