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I was a visitor to the forums for a few weeks before purchasing a new espresso set-up. I found the information here extremely useful, and have joined in order to give something back. I bought a Eureka Mignon Manuale and Lelit Grace (PL81T) machine, replacing a Krups Expert and De Longhi Scultura that had served me well for two and a half years. Here are my comments on the Lelit Grace PL81T  for anyone considering it. Note that I'm an amateur compared with many on the forums.

  • One of my buying criteria was that the machine could cope with a mug without my having to remove the drip tray (and make a mess). I know that probably sounds heretical to many here, but hey ho. There are *very few* prosumer machines that can cope with filter-to-base heights of more than 8cm. The Lelit VIP range (of which the Grace PL81T is the entry-level machine) has a clearance of around 10cm. A removable wire stand is provided to lift up a smaller cup.
  • I would have liked a dual-boiler machine, but decided I couldn't afford it. This was the trade-off I made. The PL81T has PID control, heats up quickly and looks good (to me anyway). I am prepared to wait a little longer for my steam. It takes a couple of minutes to switch from coffee-temperature to steam-temperature and vice-vers. It doesn't have to be done often - it's not a problem. I know the temperature's going to be pretty accurate when I need it to be.
  • Start up time seems very fast. The machine displays the water temperature as it's heating up; in practice, I wait a good few minutes after the displays shows 95 degrees (the temperature is programmable, by the way - I haven't fiddled with it ... yet). The display shows 95 degrees within about 5 minutes (the boiler is relatively small), but I am not sure I trust that everything is suitably up to temperature in that time, so tend to leave it another ten mins or so first thing in the morning. I run some hot water through the head / filter for a couple of seconds anyway, and the PF heats up very well.
  • There's a pressure gauge; it's suppose to be backlit when extracting. Mine isn't backlit. Lelit says it should be (and therefore I have a faulty machine). Do you know what? I can't face the hassle of dealing with my supplier (Caffe Italia UK - yes, yes, I know the views expressed here about them, but they were GBP80 - GBP100 cheaper than any other supplier, and that was important to me) to get it sorted. I will live with it - I can read the gauge. Maybe if the machine needs anything sorting out at a later date I'll get it looked at.
  • After 2-3 weeks of experimenting with fineness of grind, dose and tamp pressure, I am now reliably able to get a 25 second extraction (there's a count-down timer factory-set to 25s) at 9 bar pressure with both single and double baskets, now my Eureka Mignon has been 'dialed in' for my Pure Gusto Fair Trade Romero light-roast beans. I don't weigh my beans or coffee, and do everything by eye and memory. I'm happy with this.
  • It took me longer to get the hang of foaming the milk properly, but this morning, for the first time, I got it spot on - thick, white microfoam for my morning cappuccino. It can be done. I have realised the importance of conditioning the milk/foam after steaming. The steam wand is lovely - the milk sometimes does start to stick on to it, but if you're quick with the damp cloth, it's not too bad. The steam temperature is factory-set at 135 degrees. I can't be bothered to measure the milk temperature afterwards - again, it's all done by eye and 'natural skill' (ha ha!)
  • The tank is OK - I leave it in place and fill it using a jug and funnel rather than taking it out of the steel housing - much easier. A water filter cartridge is supplied, which you have to attach to the shorter of the two hoses; the instructions didn't say, but the second tube also needs to go into the tank.
  • Note that the filters are 57mm, not 58mm. It is supplied with single, double, ESE pod and blanking filter baskets (for back flushing).

I am extremely happy with this machine. It seems very well made, and for me and the rest of the family, it makes great coffee (espressos, cappuccinos and Americanos are drunk here). We're not connoisseurs, but it's a step up from my previous arrangements.

I have also put some notes into the Eureka grinders forum on my experiences with the Eureka Mignon Manuale. 

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Might be worth checking the 12V power wire to the gauge doesn't have a loose connection somewhere.

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  • 1 month later...
On 25/05/2020 at 16:35, Danny Dicks said:

Thanks - I will do.

So what happened, was the gauge power wire connector loose and just needed pushing in?

Feedback helps me help others better, otherwise I never know what happened, neither does anyone else considering the machine or with a similar problem.

Edited by DavecUK
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11 minutes ago, beanere2long said:

Useful thanks for the write-up Danny - looking at this machine too. Seems very no nonsense, and dare I say it simple?

Just mind this bit: "Note that the filters are 57mm, not 58mm.". You'll be severely restricted in terms of accessories.

It might be that the Lelit Victoria is a better option from that point alone. 

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Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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1 minute ago, Cuprajake said:

how restricted?

You won't be able to find box standard shower screen, VST baskets, IMS baskets... Tampers... The Niche cup will not fit... (It's 58mm, surprise surprise!), Bottomless porta filters. Group gaskets... Do I need to go on?

58mm is the standard due to the popularity of the E61 group (58mm).

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Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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27 minutes ago, MediumRoastSteam said:

You won't be able to find box standard shower screen, VST baskets, IMS baskets... Tampers... The Niche cup will not fit... (It's 58mm, surprise surprise!), Bottomless porta filters. Group gaskets... Do I need to go on?

58mm is the standard due to the popularity of the E61 group (58mm).

Ok, interesting - I literally just ordered a Niche!

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1 hour ago, Cuprajake said:

Suppose its not the end if the world haha

First world problem I'd say. But the advice is given. Lovely machine though, I just don't understand why Lelit does that. 

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Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

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  • 1 month later...

Hi there. I have a Grace too for a while now. Motta has a 57mm tamper and a distribution tool too. The ascaso 57mm precision baskets also fit.

Now, I’m not that happy with the machine. I can’t get 9bar and 25s extraction. If it’s 9bar it’s too fast. If it’s 25s it’s higher pressure. There is also the matter of getting 3 or 4 deep marks in the puck every time. I think this is from the setup of the machine to cope with ese pods. Darker roasts do fine, but lighter roasts are just impossible to dial. At ,most I get hints of what the coffee would be on other machines. I have access to an old commercial not fancy machine. I get better extractions on it very easily.

I suppose I’m not happy... it’s a super machine on paper and for "Italian" coffee.

im now considering tinkering with the opv which is something I really would like to avoid... either that or sell it and upgrade.

Feels like I’ve hijacked your post a bit, sorry about that. Maybe someone can chime in with wiser words...

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lelit pl81t, gaggia classic 2001, chemex, eureka mignon classico, casadio enea, sage smart grinder 800

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36 minutes ago, dncarreira said:

Hi there. I have a Grace too for a while now. Motta has a 57mm tamper and a distribution tool too. The ascaso 57mm precision baskets also fit.

Now, I’m not that happy with the machine. I can’t get 9bar and 25s extraction. If it’s 9bar it’s too fast. If it’s 25s it’s higher pressure. There is also the matter of getting 3 or 4 deep marks in the puck every time. I think this is from the setup of the machine to cope with ese pods. Darker roasts do fine, but lighter roasts are just impossible to dial. At ,most I get hints of what the coffee would be on other machines. I have access to an old commercial not fancy machine. I get better extractions on it very easily.

I suppose I’m not happy... it’s a super machine on paper and for "Italian" coffee.

im now considering tinkering with the opv which is something I really would like to avoid... either that or sell it and upgrade.

Feels like I’ve hijacked your post a bit, sorry about that. Maybe someone can chime in with wiser words...

is there a pressure gauge? What pressure does it show when “it’s higher pressure”?

i don’t know about your machine, but I do own an Elizabeth. OPV set to 10 bar. Don’t worry about what you see in the spent puck. That means nothing. 

you seen to be really keen on numbers... namely 25 and 9. I’d forget about them and watch your extraction. How long does it take for the first drops to appear? Try to aim for 8 seconds or thereabouts on a spouted PF. Then keep it to a ratio: say... 16g in, 32g out... in approximately 30 seconds. Ignore the pressure for the moment. 

 

lighter roasts are harder. Full stop. Also, which grinder do you use? When you use  your commercial machine, do you also use a commercial grinder? 
 

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Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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First, thanks for helping out!

yes, I started with numbers but stretched outside the usual stats, a lot. High pressure would be 10 to 11.5bar. It never chokes. If you wait enough coffee will come out. Of course, it will also start channeling.

I have 2 good enough grinders. A commercial monster with 64mm burrs. And a new eureka manuale. I grind now exclusively on the eureka. I like it a lot. So I grind at home and take the coffee in a closed jar to the commercial setup. It’s like velvet. On the Lelit it’s always acid or sour. And I learned something I never heard of: if you grind finer and finer it gets acidic. Spots of what’s seems like oils start appearing on the coffee. That’s when I know I’ve gone too far and have to grind coarser. I have done 15s to 2min extractions. I have tried flow control by opening the water wand but that turned out too difficult for me to get consistent results.

I get really nice shots with medium dark roasts like Brasil. Chocolate notes are the easier. Everything else is just muted, hinted.

I also explored temperature. At the moment I have it set to 108C. It’s really high but I don’t notice bad effects, like burnt or ashy flavors. Darker roasts I may drop to 102C.

I really don’t know what to try next, except start modding or sell.

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lelit pl81t, gaggia classic 2001, chemex, eureka mignon classico, casadio enea, sage smart grinder 800

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7 hours ago, dncarreira said:

First, thanks for helping out!

yes, I started with numbers but stretched outside the usual stats, a lot. High pressure would be 10 to 11.5bar. It never chokes. If you wait enough coffee will come out. Of course, it will also start channeling.

I have 2 good enough grinders. A commercial monster with 64mm burrs. And a new eureka manuale. I grind now exclusively on the eureka. I like it a lot. So I grind at home and take the coffee in a closed jar to the commercial setup. It’s like velvet. On the Lelit it’s always acid or sour. And I learned something I never heard of: if you grind finer and finer it gets acidic. Spots of what’s seems like oils start appearing on the coffee. That’s when I know I’ve gone too far and have to grind coarser. I have done 15s to 2min extractions. I have tried flow control by opening the water wand but that turned out too difficult for me to get consistent results.

I get really nice shots with medium dark roasts like Brasil. Chocolate notes are the easier. Everything else is just muted, hinted.

I also explored temperature. At the moment I have it set to 108C. It’s really high but I don’t notice bad effects, like burnt or ashy flavors. Darker roasts I may drop to 102C.

I really don’t know what to try next, except start modding or sell.

Agora percebi que estás em Portugal. 😉😊 

I’m not sure. The only thing I can think is that your commercial setup is extracts it better (more temp stable, more gentle as it has pre-infusion). I don’t really know what it could be. 😢
 

what’s your input/output, in grams? Have you tried a longer shot? Or s shorter one?

 

edit: I take you allow for your machine to stabilise for 20 minutes from cold?

Edited by MediumRoastSteam

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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Sim, verdade!! Tu tb?

Yes, I let it heat up for 20-30min at least. I'm thinking maybe the flow from the pump is off? Working the idea of measuring it, though only through coffee puck. For instance, at 9bar what is the flow? I know it's fast, but still measuring might bring some light.

I usually gravitate around the usual 25-30s and 1:2 ratios. But have been all over the place. From 15s to 2min. From 1.25x to 5x...

The commercial machine is an old portuguese machine, so it doesn't have preinfusion. The obvious differences are the huge boiler, the water softener, and maybe pressure. I can choke it, unlike the lelit that gets through anything I put in the filter.

The really frustrating thing is the machine is really cool, and I like it a lot, except when I get coffees that are "specialty"...

I get 1 coffee a month from tim wendelboe and they are always a challenge I enjoy. Sometimes, I even get a hint of the notes.

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lelit pl81t, gaggia classic 2001, chemex, eureka mignon classico, casadio enea, sage smart grinder 800

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30 minutes ago, dncarreira said:

Sim, verdade!! Tu tb?

Yes, I let it heat up for 20-30min at least. I'm thinking maybe the flow from the pump is off? Working the idea of measuring it, though only through coffee puck. For instance, at 9bar what is the flow? I know it's fast, but still measuring might bring some light.

I usually gravitate around the usual 25-30s and 1:2 ratios. But have been all over the place. From 15s to 2min. From 1.25x to 5x...

The commercial machine is an old portuguese machine, so it doesn't have preinfusion. The obvious differences are the huge boiler, the water softener, and maybe pressure. I can choke it, unlike the lelit that gets through anything I put in the filter.

The really frustrating thing is the machine is really cool, and I like it a lot, except when I get coffees that are "specialty"...

I get 1 coffee a month from tim wendelboe and they are always a challenge I enjoy. Sometimes, I even get a hint of the notes.

Nope. I live in the UK. I just speak Portuguese because I was born and raised in Brazil. 🙂 

Anyway, with your machine... I think I've exhausted my knowledge. Maybe it's a limitation of the machine? I have no idea, I'm really sorry. All I'd do is try to increase temperature maybe, even further than you have... See what happens. Also, it could be your basket? Maybe different shape / size / depth can contribute to different flavour profiles? Maybe try lowering or increasing your dose. Anyway, way out of my depth now. All I can offer are suggestions. Good luck. 

Edited by MediumRoastSteam
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Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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  • 2 months later...

Just a bit more feedback on my voyage with Grace.

Having trouble letting go of my Grace... I like it a lot. Just was hoping to get better results from light roasts. I'm now thinking this might have been irrealistic.

I've gone back to basics and watched videos, re-read lots of stuff. Experimented a bit.

I'm now using the machine as intended by lelit: 93ºC for darker roasts, 95ºC for lighter. I now adjust ratio (yield) to fine-tune dialing in. With lighter roasts I may grind *coarser*, not finer, and increase ratio. This great video helped on that:

Now regarding lighter roasts I'm convinced it may be impossible to get better results without "proper" pre-infusion and even flow control, on any machine. That's not Grace's fault. You can see the same difficulties in higher end machines with no flow control. And you can see that this is the selling point of the various e61 flow control kits from vendors like lelit, ecm, quick mill, etc.

So I would just like to leave here a very positive comment praising the Grace. It's a very, very nice machine, and can be found for a very nice price. For my use it's great - it's just me drinking coffee at the house, I mostly drink espresso doubles, and I like to control the process. So having a sbdu, with fast heating, with pid, manometer, and adding a scale with timer, is all I need. I know someone from Portugal read this discussion and got a bad impression of the machine and that upset me. Hope this sets things right.

I want to experiment with flow control and pre-infusion. So, either I mod the Grace or I move on.

I might upgrade, but not because of the machine. It's called upgraditis. ;)

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lelit pl81t, gaggia classic 2001, chemex, eureka mignon classico, casadio enea, sage smart grinder 800

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