Getting a Livia90...
Posted September 18, 2000 12:45pm
Well, I guess the biggest news from me this week is I've finally decided to take the plunge and go for a new machine. And the machine I'm getting? Well, it will probably come as no surprise - I'm getting a Pasquini Livia 90. Jim from 1st Line is hooking me up and keeping me happy, and if all goes well, I'll have it to tinker with sometime early next week. I like dealing with Jim, and there's only one thing I wish was different about his company - I wish he was in Canada so I wouldn't have to pay the duties and such on this darned thing. Oh well.
The Canadian government strikes again - 12% duty on it, THEN 7% GST and 7%PST. On a $1200 USD purchase, that adds a crappy $332 USD to the price - over $490 Canadian. Yep, I sure feel good about turning over that kinda money - the government does so much for me. Not.
In fact, after I sell the Rancilio Silvia (yeah, I gotta sell the Silvia :-( ) I'll barely recoup the costs of those near criminal taxes on their own. Pretty sad. The fact of the matter is, I wouldn't mind paying the duty, OR paying the GST, OR paying the PST. But paying all three basically boosts the cost of the unit by nearly 30%. Did I mention I really dislike the criminal taxes my government charges?
Enough of that. Anyway. Big steps. BIG steps. As most of you know, I'm a long time Rancilio Silvia fan, and probably always will be. But I've also realized that I've moved to a stage in home espresso where I want more. So bear with me a bit while I talk about both the Silvia and the new Livia.
The Rancilio Silvia, I firmly believe, is the best single boiler machine on the consumer market today. Everything about the machine is well done. Tons of brass. Good reservoir size. Excellent materials. Nearly all metal, inside and out. Intelligent grouphead design that not only actively heats (solid brass touching solid brass) but little attention to details like the notched screw mount that actually disperses the flowing water all over the dispersion screen (thanks to Rene from New Zealand for pointing that out). Good weight and size is there, as well as some of the best shots I've ever had.
So why am I not keeping it? Well I would keep it, but with 3 expensive espresso machines in the house already, my wife will not let me have a fourth. Plus I need to recoup those criminal taxes, after all. Why am I buying a new machine? Not because the Silvia isn't capable, both in performance and in longevity. No, I'm moving up because of one thing. I want professional.
Well, okay the Livia90 is not professional per se. It's not a true commercial machine with 240 voltage, plumped in options, and a procon pump. But you know what? I had the opportunity to buy a Rancilio S27 which does have all those options, and I passed on it, because I don't want the plumb in option, nor do I want the wiring headaches. And I could have gotten it less than the Livia.
No, I chose the Livia90 many many months ago (well, decided that was the machine for me) because it is quasi-professional, but still for home use. 51W pump (the new ones are now 41 watts, the same as the Silvia), a 1.5 litre boiler (the Silvia is 300ml), a 1 gallon reservoir, and most importantly, it is a heat exchanger unit. A heat exchanger, in short, is setup that allows you to brew and froth at the same time. I find this is really important to me more and more these days - I tend to prefer my espresso shots as "double espresso ristretto doppio", which is a restricted double espresso shot with a dollop of foam on top. To brew one today, I have to have the steaming function on one of my machines ready to go, and my Silvia brewing the shots. To brew one tomorrow, I just brew my shot with the Livia, then froth my milk, right away.
I also like the fact that the Livia90 has a lot of engineered smarts inside of it. Features like low water indicators and refusal to brew with low water, adjustable boiler pressure, professional solenoid, and lots of other smarts inside. I like the fact it takes 15 seconds to steam and froth 10 ounces of milk. I remember back to when it took me 2 minutes to do it with the Novo Compact I had. I remember how cool it was to go to 35 seconds with the Silvia. I think I'm going to really enjoy going to 15 seconds or less with the Livia. And lastly, I think I'm really going to enjoy leaving the machine on 24/7. It is designed for that, and is actively advertised as such.
Is a Livia90 worth the $800 more than a Silvia costs? To me, no, it isn't in the real world, but the problem is not the Livia per se. The problem is with the Espresso Machine industry. I firmly believe they have the ability to build a decent heat exchanger espresso machine for $750 USD or so, and make it profitable and wildly popular for the entire industry and the marketplace. But no one wants to. I've waited some 9 months for such a machine to be introduced. I hoped the Oscar would be such a machine, (the Nuova Simonelli Oscar) but I was sorely disappointed to see it introduced at the $1000+ range. It is a good machine, but it is not a $1000 machine. It is a $750 machine.
The ECM Giotto is another contender, but until Zabars introduced it in their stores, it retailed for $1500 or so. Zabars brought it in for $995, making it more realistic, and its Faema E61 grouphead (actively heated with boiler water) is a total perk, but I've heard dissapointing stories about its steaming ability, and its overall construction.
Nope, the Livia90 is the machine for me. I've waited long enough, and that $750 dream machine doesn't look like it is going to happen (I really would love to see ESI, the La Marzocco people, tackle this market with a Made in the USA solution, but I don't see it happening). I'm content with my Livia purchase, and I cannot wait until the day I pick it up. I won't enjoy the criminal taxes I gotta pay, but I've waited long enough. :-)