Rocket bought the rights to make the Giotto from ECM in the mid 2000s, so this is the machine that started it all. The godfather of the home E61 "chrome box" craze!
In case anyone was paying attention, yes, this "disappeared" for a bit, after recently being listed here. Since it "sat around a while" (which means a couple weeks at voltage110 these days) we started playing around with it in the mornings making espresso. That led from one tweak to another, and the next thing you know, the whole fricking machine was in pieces again!
We're taking a vow not to "fix" anything that's not broken from now on! (A vow we've made before and never seem to honor, alas.) Thinking every old espresso machine should work "like new" (or better) is a slippery slope. And as we've admited before, we're obviously not into this for the money...
A new upgraded pump, a new pressurestat (to narrow the "dead band range") and most unnecessarily, a "custom" over pressure valve (OPV) were added. The new pressure valve allows manual adjustment of the brew pressure, which we've set at about 9 psi. ("About" means we're not dealing with lab quality instruments around here!)
All three tweaks obviously cost more time and money, but we're hoping they were worth it, by allowing even the most obsessive E61 owner "more control."
So here she is again. The "re-imagined" ECM Giotto.
(The updates also mean virtually all of the normal "wear" parts of this machine have now been rebuilt, or replaced with new. )
This Giotto came from a very conscientious original owner, but we completely disassembled and rebuilt the E61 group. (A somewhat complicated and dirty job that most "used" E61s will never see. Especially the kind you'll normally find for sale on craigslist or ebay.) We even installed a new IMS shower screen, and Cafelat silicon portafilter gasket.
After lubing, adjusting, descaling and cleaning everything (and yeah, throwing in a bunch of new parts!) we can pretty confidently report this one works "like new."
The only "dark spot" is the original white plastic water reservoir, which has gotten "amberized" over the years from heat. It holds water just fine, and obviously isn't visable normally, but it's there lurking under the pretty chrome cover.
In case you're somehow not familiar with these, in addition to the "professional" E61 group and portafilter, they have an internal water reservoir (not plumbed in) an autofill boiler with a thermo "over heat" protection circuit, an Ulka vibe pump (with the aftermentioned OPV) a separate hot water spigot, a "cool touch" steam arm, and probably a few things we're forgetting right now.
It's hard to believe anything culturally was "happening" in the early 2000s, but these now iconic "chrome boxes" coincided with the "foodie" movement spilling over into Middle America (popularlzed by the likes of Iron Chefs, and ex-con Martha Stewart!)
People started spending serious money on their home kitchens.
And you could buy a fancy chrome Italian espresso machine, that fit comfortably on your counter and shouted "I'm serious about my coffee!" It was visually impressive enough to become a "high end kitchen accessory" on it's own. So even casual espresso drinkers could justify spending a fortune on a machine that sat around mostly unused.
To be fair, these did elevate home espresso making to levels not possible with the plastic toys posing as "automatic" espresso machines for most Americans at that point. (Levers of course were already considered "old," and not nearly hi tech enough for the modern person.)
The "industry" has since souped them up even more, with features like double boilers, and PID temp controls. You can probably run one with your phone! But they're all basically the same thing. An E61 group, bolted onto a pretty chrome box.
All the extra bells and whistles of the "latest" E61 machines (tech introduced by Faema in 1962!) may help you make better espresso. But you can probably get to the same place with pretty much ANY E61.
You really don't "need" a PID. Or a second boiler.
What you need are some good beans, a decent grinder, and time spent pulling shots on your machine.
There's simply no substitute for trial and error, and just "wasting some coffee" while developing your skills and learning how to make what you like. As with any professional tool. Experience and technique, in the end, are the most valuable "features."
So if you're after a rewarding overall "espresso making experience," and the ability to make "coffee shop quality" drinks at home, and you want some "modern" with a side of "bling" included in the deal, you should be able to get there with this machine.
They do look impressive sitting on the counter!
(About 14 high x 17 deep.)
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