There are people who demand absolute perfection in their drinks.
And when it comes to espressos, they want the perfect temperature and the perfect taste for each cup that they make.
There was a time when the only way one can ensure such precision is by getting an espresso from a coffee shop.
Today, you can make the perfect shot right in your kitchen. You only need an espresso machine that is right for the job.
If you are looking for such a machine, then you need to consider the La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II.
The La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II Espresso Machine
La Spaziale has been designing and making both consumer and commercial espresso machines since 1969. Italians love the simplicity of the company’s product design and its remarkable functionality. In 2005, the company introduced the Vivaldi S1.
Baristas, coffee aficionados and enthusiasts, and coffee purists lauded the S1 for its ability to produce consistently stunning espresso. It was not the perfect machine, however. That is why it took La Spaziale another 7 years to make the significant improvements to the S1 and call it the all-new Vivaldi II.
There are two versions of the Vivaldi II introduced in 2012. The regular Vivaldi II and the Mini Vivaldi II. Both machines have almost similar physical characteristics and performance. La Spaziale designed the Mini Vivaldi II for consumer coffee drinkers, including households, single power drinkers, and small offices. The Vivaldi II, on the other hand, was designed more for commercial establishments.
The Mini Vivaldi II allows espresso lovers to tweak the temperature of their drinks in a very accurate and precise manner. The machine allows for 1oC increments in drinks. The machine also comes with an offset differential programming. This lets users make corresponding adjustments in the machine, so that the temperature it displays is that of the espresso and not the boiler.
The Mini VII also comes with a tough dual boiler system. It can also make wonderful lattes, thanks to the integration of a steam wand that features very fine holes. You can make a fantastic latte art with this tool.
There is a built-in diagnostic, too. The Mini VII is not a super-automatic that will rinse and clean itself with very minimal input from the user. However, the company did design the Mini VII to be more manageable. It has built-in sensors to tell you that something is amiss and allow you to take the necessary corrective steps.
The Mini VII has a water reservoir at the front of the machine. You can refill it as you wish. The main advantage of this design is that you can move the Mini VII around the house or in your small office. There is no plumbing that one needs to address.
The Vivaldi II comes with pre-infusion technology that allows you to determine how long the coffee grounds will be immersed in water prior to brewing. The Mini VII does not have this feature. However, La Spaziale still provides users with the chance to use pre-infusion technology in the Mini VII. You will have to purchase a separate pre-infusion chamber.
- Makes excellent espresso every time
- Very simple user interface
- Very precise control of the boiler and beverage temperature
- Easy to check the pressure of the boilers
- Allows for personalization of the amount of beverage
- Can make fantastic micro foam for lattes
- Easy to program and operate
- Comes with an integrated cup warmer
- Sleek, industrial design for the modern home
- Does not have pre-infusion technology
- An outdated technology
- Very heavy
- No one-touch specialty coffee programs
- Requires a more ‘hands-on’ type of cleaning and maintenance
Aesthetics, Footprint, and Form Factor
People have this notion that the Mini Vivaldi II is a ‘smaller’ version of the La Spaziale Vivaldi II. This is not accurate, since the Mini also measures 16.5 inches x 16.5 inches x 15 inches. These are the exact same dimensions of the Vivaldi II. The only notable difference is the Mini VII’s weight. It is only 62 pounds, compared to the Vivaldi II’s 65-pound weight.
The Mini VII is still a very heavy machine.
The styling of the Mini VII is that of a classic industrial machine. La Spaziale constructed the base and frame of the machine from solid steel and adorned it with stainless steel and other materials. The overall design gives the Mini VII a polished-enough look for modern kitchens. The non-porous surface of the machine also makes it easy to clean.
La Spaziale designed the Mini VII to be as simple and easy to operate as possible. There is a lever on the left front of the machine that serves to trigger the steam. Towards the center and right of the front panel is a user control system with 5 buttons and a row of LED lights. Underneath this control panel is the portafilter, which you will use to dispense your drink.
Features and Functionalities
Simple Temperature Regulation and Management
Like the Vivaldi II, the Mini comes with an ingenious solution for ensuring the optimum temperature of both the boilers and the beverage. There is no second-guessing here. La Spaziale wants coffee drinkers to dial in their desired beverage temperature. Most espresso machines will have about 3 to 5 temperature settings. The problem with their temperature program is that they do not give you a very objective measure of the drink’s temperature. So, if you dial in “high”, you will never know if the temperature is 190oF or 205oF.
The Mini gives you the opportunity to determine the ‘ideal’ temperature of your drinks.
Seven of the 8 LED lights above the 5-button row correspond to the temperature of the boiler group. The lowest is 195.8oF or 91oC and the highest is 206.6oF or 97oC. If the 95oC LED is lit, then you know that the boiler temperature is equivalent to 203oF. This is more accurate than having the machine tell you that the boiler temperature is “high” or “moderate”.
Here is the ingenious part. The LED lights indicate the temperature of the machine’s dual boilers. It does not indicate the temperature of your beverage. It is possible to get a drink that is less than 203oF, even though the 95oC LED is lit. This is where La Spaziale’s remarkable programming comes in. You can program the machine to offset the temperature difference between the beverage and the boiler. You will want the machine to display the temperature of your drink and not the dual boilers. This is an innovative feature of the La Spaziale Vivaldi II and the Mini.
Programmable Volumetric Dosing
One feature that we love about the Mini is its programmable brewing. Unlike the machine’s ingenious temperature control program, this aspect of the Mini’s operation requires a more ‘subjective’ approach.
La Spaziale deemed it more appropriate for users to decide the amount of beverage that they want to put into each cup. There are no concrete parameters, such as 1 ounce or 4 ounces. It could be 1.04 ounces or 1.4 ounces. You get to program the machine to give you consistent amounts of beverage every time you press the cup button.
This is very different than those found in other machines. Most of them will provide you with numbers to choose from. For example, you can pick 1 ounce or 2 ounces. But what if you only want 1.5 ounces? Then there are no options for you. The La Spaziale Mini VII gives you that latitude.
Pour-Over Water Tank
The Vivaldi II is a plumbed-in type of espresso machine. You will never have to worry about the amount of water in the chamber as the machine’s integrated circuits keep track of water levels every time. The Mini, unfortunately, has a very different water supply design. This machine has a tank that you must refill every time.
The Mini’s design can be very inconvenient for some people. However, it is perfect for those who want a machine that they can bring anywhere. While the Mini is a bit lighter than the Vivaldi II, it remains a machine that requires at least two people to move around. The good news is that you will never have to worry about removing and reattaching a dedicated water line to the machine.
La Spaziale also included a water softener compartment in the water reservoir. You can place an appropriate water softening agent in this compartment. Accessing the tank is also easy. Most machines have a top-loading water tank. The Mini allows you access to the removable water reservoir from its front panel.
This is another feature that differentiates the Mini from the VII. The Vivaldi VII comes with a rotary pump that provides a quieter operation. The Mini, on the other hand, features a vibratory pump. Despite the difference in their mechanism of pumping water into your brew, you can always expect the final product to be of the best possible quality.
One advantage of a vibratory pump is that it is less expensive than a rotary one. This is one of the essential reasons why La Spaziale can manage lowering the price of the Mini. It is also easier to replace. This can spell better convenience for espresso machine owners.
Another distinct advantage of a vibratory pump is that it tends to occupy less space. Unfortunately, this size advantage does not seem to provide any distinct advantage to the physical dimensions of the Mini. It still has almost the same footprint as the Vivaldi II. This is despite having the term “Mini”.
It is always important to keep an eye on the pressure of the boilers. Low pressure often indicates a less-than-ideal brew ratio. You will need to make the necessary adjustments to make the perfect brew. Most machines require you to purchase a separate pressure gauge along with portafilters. La Spaziale already provides both. The dual manometers or pressure gauges keep track of the pressures in both the boilers and the pump. It makes operating the Mini Vivaldi II a lot easier.
Modest Capacity Dual Boilers
The Vivaldi II has an 84.5-oz steam boiler and a 15.2-oz brew boiler. On the other hand, the Mini VII has smaller 43.95-oz steam boiler.
This is about half the capacity of the Vivaldi II. The good news is that you can still get a decent number of coffee servings in one go. The Mini VII can produce about 10 espressos every 30 minutes. This is more than enough for a large home or a small office.
4-Hole Steam Wand
Making the perfect latte is a breeze with the Mini Vivaldi II. This does not mean you have the convenience of a one-touch cappuccino, macchiato, or flat white programming. What you have is the ability to create your own style of latte type of drink. The Mini VII already comes with a steam wand that features four 0.9-mm holes. This creates a stunning foam that can serve as an amazing canvas for your artistic latte creations.
Built-in Hot Water Spout
Many super-automatics have a separate program for delivering hot water through the coffee spout. The Mini Vivaldi II does not have a complicated program for hot water. A simple button press is all that’s needed. Moreover, there is a dedicated spout for hot water. You can create hot chocolate drinks, teas, and even ordinary coffee or Americano using this water delivery system.
Operation, Cleaning, and Maintenance
Operating the La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II is straightforward. There are only 5 buttons that you need to press to access the different features of the machine. The row of LED lights above the buttons also comes with appropriate labels for easier use. To enter the programming mode of the Mini VII, one only needs to press the ON/OFF button and hold it for about 3 seconds. You can then proceed with the programming sequence by using the machine as is. There is a manual that comes with the package that describes the whole process. There are also plenty of resources online that provide clearer and easier-to-follow instructions.
The machine does not have a screen to display the different actions being taken by the user. This can be quite a step back from what many of us are already familiar and accustomed to. However, the simplicity of its user interface underscores the machine’s ease of use. Give it time to get acquainted with the different settings. After all, there is only one type of coffee beverage that you will need to program in this machine.
If operating the Mini VII is easy, cleaning it is something else. The machine does not have any of the advanced cleaning and maintenance programs of more recent designs of super-automatics. There are no self-cleaning mechanisms, no automatic descaling programs, and automatic self-rinsing technologies. You will have to do all of these yourself.
The good news is that the Mini VII has components that are very easy to remove and clean in the dishwasher. The machine also features a built-in diagnostic system that alerts you to the presence of a potential problem. Maintaining the integrity of the Mini VII is not as easy as that of a super-automatic. However, it is simple enough that even a teenager should have no problems cleaning and maintaining the machine.
Who this Product is For? / Should You Buy This?
The Mini Vivaldi II is ideal for small homes and offices. The capacity of its boiler is enough for small groups of people. It is also perfect for those who do not like doing plumbing work in their homes. The reservoir design of the Mini VII’s water supply makes it a great appliance for people on the go.
It is worth remembering that the Mini Vivaldi II is only cheaper than the Vivaldi II by a few hundred dollars. That is why it is important to make a very honest assessment of your coffee drinking habits. If you cannot live without drinking espresso every 15 minutes or so, then the Vivaldi II seems like a better option.
The Mini Vivaldi II is La Spaziale’s offering to homes and small offices that enjoy drinking moderate amounts of espressos in a day. The machine has enough design features that guarantee exceptional beverage quality every single time. It remains pricey, however. And given the amount of maintenance that the machine requires, you will have to think deep before you decide to buy a Mini Vivaldi II. If all you ever want is the best possible espresso every time, then this is an excellent machine for you.