First of all, if you are looking to buy Lelit Elizabeth, check out the detailed review from David Corbey. It is probably the best review on the machine. He also wrote very good information regarding setting, and maintaining the machine, so check it out.
Out of the box, the Elizabeth looks much better than in photos. I must admit, the photos do not do its justice – it looks rather dull in those. While it is certainly not the best looking espresso machine (to my taste at least, I think the one with E61 group looks more compelling), it definitely looks good.
Coming from the popular Sage (Breville) Barista Pro, there are a few things that impress/surprise me (of course this is an unfair comparison. When you spend 3x more money on a new machine + a grinder, you would definitely not want to get “marginally better”):
- The actual stainless steel construction is very, very nice. It feels much more solid than the fake stainless steel look from the Barista Pro. The machine is well made, probably not the best built machine around, but you know it will last you a long time.
- It takes really long time to heat up, about 20 minutes. Compared to Barista Pro, it was a bummer at first, because you could pull your first shot almost instantaneously with the Pro as the machine is ready after 3s. But that is a lie. For the Barista Pro, the machine allows you to pull shots, but with the cost of temperature stability. I learned the hard way that most of the shots with Barista Pro is severely under temperature, resulting in extreme sour taste, and it was very hard to adjust – you have like 5 levels for temperature, ranging from 90*C to 98*C, so about 2*C each. If the machine can reach that desired temperature or not, is another question. I only realize that once I switched to Elizabeth. The portafilter is actually hot (and very uncomfortable to touch to steel part). On Barista Pro however, it is only lukewarm, even if I pulled a few empty shots before hand. Furthermore, with Elizabeth, I can set the brewing water to whatever temp I like (or half the degree if I switch to F instead of C), so I can comfortably brew light, medium or dark roast the way they are meant to be brewed.
The flow is now so, so much easier and smoother and I had with the Sage Barista Pro.
Buying accessories is also now easier and cheaper – I could easily find branded, quality accessories for reasonable prices. They might be still expensive, but I feel the price is justified for the the quality.
But no machine is perfect, so is Elizabeth, there are a few downsides
The biggest one, to me at least, is that the water tank is pretty hard to refill, as I put my machine under the kitchen cabinet, so I have a few little space left. I need to either move it out, or use a gooseneck kettle to refill. I went with the latter approach and it works quite well.
Another bummer is that there is lack of a real tamper included in the package. Lacking of the milk jug is somewhat acceptable, but tamper? I bought a nice one from Motta (wish I chose the 58.55mm version instead), but I wish they included one by default. Of course, this one is an easy one to fix.
In the end, I’m happy with my Elizabeth, and I feel happy and excited to use it every day. My only regret is that I didn’t step up to Bianca – heard great things about it. But well, it exceeded my budget at that point by a large margin, I’ll have to wait.
Meanwhile, Lelit Elizabeth will serve me well for a long, long time.