Published by Ben PiffSeptember 23, 2016 7:27 pm
If you haven’t heard about ECM espresso machines yet, we wouldn’t blame you. But we have a feeling that once you’ve seen what these German-engineered espresso machines offer, you’ll be eager to start pulling shots on one.
The ECM name has been around for quite awhile, but many know them best for their mirror-polished commercial espresso machines. In 2007, ECM acquired the Italian factory where their machines had been made and they’ve been improving the quality of production ever since. The relentless pursuit of excellence is visible in every model ECM and their sister company Profitec make, but this post will focus on two long standing ECM names, the Classika and Casa.
The Casa machine has actually never been available in the US, but the latest and greatest iteration is on its way! While the Casa IV already had very impressive specs given its footprint, some new refinements have been added. The .4 liter boiler is now made from stainless steel like those in the Classika, Pro 700 and Synchronika. This has been done to increase durability and simplify maintenance, which our technicians are particularly excited about. Most single boiler machines use significantly smaller boilers than this, so they can warm up quickly. But the challenge with small boilers has always been steam power and temperature stability.
Having a larger boiler increases the drink capacity and temperature stability in the shot, but the most noticeable difference will be in the steam power. Because steam power relies on empty space at the top of the boiler, the Casa will benefit from having greater steam capacity than smaller .1 liter or .3 liter boiler machines like the Rancilio Silvia. A minute after flipping the steam switch, ample power will be available for any size of milk drink from macchiatos to large lattes. The stainless steel steam wand swivels fully on a ball joint. But steaming milk is not just about adding heat, and greater steam pressure can create better texture and microfoam.
Every feature and touch point has a substantial quality feel, and the 30lb is indicative of the heavy-duty build quality. The Casa V uses the same upgraded portafilters as the flagship Synchronika, and they have a very comfortable handle with chromed cap for more balanced weight. A beautiful gauge just like that on the Synchronika displays the brew pressure, which can be adjusted externally. We’re delighted that this level of performance and durability are now available in this compact and affordable price point!
The exclusive Clive Classika PID really picks up where the Casa V leaves off. Our model receives an updated joystick for instant on and off control of the steam power, side panels in polished, matte black or gloss white, an upgraded ECM stainless steel tamper, and an ECM chrome handled portafilter in addition to the double spout version. Lever operated e61 group machines paired with temperature control have been the holy grail of straight espresso purists for many years, and enthusiasts modified their own machines with PIDs before they became standard equipment. Another nice touch with ECM’s PID is the built in shot timer, which will help you dial in your grinder for the perfect 25-30 second brew.
We haven’t seen another machine that combines this level of performance in the cup with build quality to match at this price point. Because the Classika shares the same temperature controlled boiler and group head with the Synchronika and Pro 700, the shot quality will be identical. And like the Casa V, flipping the steam switch will generate great steam power in about one minute from the fully articulating wand.
If you’re limited on space or budget, you don’t have to sacrifice in the cup. The Classika is only 10 inches wide, and should fit under every standard kitchen counter. There is a lot of metal to warm up in the group head and portafilter; if you don’t want to wait 15-20 minutes to pull a shot we recommend getting an appliance timer like this one. That way you can have the machine warmed up whenever you want.
We see the Casa V and Classika forming two of the soundest espresso investments in the entry-level class, because of the quality of the engineering, components, and ECM’s focus on straightforward serviceability. If you have any questions about finding the right first equipment or improving your home espresso, get in touch with us by phone or email.