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QuickMill Anita - Erin Morrow's Review
Posted: July 9, 2011, 6:32pm
review rating: 0.0
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QuickMill Anita Espresso Machine
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More About This Product
Arrow The QuickMill Anita has 47 Reviews
Arrow The QuickMill Anita has been rated 9.19 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since August 1, 2005.
Arrow QuickMill Anita reviews have been viewed 260,247 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Jeff Cirelli 9.00
Cameron Neilson 9.00
Tim Eggers 8.85
Michael Wolfson 8.35
Jeffrey the Barak 8.33

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.2
Manufacturer: QuickMill Quality: 10
Average Price: $1,595.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $1,325.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: Espresso Planet Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 3 months Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: It just works. Love it.
Positive Product Points

-Solid feel
-Makes a great shot (even for a noob)
-Very nice functional aesthetic
-Easy set up
-Steep learning curve

Negative Product Points

-A bit noisy
-Very thin included documentation
-Steep learning curve

Detailed Commentary

OK, a bit of background: I'm coming from a pair of stove top espresso makers (a one shot and a two-shot) and had never pulled a shot of espresso on my own until I got the Anita home and warmed up. I do have a long standing love of espresso dating from a trip to Italy almost 10 years ago which has only intensified now that I have a young family and erratic sleep patterns. I NEED that double shot every morning to get things rolling. Thanks to my kids I now have a morning breakfast routine that happens in my kitchen rather than at my desk, and putting two and two together I decided that I'd like to start making my own "proper" espressos and cappuccinos. It also turns out that we most often get to see old friends when someone hosts a brunch so I was interested in getting something that could keep up with the demands of making a half dozen or more drinks.

I did a lot of research here at Coffee Geek (thank you!) and on other sites including Home Barista just so I knew generally what I was looking for when I went into a store for the first time. I had a great buying experience at Espresso Planet (see below). Once I got the Anita home it was very simple to get everything set up and after filling the boiler and then heating everything up for 30-40mins I was ready to go.

As noted above, my issues with the Anita are that the pump is a bit on the loud side and that the included documentation is basically non-existent. I expected the pump noise from other reviews and trying it in-store so I'm not surprised or disappointed, but it is not a silent running bit of kit. As for the thin documentation, I knew that the manual was available online both from my pre-purchase research and from Josh at Espresso Planet. Again, not a surprise but something to be aware of and the main reason that I only rated usability at only a 7.

Keen observers will note that I listed the steep learning curve as both a plus and minus. It is a minus because after one week I have progressed from a 30% success rate on double shots to about a 75% success rate. I thought that 2lbs dark roast sampler they threw in to the deal would last longer! It is a positive because I love the idea that making great espresso and cappuccinos is a craft with this machine. On the day of purchase I was actually offered a very good deal on a much higher end display model which included PID, auto-volume, and other conveniences, but said no because I want to have to learn about making espresso not just pushing a button. I knew going in to this that the e61 group head is forgiving but also requires some respect and dedication to produce consistently great shots and that's how I want it. I think that this is an important factor for anyone considering the Anita or a similar machine.

As for the experience of making espresso shots, I love the solid feel of the Anita. No need to brace the machine while inserting a portafilter - which is a good thing as many parts of the machine are quite hot after awhile! The polished steel and chromed group head have (to my eye) a beautiful form-follows-function aesthetic and the analog pressure gauges are a breath of fresh air in a digital world. Side note: as a scuba diver, the quality of craftsmanship and solidity of the Anita is reminiscent of a good 1st stage regulator and I trust my life with those things. It is a pleasure to see thick coffee and crema filling the bottom of the cup. I have to admit that I am still working on accurately judging "blonding" though. Perhaps a bottomless portafilter is in my future...

My wife and I both prefer cappuccinos at the start of our days so I have been doing a lot of milk frothing. It is probably more honest to say that I have been struggling with milk frothing as I only use whole milk that is nearly 4% milk fat and the steamer on the Anita is quite powerful. The taste and mouth-feel is very good but I am a few country miles away from latte art. As a point of reference I had previously tried the steamer on a friend's Breville and that just didn't prepare me for how fast the milk heats up with the Anita. I have also made use of the hot water wand a few times and find it to be a great convenience feature as I do occasionally get a craving for an Americano.

In the end I am very pleased with the Anita. It allows me to mostly make drinks that are at least as good as what I get at the local espresso bars - and my neighbourhood has some good ones. For me the Anita has the features, reputation, counter presence, and price point that I was looking for and I love having a new domain of knowledge to explore. I am really enjoying the addition of drinks from the Anita to my morning ritual and I expect to get years of service our of such a solid feeling piece of equipment.

Some links I have found useful on this journey:
http://coffeegeek.com/guides/frothingguide/advancedguide
http://www.home-barista.com/hx-love.html

Buying Experience

I bought this machine from Espresso Planet (www.espressoplanet.com) in Mississauga, ON. I dealt with Josh who was knowledgeable, calm, and helpful. I went in a couple of weekends before I bought the Anita and was invited to try both the Anita and the Virtuoso Preciso grinder which I was also interested in. I had done a lot of online research on this site and others but still had a lot of questions and concerns about the Anita. After an hour or more of experimentation and discussion I was pleased to find that I liked the Anita, the Preciso, and the customer service at Espresso Planet. I gave myself a cooling off period of a couple of weeks and then went back and completed the sale. I received what I feel was a very reasonable deal for the Anita, Preciso, and a "starter kit" of quality accessories and 2lbs of coffee. I had my 2 year old son with me during both visits and the staff were very kind and patient with a busy dad and toddler. They even carried all the purchased items out to our car so I could focus on strapping in my kid. It's not a big thing, but something I appreciate these days. I hope that I will never need it, but Espresso Planet also does all the warranty work for the Anita, and based on the sale experience I feel very comfortable with the purchase.

Three Month Followup

It turns out you can learn a lot about coffee in 3 months. I now know that there are 3 places in my neighbourhood that sell beans with "roasted on" dates on the bag and two of them roast their own on premises. Cool! I have really improved my shot consistency and foaming technique and am confident in saying that I prefer my own drinks to the ones I get from cafes - even really good espresso bars.

Through all of this learning Anita has been just amazing. No doubts about on which side of the handle the problems were. I have altered two initial scores - usability goes from a 7 to a 9 and build quality from 9 to 10. In the end the lack of included documentation is offset by how easy this machine is to use each day once the initial learning curve is overcome. I also wish more of the devices I encounter each day were as solid as this chunk of brass, copper and steel. I think it is worth noting that the Anita I bought is the revised version with the flip up reservoir lid and more accessible OPV adjustment screw, both of which are very useful.

A few lessons learned:
- an appliance timer definitely helps on the first shot each day as warmup time really is about 30mins
- the reservoir is big enough for 6-8 cappuccinos (2 days in our house) including rinsing the portafilter and hot water for heating cups
- it takes awhile to get comfortable with all the variables involved in espresso and milk frothing - patience is key
- try different beans! I had no idea that coffee could have natural lemon, anise, or roast tomato(!) flavours

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Posted: July 9, 2011, 6:32pm
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