If you are serious about espresso and your entry-level semi-automatic espresso machine can’t satisfy you anymore, it’s time to up the game to a prosumer machine.
One such machine is the Lelit Bianca. It has the kind of abundant features and elegance that you’d typically only find in a commercial espresso machine. Indeed, one of the best features is its flow profiling paddle that presents unlimited possibilities for finding the perfect shot – exactly the kind of functionality you’d expect in a commercial machine.
We bought this machine and have been trying it for a while. This review takes an in-depth look at the Lelit Bianca to give you an idea of whether it’s the right upgrade for you.
It’s the best dual boiler espresso machine in our prosumer machines round-up, check out the full list here.
Lelit Bianca Espresso Machine Review
Lelit Bianca Summarized:
This Italian-made machine has a dual-boiler with an E61 group head, rotary head, and built-in PID. It can be plumbed directly or with its movable water reservoir. However, the most incredible features are its flow paddle control and LCC computer system, which ensure a superb level of control over your espressos.
Where To Buy The Lelit Bianca
You can acquire the Lelit Bianca from a few trusted distributors:
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The first thing you’ll notice about the Lelit Bianca is how beautiful and high-end it looks.
It has the shiny, full stainless steel casing typical of Italian-style prosumer espresso machines and the steam and hot water wands on either side of the central brew group you’d expect. However, while those aesthetics are appealing in themselves, the Lelit Bianca goes a step further, with some stunning walnut accents. That makes for a hugely stylish espresso machine that will look beautiful on any kitchen countertop.
On the left of the machine is a high-resolution OLED graphic called the Lelit Control Center (LCC) that lets you manage the parameters and settings. On the Lelit Bianca’s right is a double manometer for showing the pressure of the steam booker and the pump pressure during extraction.
The Lelit Bianca measures 15.7in (40cm) tall, 19in (48.5cm) deep, and 11.4in (29cm) wide, so it’s reasonably compact. In addition, there’s a removable 2.5l water tank that you can either position at the back or on the sides.
This means that if you set the reservoir to the sides or plumb directly, you can save a few inches of depth, which is very useful if you have a shallow countertop. Overall, this is a compact yet powerful prosumer espresso machine.
Despite the Lelit Bianca’s compact footprint, this beautiful machine is very heavy, and uses solid materials. Indeed, it weighs a hefty 58.4lbs (26.5kg). This is both reassuring and unsurprising, given the Lelit espresso machines are designed and built in Italy, ensuring consistent build quality.
The flow control paddle, knobs, handles, adjustable feet, and portafilter handle is finished with premium-quality walnut wood. Meanwhile, the housing, drip tray, wire grate, and water tank use AISI 304 polished stainless steel, guaranteeing durability and easy cleaning.
Outstanding Features Of The Lelit Bianca
As we’ve established, the Lelit Bianca looks incredible, but it’s not just a case of style over substance – there are plenty of features that hit the mark too. Let’s detail exactly which features make the Lelit Bianca one of the best espresso machines for serious domestic baristas.
Flow profiling is one of the most sought-after features by serious espresso enthusiasts, and the Lelit Bianca is one of the most affordable prosumer machines to include the feature. But what are the benefits of flow profiling? Why is it important?
Benefits Of Flow Profiling
When you pull the lever to turn the pump on, hot water flows to the coffee puck. Because the espresso grinds are fine enough, pressure builds in the basket. A regular espresso machine that lacks this feature may suffer from a more uneven extraction. The pressurized water steam reaches a dry coffee puck, forcing the water to find less resistant paths and causing channeling.
Many higher-end espresso machines have pre-infusion to offer more consistent extraction. However, the Lelit Bianca has automatic pre-infusion for the time in seconds that you require. What’s more, flow profiling offers more control.
Flow Control Paddle On The Bianca
The flow control panel and brew pressure gauge sit neatly on the Lelit Bianca’s E61 group head. There’s also a paddle-controlled valve, while the group manometer measures the real extraction pressure to offer precise control.
You can experiment with the wooden panel for a manual brew pressure control. You can also manually control the pre-infusion. So, for example, you can pre-infuse at two or three bars of low pressure, then go higher to eight bars for the remainder of the extraction. You can use an extra-coarse French press grind at low pressure for a few minutes if necessary to offer an extreme example.
This means you can experiment and find your preferred level for any coffee. Also, it means the coffee will taste far better than you’d get with a standard espresso machine. It’s particularly suited to modern light-roast coffee. Because of the water flow control ability, you can also get superb espresso without changing the grind size.
Or course, you can completely ignore the wooden paddle by having it all the way to the right, and dial in your shot.
PID Temperature Control
Within the interior of the Lelit Bianca is a PID to maintain the temperature in both the boilers. Meanwhile, you can set the temperature of each to whatever you choose. The temperature you select in the menu will be either precisely or very close to the temperature at the group head. It’s a feature that enables you to find or replicate your optimum brewing temperatures.
Furthermore, you can pull your shot according to a specific recipe by experimenting with the water flow, temperatures, and other variables.
When choosing a premium home espresso machine, you often face a choice between a heat exchanger machine and a dual boiler machine. The Lelit Bianca has two stainless steel boilers – one for hot water and steam, the other for coffee. Therefore, you can pull an espresso shot and steam milk at the same time.
The stainless steel steam boiler is 1.5l, while the coffee boiler has an 800ml capacity. Meanwhile, if you don’t intend to plumb it, the water reservoir at the back holds 2.5l. The sizeable boilers have a 1400W heating element, ensuring almost limitless power for straight shots and steamed milk for milk-based espresso beverages.
Lelit Control Center (LCC)
There is a central panel, the Lelit Control Center (LCC), which lets you adjust elements, including pre-infusion time, the temperature of the brew boiler and steam boiler, and the machine settings. While brewing coffee, it also displays the shot timer.
The Lelit Bianca has a silent rotary pump common to commercial machines. However, it’s more than just quieter compared to a vibratory pump. It also means you can use the machine with either its reservoir or plumbed directly, which will make it more robust.
There’s a preconception about prosumer machines that they’re not easy to use. However, this isn’t a concern with the Lelit Bianca, which is designed with domestic brewing in mind. Aside from the powerful and useful technical features we’ve examined already, the Lelit has features that enhance user-friendliness, too.
The first significant design element that caught our attention was the movable water tank. Depending on your countertop space, this can go on the left, right, or at the back. Meanwhile, the cup warmer on top of the machine can fit between four and six espresso cups.
There is also an ergonomic anti-burn steam wand that’s both easy and safe to clean.
The machine is equipped with an energy-saving system (eco mode). This means that if you want to save energy or only make espresso, you can turn off the steam boiler in the LCC. You can also set up a standby time and maintain a temperature of 80 °C in the coffee boiler. The reset time is around 10 minutes, so you won’t need to wait 30 minutes for the machine to warm up.
The display shows the shot timer when you pull the lever- another useful feature. Meanwhile, you can display the temperature as either Celsius or Fahrenheit.
If you’re in the market for a dual-boiler espresso machine in this price category, some of the qualities you’ll be looking for are reliability, consistency, and control level. On each of these elements, the Lelit Bianca excels.
If you’re a beginner to home espresso-brewing, the Lelit Bianca has everything you need to make an excellent shot. For example, the pre-infusion minimizes channeling for more even extraction, while the PID ensures you get the precise temperature you desire. Elsewhere, the powerful pump generates consistent pressure, and the E61 group head maintains the temperature stability. All you need to do is ensure you use high-quality beans and grind them to the correct size. Do that, and the machine will make a beautiful coffee even with the out-of-the-box settings.
Nevertheless, there is still a learning curve to pulling the ideal shot.
If you’re a domestic espresso-brewing expert, you can manually adjust variables including brew pressure, brew ratio, and temperature to get the perfect beverage.
So, whether you’re brewing light roasts, dark roasts, or even acidic coffees, you have plenty of scope to experiment with some unique recipes.
You have the option of adjusting the steam’s power as you can alter the steam boiler temperature in the LCC. So, if you opt for the maximum temperature, this will ensure more steam power from the steam wand. However, if you are newer to milk frothing, you can lower the steam boiler power.
Using the Lelit Bianca to steam is very quick, and it’ll deliver beautifully silky milk consistency for any milk drinks or create gorgeous latte art. There is also a two-hole tip and a four-hole tip with the machine.
Finally, thanks to the dual boiler, you get hot water from the right spout very quickly, which is great for making Americano.
One of the best things about the Lelit Bianca is the accessories.
There is a 58mm bottomless portafilter and a double-spouted walnut portafilter. Meanwhile, there are three IMS filter baskets with capacities of 9-11g, 14-18g, and 12-21g. There is also a blind filter to backflush the machine.
There is a solidly-built, heavy-duty stainless steel tamper with an aluminum handle. As we mentioned in the previous section, the machine also has two steam wand tips. The cool-touch steam wand has the two-hole tip ready installed, but there’s also the option of a four-hole tip that ensures even more powerful steam.
Another nice touch is the inclusion of a microfiber towel adorned with the Legit logo. There’s also a water filter and a cup rack for smaller espresso cups.
Every accessory that comes with the Lelit Bianca is built well and has a valid purpose. Of course, their inclusion also means you don’t need to spend more money buying them separately.
Value For Money
How does the Lelit Bianca compare in the value it offers against more affordable espresso machines? Certainly, if one of the primary elements you require is the level of control you have over the brewing process, the machine is a great option. That’s because most machines with a similar number of features cost significantly more.
On the other hand, if you’re in the market for an aesthetically pleasing machine that doesn’t have as steep a learning curve, other heat exchanger machines that cost less than $2,000 will suffice. If you’re on a significantly more restricted budget, the Flair Lever machine is a superb option and still gives you the experience of pressure profiling.
The bottom line is that the Lelit Bianca has the kind of excellent features normally reserved for dual-boiler machines that cost twice the price. In addition, if you opt for the Lelit Bianca, you won’t need to upgrade your machine for many years. Overall, then, it represents excellent value for money considering its functionality and durability.
Differences Between Lelit Bianca V1 and V2
If you’ve been on the lookout for a dual-boiler espresso machine, you may have noticed that the V2 alongside the V1 in many marketplaces and wondered how they differ. Also, has Lelit released a V3? Let’s take a look.
Lelit Bianca V1 vs V2
The main difference between the two is that the V2 has many upgraded user-friendly features.
For example, the Bianca V2 has the option to enter eco mode by pressing the “minus” button on the LCC for three seconds. Another option is to press the “minus” button and the “plus” buttons simultaneously for three seconds to enter standby mode without selecting the option on the menu.
There is also a reserve mode that lets you finish pulling your shot, even if the reservoir has emptied. This is a really nice touch and demonstrates that the manufacturer has given plenty of thought to the kind of small but frustrating issues that can hinder the brewing process. The shot timer also stays on the screen for 20 seconds after you’ve pulled your shot – another small but useful improvement.
Other improvements are the steam temperature increases from 266 °F (125 °C) to 275 °F (135 °C), elevating the steam pressure to two bars for more powerful steaming.
Finally, you can also monitor the exact temperature in both boilers by pressing the right PID button.
New Features In The Lelit Bianca V3?
In May 2021, Lelit made some upgrades to the V2. Confusingly, some marketplaces refer to it as the V3, while others still call it the V2.
The upgrades offer more settings in the LCC. Meanwhile, there is an additional electronic low-flow mode. With the paddle fully open, the V3 will pull your shots at four bars of pressure instead of nine. In addition, you can set the low flow duration time at the beginning and end phases. For example, the machine will begin on four bars then will change to full pressure after a preset length of time. It will then automatically switch back down to low flow towards the end of your shot.
This is precisely the role of the flow paddle, but it does it automatically. This means you can repeat your flow profile without manual control, knowing it will be consistent.
The V3 also has brew temperatures offset in the LCC, which allows you to set it either several degrees lower or higher while brewing coffee.
The steam and hot water valves are longer on the V3, leaving more room to adjust the steam wand without scratching the body. Other improvements are a slightly enhanced aesthetic on the water tank and an optimized warm-up time.
The Lelit Bianca is an excellent machine for domestic espresso brewers wanting to refine their skills and pull beautiful shots. This is an excellent option if you like to have control over the process. However, there are plenty of ways to make the experience more hands-off. Regardless, you will still need some barista skills to pull the best shots. Still, its amazing functionality lets you concentrate on honing your technique rather than getting weighed down with unnecessary hassle.
The machine also looks beautiful and is built using high-end materials, while it’s compact enough that it won’t take up too much countertop space.
Considering its impressive features, the Lelit Bianca also offers exceptional value for money. Overall, it’s a superb machine for anyone serious about upping their espresso-making game.