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Profitec Pro 800

The Pro 800 is a spring lever espresso machine built by Profitec, which is basically the mid-market brand of the higher end ECM company. You can find all the specs you’ll want on the manufacturer or distributor web sites. This review will not reiterate any of those features because there are already many great resources for that; this review is to give you my perspective from using this machine for a couple of years in a home environment, and in comparison with several other espresso machines I’ve used.

First, I want to give a shout out to Paul over at Clive Coffee. He was instrumental in getting my machine to me, and also in assisting with some of the damages to the machine while it was in transit. Make no mistake, this is a beast of a machine, and is shipped on a wooden palette because it is very heavy (upwards of 40kg). 

On the other side of that coin, I had a terrible experience with shipito freight forwarding service and UPS Freight. They just outright refused to work together for more than a month causing amazing headaches. UPS Freight required a local contact, and shipito refused to provide one. After many hours on support calls, I finally got a manager who took pity on me, and let me use her as the local contact. What should have been a couple of weeks for delivery turned into months of frustration and anguish.

Back to the machine – the Profitec Pro 800. I initially bought it because I like the analog feel of creating an espresso. There are many advanced machines now that offer pressure profiling, and that really did appeal to me. I was close to buying one of the more technologically advanced machines. But when I compared the variables for myself, the experience of making the espresso was what I enjoyed, and I wanted to experience that through an old-fashioned lever machine. I mean, every modern espresso machine now will produce a pretty good shot of espresso given the proper coffee, a good grinder, and good preparation techniques. The espresso machine is the last part in the chain of a process that will give you a good coffee, and how I wanted to experience that pointed to the simplicity of the Pro 800.

The final piece for me was that I really preferred medium and dark roasts at the time, and the declining profile of the spring-lever worked well for that to increase perceived sweetness (and/or decreased bitterness) in the flavor of the extraction. I mean, why should I get a fancy pressure profiling machine with infinite profiles, when in practice I’ll just make a profile that’s trying to emulate a spring-lever machine anyway, right? I decided on the Pro 800 for the brand reliability that many people lauded about Profitec. There were a few other spring-levers I was shopping also, but they didn’t have the exact combination of features I wanted.

When the machine first arrived, I was getting really uneven extractions. I went over my puck preparation process several times, but couldn’t figure out what the problem was. My extractions on my previous espresso machine was fine. It turns out that the machine shipped with an absurd amount of lubricant in the group head, and was blocking the shower screen. I cleaned out the group and carefully re-greased the machine. Extractions were now even; success.

The first set of modifications I made were some silicone seals from cafelatstore.com. The stock rubber seals would likely become difficult to remove in the future, so in the spirit of preventative maintenance, I replaced the seals right away. While I was in there, I changed the stock shower screen with an IMS 200 screen and a 17g VST competition filter basket. The Pro 800 puts out a set amount of water (60ml) when the chamber if filled, and I found that with a 5 second pre-infusion, the 17g basket worked well for this. I’ve since learned that I can influence the final extraction amount in other ways.

Profitec Pro 800 - ECM steam joystick

Another modification I made was to use a joystick style steam wand from ECM. I wanted the instant on and off from the joystick control, but looking back, I was happy with the knob as well. The one thing to note is that when installing the ECM stem, it change the angle of the steam wand so it now purges at the edge of the drip tray, causing it to spray outside the tray. I’ve adjusted to this by using a rag around the tip when I purge.

I had one problem with the machine so far. One of the wires shorted out causing one of the temperature thermostats to fail. I pulled it out and bypassed that circuit so I could make coffee while I waited for replacement parts to arrive. Again Paul was helpful here, but since I was in Japan, I ended up purchasing another part from a store that could get it to me faster. I upgraded some wiring and connectors while I was in there. The folks over at home-barista.com were instrumental in learning how to fix the problem, and get the machine up and running again without a visit to a repair shop. Otherwise, the machine has been great.

Profitec Pro 800 – burned out thermostat

Some things I’ve learned is that because it’s essentially a single boiler machine, steam pressure is dictated by the brew temperature you want to make your coffee at. You can fudge it by increasing the temperature of the boiler, and the doing wet rag and cold portafilter tricks to get the extraction you may want, but in the end, the steam pressure is what it is. The kicker is that usually, I want my dark roasts with steamed milk, but I usually like my dark roasts at lower temperatures – meaning weaker steam pressure. Is there still enough steam pressure to make latte-art quality foam? Yes. Is it less than the maximum pressure available? Yes. The positive side to this is that because you’re using one boiler for steam and brewing, you’re constantly circulating that water, and it will be fresher, and require less maintenance than a double boiler machine overall.

Having spent two years with the machine, and getting more in to lighter roasts, I started to look at machines that would let me change the extraction pressure as I tried different coffees. Before spending another chunk of life-savings on another coffee machine, I went over to my source for coffee knowledge, home-barista.com. It made me realize that I could alter extraction pressures simply by pulling back on the lever to lessen the strength of the spring in the group head, allowing me to effectively reduce extraction pressure! I spent the next few hundred grams of beans learning how this new variable could change my extractions, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find I can now pull shots at a reduced pressure of around 6-7 bar, down from the usual 9-10 bar that is typical from the Bosco group in the Pro 800.

Latte art from Profitec Pro 800

I’ve also learned about a pressure gauge attachment that I can swap into my machine that is created by Gabor over at naked-portafilter.com. I’m in the process of purchasing the new part so I can more closely watch the pressures as I experiment with different extractions. When that piece arrives, I’ll review it separately. 

All in all, I’ve learned that this is a very capable machine, and will make great espresso if you learn how to use it. Beginners can make great coffee right from the beginning, and more advanced baristas will have some parameters and techniques to play with to coax out more nuance from their preferred coffees. I definitely recommend this machine highly!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Ron

    I am liking it! Did you do the single or double spring? Which is better and why? I like 14 grams in the medium basket they provide. Cheers!

    1. CoffeeRyokou

      Hi! The stock double spring had more than 10 bars of pressure at the beginning of the pull if I remember right, and slowly declined, and then declined more rapidly at lower pressures.

      I got the single spring. I wanted a slightly lower extraction pressure, and an even decline on pressure. So when I do want to retard the lever a bit, yes, I do hold the lever and lower the pressure a bit, while slowly guiding it back to keep an even pressure.

      Congrats on the machine! Did you get the version 1 or 2? Let me know how you like it!

  2. Ron

    Do you still own the machine? You just hold back the lever? So not hands free? Just gots mine today!

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