In an era of plastic and cheaply made products, it is a nice change to wrap your hands (and in this case your arms) around something very solidly made - and very heavy.
The folks at Quality Coffee Systems in Vancouver were good enough to loan me a sample unit for a few weeks - they are the same people that loaned me the amazng Olympic Lever machine. It is an awesome opportunity to be in a position to borrow virtually any machine made - at any time - and I never forget that this is a privilege that is earned - and I need to keep that privilege earned by releasing good content from time to time on this website! So, on with the report.
The Profitec 300 is one in a series of well made and smartly designed espresso machines with a strong Italian heritage. Made in Germany from a company that has been in the business since the 90's - founded in 1985, Profitec GmBh has drawn on some of the classic engineering from the Faema E61 heat exchanging head.
The Faema E61 machine from 1961 set the "bar" for espresso machine design for the home, lab, office and cafe that has yet to be bested - and this technology is firmly at home with the senior Profitec machines. The E61 head (for the purposes of explaining this amazing technology [though not present on the 300 series Profitec]) ensures better control and regulation of brew water for the ground coffee. Strict control of the brew water is the secret to a consistent shot of espresso - with readily reproduceable results time and again. If you have ever heard of the term "temperature surfing" in the world of espresso coffee, this is what it is all about. The Profitec 300 uses a PID system (described below) in place of a "head exchanging head" to better approximate the tight temperature control needed for consistent results. A PID is not as good as a heat exchanging E61 brew head but it is significantly better than none at all.
The Profitec 300 features independant dual 1200 watt boilers for brewing and hot water/steam production. The beauty of this is that the user can power up the espresso boiler alone for pulling shots within 5 to 7 minutes. The Profitec 300 uses two 1200 watt boilers and all told that is over 2KW of energy that you are pulling off of one 110V circuit. Do not be surprised if your kitchen lights wink a little bit as the Profitec 300 cycles - particularly if you are running the steam boiler and the espresso boiler at the same time.
The Profitec 300 weighs in at around 40 pounds - with dual marine .325L brass boilers, Ulka vibration pump, and all commercial grade portafilters (singles and duals included...) this unit is well within the realm of the serious home machine - comparable to the Giotto Rocket series of espresso machines - less the HX head that is on the 500 and 700 models.
I was fortunate enough to have the Profitec 300 for 2 weeks and it only took less than 1/2 pound of one of my favorite espresso blend to really dial it in with a Rancilio Rocky grinder.
As with all serious machines, a suitable burr grinder is a must. There are few things more things more sensitive to the quality of ground coffee or a method more fussy that semi-commercial or commercial espresso. Examples of suitable grinders for this machine include most of the Baratza grinders, the Rancilio Rocky and virtually anything in the $500 to $1500 bracket - although that is at the top end of the spectrum.
The Profitec 300 uses a "PID" to track the temperature during routine use - and what is a PID you ask?
The PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) is a mechanism that will control the boiler heating element of the Profitec Machine. This mechanism, when installed and programmed properly, will increase the boiler temperature in calculated increments in order to reach a set temperature also called the Set Value. The science of the PID and its programming is beyond the scope of this article but suffice to say that it might just make a very positive contribution to the actual brewing process. The thing is, you want the water to stay the same as the brew cycle is unwinding. If the temperature drops significantly towards the end of the brew cycle then that is going to effect the taste of the espresso - conversely, if the temperature of the water is significantly high at the beginning of the brew cycle then this could effect the results to. Bottom line: Keep that water temperature as close to ideal for that bean as possible!
So how did I do? With hot water on demand from a dedicated boiler, I had no trouble banging out great Americano's every couple of minutes - the Profitec 300 has a pretty quick recovery and you can make multiple drinks in quick succession, whether they be caps, lattes, espresso or other specialty drinks. If the machine has one weak area it was (or was my ability lacking) my inability to make good micro-foam for awesome cafe quality cappuccinos. I even had a celebrity cafe/restaurant owner over to try as well (Mark Engels of Bubby's Kitchen) and he had little more luck than I did. The "loaner" of the machine was going to give it his own work out and get back to me on what I was missing in my technique. Suffice to say, I have had a way easier time whipping out milk decorated drinks on a Rancilio Silvia - and this unit should have kicked it in the milk department - but I did not find that.
For more photos of the Profitec 300 Dual Boiler machine - click here.
Shot for shot, the espresso was as good as anything I had from any dual boiler machine - and a tad better than single boiler units. When you have a boiler dedicated to brewing and one to hot water for steam/water on demand, there are fewer things that can go wrong.