If you're reading this, chances are, you're considering purchasing the Quickmill Anita. So, let me be clear.. The negative points I listed, are a stretch. The quickmill HX machines really are a very well built bunch of machines, and that was the best I could come up with. Nonetheless, they are negative points, and things which annoyed me a bit, though not enough to not buy the machine.
The Anita was my first real espresso machine. So, I ordered a bottomless portafilter to get started with her. I had heard about the "HX Flushes" and the "Water Dance" Rituals, and got real overwhelmed, real quick. And then the machine arrived.(Phenomenally packed, by the way). I let her heat up for about 1hr 20mins. 1hr is good, and you can get away with 45mins, but I found the shots ended up being much nicer with a 1hr heatup.
The Machine is designed to be left on 24/7, though some people don't. I personally left mine on all the time. IF you dont, you need to get an Appliance timer, so you can program the machine to come on an hour before you'll need it(like before you wake up/come home from work etc etc). But, with Autofill Circuitry, Low Water Shutoff, and Hi-Limit Protection, you have no need to ever worry about anything happening by leaving it on. The low-water cutoff is unique. Usually, when the machine senses the reservoir is low on water, it cuts the power to the pump and the heating element, and often times, this happens during a shot. Well, on the Quickmills, it ONLY cuts power to the heating element. So, if you're in the middle of a shot, your shot wont be ruined(actually, you can pull another 3-4 shots before you're really out of water)
Speaking of Autofill... With this, and pretty much any HX/DB machine with Autofill... You CANNOT use Pure RO or Distilled Water. The Autofill probe needs to sense some amount of minerals in the water to work. Otherwise, it will think there is not enough water, and cause your boiler to overfill. But, more importantly, your coffee with not taste good at all. If you have RO/Distilled, you can mix it with tap water to get the mineral content up. Ideally, you want minerals in the water for the best tasting coffee.
Making Espresso is pretty straightforward. Using the double basket, start with about 16grs of coffee, and set the grind to give you about 1.5/1.75oz, in about 28-30 seconds. I personally have never pulled a 2oz/25sec shot, that I enjoyed. YMMV.
The Quickmills are a bit tricker to manage, temp wise, compared to say, a Giotto or Vibiemme. But, once you get a handle over it, its easy as pie, as they say. One accessory besides a bottomless portafilter I HIGHLY suggest, is the E-61 Grouphead Thermometer. Eric Svedson developed it, but you can also buy it direct from Chris' Coffee. While I think any HX machine will benefit from it, the Quickmills really benefit the most. It has to do with the way the HX circuit is setup. Point is, you end up getting the long thermal memory of the E-61, and fast recovery of the HX. With the grouphead therm, its a no brainer, but without one, it will take you about a week, possibly a couple weeks even, to really get comfortable with the flush. but, rest assured, can literally can open the box, and pull a shot. The E-61 group has a pre-infusion chamber, so you get a very smooth ramp to pressure... About 4-7 seconds. The Preinfusion, along with the gentle ramp to pressure, make the E-61 a very forgiving grouphead to work with.
Steam power is good. The machine ships with a 2-hole steam tip. Unless you are used to using a machine with this amount of power, you will have to relearn your technique. I suggest using the soap/water trick. Fill a steaming pitcher with water, like you would with milk. Then put ONE LITTLE DROP, TEENY TINY DROP, of Liquid dish soap. Make "microfoam" with that. This will allow you to practice as much as you want, without wasting milk. When you DO switch to milk... Use WHOLE milk. 2%, 1% Skim, Non-Fat.. Aint going to work. They all have about the same amount of protiens, which is what makes the bubbles, but they dont have the needed fat content. What you end up is, is Starbucks like Soap Bubbles. BOO! If youre having trouble, try a different brand. Parmalat is what I use, because I think it is the sweetest, and its pretty easy to froth. Plus, its good for 6months on the shelf, and its in 1qt containers, so if you dont use a lot of milk, you dont have to worry about waste. Once you do get the milk technique down,Anita WILL reward you will good microfoam.
-The Stock steam arm is good for a 12oz, and a 20oz pitcher. Its a bit small for a 32oz or larger. You might consider upgrading to the S5 arm, or even the No-Burn arm, as the length, and the angle of them are much better. I like the S5 arm a lot.
Up top, you can fit a decent amount of cups, and they get nice and warm too. I kept only my espresso cups up there, and my cappa cups I would heat up with the hot water wand. Thats makes the cup too hot for just espresso, but for a milk drink, its fine. For filling up the reservoir, you do need to remove the cups, which can get annoying if you like to keep cups up there. Some people just dont keep cups up top, to avoid having to take them all off all the time. I set up my Anita to run off an External Reservoir, which was much better. It was larger, for one. I could also see the water level when it got low, and I could refill it without moving my cups. The drip tray is pretty big, but with any HX.. unless it has a drain kit, it is going to fill up quickly. Youve got the flushes, the 3-way discharge, the post-shot flush/scrub... They fill up quick.
ALright, so here are my complaints. Its a vibe pump, pourover machine. In hindsight, I should have went with a Plumbed Rotary machine to begin with. My other complaint is that the machine is an HX.
As you can see, my complaints have nothing to do with the preformance of the machine. As a pourover HX machine, Anita preforms flawlessly. She is a joy to use and own, and making phenomenal espresso and espresso-based milk drinks, is not only a piece of cake, but incredibly FUN!
I would suggest this machine to anyone looking for an HX machine. I honestly believe the Quickmill Anita is the best HX machine in its class. Meaning, compared to other Vibe Pump HXs, I dont think there is any better choice.
-Suggested Accesories for the best experience
E-61 Grouphead Thermometer
*So with such a great review, WHY did I say I wouldnt buy this machine again? Simple. I went to a Dual Boiler, And I believe it is a superior system. If for some reason I had to go back to an HX, I would not hesitate to go with a Quickmill, from Chris' Coffee Service