If you are looking for an espresso machine with range of $3000 (or around €2500 if you are in EU – this is one of the wins for European), you will most likely come to battle of these three. They are probably the most popular options in this price range, and rightly so. The prices are fairly comparable, with Profitec Pro 700 is the cheapest in the US (around $200), and Lelit Bianca v3 is the cheapest in the EU (also around €200). I did quite intensive research on the topic, and finally come to the conclusion (spoiler alert, in the end of this post).
If you haven’t known already, Profitec is a subsidiary of ECM. Pro 700 is still made in Milan, Italy, but it shares a lot of design with ECM Synchronika. Basically two sibling except for some cosmetic difference. I would expect them to perform very similar. For easier comparison, I will compare Bianca and Synchronika. Let’s go through pros and cons of each, and hopefully it will help you come to a decision
They are very similar espresso machines on definitions. Both are E61, dual boiler machines that target home enthusiasts.
This is no contest. Synchronika is a clear winner, Pro 700 a second and Bianca comes last. It is not only that Synchronika has better fit and finish, it has clear internal layout which is like an engineer’s dream. Whole Latte Love has several dive in videos for that, and it means if you ever need to service your Synchronika yourself, you will easily know where to go and what to check/change
Bianca has less fit and finish, and its internal is pretty cramped – more on that below
To be very clear Bianca’s build quality is definitely more than decent, and it would last you a very long time with proper care. The cramped inside has two reasons – due to its smaller size and more features.
Size and look
Of all three, Lelit Bianca is smallest, and is the only one come with wood (walnut) knobs and wands finish by default, while the others come with hard black plastic . It is only 29cm wide and only 40cm deep. Both ECM and Profitec are noticeable larger, with the former is 33.5cm wide and 49cm deep, and the latter 34cm and 47cm, respectively.
While look is definitely subjective – make sure each of these machine can fit into your coffee station, either that is under your cupboard or otherwise. One of the biggest selling point of Bianca is the moveable water tank, you can put it behind, left or right. All three can be plumbed and you can put your days of refilling water behind you, but sometimes plumbing is not an option, and being able to move the tank is a huge plus. As it’s my biggest complaint of Lelit Elizabeth. Now it can be solved easily.
Start up time
If you have very stable schedule every day, start up time might not be of your concern, you can use a smart power plug and schedule it to turn on your coffee machine every day at a fixed time. but let’s be very clear here: all these machines take a significantly long time to be fully heated. Not only they have to heat up both boilers to temp and let them stabilize, they also need to heat up the E61 group head via thermosiphon (baristahustle explains it in great detail here EM 3.04 How the E61 Thermosyphon Works – Barista Hustle – but basically, let hot water flow through the head to heat it up). The E61 is very heavy, like 4kg heavy, so it’s important to make it hot, so the water does not lose too much temperature during brewing.
Synchronika takes significantly longer to heat up. By the test of kaffemacher, it takes a whoping 35 minutes to be able to pull 5 shots without failing (not reaching targeted temp)
That is double of what Bianca v3 needs
That means you can start pulling shorts 16 minutes faster on Bianca. That’s impressive. If you want to brew lighter roasts which need higher temps, say, 96*C, unofficial and unscientific tests showed that Bianca is ready in even shorter time (12 minutes), based on the indication on the PID. It’s not breaking any records, but for E61, that’s nothing to be sniffed at.
This is one interesting test. Thanks to kaffemacher we have measurements from both machines, and it’s a tie
- ECM Synchronika has more stability during the shot. i.e. with a 25s shot, the temp between 5s and 25s remains a more straight line (albeit hotter toward the end). With shot after shot however, it tends to be under temp after being idle for some time
- Lelit Bianca has more stability between shots. Temp within shot is fluctuated a bit, but does not rise up as much as with Synchronika. You can, however, adjust the PID with settings like temp offset to have even better temp stability, especially after your machine has been idling for a while.
Bianca hand down.
Bianca comes with the default flow control by default. ECM Synchronika and Profitec Pro 700 can be retrofitted with the E61 flow control package, which cost you somewhere $200 more, plus installation. As most people has commented, Bianca flow control feels natural and nicer to use. That is of course subjective, but it is not too surprising. The main difference is that Bianca flow control has ~200 degree travel from fully open to fully close, while the E61 flow control is ~720 degree. The former allows some more fine tuning, but it is less intuitive to use.
Bianca can pre-infuse even with water tank, while ECM and Profitec need plumbed in to pre-infuse (using line pressure). Bianca v3 has low flow settings which make pre infusion even more flexible. You can pre-infuse in any way you like.
Lelit is also known to make their Lelit Control Center – LCC settings available to end users and you can fine tune your machine even further. Most notably, the temp offset (between the boiler, and the targeted temp at group head), so you can fine tune your brew temp to what you would like.
When I bought my Lelit Elizabeth, I thought about Bianca as something I wanted but couldn’t get, and if I upgrade, I would pick it. After two years, when I finally decided to upgrade, for some reasons I skipped Bianca. I almost decided to go with Synchronika but slowly and steadily Bianca won me back. And I will be soon one of its owners.
With that said, you can’t go wrong with each option. Those three are the most popular options in their price range, and there’s reason for that – they are that good.