As we warmed up our brand new Vesuvius espresso machine for its maiden voyage through the depths of pressure profiling, we had no idea where it would take us. This beautiful espresso machine has been designed to meet the ever-increasing needs of the sophisticated coffee prosumer.
The Vesuvius contains all the expected features of a high-end E61 brew group machine: dual boilers, PID temperature control, ball-joint mounted no burn steam and water arms. The dot matrix touch display provides access not only to the pressure profiles, but to a wide range of other parameters to tweak. You could literally spend all day experimenting with this machine.
The pressure profile menu and programmable timer are accessed from the home screen. Less frequently adjusted functions are hidden in the advanced menu. This includes pump acceleration speed, temperatures for the brew group and steam boiler, option for degrees C or F, and choosing the idle time to switch to economy mode (which deactivates the steam boiler) or to power off the machine altogether.
We also discovered an array of colors to choose from for your display screen. In the end we stuck with factory standard blue. The screen will helpfully turn red once your water level gets low, that is if you haven’t directly plumbed in the machine.
The FG304 gear pump runs with a distinctive whirring sound. The volume level is on par with a rotary pump, it’s just at a higher pitch. Although it takes a little getting used to, it’s great to hear the pump gearing up and down according to your very own customized profile.
Now for the fun part. Pressure profiling.
With the ability to save five different pressure profiles into this clever machine, you can easily explore a range of extraction styles for the same coffee without having to go into programming mode. Getting into programming mode is easy enough, just press and hold on the profile number on the screen. Once you are in there, you have to manually click through each field for all seven steps in order to exit back into normal mode. This isn’t difficult, but would be tedious to have to do after each shot.
You can program a pre-infusion by beginning the extraction with a 2 bar pressure step for however long you prefer. After that, the possibilities are endless. You could ramp up the extraction 7 bar for a few seconds, then up to 10 bar in the third step. Or how about no pre-infusion but instead ease off the pressure gradually at the end of the shot? We tried a vast range of profiles for our Lovejoy blend – each had their own nuances, some good, some great, some absolutely amazing. The beauty of this machine is you can optimize the extraction to get exactly what you want out of your beans.
You don’t need to use all seven steps available in a pressure profile. In fact, there isn’t really enough time in a 25 second shot to do so. It takes time for the pump to gear up and down. The pressure changes aren’t instantaneous – and we would never expect them to be. It should also be noted that the actual brew pressure can overshoot the set pressure. This is acknowledged in the product manual. Once you become familiar with how and when this occurs you can compensate for this when setting your profiles.
There is so much you can do with the Vesuvius that you are only limited by your caffeine intake. Some of you may be wondering how exactly the various pressure profiles fared on our beans? Well, stay tuned, because that’s a story for another blog post…