Inside This Review
A relatively new coffee machine from ECM
Manufacture in Germany
The Barista arrives well packed (ECM use heavy
grade packaging and Bella Barista also double
box the machines). Build quality is good with
high quality (industry standard) components. It
has a mirror finish stainless steel exterior case
and a black painted internal steel frame.. The
How it works
Inside the Barista
A detailed Tour
Key Features
Using the Barista
Final Thoughts
quality is noticeable when lifting the machine as
the Barista is a heavy machine at approximately
This type of heat Exchanger (HX) machine, is
more complex internally than cheaper non HX
machines, but much simpler to operate. There
are fewer controls and no need to do anything
special (apart from filling the water tank
occasionally) to draw steam, hot water or
espresso at any time. The Barista automatically
maintains the water level in the boiler as
required and if run low on water in the tank the
Barista switches off the heating element and
pump as a safety precaution, but has no low
water alarm.
The machine is attractive and fits comfortably
under standard height kitchen cabinets,
comparing favourably with other similar
prosumer machines that have a heritage and
reputation for looking good. Some enthusiasts
buy second hand commercial machines, they
are very large, heavy, plumbed into the mains
and have 3-6kw heating elements in 5l or
larger boilers. The Barista can make the same
high quality drinks), without the hassle.
The details were correct at the time of writing, but the manufacturer and
Bella Barista reserve the right to change the technical specification of
the packaging, machines and any accessories supplied with the
machine (including quantity and type of accessories supplied)
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
ECM Barista closer look 2012 v2.doc
Page 2 of 15
Overview – cont.
The Barista has been described as an entry
level prosumer machine with a price that
reflects this positioning, but not the quality,
which is higher than you would expect. This
review will judge the machine not only on
function, but on what would be expected for
the price
It is a great machine both for the customer to
use and the reseller to support and should
provide years of reliable service with the
minimum of maintenance. Once in position on
the counter the machine looks nice and does
not dominate on a standard sized work
surface. The height of the machine is
convenient and gives plenty of room under
standard height kitchen cupboards. It has a
nice large cup warming tray. Placing the Barista
in a corner is ideal, especially when located
near the sink.
Very well packed inner box, protected by double packing in an
-cell filled outer by Bella Barista
Unusually the manufacturers’ user guide is actually
quite good,
good although all the procedures may not
have been tried by the manufacturer, as one didn’t
work as described on my machine!
Even if you are completely new to coffee making
and this type of machine, you will have no problem
making all those great coffee drinks in a very short
time The Barista is easy to keep clean, a quick wipe
with a damp cloth and a buff with a micro fibre
The Barista comes well packed, in a tough box
and with comprehensive documentation
covering all aspects of operation, routine
maintenance and production of espresso based
drinks. A valuable addition to the Italian
cloth is all that’s required to keep it looking great.
The more complex tasks such as backflushing and
descaling are easy to do and the supplied Bella
Barista user guide explains how to do them in
manufacturer’s written User guide that comes
free with the Barista.
The Barista
positioned in the
corner of my
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 3 of 15
How it works
Barista.. The pump keeps the boiler about 60% filled with water that is
The diagram shows a simplified diagram of the Barista
heated and kept at a pressure of 1.2
1.2 bar (about 22 psi). The temperature of this water is above boiling point and has
an area of steam above (similar to a pressure cooker).
The pipe for the steam wand is at the top of the boiler (in the steam area) as the steam tap is opened, steam is
m pipe and as the pressure drops more of the water instantly flashes to steam, giving a
forced through the stea
continuous supply.
Hot Water
The pipe for the hot water tap is submerged below the waterline in the boiler. As the hot water tap is opened, steam
hott water from the boiler through the pipe and out of the hot water outlet.
pressure forces the ho
Coffee Brew Water
Coffee brew water for the group does not actually come from the water in the boiler, but is pumped directly from the
tank through a “heat exchanger” (essentially, a big copper tube) that passes through the hot boiler. As the cold water
from the water tank passes through this tube it is heated to the correct temperature for brewing coffee.
Lifting the lever starts the pumping of brew water, lowering the lever stops tthe
he pump and additionally releases the
pressure (all 140 psi of it) from the group, so you can remove the filter handle safely,
safely, (the excess water goes into
the drip tray when pressure is released)
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 4 of 15
Inside the Barista
A close inspection of the Barista shows a
machine that has all the usual refinements
internally that one would expect. Internal build
quality is good, with good attention to detail.
Components are reasonably well positioned and
neatly assembled. Some internal shots:
Removing the top plate (4 Allen
), gives easy access (within 30
seconds) to many components
including the pressurestat
Brew water path, with, solenoid
valve, OPV assembly, and vibe pump
all easy to reach
Access to the interior is good
with only the top plate, case
back and water tank holder
removed (this takes less than 5
Tip: just loosen the Allen bolts
for the back slightly; you don’t
need to remove them
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 5 of 15
A detailed Tour
limit stats
probe just
behind limit
Pressure relief
(Safety valve)
Hot water
Cold water tank
holder removed and
placed to one side
Copper Steam
Standard MATER XP110
controls boiler
Exchanger top
and bottom
Vibration pump
(Ulka) EX5
OPV Valve, used to
regulate brew
Bottom of
Autofill, “solenoid
valve”, 2 position
operated valve,
routes water to
boiler or group,
depending on need
Wiring for “hall
effect” low water
Take off point
for brew
pressure gauge
Height adjustable feet
(ABS plastic)
View of inside with water tank
platform in place
The picture above identifies the major components of the machine, once the case is removed accessibility for
maintenance is good without full case removal, removal/refitting of the case is fairly easy
This machine would be fairly simple to work on for most of the major components requiring replacement over time
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 6 of 15
Key Features
Ball Joint steam and water arms
Nice quality internal water tank
Low water sensor – magnetic float
(hall effect)
“non compression” commercial
commercial type
steam & water valves
Brew & Boiler Pressure Gauges
Adjustable pressure
pressure stat MATER XP110.
Height adjustable feet
Twin limit stats (extra protection)
Long life Incolloy 800 heating element
2 portafilter holders and
and 2 filter baskets as
standard (single
(single basket is a nice “deep
Large 2.1
2.1 litre boiler
Polished Steel external case with plenty of
room for internal components to stay cool.
The case is a good fit; access to some
components is quickly achieved from the
top via removal of 4 allen bolts. Most
maintenance can be done by only removing
the top and back the case. Significant
maintenance task (e.g. heating element
replacement) requires case removal, which
is only moderately time consuming.
Vacuum Breaker mounted on an extension
tube, something I have said should be done
for some time. This should give a lot less
leakage problems, than those mounted
directly on the boiler, as less splash on
Nice quality copper boiler with good brazing
High quality internal components
Good routing of internal cables and pipes,
avoiding hot spots and areas of vibration
scuffing. All components quite accessible.
This makes servicing easy
Very accessible pressurestat that is not too
sensitive to adjust. This makes pressure
adjustment extremely easy and can be
adjusted without removing the entire case,
just the water tank carrier needs to be
removed (4 allen bolts)
I would have liked to see a specific hole
added in the top plate, above the
pressurestat, to enable adjustment
without having to remove the water tank,
empty, refill and replace it again.
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 7 of 15
A nice quality metal badge. For a change a
machine with a badge that actually is in
keeping with it’s value.
It is even riveted in place, which means it
won’t fall off/.something that occasionally
happens on some espresso machines with
constant exposure to heat and steam.
Readers of past reviews will know that I am
not a fan of cheap badges, especially when
stuck on, or even worse, not level.
The badge also extends to a similar quality,
but much larger badge on the back of the
machine. Probably unnecessary for a
consumer machine I suppose/.BUT, it
shows attention to detail and pride the
manufacturer has in the machine.
Nice quality and very large cold water tank,
accessed by removing the cup warmer tray.
It holds just over 3 litres and simply slides in
and out of the Barista for easy cleaning.
Refilling can be done with the tank in or out
of the machine. It has a wide mouth so it’s
easy to refill without spills.
Nice large cup warming tray. You can get
plenty of cups on there, definitely no lack of
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 8 of 15
The Barista is heavy, because the internal
frame is rigid and constructed with a quality
(thick) steel
I strongly recommend the use of felt
bottomed (or Teflon faced) castor
cups for a few pounds, to make it
easy to move and protect your
worktop. It is difficult to attach the
felt directly to the feet because they
are “hollowed out” underneath
The feet are height adjustable and made
of ABS plastic. This makes the machine
very difficult to slide around and you will
want to slide it around to refill it if it is
under cupboards.
The drip tray is of reasonable size and holds
around 1000ml before it needs emptying (it
can hold more but you will spill liquid whilst
trying to empty it).
It is all steel and nice quality.
The Barista is a moderate steamer, with
nice ball joint steam and water wands. To
microfoam smaller quantities of milk, to the
texture I like (aprox 100-120ml) I would also
buy a single hole steam tip with this
machine for foaming small quantities of milk
easily and would maintain pressure a little
They used to have a 5
hole steam tip, it was
fantastic. Sadly they
have now changed to a 2
hole tip. Sure it works,
but it’s not as good as
the 5 hole tip. It was so
good I nearly pinched it
to use on my own
Professional quality no compression steam
valve and ball joint “no burn” steam wand,
with attractive large tactile knobs. The
steam wand was long enough to reach to
the bottom of all my small and medium
ECM please start fitting
the 5 hole tip again,
esp[ecially if you change
to 1400W heating
“non compression” valves - use a spring and
seal to seat. Opening the valve typically “pushes”
the sprung seal open, closing simply allows the
spring to close the valve, there is no
“compression” of a washer as in some taps.
Commonly found in the commercial environment,
because the seals connot be damaged by “hamfisted” operators closing them too tightly.
Two resettable limit stats is unusual, I
checked with ECM who confirmed this was
to offer extra protection, due to the potential
for polarity reversal when using shuko plugs
in some european countries (not the UK),
thus protecting the machine even when live
and neutral is reversed/.nice thinking!
ECM might consider an
extra limit stat on the end
of the thermostat (this
could give boil dry
protection e.g. when water
level is below the heating
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 9 of 15
Fairly good factory manual that comes with
the machine. I only had a quick glance, but
it seems to cover most of the basics. The
Bella Barista userguide will extend and
suplement the information here.
Portafilters are heavy, nice quality and
properly finished (e.g. chrome button in the
end. Other items are; blind filter (for
backflushing), usual plastic tamper/which
of course should be changed for a proper/
“real” one as soon as possible. Plastic
coffee scoop , you should never use it
though, because you need to be grinding
your coffee fresh, not scooping pre-ground
out of a bag!
Interestingly the Barista portafilers came
with a decent “large” single basket (plus a
standard double). I much prefer this size
basket as it’s shape and amount of coffee
helps greatly in getting a good and well
balanced single shot. On the right is the
ECM basket and on the left is my own Izzo
single, which is pretty much identical in size
and dimensions.
For all my machine reviews I always use
my own naked portafilter and basket!
The machine switches off the heating element when low on water, the boiler then goes cold and the pump
will not run. However, there is NO low water alarm and the only visible indication that the machine is off
(apart from the slowly decending boiler pressure gauge), is the orange(water OK) lamp switches off. The
green power light stays on,so it is not apparent from a distance, or from a casual glance that the machine
has switched off the heating element. I really think that in a machine of this value, an audible alarm should
be added. It can be very irritating to go to make a coffee only to find that the machine switched off the
heating element an hour ago and then have to wait 20 minutes or more for it to warm up.
Note to ECM: You need to be careful with
the group pipes when bending them, this
one was just OK.
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 10 of 15
The 3 flats on each of the side panels give
the machine a really nice look, much better
than straight sides.
After so much good, a bit of a schoolboy
error. The expansion valve/OPV
assembly is placed such that the
pressure cannot easily be adjusted,
because the steel subframe is in the way.
It would be simple to have a small 8mm
hole within the subframe and a similar
one laser-cut into the rear panel. This
would allow brew pressure adjustment
without removing the case.
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 11 of 15
Sadly ECM have moved from a Microswitch
to magnetic (“hall effect”) low water sensing
using a float in the tank. This may make it
harder to implement a low water audible
alarm. At the moment the machine simply
switches off the power to the orange
front lamp and to the heating
element9..irritating if you don’t notice,
or a boiler autofill empties the tank!
Electronic water sensing (better than a
float)!is directly supported by the Gicar
RL30 unit and would also allow an
audible water alarm (because this alarm
is built into the RL30 Gicar. I know this
will work because I have converted my
own MK1 duetto to electronic low water
detection with audible alarm. The
detection pins could easily be
incorporated in the smaller resevoir
below the water tank. In addition, the
main tank would be cheaper to make and
have no float and slide mechanism
inside. Less to clean and less to go
The rating plate, placed on frame of the
machine behind the drip tray
The gap between the group and the drip
tray was a nice large 146mm, that little bit of
extra height really comes in quite handy
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 12 of 15
Using the Barista – simple and easy to use!
The Barista runs hot, but not too hot and
requires a smaller cooling flush than other HX
machines, 3 oz max. There is always a
compromise between steam pressure and
production of brew water at the right
temperature for espresso. Pressure in the boiler
is directly related to the temperature, a higher
pressure gives higher temperatures. Because of
the way HX machines work most require a
cooling flush prior to drawing the first in a
series of espressos, the Barista in common with
other machines of this type also requires this
Hot Water
It’s nice to have really hot water on tap, recovery
time after drawing hot water for an Americano is
fast. Although I recommend a kettle for regular
hot water production, rather than an expensive
coffee machine. It is a better option in areas
where lime scale is a problem and saves having to
descale your machine so often.
Brew pressure can easily be adjusted as
the Barista has good quality OPV
“cooling flush”, the Barista required a smaller
than usual cooling flush, this
this gives
gives a little more
headroom to raise steam pressure (if desired)
without adversely affecting brew temperature.
The E61 group
The E61 group is an industry standard (as are
many of the components in the machine), so
parts such as, pumps, gaskets, shower screens,
Pressure Settings
filter holders, filter holder handles etc. are all a
You can alter the pressure/temperature of the
standard size and readily available from multiple
boiler if required, although I found the factory
suppliers. This makes the pricing of these spares
settings to be OK at around 1.25 bar, if it was
highly competitive. You may have read about
my personal machine I would be tempted to try
ECMs own redesign of the E61 brewing group,
increasing this 1.3 or 1.35 bar.
just so there is no confusion, the Barista has a
standard Generic E61 group.
Steam Production
As long as a cooling flush is performed, the
The Barista has good steam performance and you
Barista makes consistently good espressos and
will not run out of steam. To steam that 500ml of
easily maintains the temperature during the
milk will not take long. It takes a little while to get
pour. Domestic volumes of espresso one after
used to steaming, especially with smaller
another will be absolutely no problem with this
quantities of milk. The ECM machines used to
machine. The brew pressure at the group when
come with a fabulous 5 hole tip (5 small holes).
tested was set to 10 bar. This could easily be
They now come with the same 2 hole tip most
adjusted lower (9.5 bar) as the good quality OPV
manufacturers use. Although it’s OK, the old 5
is quite adjustable, but I wouldn’t bother.
hole tip was so much better!
I also prefer the standard “burn” type steam and
water wands. I don’t like the “no burn” steam
wands, the insert tube seems to restrict steam
flow and they don’t work as well as the standard
type of wand. It’s quite easy to get alternative
steam tips if desired for the standard wands.
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
Page 13 of 15
Final Thoughts – so what’s the bottom line!
The Barista is a well built German manufactured
Change to electronic low water level detection
(a direct function of a Gicar RL30)
Put some silicon/rubber dot’s around the cup
tray area, so that it fits firmly and will not
rattle at all. This will give an even quieter
Bring back the 5 hole steam tip, or simply add
it to the machine
s accessories as an extra free
steam tip in addition to the 2 hole tip.
Have a hole in the frame and laser cut in the
rear panel to allow brew pressure adjustment
without case removal
Increase power of heating
heating element to
machine using high quality components. For
Bella Baristas entry level ECM machine the
quality is exceptional. I have been quite tough
in the review, because even though it’s an entry
level machine, it’s still a lot of money to spend
and expectations should be high. I also want
ECM to read the review and take action on the
few issues I found, mainly because they still
have not dealt with them from earlier reviews
some years ago. In fairness some other issues I
raised have been dealt with, but it seems a
shame to “spoil the ship for a hapeth of tar”.
The 80/20 rule does not apply here and for
very little effort and cost they could make this
the near perfect entry level HX!
The Barista definitely more than holds its own
against other similar machines. At this level all
the machines make great coffee, and the choice
is often down whether you simply “like the look
of it”. I think the ECM Barista represents
exceptional value, even against machines
The above minor items do little to detract from
costing up to £300 more.
more. It could be a mistake
day to day operation. With very little effort ECM
buying a more expensive HX machine, thinking
could make the Barista near perfect in its class.
that because it costs more, it must be better.
The vibration pump is very quiet and the
he large 2.1
The Barista is good…..very good
l boiler of the Barista is definitely benefits
performance Overall quality is excellent and
Anything you would change?
It’s heavy at 22kg, but not too large. I also liked
the fact that the group was slightly higher
(approx 146mm) above the drip tray than
normal. As a reviewer, with my 20/20
hindsight, there were a few things.
Audible Low water alarm (already built in to
Gicar RL30)
Use existing orange light to show heater
on/off operation
nott plastic feet
Use metal and no
equals or exceeds the quality level of higher end
(more expensive) HX machines. Sensitive
electronics are at the bottom of the case and
subject to minimum heat, which should make the
machine much more reliable. The Barista is a
great machine (probably best in class), with nice
styling. The look of a machine is a very personal
thing, but for technical merit and build quality, I
rate the Barista very highly over many other
HX machines that cost significantly more.
It gets a rare, but well deserved star buy
rating from me!
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
ECM Barista Specifications
Height-Width - Depth:
w x d x h / 330 mm x 425 mm x 400 mm (add 150mm to depth
with portafilter fitted)
22 kg approx
Voltage & Power
230 V-50Hz, nominal 1200W max
Temperature control
Adjustable MATER XP110 Mechanical Pressurestat, plus dual limit
stats for added protection.
Water Tank :
3.1 litres, removable with low water sensor (magnetic float)
Single Boiler HX
2.1 litre Steam/HW boiler
Pump Type:
Vibration (Ulka EX5 48W)
Group Head:
1 (E61 type), (manual lever action)
2 Filer Handles (double & Single Spout), Baskets for 1 or 2 cups,
Diameter 58 mm, blank back flush basket, plastic tamper, group head
brush and coffee scoop (plastic).
Heavy Gauge Polished Stainless Steel (“octagonal style”) case and
internal steel frame
Hot water on demand. Steam on demand (ball joint mounted, no burn
wands). Non compression valves.
Boiler & heating
Copper with brass end steam/HW boiler, Incolloy 800 long life
heating element
2 Manometer Gauges:
Measures Boiler & Brew pressure
Brew Pressure:
Adjustable via expansion valve ( or OPV)
Convenience Features
Removable drip tray, cup warmer..removable for water refill,
adjustable pressurestat, height adjustable feet.
Mains on light, water full light, single on/off metal pin switch.
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
ECM Barista closer look 2012 v2.doc
Page 15 of 15
Gallery – A few pictures of the Barista
The beautiful
operated E61
group,, just
waiting to
make that
espresso or
maintenance,, great
Very good access for maintenance
build quality
2 high quality group handles, with
single, doubl
e and blind baskets
© Bella Barista
Bella Barista, Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1LD
Tel: 01933 273275
e-mail: [email protected]
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