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Rancilio Betsy - Alan Duncanson's Review
Posted: April 6, 2002, 11:21pm
review rating: 8.8
feedback: (1) comments | read | write
Rancilio Betsy
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Arrow The Rancilio Betsy has 4 Reviews
Arrow The Rancilio Betsy has been rated 8.05 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since February 23, 2002.
Arrow Rancilio Betsy reviews have been viewed 30,801 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Alan Duncanson 8.75
Mark Akers 7.29
Joe Foo 0.00
Sam Marcaccini 0.00

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.2
Manufacturer: Rancilio Quality: 7
Average Price: $229.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $199.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: 1st Line Equipment Aesthetics 8
Owned for: 4+ years Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: Beginner Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: None
Bottom Line: The Betsy makes excellent espresso at a very nice price.
Positive Product Points

My 5 months of experience with the Betsy convinces me that it is capable of making quite good espresso.  It is a very good value, leaving money in the budget for the requisite excellent grinder.

Negative Product Points

The plastic case is a little loose on the cast metal frame causing concerns about it durability.  Others complain about it's rather funky/exaggerated styling, but hey, I bought mine in red!

Detailed Commentary

That I put about 10 years of heavy use on a moka pot may be taken as evidence that I would not spend extravagantly when I decided that I deserved a real espresso machine.  I had absorbed the conventional wisdom of alt.coffee that the grinder is more important than the espresso machine.  I was therefore fairly sure that I would soon be buying a Rocky grinder, and I was reluctant to spend $400 for an espresso machine.  When I discovered the Betsy available for $199, apparently sharing many specifications, if not components, with the Sylvia, it seemed to be a good entree.  I thought that the smaller boiler and quicker heat time might be an advantage.
    When I received the Betsy, I tried to continue to use the inexpensive Bosch burr grinder that I had used for many years.  With the Bosch I was unable to achieve brew times longer than 12 seconds, and the coffee was thin, short of crema and unsatisfactory.  I accelerated the purchase of a Rocky.  (A minor pause occurred at that point as I just then became aware of the Solis Maestro.)  
    With the Rocky, followed by the purchase of a Brita water filter, and shortly thereafter beginning to home roast, then a custom turned tamper; I find that with care I can consistently make excellent espressos.  This is the proof of the pudding to me.  Maybe I am not getting god shots, but I get shots with good crema, heavy body, and excellent flavor.  I feel am making far better shots than are available from local shops.  I believe that further improvement in my espresso quality would come more easily by upgrading the grinder and certainly by improving my roasting technique, than by buying a better espresso machine.  I am sure that I will buy a better machine someday, but I do not now feel the need to based on the quality of the shots I draw.
    I am not yet satisfied with my ability to steam milk with the Betsy, but for now I attribute that to lack of motivation and practice.  The Betsy seems to produce plenty of steam.  The quick time to heat turns out to be completely irrelevant as I always warm the machine up long before using it.  I have used the Betsy to serve coffee for up to 5 people after dinner and found it capable of making 5 doubles in quick succession.  I heat water in a microwave for making Americanos.
    The exuberant Italian styling of the Betsy, does not offend me.  If anything, I think that it complements the standard white Rocky very well.  The Betsy is built on a substantial cast frame, but the shape is filled out with molded plastic covers that seem to hang loosely and rattle on the frame.  I am concerned about the durability of these parts, but they are not necessarily subject to rough use.

Buying Experience

Very excellent service from 1st Line.  My Betsy came with a slow leak in the water tank and 1st Line replaced it very quickly.

Three Month Followup

A little more than a year after my purchase, and after a particularly excellent shot, I realized that I owed it to the world to post a rave about the wonderful service I have continued to enjoy from my Betsy.  I wish that more of my purchases gave such long term pleasure.   I read from 1st Line Equipment that the Betsy is no longer in production.  That is too bad.  I would recommend it to anybody looking for an entry level espresso maker.  

By the way, the steaming function proved to be completely capable as well.

One Year Followup

Actually a 6 year followup:  After 6 years of regular use, I got tired of water leaking around the original, hardened gasket and ordered a replacement from 1st Line.  Taking the machine apart to install the new gasket was nothing that I ever wanted to do, but was a gratifying and confidence building experience.   I was impressed by the quality of the internal components, particularly the heavy brass boiler.  

I have been very pleased with the brewing performance since installing the replacement gasket.   I guess that I will delay buying that new Isomac Zaffiro for a couple of more years now.  :-)

I haven't abused the machine, but it has held up remarkably well, inside and out.  I cannot imagine expecting better service out of a $200 entry level espresso maker.  And I have no idea what to recommend to a buyer interested in a new machine near that price point today.

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review rating: 8.8
Posted: April 6, 2002, 11:21pm
feedback: (1) comments | read | write
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