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ECM Classica PID - New machine REVIEW

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  • ECM Classica PID - New machine REVIEW

    2019 new ECM Classica PID - FIRST REVIEW

    What’s in the box:

    1 x angled ECM portafilter w double spouts, s/s handle end.
    This will accommodate up to 20g VST basket. For any bigger, you need to go naked. (You know what I mean!)
    1 x single / 1 x double basket
    1 x blind basket for backflushing
    1 x cleaning brush
    1 x silicone tube for (optional) ECM water filter
    1 x plastic tamper*
    1 x ECM manual, JetBlack additional safety warnings, user tips.

    *The tamper was a bit of a shock, as it looked like an empty plastic reel, hardly matching the stunningly beautiful machine. It would save the world from more plastic if ECM would not include a tamper at all. Buyers of this machine will be well advised to buy a good precision tamper of their choice.

    The box contained a multi-page document from JetBlack with appropriate warnings about what the warranty will NOT cover. This is a handy way to prompt the new user to read instructions well and avoid damaging the machine in day one. There was also a docket with tech initials, telling that my machine had been tested and primed. Good to go. Excellent!

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    Look and Feel:
    The machine is solid, with weight centred at the front of the body, just behind the drip tray. Attention to detail is excellent. No raw edges visible and every removable part and panel fits perfectly. The quality goes well beyond the looks.

    Cup rails:

    Three polished round stainless rails are secured from the underside with hex bolts, making them easy to tighten or remove. They sit solidly on the top. Not a wobble, even if you try. The rails act as handles when lifting the top off, exposing the brew pressure adjustment screw and the water tank.

    Drip tray:

    Driptray slides in nicely and “clicks” (drops) into place, hiding its rear edge under the front face of the machine. The fit of the top plate as well as the overall fit of the tray is precise. Again, quality and attention to detail is evident.

    Lever and valve feel:
    Lever is very, very precise in its movement, smooth and a pleasure to operate. This is where quality becomes tangible.

    Ease of cleaning (external) / Fingerprints:

    Polished surfaces obviously attract fingerprints. This is actually a good thing, because it prompts me to constantly wipe everything clean. Frequent cleaning is good. It’s like having a brand new machine every day!

    Clearance underneath (33mm) is good and allows cleaning deep into the underside without moving the machine. Removing the drip tray exposes an artistic cutout on the base plate, allowing for easy wiping directly underneath.

    IN USE:

    Heat-up time:
    (From switch on to PID reading)
    In 24C ambient temp the Classika took 5min to go from cold to 91C and less than 10min to reach 92-93 PID temp. Running water through the empty PF for 10sec. dropped PID reading to 83C, taking just 1min to return to 92C.

    This is a very fast heat-up time, thanks to the relatively high power/volume ratio of 1000W / 0.75 litre. Obviously more than 15min heating will ensure the group head and PF are properly in temperature and I would avoid pulling shots in less than 20min heat-up time.

    Brew clearance:
    The distance from a naked PF to tray is about 130mm, allowing enough space to put a scale under your cup. A cup raiser that fits in the slots of the drip tray is apparently available from ECM (product code P2293, check your supplier)
    The standard spouted PF will leave 100mm of clear space over your tray.

    Pump noise:

    Similar or slightly noisier to my earlier little Breville. It is typical, I presume; not particularly quiet, not particularly noisy either. No doubt the family will get used to hearing it daily and asking themselves: “Is he having another one, again?!”

    Pump vibration:
    Slight vibration, but not enough to rattle cups.

    Pressure gauge:
    Ramps up smoothly, hitting the top of 10bar and staying there for the extraction. (I’m considering winding it down to 9.5bar, but wait and see.)

    Hot water tap:
    Hot water is internally shared with steam, delivered through the same wand and same holes. I had low expectations on HW delivery but ECM proved me wrong. Water comes out with good pressure, easily topping up a long black in seconds.

    Steam power / operation:
    Steam use requires a flick of a switch, followed by about 2 minutes ramp-up of temp, during which the wand is bled a couple of times to make room for steam inside the boiler and to remove moisture. (more below)

    Steam power is impressive, and easily enough for a double latte at once. Probably not much more. This is not the machine to bring into a Latte Party, but perfect when making one or two milk drinks per session.

    Cup warmer temp (measured)
    48-55C measured with milk thermo, point under the cup.

    Water tank filling:
    Very easy, with the entire tank top exposed when the cup warmer is lifted off.

    Drip tray volume (measured)
    600ml

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    ECM attention to detail is noticeable.


    WORKFLOW:

    From brew to steam:
    Over 2 min. Not ideal, but then again, there is always stuff to do while the steam builds up. An extra milk jug comes handy when purging the wand during the ramp-up to steam temp. With a large spare jug you can blast the wand mess-free and achieve very dry steam before bringing out your cold milk-filled jug.

    Here’s a quick test after pulling a 28 second shot and switching straight to steam, followed by 5 second purge from the wand:

    0:00 - PID temp 86 at the end of shot, switch steam on
    0:05 - purge 5sec to make space for dryer steam
    0:25 - PID temp 106C
    0:50 - Further 5 sec purge to get drier steam (as per ECM instructions)
    1:00 - PID temp 112-113C
    1:20 - PID temp 117C
    1:40 - PID temp 120C
    1:50 - PID temp 122C
    1:55 - A quick purge, steam looks dry

    2:00 - PID temp 124C
    2:10 - PID temp 125-126C
    2:20 - My patience has ran out and I start steaming here, despite steam temp set for 130C. Good dry steam and plenty of power (for two lattes?)
    I steam only for one latte, about 250ml of milk.


    From steam to brew:
    <30 seconds; Switch steam off, purge some hot water from the wand until it runs out of steam. Purge brew head. The boiler is back to brew temp.

    Shot recovery:
    Ambient temp: 23C
    Brew temp set to 94C on PID
    A 27 second shot with 18g VST basket dropped the PID to approx 85-86C - Recovery to 91C in 1m:00s, up to 93C in 1m:30s and stable 94C in total 1m:50s. (This time includes a 3 second purge of brew head early on to rinse the shower screen). By the time I have knocked out the puck, wiped it clean, ground antother dose, weighed, distributed and tamped, the machine is sitting and waiting for me in full temp.

    I also fill the recovery times with wiping and keeping work space clean etc. so for me there is never a feeling that I’m just waiting for the machine to get ready. As a beginner, I’m damn busy enough!

    Up 2 deg C time:
    From 93C to 95C it took 40sec (from PID display only, I don’t have a reliable method of measuring grouphead temp, but obviously that would lag behind a little...)

    Portafilters feel - lock in:
    Sturdy and heavy. Standard PF weighs almost 700g and the naked PF about 550g. Unless you yank them in with brute force, the machine is heavy enough to stand still when locking them on. ECM portafilters have a stainless end for added bling.

    Steam valve operation smooth?
    Yes. Hot water / steam turns off long before knob gets anywhere near tight. Easy. Large 57mm diameter cool-touch knob is quick to turn fully open and shut with one big flick of the wrist.

    Steam wand temperature:
    The steam / HW wand is not a cool touch and will get hot during steaming. In normal HW operation the insulation is sufficient and the wand can be touched anywhere. There is a long enough insulated grip on the bend and the wand moves effortlessly.



    POSITIVES:
    • Premium feel, quality workmanship and great attention to detail.
    • Good power / volume ratio (1000W / 0.75l boiler) makes this a responsive machine with quick recovery.
    • Very quick to heat up.
    • Mechanical power switch allows for wifi control from additional smart-plug.
    • Plenty of steam power to prepare 2 milk drinks.
    • Quick recovery for back-to-back espressos.
    • Almost 3L water tank is large enough for the day… well, most days anyway ;-)
    • Easy tank filling.
    • Warning light for low water.
    • Automatic boiler fill: can be used with half-brain or partially asleep…
    • Nice looks. (Will make the rest of your kitchen look pretty damn ordinary….)


    LIMITATIONS:
    • From pulling a shot to getting ready to steam takes more than 2min, which on paper may sound quick, but standing at the machine, purging the wand and looking at the PID feels a little longish. If more than one adult in your family is drinking milk-based drinks, I would consider a small HX or DB machine.
    • Quick response works both ways, unfortunately, so this is not a high-volume performer. One shot at a time...
    • Steam wand is a little short and not cool-touch.
    • Vibe pump makes some noise, although the family already woke up with the grinder…


    CONCLUSION:
    This machine met all my expectations and it is every bit as good as promised on numerous YouTube channels and sales videos. It’s quality goes beyond looks, though; every moving part and every function operates with precision. Beautiful and functional, it is an item that can be proudly displayed in any kitchen.

    This is a perfect machine for anyone who
    1. Has limited bench space
    2. Loves to have full control over his espresso
    3. Drinks mostly black coffee
    4. Does NOT entertain large coffee-drinking groups
    5. Appreciates quality, attention to detail and aesthetics.


    Despite being a relative beginner, my results have been very encouraging and consistent. The brew pressure is always steady and the smallest adjustments in my grind will translate directly into flow rate. Experimenting with recipes is easy. With a simple twist of my grinder’s worm gear I can make very precise changes in brew times or yields. Dialling in is easy. This seemed barely possible with appliance type machines.

    I have only been using naked PF with a VST basket. It is a brutally honest way of learning, with every imperfection of my distribution literally pointing at my eyeball. (squirt!) Nevertheless, why hide the flaws?

    Countless people have worked hard to eliminate unripe cherries, removing the defective beans, pulping, washing, sorting, grading, rating, cupping, sipping and shipping, unpacking, inspecting, roasting, bagging, dispatching and delivering.

    It is a pleasure and a privilege to complete that work using quality equipment and aiming for the best practice in grinding and brewing; To honour the global effort and strive for a perfectly extracted shot.

    With this little ECM paired with a T64, I feel that I have removed any reasonable limits posed by the brewing tools. Now the rest is up to me.

    LG 2019





  • #2
    Very detailed review! Makes interesting reading, Thanks

    Comment


    • #3
      Very comprehensive review which I'm sure will be helpful to those considering this machine.

      Comment


      • #4
        Can anyone confirm the 2min wait time between brew to steam? Is that consistent with other classika owners? That does sound a little long.

        Classika really hits the sweet spot for e61 PID and a sweet design to boot.

        The next level up would be the mechanika slim which is basically paying an extra $800 for instantaenous milk steaming. That's just too much.

        The bezerra bz10 is interesting, but hoping to just buy the machine that I'll keep for >10 years. And I fear I'll get FOMO with the bz10, wishing I got an e61 with that "fuller-body" taste, rather than the proprietary bz10 group head.

        I'm in a 2-4 cup milk based coffee drinker household. Wife and I. We don't mind steaming seperately and 'taking it all in'

        Comment


        • #5
          Yeah, the 1,000W/0.75ml combination would be a turn-off for me I think.
          For that size boiler a 1,400W element makes more sense for a truly responsive machine.
          Think I would be looking elsewhere...

          Mal.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi Chillipaste,

            The Lelit Mara X might be worth a look - EX with PID, E61 and compact.

            charlie

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JetBlack_Espresso View Post
              Hi Chillipaste,

              The Lelit Mara X might be worth a look - EX with PID, E61 and compact.

              charlie
              Thats a solid alternative! Looks like the best bang for buck! Alas, the aesthetics of the ecm is really sticking with me.

              Oh the dilemmna

              Comment


              • #8
                Probably for the best, Mara X is sold out :-(

                charlie
                Last edited by JetBlack_Espresso; 29 June 2020, 03:02 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Coming to one year with my ECM Classica, here's an update:

                  We are no longer using the steam wand, as my wife prefers microwave hot milk rather than foam. As with the original review, making milk drinks requires a little patience.

                  Our machine hasn't missed a beat. I've put 36kg of beans through the Classica (we drink about 3kg per month) and the machine is delivering consistently. It feels excactly the same as it did a year ago out of the box. Reliable. The pump noise is perhaps a tad worse than before. Maybe I need to look at re-tightening some screws inside. For a black coffee drinker, this would still be my Nr1 choice, so no regrets.

                  Also, I have ordered a number of bits and pieces from JetBlack and happy to give a full 5-star rating for their customer service and quick processing of orders. Cheers, LG

                  Comment


                  • Doubleshotsteve
                    Doubleshotsteve commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Hey Laurie, thinking of picking one up. Just wondering what other bits you've had to add to the classika? Hows the steaming power for the occasional milk drink?

                • #10
                  Originally posted by JetBlack_Espresso View Post
                  Hi Chillipaste, The Lelit Mara X might be worth a look - EX with PID, E61 and compact. charlie
                  I changed my mind! Made a pre-order for this at JBE. Thanks for the recommendation! Here's hoping it arrives quick in early August

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Hey Doubleshot,

                    Thanks for the question. Steam power is good. I have no comparison with more powerful machines but I've had no problems getting good milk texture fast and consistently, using a 350ml jug. The wand moves freely and is easy to position in the jug. Took some practise to get the workflow right and all the steps made it feel daunting at first but it's part of the hobby. I also have a Rhinoware digital temp for milk steaming. It's very helpful for a beginner for getting the milk perfect (temp alarm), but once I got the idea, I don't use it any more.

                    I have VST 22gr basket in a naked portafilter (ECM), basic Pullman tamper. My shopping list still includes a matching tamper / basket with Pulman BigStep. I have Brewista scale for measuring shots out and occasional presso coffee. A cheap e-bay 0.01gr digital scale for weighing the ground coffee. https://www.jetblackespresso.com.au/.../dosing-funnel Orphan dosing funnel (I like!) and a Rhinoware dosing cup. I use Profitec T-64 and the dosing cup prevents any mess.

                    I have zero regrets. Making great coffee every day 22.5g in - 35g out. (Thank's Andy, Brasil Premium Bourbon does it for me).

                    Hope you find the perfect setup for yourself.

                    Cheers,

                    LauriG

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Just wanted to add my 2 coffee shots worth.

                      This is a fantastic machine.

                      I make milk based drinks regularly and it hasn’t bothered me at all that you can’t steam and pull a shot at the same time.

                      I actually read the first post here before I decided to get this machine (Thank you LauriG !) and thought it was interesting it was only 30 seconds to go from steaming until you were ready for your next shot. This lead me to thinking why not steam first.

                      My work flow.

                      During the time the machine is heating from brew temp to steam temp, I grind/weigh/tamp. (I also use the initial water out of the steam wand to make space for the steam to form to make my cup a little bit hotter.)

                      Steam.

                      While Im getting machine down to brew temp I give my steamed milk another quick swirl.

                      Pull shot and then hello flat white.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Helloflatwhite View Post
                        Just wanted to add my 2 coffee shots worth.

                        This is a fantastic machine.

                        I make milk based drinks regularly and it hasn’t bothered me at all that you can’t steam and pull a shot at the same time.

                        I actually read the first post here before I decided to get this machine (Thank you LauriG !) and thought it was interesting it was only 30 seconds to go from steaming until you were ready for your next shot. This lead me to thinking why not steam first.

                        My work flow.

                        During the time the machine is heating from brew temp to steam temp, I grind/weigh/tamp. (I also use the initial water out of the steam wand to make space for the steam to form to make my cup a little bit hotter.)

                        Steam.

                        While Im getting machine down to brew temp I give my steamed milk another quick swirl.

                        Pull shot and then hello flat white.
                        Thanks for your post. Do you find the temperature falls quickly enough after steaming milk to pull the shot straight away?

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Yes it’s very fast. It mentions the process in the manual Basically you put the pump switch on and open the steam valve for approx 5 seconds. Just watch the PID to see the temperature come down to your liking.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Bought the ECM Classika PID recently too. Very happy with the machine so far. Originally I was going to go with a Lelit machine but changed my mind last minute. Original review in this thread covers pretty much everything already.

                            Despite being "just" a single boiler, it's still faster than I am warming up from pulling a shot to reaching steaming temperature, I tend to start cleaning up during this time. Two nozzle wand comes with it, more than enough power to steam the milk for a couple of drinks at once. I'm still getting used to the additional power without spraying milk everywhere. Quite easy to clean, and appearance is satisfactory to the wife "not another square block of metal".

                            Made an early mistake turning the boiler pressure down, the 10bar it comes at is already just right by the time it reaches the group head. Although I'm already eyeing the gauge and valve upgrade kit, because.

                            On running the machine for the first time, the water tank empties pretty quick and the low water level magnetic cutoff relay turns the machine off.

                            Comment

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