Pros: Decent, but just decent, cup of espresso
Cons: Very slow steamer. Lots of equal machines for Less. Lots of better machines at the price point.
The old Livietta was a rebranded Olympia and was an excellent small machine. I'm not sure who, if anyone, makes the new Livietta for Pasquini. But I am sure there are much better machines for the money.
I should mention that I had a Pasquini machine (Livia 90) forever and loved it. And that all of my face to face dealings with the company (it's in Los Angeles) have been cordial and gone well. I've been invited to the old man's table for grappa and coffee on more than one occasion.
My trusty old Livia recently developed some probably fatal problems -- hey the thing's more than 20 years old!. So I ambled over to Pasquini to take a look at what's new.
Believe me, I really wanted to like the new Livietta. Some things are not meant to be. As thermal block machines go, the T2 Livietta is nicely styled, and seems to be exceptionally well built. The problems here are not with the execution of this particular machine but with the design-type in general .
The new Livietta is a dual thermal block machine, which means it doesn't actually possess a boiler. It's a good thing it heats up in two minutes, allows you to pull shot after shot of coffee without a lot of recovery time (like a small single boiler machine would require), and another good thing that the water doesn't sit around forever in the non-existent boiler and go flat.
But it's horrible to the point of complete disqualification that the machine takes FOREVER to steam milk. Time isn't the only problem either. Because it goes so slow and lacks the power to "swirl," even the best barista can't do a good job -- much less close in on the "chrome" ideal. It's easy to "cheese" (i.e., overcook) the milk while trying to get tight foam.
If you care enough about cappuccinos, lattes, and other milky goodness to recognize that "never-fail" frothers on the cheap machines totally suck, and harbor the ambition to actually learn to steam, fuhgeddaboudid. No thermal block will let you.
It's not that they don't mean well, it's just that they can't bring up enough steam at enough pressure to do the trick. At the current state of espresso machine technology, it takes a boiler.
Thermal block machines have some advantages and definitely have a place in the spectrum of espresso machines. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for Pasquini, there are any number which are good enough in their fashion and selling for hundreds of dollars less than the Livietta's MSRP.
If you're going to spend close to a grand on a machine alone, buy an HX (heat exchanger) type, like a Bezzer BZ02, Expobar Office, or Nuova Simonelli Oscar to name just three. You can not only pull shot after shot, but they'll steam a reasonable amount of milk in a reasonable amount of time. Even if there's a very small price premium, it doesn't mean much when you consider you're going to spend another several hundred on a grinder, or be restricted to an expensive and limited selection of pods.
Although I didn't pull enough shots to say for sure, my impression is that the level of absolute quality for a straight shot is limited to "mediocre." Maybe I could have done better with more practice, but probably not. I've filled and tamped a great many porrofilters over the years. Besides the pod coffee wasn't particularly good either, a pod is a pod is a pod, and I was getting those directly from The Man himself.
What can I say? Good espresso is not for the faint of wallet.
When it's just the two of us having espresso at our house, I drink two or three demitasses of the straight stuff, but Linda likes a large latte. That one person once milk is not unusual. Not only is the T2 not up to making a latte, it can't even do a passable job for a single cappuccino. At these prices, that's just not acceptable.
Buy cheaper, or buy better. Just don't buy this.