The new Pro 800 comes with lever valves for steam and hot water. The handles of the lever valves, as well as the handle of the hand lever and the portafilter, have been handcrafted from the noble wood of the American walnut tree.
While the large, pine-green pressure gauge, another visual highlight, blends perfectly into the classic design, the PID is discreetly hidden behind the water collection tray.
Get the best possible espresso due to the pre-infusion provided by the massive brew group and the special pressure process.
In depth review
So how do you make espresso without using a pump to create the pressure used in the extraction process? And what kind of machine produces espresso that many say is softer, smoother, and sweeter. The answer to both those questions is a spring lever machine like the Profitec Pro 800.
Here is an in-depth look inside and outside the pro 800 and I'll go over some key features that set it apart from other spring lever machines. First the basics, from its massive 3.5 liter copper boiler to the fine detail of its mirror finished case. The pro 800 is definitely a beauty. Boiler temperature is controlled by a Gicar PID but you wouldn't know that at first glance in an effort to give the machine a clean look, the PID display and controls are hidden behind the drip tray.
The machine is plumbable or can run from its three litre water reservoir. When plumbed direct to a water line the machine is silent, the pump never operates, line pressure fills the boiler and boiler pressure fills the group. When using the reservoir the vibration pump operates only to refill the boiler. To change between reservoir and plumbed operation a switch behind the drip tray turns off the reservoirs water sensor, and a mechanical valve is turned to select the plumbed connection. Included with the machine is a braided stainless line for that connection. Now personally I prefer mechanical valves over electrically operated solenoids. It's a simpler setup that's unlikely to ever have a problem.
The pro 800 uses a 1600 watt heating element in a 3.5 litre copper boiler. A dip tube in the boiler uses boiler pressure to push water into the group That lever group is massive weighing in at 7.8 KG. While some lever machines use a heat exchange boiler to feed the group, the dipper setup on the 800 does have some advantages. First the machines pump is never used to apply pressure to the coffee. It only runs to fill the boiler.
The second advantage and probably bigger over a typical heat exchange setup is the ability to do a true low-pressure pre-infusion. When you pull the lever down the boiler pressure of about 1 to 1.5 bar depending on your PID setting is applied to brew water in the group and in turn the coffee in the Portafilter. In a heat exchange setup like on a Pro 500 for instance the pump would come on to refill the chamber in the group and exert its full pump pressure on coffee in the Portafilter. Now for me the ability to do a true low-pressure pre-infusion is a key benefit of the different system in the pro 800.
Now I'll be honest when I first used the machine I was a little freaked out when I pulled down the lever without a Portafilter in place and out came lots of steam and definitely overheated water but it turns out that's exactly what should happen as boiler pressure pushes out water when there's no restriction from a loaded Porta filter. I had to really resist the temptation to keep letting it flushed like I would on a typical heat exchange machine. Some in the espresso community are curious why Profitec is using a copper boiler on the 800 when they use mostly stainless steel boilers on other machines like the pro 500 hundred and 700.
The reasons are straight forward on the 800, the group has a very large direct connection to the boiler to facilitate passive heating of all that metal. Pulling down the lever creates a lot of force on that connection and copper is more flexible than stainless, so deals with that stress better. So why consider a lever machine in the first place. Well with the pro 800 and the dipper setup there's the ability to do a true low pressure pre-infusion, then when you raise a lever you get that pressure profile of sorts, the springs in the group rapidly increase pressure up to 12 bars at the start. As the extraction continues the pressure gradually decreases down to zero bar, and during an extraction you can always recock the lever at any point in turn to introduce more brew water and affect the pressure profile Every coffee is different and as always with espresso there are variables to consider like grind size and brewing temperature, but in general the gradual ramping down of pressure avoids over extracting at the end, and tends to produce a sweeter shot. In my testing it was very noticeable especially in quality high altitude coffees.
The steam and hot water wands are no burn with internal lining, the stock steam tip is a four-hole and steaming power and longevity is what you'd expect from a machine with a huge 3.5 liter boiler. Inside the machine you'll find a thoughtful design and quality components typical of all Profitecs. The PID is Gicar as is the pump and fill controller. The boiler is well insulated and given the simple layout all components are easily accessible. All internal plumbing is copper and braided stainless. A large counterweight at the rear keeps the machine on its feet when cocking the lever. Other quality touches include the frame that is one solid piece from front to back. Stainless slide rails on the drip tray support and height adjustable feet. The pro 800 comes well equipped with single and double portafilters and is one of the few machines out there that come stock with a bottomless portafilter as well. The drip tray is pre-drilled and includes a collection cup for permanent waste lines set up. Over all the Profitecs Pro 800 features all the quality touches and attention to detail found on their other machines. In the right hands this spring lever is capable of delivering impressive shots that many say are softer smoother and sweeter than pump driven machines.
You even get the bottomless portafilter included in the box