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Thread: Upgrade with very limited shelf depth - ACM Alfi or something else?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2018

    Question Upgrade with very limited shelf depth - ACM Alfi or something else?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi snobs,

    I'm looking to upgrade my Gaggia Classic. Primarily, I want to be able to make better espresso. I'd also love to be able to steam milk more quickly and easily, and cater to the occasional dinner party a bit better.

    I have a pretty serious limitation on where I can put the machine, and in particular it has to be no more than 38cm deep (from wall behind to cupboard doors that close in front of the machine).

    I was hoping to go with a VBM Junior or a Rocket Appartamento and have saved up enough for one of those, but they are both too deep. In fact every HX machine except one appears to be too deep.

    The only HX machine that will fit is the ACM Alfi
    Apparently no one has ever bought one of these...?

    • Heat Exchanger
    • Traditional group head (not sure what this means, but I guess 58mm, regular basket?)
    • Boiler 1.5L
    • Vibrating pump
    • Boiler Pressure Control with Mater Pressure Stat
    • Reservoir / Internal Tank 2.9L
    • Steam/Hot Water Assembly 360 Degree Ball Joint Movement
    • Power/ Wattage 10 amp / 1100 Watts
    • Dimensions mm (W x D x H) 410 x 380 x 240
    • Weight (Kg) 18kg

    As far as I can tell, Di Bartoli have commissioned this machine from Alfi and they are now really struggling to sell them, presumably because there's no word of mouth about them. Can anything help me out with an opinion?

    If I don't go with HX, I guess I should look for a PID to help with consistency. What, in your opinion, is the best single-boiler machine I can get (that will still fit on my bench)?

    How about the Lelit Victoria PL91T (single 300mL boiler, 58mm group head, PID with some electronic convenience functions)
    or a low-end dual boiler like a Lelit Elizabeth, which (as far as I can tell) is like a Victoria with a separate steam boiler.

    The first two machines are around $1500, and the Elizabeth is about $700 more. The Alfi is only sold at Dibartoli, and Lelit is not sold at Dibartoli, so I can't really get independent advice from a shop.
    I know nothing about either brand or either machine. I'm in Tasmania so I'm not likely to get my hands on one before I buy it.
    Obviously HX vs boiler is the biggest difference...what else should I be aware of?

    (FWIW, I'm currently using a Mazzer Mini grinder, though I've discovered that I'm not eager to spend so much time cleaning the chute and weighing grinds, so I will probably trade it for something more home-friendly like a Baratza Sette W. Who knows though, maybe once I pair it with a better machine it will really prove its worth!)

  2. #2
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    If you're in Tasmania, are there reliable technicians around to help with a Hx descale or are you confident you can do it yourself? It's a bit more involved than a single/dual boiler. That's going to be the main difference, though Hx machines have a couple more quirks (e.g. length of cooling flush required). Otherwise you'll hardly know the difference when using one.

    Lelit have a good reputation for making smaller machines. They're about the cheapest you can get in a long-term purchase quality machine, largely due to the size. The PL41TEMD is a great little single boiler, with PID and smart auto-refill etc. I think the PL91T is similar. The PL92T is largely based on the PL60TV2 but with a couple of extra features. The PL60TV2 has a good reputation as a smaller dual boiler. If you look after a Lelit you can expect it to last 10+ years.

    Given no one has any experience with the Alfi, all I can suggest is calling Di Bartoli and asking if you can take it on a no commitment trial basis (30 days?) with return shipping included. If you're keen on it that is.

    Personally I would take the Lelit and the dual boiler option. It will handle dinner parties a little better than the Victoria.

    As for a grinder have a look at the Mahlkoenig Vario before pulling the trigger on a Sette. Big step up in grind quality for little extra cost.
    Dimal, Lyrebird and MichaelB like this.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Thanks. I hadn't considered that HX may cause me maintenance problems. If I can reliably get shots as good from the Lelit dual boiler I think I'll go with that.

    I have some questions about the grinder too...might start a new thread though.

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