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Londinium L1 Luxe Edition...... Let's have a look.

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  • Londinium L1 Luxe Edition...... Let's have a look.

    Wonders never cease!

    The dog has a need for speed ( well, up to 80kph ) so we went for a drive today. We dropped in on a mate, had a coffee
    and a chat, before turning back for home.............

    "Would ya road test a Londinium for me; got one here in a box somewhere?"
    Would I?!!!!! No problem!! At all!!!!

    Home safe, I will set it up next to the Alex and the Robur and run it through its' paces over the next couple of weeks.
    Much has been written about the machine, a fair bit by people who have never seen one, let alone used one, so it will
    be an interesting time.

    The brief is to be objective and with an industrial designer in the family it will get scrutinised from several different angles.
    I have no interests to declare; I haven't spent any hard earned on it, nor had to convince/justify to wife/husband how necessary it
    is to have one of these and I don't know Reiss. I'll be looking at basically a couple or three things....... build quality, user friendliness and how well does it make my coffee.

    The feedback will be my opinion based on my observational skills, on what I know and how well I know the coffee that I roast,
    given that it's made on a few domestic and commercial machines. I am not intending to write a definitive review.
    It won't be a comparison between it and the Alex, the Alex is just a known benchmark (coffeewise) for me in my home setting;
    The Londinium might even make better coffee than the Alex. If I think so, I'll tell you.

    I'll be busy for the next day or two but will post some photos of the Londinium, set up with my other gear, asap.

    .................................................. .................................................. .................................................. ........................

    Here it is! Up on the kitchen bench. Not running as yet; a couple of issues to address first.
    Photos as promised today but will give it a flogging next week; from Monday, so look out for the coming posts!

    Attached Files

  • #2
    I understand the see-through cabinet significantly improves the quality of the extraction, a distinct advantage over the poor Alex. You should compare apples with apples, you know. Your analysis is therefore flawed from the start.


    • #3
      Chokkidog, in the interests of full disclosure I'm just curious who is your 'mate' that happens to have a Londinium Lux "in a box somewhere" (wish we all had friends like that) and happens to give you a 'brief' for a road test to be published here? Just seems odd to me...


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bernsbrew View Post
        I understand the see-through cabinet significantly improves the quality of the extraction, a distinct advantage over the poor Alex. You should compare apples with apples, you know. Your analysis is therefore flawed from the start.

        Should be a great couple of weeks I reckon for you chokkidog


        • #5
          Very interested to have your comments. I ordered mine a few days ago and look forward to it's arrival.

          So far the purchase experience has been great. I have had queries answered on the weekend and my last questions were answered within minutes at midnight London time.
          Last edited by mcoccia; 26 March 2013, 04:15 PM.


          • #6
            The Londinium has been on the bench for a few days now, so, as promised, some observations.

            Out of the box, my first impression was that it's fairly compact, smaller than expected but a relatively small footprint would be an advantage to some. It is deeper than pump operated machines. It has a certain wow factor when you first see it but we all like unwrapping new, shiny toys and a lever always looks great! The clean linear lines have an aesthetic appeal, in a minimalist sort of way but it's a little too plain for me.
            People buying the machine are aware of the lack of a cup warmer but as a coffee machine design principle the absence doesn't work for me; I, like many people want to keep their cup & glass ware on the machine to take advantage of the latent heat.

            It would have been nice to see non-reflective glass panels used. Depending on where you are in the room the glass acts more or less like a mirror, which is disappointing; all those pipes, brass fittings and polished boiler look great, nice and geeky! That's until I had a closer look.......

            Disappointingly, the boiler selected for this particular machine has two dings and some decent scratches on one of the end plates. Poor quality control on a supposed top of the range machine.

            Over torqued hex screws on the top and rear of the machine also detract from the machines appearance. Fair enough that in a lot of settings the rear will be to a wall but not in every case and the indentations of the s/s panels around the screw heads looks unsightly. Washers under the panels would eliminate this flaw allowing for properly tightened screws that don't mar the finish and play of light on the machine.

            When unpacking and installing the drip tray and water reservoir lid I was disappointed to find that some of the sheetmetal work was not finished to a high standard. On the tank cover, laser cut edges, rather than milled, has resulted in a sharp feel to the hand. I can recall cutting a finger on a similar edge when I was first looking at domestic machines over 5 years ago. The (so far) limited use of the lid has also resulted in scratches on the top panel of the machine, under the corners of the cover.

            The folded drip tray cover looks a bit unfinished with deep, unwelded corner folds evident when you lift the cover off. Further, the welds underneath the drip tray corners are fairly 'raw' looking, with no apparent attempt to clean them up. Folded, unwelded corners on the chassis, under the drip tray are also unsightly and I'm not a fan of powdercoated anything when it comes to coffee machine internals and frames.
            Water tanks need to be removed for regular cleaning and (in my opinion) shouldn't be filled in situ;
            too many electrics in close proximity. The lack of a cross member handle leaves this water tank very hard to remove and will possibly, in time, lead to cracking of the tank.

            Time to turn it on.........................the photo speaks for itself. Most of the pipes connected to the boiler leaked. There was also a leak from the hot water tap directly on to the light fittings underneath. Potentially lethal! Machines should never be delivered in this condition.

            Next, the Serai pressurestat was making the boiler pressure gauge go like a windscreen wiper! An adjustment was necessary to bring it under control but turning the on/off switch to the off position resulted in a burning sensation to my finger tip! Placing the bead thermocouple probe onto the switch resulted in a temp reading of 75.8°C !! Hotter than most domestic hot water systems! The face plate of the machine, to which the group is attached, was also unusually hot, just touching the bead to it gave a reading of over 60°C. Too hot.

            Finally, to the coffee. There is something super special about a lever, feeling the resistance of the spring, the sense of direct contact with the pour itself and hopefully the quietness so you can hear the syrupy coffee as it drips then runs. The pump has a habit of coming on sometimes to fill the boiler while you're pouring a shot, a cut out switch would be nice.

            I really appreciate attention to detail. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it's frustrating.
            First touch of the plastic handle on the lever........... all the rough edges of the moulding are still on the handle, it feels prickly. I can see why at least one L-1 owner has customised not only the group lever handle but the steam and hot water toggles as well. The toggles are disproportionately small, don't feel smooth and the steel parts are not polished but look grey and dull, a real downer at the coal face.

            The machine was supplied with a triple filter (nominal 21gms) and double spouted group handle. It would have been nice if it was supplied with a better quality group handle, even a naked, as there are (to me) issues with the low position of the shower screen, dose volume and filter size.

            Owing to the low shower screen, the dose volume/weight and grind size ratio becomes limited. A low dose weight, in relation to the filter size, requires a finer grind than just about all other machines that I have used. There is little room for changing these variables. A quad basket with an appropriately sized, spouted group handle, or a quad in a naked, would allow a wider shift in the variables, a deeper puck and a much better pour. I am a little puzzled over 58mm levers, the best coffee from a lever machine I have had is from the 53mm? Izzo Pompeii, a nice deep puck which results in a trouble free pour.

            Channeling and choking were an issue when dialling in the grind/dose ratio with a very narrow window in which 'good' pours were achieved. The resultant coffee was lacking in body, complexity and sweetness and was a little forward on the palate. This is not due to the lever group, which is of a known and high quality but is simply the result of shallow dosing with overly fine coffee. I would think that with the ability to vary the dose in a deeper basket the coffee quality would improve. A different blend of beans at a different level of roast would produce a different cup, so individual experience would change accordingly and I am in no way suggesting that this machine isn't capable of making a good cup.

            The Londinium on my bench is one of the best machines for steaming milk that I have ever used.
            Right from the get-go, with the 4 hole tip, I was steaming 150 ml milk with ease.

            The instruction manual is photocopied on A4 paper, stapled in one corner. For the money..........I'd be looking for a booklet.

            If this machine was supplied as a prototype I'd say it was well on the way to becoming a classic but as a production model, sold without a bench test and with an obvious lack of build and finish quality controls in place it has some shortcomings.

            Nothing that can't be overcome. This is a quality lever group, the machine that it's attached to just needs a bit more work to bring it up to the same standard.

            Without the opportunity prospective buyers have of seeing this machine in person, prior to making a purchase, I hope I have been able to give some pointers as to how it may differ to some of the similarly priced machines (of all types, not just levers) in presentation, attention to detail and finish. Some more photos will appear in a following post as I have used up available space.
            Attached Files
            Last edited by chokkidog; 5 April 2013, 08:38 PM.


            • #7
              From the previous post:

              Image 1. : Dent and scratch in boiler end plate.
              2. : Unfinished weld under drip tray.
              3. : Folded corner on chassis, drip tray surround.
              4. : Scratch mark developing on top of machine, worse than photo shows.
              5. : Over torqued screw, showing light deflection.

              On this post:

              Image 1. : Folded corners of drip tray cover.
              2. : Unpolished ball join to steam (and water) toggle switch.
              3. : Weld burn mark visible on machine top cover.
              4&5. : 5 minutes after turning on the machine, water dripping from under the machine
              also more evidence of reflection.
              Attached Files


              • #8
                A couple more pics.
                Image 1 shows another view of over torqued screws and the close fitting, hard to remove water tank.
                Image 2 shows the reflective nature of the glass and the second and smaller dent in the boiler endplate.
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Excellent to see such an honest and unbiased review.
                  ...and I understand how hard it would have been to write.

                  I can vouch for Chokidog as someone who knows and understands good coffee and has nothing to gain from liking or disliking this particular machine (which is obviously why he was given the machine for review). I can also vouch that I found pretty much exactly the same problems with the Londinium Luxe but have the additional issue that I actually paid for it!

                  The Luxe was hyped as something very special and after using it for a couple of weeks I would have to say I was disappointed with both the build quality and the coffee I got from it. Both could have been far better and to read the marketing blurb saying that people were trading their GS3's I have to wonder how well setup their GS3's were. I can tell you that my GS3 is staying firmly on the bench. I also have a 1956 La Cimbali lever on the bench and it pulls better shots and looks better.

                  I know that this thread will get a lot of posts saying "I have one of these and its amazing" but unless this machine was a rare dud I would have to assume that new owners were blinded by the bling or they fell in love with something they spent a lot of money on.

                  A pump turning on mid shot, a pressurestat that swings 0.4 Bar and a very deep shower screen all lead to a level of randomness in back to back shots.

                  When I ordered and paid for the Londinium online (late November 2012) it appeared that the Luxe was in stock and available, I sort of secretly hoped that it would arrive before Christmas. It took nearly 10 weeks to arrive and I was within a week of asking for a refund. I notice now that the lead time is a little more obvious but keep that in mind when you click the "buy now".

                  I really need to say that dealing with Reiss was a pleasure, he was prompt to reply to queries and happy to answer any questions. He seems like a really nice guy and has done well to get something like this off the drawing board and into homes which makes it hard but not impossible to "tell it as it is".

                  If only the factory that built this took more pride in their work and the bugs of a V1 machine were more ironed out before it went on sale it might be something to desire.


                  • #10
                    Londinium L1 Luxe Edition...... Let's have a look.

                    Hi Andy is this one actually your Luxe. Not too many of these is Australia.


                    • #11
                      mcoccia, Andy clearly states above 'I can also vouch that I found pretty much exactly the same problems with the Londinium Luxe but have the additional issue that I actually paid for it!' AND 'When I ordered and paid for the Londinium online (late November 2012)'

                      I think from that we can gather that YES it actually is HIS Luxe...


                      • #12
                        chokkidog thanks for the review and especially the photos, I for one was definitely considering this machine. There is no way I would accept the problems that you have photographed, they would s*** me every single time I looked at the machine and honestly I probably wouldn't have even set it up and used it, I would have been asking for my money back immediately. If I had of gone ahead with the set up and use, my OH (electronics/functional safety (to name just two) engineer) would have immediately banned me from using it as soon as he saw the leaks.

                        I can now be quite comfortable with my lever decision


                        • #13


                          • #14
                            Yeah, it's my machine, I thought that was clear, sorry.

                            After the machine taking so long to arrive and then seeing the lazy build quality on something that was pimped as amazing I was too angry to do a review (which is why I went quiet in the the other thread after it arrived). I needed to calm down before saying what I thought.

                            I had it on the bench for a couple of weeks at the Snobbery and didn't like it. It then went to Sydney for Cafebiz Beanology so 35 CS'rs could have a play. It ran shots beside a new Boema single group all weekend sharing a mahlkonig grinder and the same beans and the Boema beat the Londinium in every test except on looks from a distance. Mid afternoon someone came up to me and said "do you know the Londinium is hissing and steaming-up the side glass?"... I walked over and turned it off muttering something under my breath. The machine had done the same when I first unpacked it at the Snobbery too. (sorry Chockidog, I forgot to tell you that when you took it)

                            So... a week after Cafebiz... Chockidog was here picking-up coffee and noticed that the Luxe wasn't on the bench anymore. I said to him "its in a box here somewhere, do you want to take it with you for a play? You can do a review if you like?".
                            ...and thats what he did.

                            I had mentioned at the time some of the things that annoyed me with the machine but now reading his review he has found most of the things that annoyed me and a few extra.

                            I got temperature readings on the front of the machine as high as 80C... this thing is like an oven with minimal ventilation and will surely cause premature electronics failure down the track too.

                            Another annoyance that didn't make his review was the top socket on the boiler is bent/indented and looks like it was dropped in the factory before polishing. I would have hoped that paying a premium for the "Luxe exposed internals version" would mean that the factory would select the best undamaged boilers for polishing but apparently not. Polishing of the boilers was also half hearted (I've polished a lot of metal in the past and it's not hard to get amazing results) and the lacquer they have used stinks when the machine is running. I'm hoping that the lacquer will eventually settle-down but only time will tell.

                            So what next? The "gotcha" with posting an honest review is this has seriously killed my resale value (offers anyone?) so I was thinking yesterday that all I can do is make a project out of it and see what we can do to improve the machine. Spending even more money on an already expensive machine seems a little counter productive but as it stands now the Londinium won't get used and will only collect dust.


                            • #15
                              And you would have thought that the one they sent you, Andy, would be the equivalent of the dishes that get served to Pete and Manu.......