My Experience With Profitec 800 Espresso Machine

BY BORIS POVOLOTSKY - 28 Apr 2023

The Lever Experience

I am the proud owner of the Profitec 800 and I’d like to share my subjective ownership experience.

I’ll do my best to avoid getting too technical. As there are far more talented technical reviewers, this is more about the experience, the sensations, etc.

When you’re on a quest to buy an espresso machine, you often reach a point where you set aside the objective comparisons and you focus on how you’re feeling about the machine. With that in mind, let’s continue.

At the end of the day, I don’t care if you get yourself a Profitec 800 or a Bezzera Strega, as long as you get to the lever side, it’s okay.

After reading this article, I recommend you visit the Lever Espresso Machines forum on HB to fully immerse yourself in the culture.

I’ll go over some of the factors that impress me as well as some of the drawbacks I find using this machine daily. I’ll spare you the boring details unless they’re essential to the story.

The Feels

I have always been curious about the experience of making coffee with a lever machine. The entire process has a certain appeal that I find intriguing. I couldn’t resist the temptation any longer and decided to finally try it for myself. I bought the Pro 800.

I must admit, the first dozen shots were a disaster! They were horrible. But, there was still something kind of magical about using a lever machine.

As time went by, the routine became second nature for me. The shots improved significantly, and although the initial magic has worn off, the process still feels special to me.

Having upgraded from an entry-level machine, I’m pleased with the steaming pressure on my new device. With practice, I’ve developed a technique that allows me to brew and steam simultaneously, which is very convenient. I’ve even discovered how to steam no hands! simply by adjusting the steam wand to its lowest angle. Overall, I find the process to be engaging and enjoyable.

Finally, the ability to control the pressure on the fly with the lever has been an amazing experience. I mean, imagine preparing a not-so-perfect coffee puck and still being able to save the shot!

The Controls

Lever machines provide a wider range of control compared to typical traditional espresso machines. While some modern machines include a flow control paddle, it can be difficult to adjust and requires a significant learning curve as it’s not as intuitive as a lever. With manual lever machines (without a spring), baristas have complete control. However, I am satisfied with the “limited” control I have on my spring lever machine.

To be honest, there are some coffees for which I don’t need to utilize the full range of control provided by the Profitec 800. In these cases, I simply pull the lever and let the natural pressure decline take its course. The pressure doesn’t remain at 9 bar; rather, it declines smoothly, resulting in delicious, creamy, and balanced espressos.

In addition, there’s a gentle pre-wetting trick that involves pre-wetting the puck with water before pre-infusing it. While pulling the lever, I pause briefly at the mid-position where the piston just uncovers the entrance to allow water to enter the group.

This machine’s pre-infusion pressure is solely dependent on the boiler’s pressure. If you raise the temperature using the PID, you’ll notice that the pressure gauge increases as well, also resulting in higher steaming power. However, for darker roasts I tend to lower temperature, having softer pre-infusion and weaker steam.

The Looks

If you search for Profitec online, you might come across comments that their machines are a bit boring. Some people say that the Profitec 800 lacks “soul”. But I have to disagree. I think it’s absolutely beautiful. My only regret is that I don’t have the V2 wood accents, which would make it even more stunning. The black colors aren’t too shabby, though.

Every guest who comes over is always impressed by the machine. It’s a great conversation starter and people get interested in the process of brewing coffee. I recently moved the machine from the back of the kitchen to a nice table near the living room. It stands on what used to be a large wooden tabletop for my computer setup.

When we drink coffee, we don’t just care about the taste of it. We appreciate everything that surrounds it. Some people like a nice treat next to it, while others prefer their coffee served in an elegant cup or glass. And how can we not appreciate a gorgeous coffee setup that is responsible for the great cup of coffee we enjoy? Watching Tristan make coffee with all those levers certainly makes it look better.

I appreciate the Profitec 800, it blends in perfectly in our home. If it wasn’t a lever machine, I would probably just keep it in the corner of the kitchen. But it’s a beautiful machine that deserves to be seen and admired.

Profitec 800 Angled Pic

All in all

I have to address the most important thing, personally. It feels as if I have rediscovered espresso. I started to drink straight espresso. I never enjoyed pure espresso before. It’s a shame, it always tasted too blunt, too bitter or too acidic. I have tried so many times in various cafes. I have tried with my previous machines, as well as drinking over at friends’ places. Nothing. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a black coffee, nor do I drink any coffee with sugar.

Finally. At last. I drink straight espressos. Now, it still depends on the kind of coffee I’m drinking. With some beans, I still prefer to make Cappuccinos, Lungos or Americanos. I experiment with different roasts, too, I like darker roasts, however, I fell in love with particular medium roasts, too. But that’s a discussion for another blog post.

The Profitec 800 is a capable machine for all roasts. It can handle light roasts, too. However, some say it shines with more traditional darker roasts, which resembles how they brew coffee in Italy.

Now, I’ll address some of the disadvantages that I have found in my experience with this machine. For me, none of them are deal breakers, but they may be for you.

The Drawbacks

  1. Long preheat time Profitec 800 takes about 45 minutes to get up to a stable temperature. You can take a shortcut and flush water at a slow pace (mid-point lever position) and shorten the preheat time by 10-12 minutes. Do not pull the lever all the way down because a large amount of water will gush, effectively achieving nothing but trouble.

Solution: WiFi Smart Plug. I set up the weekly schedule and it covers my coffee usage 90% of the time. However, sometimes I’d mistakenly switch OFF the machine itself, rendering the WiFi plug useless.

With machines that heat up in up to 20 minutes, it is a deal breaker for some. While not a deal breaker for me, as I know this fact before buying, it can be frustrating at times.

  1. Can’t stop midway Once you pull the lever down, a stream of water enters the chambers. It’s about 60ml of water, and you don’t want all of that in your cup because it’ll ruin your shot.

It requires an adjustment coming from a switch pump machine. I have ruined some shots because I didn’t pull the cup for some reason. They say you should remove it when you notice blonding in the coffee tail.

Solution: Use a small container for the remaining water and discard it afterward. Watch for the color of the top layer of your coffee to turn significantly lighter. You’ll be able to time it with enough practice.

  1. PID doesn’t control brew temp The Profitec 800’s PID controls the boiler temperature which is, practically speaking, a steam boiler. Meaning, its temperature isn’t the goal temp you’re aiming for your coffee. You must use the Scace device for precise temp.

Solution: Use community users’ experience as a general guideline. I set up mine in a range between 120-124 Celcius. Higher temp for lighter roasts, lower for darker roasts.

Keep in mind, that lowering the temperature also lowers the steam pressure, i.e. longer to steam your milk. But the Profitec 800 has plenty of steaming power anyway.

  1. No Built-in timer

Some machines have built-in shot timers, some machines embed them in the PID display. Profitec’s PID is behind the drip tray anyway, which is another con by the way.

Solution: I used a timer with my previous machine, and I still use it today. Old habits.

  1. Price Let’s talk about price. The Profitec 800 isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s not the most expensive lever machine out there either. It’s a bit pricier than some other models like the Strega or the Quickmill Rapida, but still more affordable than the top-of-the-line Londinium. Of course, whether the Profitec 800 is worth the price tag depends on your budget your priorities, and your SO’s opinion, as well. Thankfully, my partner loved it. At the end of the day, the Profitec 800 is a special machine that’s sure to impress anyone who loves great coffee. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but in our opinion, it’s worth every penny.

Another lever machine to keep an eye on is the Londinium Vectis. However, as of writing this post, it is not yet in production, so it’s hard to recommend.

Profitec 800 vs. Bezzera Strega

Those were my main considerations and I almost convinced myself to get the Bezzera Strega. With the deal I got for the Profitec 800, they were almost equally priced. Along with the price, noise level was an important factor, too. The Bezzera Strega features a vibratory pump that is activated each time you pull a shot. Besides that, I like the look of both.

The engineering design aspect of those machines is different. Profitec 800 is a classic dipper, whereas the Strega is a heat-exchanger lever machine. Being a traditional dipper lever, the Pro 800 draws water directly from the boiler via a tube. The implication of this is that you can only preinfuse at the boiler pressure which is set by the PID. The PID setting can be a little confusing at first because you set the boiler temperature, not the desired brewing temp. For example, we set the boiler temperature to 124 Celcius, when water is drawn from the boiler, it’s immediately cooled by the massive group to a brewing temperature.

The Strega, on the other hand, doesn’t have a PID and is a Heat Exchanger by design with great flexibility. It has a unique style of operation that’ll take some time to get accustomed to. However, despite the absence of a PID, the Strega is capable of pulling a great shot with any type of coffee, be it light-roasted, dark-roasted, etc., thanks to its pump and lever. The Strega features electronic heating elements that assist in getting the machine up to temperature faster than the Profitec 800.

I use a smart plug so I mostly don’t care about the long heating time. However, if I want coffee at a random (not pre-scheduled) time, I have to wait at least 30 minutes and that with flushing, etc. The Strega heats up faster.

Noise - If you don’t mind the noise, I think the Strega is a great option. If the noise bothers you, get the Profitec 800. The Profitec 800 has a vibe pump as well but that is only activated for drawing water from the reservoir into the boiler. Connecting the machine to a water source would stop the pump for good and you’ll get an absolutely quiet machine.

  • It’s worth noting that there is a big community online behind the Bezzera Strega and there are a lot of modifications and tutorials on how to mod. With mods, it can easily surpass its disadvantages.

Aesthetically, I think the Profitec Pro 800 V2 with the wood handles looks great, although there is evidence of a wooden Strega that looks outstanding. Simply type Bezzera Strega wooden.

Ultimately, if you don’t mind the noise of the Strega, you can’t go wrong with any of those, both are great machines that will last years with good care & maintenance.

Londinium Vectis: Should You Get It Instead?

Londinium Vectis was one of the most anticipated machines in recent years, and it’s finally out. But, should you get one? Well, when it’ll be back in stock, of course. Let’s check it out.

Londinium is a brand that has conquered the hearts of many coffee enthusiasts all over the world. However, the flag model, the Londinium R24 is a huge and very expensive machine that not everyone can afford. Reiss Gunson, Londinium’s Founder, has found the answer to this problem: The Londinium Vectis, which costs just £1,000. Is it worth it?

In all honesty, I am not sure. I was seriously interested and considered waiting for the launch, but it was delayed. Given its development history, I was worried it could go on for a long time, so I ended up buying the Profitec 800.

The Londinium Vectis is small, it weighs only 19kg (40 lbs), almost half my Profitec’s weight. A 1.8 L boiler, which is also significantly smaller, has its benefits, it takes only 20 minutes to warm up. Aesthetically, it’s compact and solid, with hardwood handles and all, it’s astonishing!

The machine doesn’t have a pump, it’s extremely silent, and the loudest part would be steaming your milk. Wait, did I say it has no pump? Yes. No pump. This means that there’s no pump to fill the boiler from the water reservoir because there is no reservoir. Essentially, you must fill your boiler manually by removing the cap on top and pouring water directly into the boiler. Yay! Or… Nay!

Compared to its bigger brother, the Vectis doesn’t have variable preinfusion pressure. It depends on the boiler pressure which you can adjust.

The last caveat is the limited yield of your shot. The yield is around 30-36 ml volume. For me, it’s just the right amount of coffee. If you’re used to 40g+ doubles and triples, you might have to perform a “Fellini Move”, i.e. pulling your level down mid-shot for another round to push more water through. For a single or a low-volume double, it might be enough from what I’ve seen. With the Profitec 800, I have excess water so I have to remove my cup from underneath the portafilter to avoid ruining the shot and let the rest of the water flow into the drip tray or some kind of container.

Visit Home-Barista’s User Experience Thread to get a user perspective.

Summary

If you’ve made it this far, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Profitec 800 and would happily recommend it to anyone. However, before making your purchase, there are a few things to consider and I hope this post has provided you with some helpful insights. While there are plenty of product reviews out there for the Profitec 800, this one focused on the subjective experience of owning and using the machine. If you have any questions about the machine, this site, or anything else related to coffee, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know boristofu@gmail.com


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