S1 Vivaldi User Review
Two Year Plus Update - April 2006
I'm on my fourth espresso machine. I've been through a Krups toy, a Rancilio
Silvia, an Isomac Tea, and now the La Spaziale S1. The S1 is the only one
of this group with a double boiler set up - one for steam and hot water and the
second which supplies the group. The La Spaziale is without a doubt my
favorite - though the Silvia and the Tea are both fine machines. The moral of
the story about the Krups is: don't let your spouse buy you an espresso machine
unless you specify the machine!
It's Got Style
The S1 is a nicely styled machine. Some folks have complained that, while
other machines such as the Silvia and the Tea are completely stainless steel,
the S1 has plastic side panels and a plastic drip tray. Actually, this is
probably what keeps the price under $2,000 and the weight under 100lbs. In
spite of this, the unit is plenty sturdy with a black painted steel interior frame.
Both metal and plastic exterior components clean up much easier than the Silvia
or the Tea. Unlike Silvia and Tea, magnets will stick to the chromed S1 front
and rear panels which I have
used to good effect as you can see in this
Bodacious Steam and Hot Water
If you utilize steam and/or hot water in your current espresso machine you'll
love the S1. The new swivel steam arm is a vast improvement over the steam arm
that shipped with the initial units. It has been standard on all new S1's
shipped since 2/20/2004. It now comes standard with a three hole tip and all the steam power of a commercial
unit. It took practice and good technique to get great microfoam on the Tea. On
the S1 it just happens! If you've been using a 12oz pitcher on your current
machine, when you buy the S1, put it away. Otherwise, you will be wearing the
milk. However, there is an alternative if you need to steam small amounts for
those single caps. The hot
water is great for Americanos, tea, instant oatmeal, soup, etc. My whole
family has been enjoying this feature even though I am the only coffee drinker
in the house. The position of the water spigot adjacent to the group head
makes it ideal for rinsing the portafilter after knocking out the puck.
Spot On Group Temperature
The electronic temperature control for the group is excellent. It can be set
within 1°C from well below to well above any temperature
which should reasonably be used for espresso. Temperature measurements using a
highly accurate thermocouple show that, after sitting for 10 minutes or more,
the first shot is 3-4°C below the programmed temperature. This is likely due to
the group and portafilter absorbing heat from the water. A blank shot brings it
right up to the programmed temperature. Five seconds after pulling a shot the
group boiler turns on. Forty seconds later it is back at target temperature
ready for another shot. So after that first blank, a double espresso shot can be pulled every 45 seconds with the
shot temperature spot on the programmed value ±1°C. Pretty impressive.
The E-61 group head on the Isomac Tea is impressive for
its temperature stability. Its temperature can also be adjusted accurately by
using a small screwdriver to tweak the pressure stat, measuring the resulting
temperature, and repeating the process until the desired result is obtained.
This can take a couple of hours to get right. The process takes about 10 seconds
with the S1. Different coffees and different roasts of the same coffee can have
different optimum brewing temperatures. The S1 makes adapting to these
differences trivially easy.
The programmable volumetric dosing and rotary pump round
out the feature list that make the S1 an excellent choice as a high-end but
still affordable home machine. There is much, much more that can be said about
the S1. For an in depth review by Dan Kehn
Caveats and Kudos
Purchasers of the initial batch of S1's from Chris Coffee had three minor concerns:
- The shape and range of movement of the steam arm could be better.
- When setting the fine 1°C
temperature, the display worked backwards from the way it was documented and
from the intuitive way it should work; i.e. should be increasing LEDs toward
the right = higher temperature and increasing LEDs toward the left = lower temperature.
- The standard double shower screens used by La Spaziale limit the coffee in the double basket to 14-15g.
Kudos to Chris Nachtrieb of Chris Coffee for
jumping right on his customer's concerns and working with LaSpaziale. Only two
months after Chris starting selling the S1 all three of these issues have been
fixed by LaSpaziale, were standard on new S1s from Chris shipping after
2/20/2004, and have been offered to initial purchasers of the S1 as a no cost upgrade.
- Completely redesigned steam arm with new shape and swivel fitting
- Redesigned the electronics to fix the temperature adjustment display issue
- Redesigned a slightly thinner diffuser disk that
results in the shower screens not sticking down as far into the portafilter,
allowing ~18g of coffee in the double basket. Some
types and roast levels compress more than others. With these types one can
comfortably get 20g in a double basket.
Kudos for the Chris and LaSpaziale team continue:
Additional updates to the units shipping since summer 2004 include:
- Redesigned motor mounts for quieter operation - and man do they work!
- PC board enclosed in plastic for addition water splash protection
- 15A/20A mode setting is now via an easily accessible toggle switch rather than a hard to get to PC board jumper
- Now available in silver or red in addition to black
Now it's time to try it with a "crotchless" portafilter!!!
Feature Review Compliments of Chris Coffee
- Dual Boiler
- Steam Boiler 2.5 liter
- Steam Boiler Element 1250 Watts
- Group Boiler .45 liter
- Group Boiler Element 800 Watts
- Two Complete Portafilters One Single and One Double
- Direct Plumbed
- Rotary Pump
- Volumetric Dosing
- Volumetric Dosing Adjustable Through Touch Pad
- Group Temperature Indicated by LED Display
- Group Temperature Adjustable Through Touch Pad
- Electronic Boiler Refill
- Built in Safety Thermostat
- Semi Automatic Hot Water Delivery
- Manual Steam Valve
- Fault Diagnosis Alarms
- Boiler Pressure Gauge
- Color Black, Silver, or Red
- 110 volt
- Available in either 15 amp or 20 amp