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Thread: Looking at a Lelit mara

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    Looking at a Lelit mara

    Im going to replace my Breville DB as it has come to the stage where it is needing repairs more than it makes coffee so I think a Lelit will be my choice. I only make about 4 black coffees a day and rarely do milk, I like the look of the Mara but another model may be ok for me not sure, one thing though is can I use my VST 18 and 22 gm baskets in the Lelit machines? I have a K3 touch Grinder.

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    Better off asking about this in the "Pointy End" category Tony...

    Mal.
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    thanks, I will

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonym1 View Post
    Im going to replace my Breville DB as it has come to the stage where it is needing repairs more than it makes coffee so I think a Lelit will be my choice. I only make about 4 black coffees a day and rarely do milk, I like the look of the Mara but another model may be ok for me not sure, one thing though is can I use my VST 18 and 22 gm baskets in the Lelit machines? I have a K3 touch Grinder.
    Hi TonyM1,


    Why not look at the VBM Domobar Jnr aswell?
    If you’re a black coffee drinker then you’ll love having the vertical boiler for extra temp stability, much the same as the VBM (almost identical inside really) but I feel the VBM has a nicer styling, apart from being a proven model for many many years.


    Otherwise take Mal’s advice and get up in the 'Pointy end’ category of the forum, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of input there, especially from our friendly site sponsors

    edit: The VBM has a 1600 element if that helps
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    If you are looking for a compact machine then stick with the Mara Tony. The internal PID ensures excellent temp stability. You can read what I like about it here: www.kbean.com.au/buyers-guide
    Cheers, Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by GunBarista View Post
    Hi TonyM1,
    Why not look at the VBM Domobar Jnr aswell?
    If you’re a black coffee drinker then you’ll love having the vertical boiler for extra temp stability, much the same as the VBM (almost identical inside really) but I feel the VBM has a nicer styling, apart from being a proven model for many many years.
    Agree with Gun Barista if you want to keep it under 25cm, but if you're happy with similar foot print to the Breville Double Boiler, than any HX, e61 under 42cm will do, and may feature higher quality S/S, better design steam wand as well as some will have toggle switches. Naming a few: Isomac Tea (27cm width, cool touch steam wand, s/s switches, spacious), Di Bartoli Magica (30cm width, commercial ball joint steamer, tap levers, large cup warmer, finesse & attention to details, 4L tank, 50% trade in guarantee and few others). Love to tailor a short list for you if we get to know about you a little more: http://bit.ly/1mj6n0A

    Ofra

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    Tony, one thing that stood out for me was that you mainly make black coffees. That would suggest to me that you would only need a single boiler machine without HX. You are not going to use the steam wand anyway, why pay for it? Saves you half the money I reckon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enigk View Post
    Tony, one thing that stood out for me was that you mainly make black coffees. That would suggest to me that you would only need a single boiler machine without HX. You are not going to use the steam wand anyway, why pay for it? Saves you half the money I reckon.
    I wouldn't so quickly jump to this conclusions, Enigk.

    Many things are factored in every person's decision to upgrade. Most are subject to that person's culture that is different from anyone else's.

    If the OP is valuing longevity, durability, safety, easiness of use and speed (yes, even with black coffee) equally to his views of affordability than SB may not necessarily be the best way to go, particularly if he doesn't want to upgrade again within the next 5 years.

    Why?

    Here are top 3 reasons:

    1. Safety: HX has safety features SB doesn't have like low water cut off and automatic boiler refilling which is much more user friendly as well supports failure, prevents frequent technician visits and reduces the total repair bill for the life of the machine

    2. Longevity: HX internal parts are overall more commercial than SB, which allows for better longevity (providing user's appropriate care). For example: SB work with thermostats which are less commercially oriented than the HX pressures switches. We see frequent SB visiting our repair centre due to thermostats failing.
    Quality e61 HX tend to have a more robust design, higher metal quality, better attention to details. SB are only semi Prosumer and vary with their commercial orientation. Hence it's never only HX vs SB, comparison must rely on x SB model vs x HX model in relation to the user's culture

    3. Practicality: with e61 large boiler SB (like the Isomac Zaffiro), your wait time from start till the group head comes up to temperature is closer to that of an HX (average 20-25, the bigger boiler the longer the wait). With an HX you can use a timer for fast heat up time. You can't do that with SB as you risk burning your element. That may not be a big deal if the OP isn't rushed in the morning or happy to modify their morning routine to accommodate heat up time.

    Ofra
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    Nicely put Ofra. I couldn't agree more. I started off a SB. My first move to a quality HX was a big jump in not only quality coffee, but also, the coffee experience. There's an x-factor and feel to driving a solid HX machine.
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    while I don't use the steam very often it is nice to have it when someone calls in and likes a milk coffee. I currently use the hot water a lot on my Breville for making Americanos which is the Mrs and myself preferred morning drink (2 each every morning). I have been looking at the Lelit mara, Profitec 500 and Vibiemme domo jr. There are not many places that sell these in the Maitland/Newcastle area so I have to have a trip to Sydney when time permits
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    Yes, I see your points Ofra and Kbean. I maintain I made a fair point for consideration though. I was really looking at it from a pure cost perspective. What is immediately required vs how much money is immediately saved. From the other end of the scale, you could always get a better machine at greater expense. E.g money no object, one could recommend a GS3 for making long blacks too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonym1 View Post
    while I don't use the steam very often it is nice to have it when someone calls in and likes a milk coffee. I currently use the hot water a lot on my Breville for making Americanos which is the Mrs and myself preferred morning drink (2 each every morning). I have been looking at the Lelit mara, Profitec 500 and Vibiemme domo jr. There are not many places that sell these in the Maitland/Newcastle area so I have to have a trip to Sydney when time permits
    I am looking athe PL62 and VBM domo jnr myself , in addition to the Expobar Office Leva and Isomac Tea Due. Good luck!
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    Good news - there's a new version of the Mara (PL62S) coming early Feb at $2200ish. Worth the wait I think
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enigk View Post
    I am looking athe PL62 and VBM domo jnr myself , in addition to the Expobar Office Leva and Isomac Tea Due. Good luck!
    I don't sell the VBM so won't comment on that one.
    I do sell the Leva and Tea Due. The Mara is a level up in quality and refinement in my opinion. It also has a PID as a bonus so it would definitely be my choice of the 3.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enigk View Post
    I was really looking at it from a pure cost perspective. What is immediately required vs how much money is immediately saved. .
    I understand that Enigk

    But do people buy quality coffee machine because they want to save money or because they want to get the BEST value for THEIR money?

    This VALUE is different for every person. As most budgets are set accordingly to that value, our experience shows that if the perceived value changes, so will the budget.

    Most people don't know what they don't know. So if they haven't done much research, if they were never exposed to what it takes to make great coffee at home, if they haven't realized their ability to replicate their favorite barista coffee or if their palate hasn't been challenged nor were they interested In challenging it, then they are likely to be quite happy with a non Prosumer machine that will cater for their current needs. In this case, under $1K can easily support THEIR value for money.

    Even then, if money was the only objective they would never buy anything. But they do also look at eastetics, branding, size, service, automation, color etc. May not be making the best coffee but surely fits their kitchen tiles or at least it's an improvement on what was there before so they are certainly in a better place.

    Friction occurs when (sometimes subconsciously) we are unhappy with the coffee we're getting, we wonder why the barista can make such an amazing drink while we never achieve the same results and we begin to question. But when we find out that going to the next level requires x amount of $, we either settle for what we have (which won't make us happy) or we get to a point when pain is so bad (or we start putting ourselves first) that we begin to explore, and understand that under $1K can no longer deliver the best value for us as our needs have changed, and we finally take action.

    Few more years down the track, that may happen again, the exact same process. And when we upgrade again and learn new insights on coffee, some would tell you that if they knew then what they know now, they'll be buying an HX straight away. Others just needed to go through the learning curve slow.

    And that's absolutely fine.

    But if we reduce the opportunity in embarking on such an exciting coffee journey at home with so much exploration, new flavors, and the new confidence emerging as we upscale our skills, if we reduce it to what is 'cost effective' only, we really don't give ourself the chance to recognize the true value coffee appreciation has to offer us.

    My suggestion is always to understand your own 'culture' first, get clear on what's YOUR value (we help with that) and then set your budget accordingly.

    You'll be saving money in the long haul on costly repair bills and possibly on unnecessary upgrades.

    Ofra
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    Ofra I think we have the same overall thinking since I don't disagree with any of your points. What we did not align on before was individual buyer context. I was perhaps too quick to assume some aspects when I made that comment.

    K Bean, great to know stock will be in.
    While we are on the subject of the Mara, would you happen to know if one could swap out the steam wand assembly for a lever operated one, like the ones on the Bezzera?

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    As an ex Mara user (albeit botched it with an imported model from Italy) I'd consider the serviceability of the Mara. Have you ever seen what it looks like inside?

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    Quote Originally Posted by nickm View Post
    As an ex Mara user (albeit botched it with an imported model from Italy) I'd consider the serviceability of the Mara. Have you ever seen what it looks like inside?
    I know where you are coming from Nick. Sometimes people ask me if the insides of the Mara are cramped because of the narrow body. The answer is not at all. They are well laid out. Take a peak:

    Are they reliable? To date I haven't seen one miss a beat. Remember, they have same key components to most other HX machines in the low-mid $2k range.
    Cheers, Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enigk View Post
    ....While we are on the subject of the Mara, would you happen to know if one could swap out the steam wand assembly for a lever operated one, like the ones on the Bezzera?
    Hi Enigk,
    It could be done but it would be expensive and also a bit of a crime as the Mara has sprung valves.
    Stick with valves and stay out of jail
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    what would be the updates on the new machine?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonym1 View Post
    what would be the updates on the new machine?
    Hi Tony.
    The PL62T has different valves and a satin/Matt finish on the main body. See pic:

    There's also a PL62T model on the way with an "on front" adjustable PID. Pic:

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    I have the same machine and am contemplating the same upgrade (Breville DB to Lelit Mara) so really interested in what decision you make. My difference is I drink milk and will probably also upgrade my grinder.

    I'm on the central coast which means a 90 minute drive to Sydney to look at any new machine in the flesh to help make the decision.

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    I would probably go for the "on front adjustable PID" if I go with the Mara, I have been thinking about the Profitec 500 and Vibi Domobar Jr also and will have to go to Sydney to buy ( when I go on holidays in Feb) as I don't know of anywhere in my area that sells these machines. I think they will all make an equally good coffee. I have a Compac K3 touch grinder and will stay with that for now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nickm View Post
    As an ex Mara user (albeit botched it with an imported model from Italy) I'd consider the serviceability of the Mara. Have you ever seen what it looks like inside?
    What do you mean by that? What is different/wrong with the Italian version?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonym1 View Post
    I would probably go for the "on front adjustable PID" if I go with the Mara, I have been thinking about the Profitec 500 and Vibi Domobar Jr also and will have to go to Sydney to buy ( when I go on holidays in Feb) as I don't know of anywhere in my area that sells these machines. I think they will all make an equally good coffee. I have a Compac K3 touch grinder and will stay with that for now.
    I'm a huge fan of the Profitec 500. I personally think it's the best Vib pump machine out there. I don't value a PID on a single boiler HX so much. Although is a good idea to have temp control, but unless you're a black coffee/single origin connoisseur looking to extract your espresso at optimum temp - because it's a single boiler - any PID adjustments will effect steam as well...
    Having had experience with the Rocket Premium Plus PID; extracting at 119 is great for some coffees, but when it came to doing the milk (at 119), I did find it lacking with such low pressure steam.
    In saying that, boosting it from 119 to 124 for that powerful steam only took about a minute to reach pressure. So I guess you could compromise....

    As you can tell by my language, I'm not so convinced with PID's on a single boiler HX, unless you're a black coffee drinker.

    But if you're putting these 3 in the same sentence (Lelit, VBM, Profitec) I think there's not question that the Profitec is the stand out.

    ...according to me :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enigk View Post
    What do you mean by that? What is different/wrong with the Italian version?
    The Aus spec has some Aus only factory mods. Also, the internal PID temp setting is lower for the Aus market to suit Aus style preferences for lighter roasts. In Italy they like their coffee dark and oily

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    Quote Originally Posted by GunBarista View Post
    .....But if you're putting these 3 in the same sentence (Lelit, VBM, Profitec) I think there's not question that the Profitec is the stand out.
    ...according to me :P
    ....and to me GB. If spacialy challenged I would get the Mara PL62S. I wouldn't bother with the adjustable PID. If space wasn't an issue I would go for the Pro 500.
    Cheers, Paul
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    If we're keeping it under $2.5k and under 30cm width I'd be considering the Isomac Tea which I personally find prettier, has a better design of the cool-to-touch wands, comes with shiny S/S construction, raised feet for easy cleaning AND a PID model for same price as the PL62. Yes, smaller boiler, but having same capacity of heating element as the Mara, I doubt on a max 4 milky coffee in a go scenario you'd be able to tell the difference. VBM Junior might be a better fit if you need the power, tight on space and love the shiny metal finish.
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    Hmm.... I also stock the Isomac Tea but I really can't recommend it. I put it with the Expobar Leva as an entry level HX. The Mara is a long way ahead for build quality and the PID is a great bonus at the same price point. It's a high end HX in a compact body, and at a low end price point.
    If we talk about the Isomac Tea PID vs the Mara PID its pretty much the same story.
    They're my thoughts as a retailer of both brands.
    Cheers, Paul
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Bean_Coffee View Post
    I put it with the Expobar Leva as an entry level HX. The Mara is a long way ahead for build quality
    I did not play with a Mara, Paul, so you could be right, but I'm curious as to what 'long way ahead for build quality' actually means?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Di_Bartoli View Post
    I .... I'm curious as to what 'long way ahead for build quality' actually means?
    Long way ahead = "better" I just can't imagine that anyone would see both and choose then Tea. The Tea is a good machine, but the Mara is better. Even without the PID the Mara would still be my pick. I have a new website on the way with detailed pages for all machines I sell including these. ...just a few weeks off now
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    Not very definitive unfortunately Paul...

    Mal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Not very definitive unfortunately Paul...
    Mal.
    Nice one Mal funny ...
    There's good reason that I always recommend that people see machines in the metal before they buy. If anyone sees a Mara beside a Tea and chooses the Tea I'll eat my hat.
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    For mine, "better" = a combination of internal build and component quality, layout, finish, performance and bang for buck and my experience is that in this price bracket, no machine has it comprehensively over any of the the others. There are aspects I dislike (and I'm being diplomatic here) about each of them. What better does not equal though is the best sales pitch nor necessarily the one someone thinks is pretty. Try having a candid discussion with a tech...

    Bottom line is that that the "right" choice will depend on the the requirements of the purchaser who should get out and sample their major contenders and then weigh up some pros and cons. This will allow the individual to choose based on what they need.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2muchcoffeeman View Post
    Bottom line is that that the "right" choice will depend on the the requirements of the purchaser who should get out and sample their major contenders and then weigh up some pros and cons. This will allow the individual to choose based on what they need.
    Well put Chris aka 2MCM That's the way to go, however, I think recommendations from sponsors really help people to weigh up the pros and cons.
    Cheers
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Bean_Coffee View Post
    Nice one Mal funny ...
    There's good reason that I always recommend that people see machines in the metal before they buy. If anyone sees a Mara beside a Tea and chooses the Tea I'll eat my hat.
    Geez Pauly, you must go through a few hats eh?

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    I haven't used a Lelit before, but I'm definitely not a fan of Isomacs...

    If we're talking under $2.5k and under a foot wide then the VBM junior is the standout..

    .. I won't give an answer as to why I would choose the VBM in this circumstance because I don't want to step on anyone's toes here, but just ask an honest sponsor, or a technician if you have access to consult with one.

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    I took an unconventional upgrade path and discovered an interesting fact: the grinder upgrade is where the biggest gains are made.

    As soon as I moved to a Macap M4D from a Breville grinder, my Breville machine was producing exceptional quality espresso.

    With a K3 Touch you're fine and could in fact save money on the machine and buy second hand.

    I did this last month and now own an HX machine in excellent nick and working perfectly. So easy to use, too, mainly because of the convenience of 'walk up shots' in the morning vs the Ol' thermoblock on my Breville, which struggled to move from coffee to steam in a timely manner!

    While there are indeed improvements in the cup (machine can take finer grind leading to better extraction) they're smaller gains than the leap of difference in the grinder change.

    I therefore imagine the difference in the cup between these HX machines is even smaller - barely noticeable
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElShauno View Post
    I therefore imagine the difference in the cup between these HX machines is even smaller - barely noticeable
    That's spot on. During training sessions I often use a $5k machine back to back with a $2k machine and sometimes have customers say they prefer the coffee from the cheaper one! Once you get into prosumer gear most are capable of producing great coffee
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElShauno View Post
    I took an unconventional upgrade path and discovered an interesting fact: the grinder upgrade is where the biggest gains are made.
    If i had a dollar for everytime that was written on this forum i would be paying someone to type this for me.
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    It comes up regularly that's for sure, but little repetition of a key learning like that never hurts

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    Quote Originally Posted by trentski View Post
    If i had a dollar for everytime that was written on this forum i would be paying someone to type this for me.
    Ha! Well there you go. Glad to see it's common knowledge.

    I guess it's hard to improve on the basic principles of espresso
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    It's always good to learn and share ElShauno when you have one of those a-ha moments
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    I mean when the control board went after 2months of usage, the comments from the repairers were less than complimentary about the state of the internals.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickm View Post
    I mean when the control board went after 2months of usage, the comments from the repairers were less than complimentary about the state of the internals.
    I'm just a little suspicious of an agenda to your 2 recent anti-Mara posts Nick.
    I might be wrong... if I am, please send me a PM with your tech's contact details so I can talk with your tech first hand.
    Cheers, Paul

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    No agenda, just a dis-satisfied user who upgraded. That said each to their own. I'm sure it is a great machine. You get what you pay for so I can't complain.


    Feel free to contact an ex-site sponsor if you'd like to talk to his experienced repairer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickm View Post
    You get what you pay for so I can't complain.

    True! We saw a pre production model that was a bit rough around the edges (and inside hadn't been sorted yet either!). Not saying you were sent one of those by an unscrupulous overseas vendor, but there's not much comeback when you spend your hard-earned on the other side of the globe as you've found out the hard way. Then there's the issue of 14,000km on 2 or 3 planes to factor in. Freight handlers and mid air turbulence? Well they're not going to result in a neater machine internally. And any review needs to be put into context, especially if there have been changes to the model along the way - for example going from using a pressurestat to digital temperature control. The Mara is easy to get into and the components are well laid out and easy to get to:

    mara pl62s.jpg

    charlie
    Last edited by JetBlack_Espresso; 15th February 2017 at 12:51 PM.
    Dimal, Magic_Matt, nickm and 3 others like this.

  48. #48
    Senior Member
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    Here here, Charlie totally agree. Let this be a warning as I learnt my lesson. Buy local the after sales support is impeccible
    Magic_Matt and K_Bean_Coffee like this.

  49. #49
    Site Sponsor K_Bean_Coffee's Avatar
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    ....and apologies from me Nickm for doubting your credibility. Your comment about the internals just felt "wrong" to me but the early model/import part explains it.
    Cheers, Paul
    LFM60 likes this.

  50. #50
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    Apr 2011
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    I'm really having trouble deciding what to get so which machine would people pic between the Lelit Mara and the Profitec 500, and what grinder would you get to go with it?
    Listen4Life likes this.

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