There will always be people who prefer an espresso made from an authentic espresso machine.
And while there are now many super-automatics flooding the market with their respective feature set, nothing can come close to a commercial-grade espresso machine.
The La Spaziale Vivaldi II is one amazing contraption that marries the elegant design of a classic espresso maker with the convenience of 21st century coffee-making technologies.
It is a pricey option for espresso lovers. Nevertheless, this is a machine that is going to give your home or your establishment an authentic coffee shop feel.
The La Spaziale Vivaldi II Espresso Machine
La Spaziale has slowly made its mark as one of the world’s best producers of commercial-grade espresso makers. While the company has been producing these kinds of machines since 1947, it was only in 1969 when their operation was formalized. La Spaziale currently ranks number 5 on Italy’s burgeoning espresso machine market. This Bologna-based organization continues to commit its resources and talents to produce innovative and high-quality espresso coffee machines.
One of La Spaziale’s most admired machines is the Vivaldi S1, which the brand introduced in 2005. People recognize the Vivaldi II as the improved version of the S1. It addresses some of the inherent flaws in the design of its 2005-created cousin. Do take note that the Vivaldi II is already an outdated machine, having been introduced about 7 years after the S1. It remains a very reliable workhorse to this very day. Many baristas and restaurant owners use the Vivaldi II to produce stunning espressos that their customers love. Even ordinary households continue to prefer the Vivaldi II over so-called prosumer super-automatics.
One of the issues that the Vivaldi II addressed is the need for a programmable pre-infusion process. This guarantees the most efficient extraction of the full flavor profile of coffee grounds before they get brewed. There are reviews that put the espresso score of the Vivaldi II at par with the La Valentina. The S1 before the Vivaldi II only had an exceptional espresso score of 8.0. The improved version notched a half-point higher. And this has something to do with the Vivaldi II’s pre-infusion program.
The Vivaldi II also provides better temperature control. The machine now allows for 1OC increments. The previous model can only provide temperature variations of 5OC. The level of fine-tuning was not that refined in the S1. Coffee drinkers now have better control of the preferred temperature of their beverage using the Vivaldi II.
This La Spaziale espresso machine also comes with a pair of redesigned portafilters and a dual solid stainless-steel boiler design. The steam tip of the machine comes with small 0.9mm holes for finer micro foam. There is a rotary pump that works a lot quieter than the other machines we have ever tested. The Vivaldi II also features a volumetric dosing program that allows for better water volume control. There is also a semi-automatic hot water system that allows users to make excellent hot chocolate drinks and Americanos.
Because La Spaziale designed the Vivaldi II primarily for commercial use, the machine has all the appropriate third-party quality certifications you could ask for. It conforms to the STD 197 of UL and the STD 4 of ANSI/NSF. The VII also conforms to the standards set by the CAN/CSA of Canada.
The Vivaldi II is made of solid steel, making it a very hefty machine. This is also a major factor in the considerable price of the Vivaldi II.
- Delivers consistently amazing espressos every single time
- Very precise control of beverage temperature
- Allows for simultaneous processing of coffee and milk
- Clear and easy-to-use controls
- Comes with integrated pressure gauges
- Steaming wand never gets hot for improved safety
- Quieter operation than similar espresso machines
- Very classic, coffeeshop-style design
- Comes with commercial quality certifications
- Does not provide one-touch coffee beverages
- Not that fast to bring the boilers to the desired temperature
- Requires ample maintenance
- Very heavy
Aesthetics, Footprint, and Form Factor
The La Spaziale Vivaldi II looks like the machines that you see in your favorite coffee shop. This is not at all surprising. La Spaziale designed the machine for commercial use, although it would never hurt to bring one home. The VII is designed to perform a lot better than super-automatics when it comes to high-quality espresso beverages. It does not have a very striking aesthetics that people can swoon over. However, it does have the look of a hardworking machine content on giving you the best possible espresso drinking experience.
The VII is as heavy as solid steel. That is because it is. At 65 pounds, the VII weighs more than 3 mid-range super-automatics. Moving this machine around the kitchen will require several helping hands. It would be wise to plan well ahead of time where you intend to place the appliance in your kitchen.
As for its space requirements, there should be no worries at all. The VII has a boxy footprint, measuring 16.5 inches on all sides. The average depth of countertops in US kitchens is 25 inches. You still have an allowance of about 8 inches of countertop space for your other things. The machine is also only 15 inches tall.
There should be enough vertical clearance between the top of the machine and the bottom surface of your kitchen cabinet. Remember that the top of the VII has an integrated cup warmer. You will have to consider the height of your coffee mugs when placing the machine under your kitchen cabinet.
The control panel of the Vivaldi II includes several buttons, a control knob, and a row of LED lights. There is no TFT screen. This can be an issue for people who are already accustomed to having a touchscreen interface or a graphic-assisted user control. However, the simple design of the Vivaldi’s user control underscores the machine’s ease of use. You do not need a color display to use the machine.
Features and Functionalities
Let us get to know more about the La Spaziale Vivaldi II by looking at the machine’s notable features and functionalities. These are the things that can help you decide whether the VII is a wise buy or not.
Automatic Temperature Management and Regulation
Everyone wants a coffee that has the right temperature. The VII allows you to make very precise adjustments in the temperature of your drinks. Super-automatics will only give you a very vague description of how hot your drink can be. These machines will let you set the temperature at low, moderate, and high. The Vivaldi II has more specific temperature control. It allows you to prepare your coffee with a temperature as low as 91oC (195.8oF) to as high as 97oC (206.6oF).
One unique feature of the Vivaldi II is its programmable offset. The temperature displayed on the machine reflects the boiler temperature and not that of the espresso. The programmable offset allows you to set the LED lights to correspond to the temperature of your beverage. Programming the offset is easy enough.
The machine also features very sensitive thermometers. If the temperature of the boilers drops half a degree in Celsius, the sensor automatically activates a mechanism to heat up the boilers. This helps guarantee you get very precise beverage temperatures.
One noteworthy feature of the Vivaldi II is its pre-infusion capability. The plumbed-in design of the VII allows you to program it to draw water straight from your water line. The settings you determine will deliver the precise amount of water into the brew boiler group.
Immersing the coffee grounds prior to brewing allows for the optimum extraction of coffee aromas and flavors. Since the feature is programmable, you get one-touch convenience right after setting it up.
Programmable Volumetric Dosing
Super-automatics give you the chance to determine the amount of beverage to be poured into your cup. The Vivaldi II can also do the same. It only differs in its programming. There are no exact measurements that you can choose. You decide on the volume that you think is enough for a cup.
Like everything else about the Vivaldi II, programming its volumetric dosing requires the pressing of a few buttons. You need to enter the machine’s programming mode to make the necessary settings. The main advantage of the Vivaldi II is that the machine does not limit the amount of beverage you may want in a cup. It never says an espresso shot should only be 1 ounce. Everything depends on what your heart truly desires.
Large Capacity Dual Boilers
There are two boilers in the Vivaldi II, both working harmoniously to deliver amazing drinks. These include a 15.2-ounce brew boiler and an 84.5-ounce steam boiler. These boilers do not use the Thermoblock technology that more modern super-automatics use. However, La Spaziale crafted the boilers out of commercial-grade stainless steel and come complete with thick insulation.
Integrated into the boiler design is a refill system. It is a plumbed-in appliance, after all. The boiler refill system constantly monitors the level of water in the boilers. If the water reaches a certain level, the refill system kicks in to keep the water in its ideal level.
Swiveling Steam Arm
Making a latte using the Vivaldi II is easy with its integrated steam arm. The tip of the steam arm comes with four small holes with each hole having a diameter of 0.9mm. The design of the steam arm allows for the creation of a fabulous micro foam.
Operation, Cleaning, and Maintenance
Fans of super-automatics may find the operation of the La Spaziale Vivaldi II to be complicated. This might be true at first glance, since the machine lacks the user interface that modern coffee drinkers are more familiar with. There are no specific directions or images to follow. However, given that the machine already comes with a manual and specific instructions, operating the VII should be easy.
There are 5 large buttons on the VII’s control interface. These include buttons for the ON/OFF, boiler, single dose, double dose, and water tap. Above the buttons are 10 LED lights. There are 8 in the center and one each on the opposite sides of the LED row. The leftmost LED is the boiler indicator light. The rightmost LED is the ON/STBY indicator. The 8 LEDs in the center denotes the boiler temperature.
Turning the machine on requires you to press and hold the ON/OFF button for at least 3 seconds. You will see all the LED lights flashing as a way for the machine to check if everything is in order. The ON/STBY will stay illuminated as well as the current temperature of the boiler. If the BOILER LED flashes, it indicates that the temperature is below the ideal.
You can check the progress of the boiler heating process through the temperature LEDs. A flashing 91oC LED shows that the machine is trying to reach this temperature. The LED turns a solid color once it reaches the set temperature. The LED next to it, the 92oC in our example, will start to flash.
The steam boiler should be ready in 15 minutes. The brew boiler will have achieved its ideal temperature in 10 to 12 minutes. Starting the machine from the boiler and right down to the portafilters will take you about 25 to 30 minutes. The startup process and the coffee-making readiness of the machine pale in comparison to what super-automatics can provide.
Setting the auto-dosing program of the machine requires the pressing of the ON/OFF button and holding it for 3 seconds. This allows the machine to enter its programming mode. Briefly press the one cup button and let the machine pour coffee into your cup. Decide the amount that you want and briefly press the same button again. Whatever amount you set at this stage will be the exact same amount of coffee that you will get every time you push the one cup button. Always finish the programming by pressing and holding the ON/OFF button.
The Vivaldi II does not provide a self-rinsing, self-cleaning, or automatic descaling system. You will have to do this manually. The current recommendation is to perform a quick plain water backflush every day to remove coffee grinds from the shower screen. A more thorough backflushing is needed once a week using a mild detergent. This includes the cleaning of the dispersion block.
The exterior surface of the VII is easy to manage, however. A damp sponge is all it needs to keep the surface clean. You can also use a window cleaner if you wish. Make sure to dry the surface very well using a soft cloth.
Since the VII is a plumbed-in machine, it is ideal that your household water supply line already comes with an integrated water filter. This will address the need for regular descaling of the machine. It would be best to have a point-of-entry water filtration system. If your budget does not allow for the installation of such a filter, then a point-of-use system will be fine. Install the POU water filtration system between your water supply line and the Vivaldi II.
Who this Product is For? / Should You Buy This?
The La Spaziale Vivaldi II is not for everyone. First, it does not provide the one-touch convenience of super-automatics that deliver different drinks in a very short amount of time. You can still enjoy a latte or a cappuccino because of its double boiler design. Unfortunately, you can never have these drinks or any other barista specialty recipes by pressing only one button.
Regardless, the Vivaldi II is an espresso-making workhorse. Its plumbed-in design makes it ideal for use in restaurants, bars, showrooms, and even offices where part of the culture is drinking coffeeshop-quality espresso. It should also be a wonderful addition to any home that thrives on espressos more than on any other type of coffee beverage.
We recommend evaluating your coffee preferences and habits before you decide to buy the Vivaldi II. If you are after the perfect shot of espresso with absolute control over the drink’s characteristics, then the VII is for you. If you want more coffee recipes that you can conveniently enjoy at a touch of a button, then you need a super-automatic espresso machine.
The La Spaziale Vivaldi II is an amazing product that blends the fine properties of a classic espresso maker with the convenience of modern coffee machine technology. The machine allows for better control of the different attributes of an espresso, ensuring a beverage that can rival those that are prepared by baristas. While its design is already outdated, the Vivaldi II remains true to the functionality of the original espresso machine. It is, what we would like to call, a timeless classic with a modern touch.