Published by Ben PiffDecember 15, 2015 3:10 pm
In December of 2014, I got my first chance to see and use the LUCCA M58 on a visit to the Clive showroom. I’ve been a big fan of Quick Mill for years (owning Anitas, Andrejas, Vetranos and a 2B at the time), so I couldn’t contain my excitement to see what my friends at Clive had done to build on a machine foundation I already loved. Fast forward 11 months, I’m now working at Clive Coffee and probably have more experience with the M58 than anyone. The customers that are researching this machine typically have already read every forum post and video I’ve made about it, so I’ll try to crystalize my findings and not be too repetitive.
A simple outlet timer will be your best friend with a machine like the M58. Just set it to turn on half an hour before you wake up, and by the time you’re ready your mugs will already be warming up. Is your mug as toasty hot as you want? If not, press the right joystick down and instantly dispense some 260 degree hot water into it. Oh, and while we’re at it let’s lock in the portafilter, flip the brew lever up and draw a couple ounces of 200 degree water into your shot glass or mug. This warming flush should ensure that your shot stays within a degree of your programmed brew temperature.
Grind your first shot, either by weight or by eye, whichever routine feels most intuitive for you. I have my grind set for a very light tamp with my vintage Clive wenge tamper. Lock the heavy custom bottomless portafilter in, flip the brew lever up, watch the shot timer climb and crouch down to savor the view. Seeing tenths of a second on the custom PID helps you prepare to cut the brew off exactly where you want, and decide how much your grind needs to be adjusted so your next shot can be even better. There’s also plenty of room under the portafilter to place your favorite cup (and a scale, if you want to measure your shot volume). Sip the shot. If it’s overly bitter, I’ll either adjust my grind finer to reduce my brew ratio, or I’ll adjust my shot temperature down two degrees.
Happy happy joy joy
The LUCCA’s joysticks were the biggest change to my many years of e61 espresso routine. It’s much easier to avoid over-heating the milk, so easy in fact that my four year old could help steam his own milk. Don’t worry, I hold the pitcher, and he doesn’t get espresso in his milk…yet. I steam about three ounces of milk for my drinks, which happens fast enough that I typically like to watch my shot finish and then focus on my microfoam. When I first tested an M58, I lowered the steam boiler temperature to 245 degrees to give myself more steaming time, but as I’ve become more comfortable with the interface I’ve gradually increased the temperature to 250 or 255. At these temperatures, I’ll place the steam tip just below the surface in the center and stretch the milk for five seconds, then I’ll tip and raise the pitcher moderately to get things mixing. If steaming more than four ounces of milk, I’d switch to the included four hole tip, leave the steam power at 260, and switch my machine to 20 amp mode (to let both boilers reheat at the same time). If you drink a lot of Americanos or see yourself using the hot water wand often, you’ll enjoy being able to lower the steam boiler temperature down to about 230 for a gentler flow of water.
Other touch points
The notable things I’ve interacted with over the months of owning my own M58 are, the PID, drip tray and rotary pump adjustment. As a recent owner of Expobar Brewtuses, Rocket R58, and Quick Mill Vetrano 2B, the LUCCA’s use of glass with metal buttons make adjustments mechanically satisfying (more so than plastic or rubberized off-the-shelf PID displays) and fast enough that I enjoy experimenting with my settings often. I’ve also switched my machine to 20 amp mode through the PID, so I basically never need to wait for steam power, and I can warm my machine up in the afternoon in 10-15 minutes (drawing a few ounces of hot water through the group head helps with warmup time a lot). The custom cup rail is also very helpful for keeping my cups safe against groggy morning fingers.
The drip tray on the latest machines has been increased 20oz in capacity, but even with my earlier version I only find myself emptying the drip tray maybe twice a week (and my household often makes five to seven drinks in a day). I’ve found that the deep drip tray combined with the mesh that covers it do a great job of minimizing splashes and standing water, compared to some wider grate patterns.
When I plumbed in the machine, at first I didn’t realize that my line pressure had increased my brew pressure by one bar (from the industry standard nine, to a little over ten). Eventually I noticed that this was reducing the flavor of my espresso. And because the M58’s pump can be adjusted from the outside, I was able to easily adjust my pump pressure down to 9 mid-shot.
Which is right for you?
There’s never been a better time to shop for an espresso machine, as our dual boilers can now suit a wider variety of budgets and aesthetic preferences than ever before. The M58 has proven to be a great fit for espresso novices as well as enthusiasts, particularly for people that appreciate mechanical interaction and an experience that is a radical departure from the typical push-button appliance. If you’d like an espresso machine that takes the most classic Italian design to the next level of aesthetics with modern control and information, the LUCCA M58 could be a great fit.
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