I got the Vibiemme Junior HX three months ago from saving up a massive amount of ebeans, and the people at Roaste allowing me to receive them from these blog posts.
So now after three months time with this espresso machine I feel like I have gotten to know what it can and can't do pretty well, I thought it would be a pretty good time to revisit it here.
The Vibiemme Junior HX is a pour over heat exchanger machine with a e61 group head. That means that this machine requires your to pour water into a water tank in the back of the machine, and that it heats the water for espresso by running a copper line through the boiler on this machine to get the water up to temperature, while the boiler is set to be at a lot higher temperature so you can use the steam wand whenever you please. This allows you to steam your milk while making espresso.
The e61 group, it's basically five pounds of brass with water circulating through it from the boiler. One of the nice things about the Vibiemme is that the water is designed to flow through it just enough to keep the termperature of the group right at brew temp. That means that if your machine has been sitting a long time or been making a few shots of espresso, the heat in the 5 pounds of brass is going to either cool or heat up the water enough to get a pretty decent espresso from at any time.
-1 Liter Boiler
-2 Liter Removable water tank
-1600W Heating Element
-9" W x 17" D x 16" H
-Auto shut off for low water
-Boiler/Brew Pressure gauges
-2 portafilters, single and double spout
-Single, Double and Blind espresso baskets,
-3 way valve
There is a lot to like about this machine, seemingly very stable on brew temps, fairly quick warm up times, high quality, compact, being able to brew and steam at the same time.
As I mentioned before the machine has an e61, which with 5 lbs of brass and water circulating through that metal from the boiler keeps it hot. The nice thing about Vibiemme machines is that they have the water that comes off the boiler to go around the group restricted so that the group does not get excessively hot. And I was a little concerned that with the small size of the boiler compared to Vibiemme's other machines that use a larger boiler that something might be amiss, thankfully I was wrong.
Due to group being kept at a solid constant termperature it means that the cooling flushes are shorter too. In heat exhanger machines, a lot of times you are required to flush water from them anywhere from 8-10 seconds in order to get the water out of the pipe that was sitting in the boiler while heating up. I found quite early on with this machine that a good 2 seconds flush before pulling a shot is good for most blends, just enough to heat up the cup.
With the small size of the boiler, but the heating element being 1600W the same as the larger models the heat time is fairly quick. I find that I am able to make good espresso in about 20 minutes after turning on the machine. I am using the very accurate method of touching the group to see if it's too hot to touch, and drinking the espresso that comes from it. This is nice because other larger machines can take up 45 minutes!
There are really only two areas that I have found to be bad with this machine, steaming large amounts, and possible problems want to pump out shot after shot.
About steaming, I steam for my lattes six ounces of milk and for that it's very quick and easy. Takes about 10 seconds to go from frig cold to delicious micro warm micro foam. The micro foam that I get is easy, simply place the steam wand in the middle of the pitcher near the top let it do the clk clk clk noice for a few seconds until warm, then dive it in a little further and watch the milk turn over.
However, I have tried to steam enough milk for two drinks at once and found the results lacking. I believe due to the small size of the boiler only 1.0 L there is not a lot of umph required with steaming that much milk. While I was able to get the milk hot enough I was not able to get the rolling action of the milk the way I like it to get nice incorporated foam. really well.
Now, if you do like large milk drinks you can set the pressure higher in the boiler to give you more steam. The drawback of this though would be you would probably have to flush more water through the group when making your espresso. Right now I have the machine at a lower end set to 1.1 bar.
The mirror finish is a pain to keep clean. I really don't even bother anymore, really wish most of the machine had a brushed steel finish. Every little water spot shows up, so either be prepared to polish everyday or live with some water spots.
At the end I think this is a great machine to have at home. It heats up faily quickly, is small, and best of all makes excellent espresso and milk drinks. Unfortunately, it's not up on Roaste at the moment, and it seems to have run out of stock at other retailers at well, perhaps a revision is in the works? But you can still find it at 1st-line, which is a very respectable company you can trust.
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