ECM Synchronika Review: Things You Should Know Before Buying!
If you’re shopping for a dual boiler espresso machine for home use, the ECM Synchronika should rank high on your list. Though often compared with the Profitec Pro 700 and Rocket R58, it has a few special features that I think put it at the top of the heap.
Keep reading to find out what makes this semi automatic espresso machine stand out and whether it’s the right choice for your home coffee bar.
Summary: ECM Synchronika Espresso Machine
- PID-controlled dual stainless steel boilers
- Upgraded steam boiler for best-in-class milk frothing
- Incredible longevity thanks to build quality and easy-to-service design
I’ve had a Synchronika for over 2 years and absolutely love it. No problems and very consistent. Quiet rotary pump. Easy to maintain.– Customer
The ECM Synchronika Espresso Machine Review
As with other prosumer machine types, this ECM machine is fully equipped for a professional experience at your own home. Let’s face it; we’re all here for that blasting coffee experience.
But let’s dive deeper into this machine’s specifics so that you know if it’s the right one for you.
Brewing Capacity – 4.5/5
At the heart of the ECM Synchronika espresso machine, you’ll find two insulated stainless steel boilers. What this means for you is you can brew coffee and steam milk AT THE SAME TIME. The PID independently controls the brew and the steam boiler by using the digital display on the machine’s front.
Smartly, the PID display has a subtle silver color, which blends seamlessly into the machine’s design. A huge departure from flashier touchscreen options. When you start brewing, the display automatically acts as a shot timer.
ECM uses the E61 group head common to most prosumer espresso machines, but with a few modifications to enhance aesthetics.
They replaced the two screws typically atop the group with a single stainless brew bell. Additionally, the brew lever is capped with chrome. The brew group is also tilted downward to meet the portafilter better.
You’ll find this sort of attention to detail throughout.
Though flow profiling doesn’t come standard with this machine, an aftermarket flow control device is now available. That is If that’s something you’re keen to play around with (1). It’s easy to install and relatively affordable at just a few hundred dollars.
The Synchronika uses an ultra-quiet rotary pump, which allows you to plumb this machine directly to your waterline. Not only does this spare you the hassle of managing the water tank, but you can achieve proper line pressure pre-infusion (2).
New to the latest edition is an ECO mode. You can set an auto shut-off timer for between 0 and 10 hours.
Ease of Use – 3.5/5
The Synchronika is a semi-automatic espresso machine so that you won’t find any volumetric programming options. That means it does take some skill and attention to operate. But if you’re in the market for a prosumer machine, that should be part of the appeal.
Otherwise, this is a well-designed machine that has the home barista in mind. For example, to make tamping easy, the portafilters are ergonomically shaped so that the baskets lie flat when you put them on the counter.
Milk Frothing – 5/5
The latest model of the Synchronika has seen an update to the steam boiler, making this machine one of the best in its class for milk frothing. The boiler’s working temperature has been increased, allowing the steam boiler pressure to go as high as 2.5 bars. For reference, most home machines top out around 1.5 bars. It’s now comparable to the La Marzocco GS3 in this respect, which runs about three times the price.
In fact, if you haven’t worked in a commercial environment before, you might need some practice before you can successfully wrangle this amount of steam power. You need to be smooth and efficient because it takes less than 30 seconds to froth 8 ounces of milk.
Both the steam and hot water wands have cool touch exteriors and plenty of articulation for whatever frothing vessel and posture you prefer.
The Synchronika distinguishes itself by using spring-loaded joysticks to control the steam and hot water wands instead of knobs.
This is a nice feature because it acts like an instant on/off and allows short bursts of steam. However, like the higher steam pressure, it is more difficult for beginners, who might prefer the slow pressure increase of a knob.
Build Quality – 5/5
The build quality of the Synchronika is one of its biggest selling points. ECM espresso machines pair the best of Italian coffee culture with German precision engineering, and the result is machines that last forever and look great doing it.
Every Synchronika is handmade by skilled craftsmen, a fact that is immediately obvious when you inspect these machines. Check out the precision welding and perfectly abutted joints. Everything about it feels heavy duty and carefully designed. It’s the rare machine that actually comes with a proper metal tamper with enough heft to be useful!
It’s the attention to detail and the craftsmanship that make this such a fantastic machine.
This attention to detail extends to the aesthetics as well. The Synchronika has the same shiny chrome box look you see on most prosumer machines, but it stands out thanks to the powder-coated black anthracite frame, which extends behind the drip tray. You can also purchase matching anthracite body panels.
It’s an easy machine to customize. You’ll see many with wood side panels, which give it a warm and classy look.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 4.5/5
Many customers cite ease of maintenance as their reason for choosing Synchronika over competitors. ECM designed the interior layout to make an access and servicing simple. You can quickly remove the side panels with just a 2.5 mm Allen key and do standard maintenance and repairs without any special tools.
The choice of the E61 group head also makes service straightforward (3). Because the E61 has been around so long, both replacement parts and service technicians are inexpensive and easy to find.
Keeping it clean is no easier or more difficult than any machine in its class. Wipe down the surfaces with a microfibre cloth, purge and wipe the steam wand after use, and use filtered water.
Things we liked:
- Separate boilers for brewing and milk steaming
- Updated PID for best-in-class steam pressure
- Beautiful design and build quality
- Quiet rotary pump
Things we didn’t like:
- Polished exterior shows dirt and fingerprints
Don’t Buy the Synchronika If….
You don’t make milky drinks: If you’re not regularly making lattes and cappuccinos, you won’t justify the cost of a dual boiler machine. Instead, consider the single boiler ECM Classika, or the ECM Puristika. If you want to go even less expensive, check out our ECM Casa V review for an entry-level model that packs an impressive punch.
You don’t need a dual boiler: If you’re not making many milky drinks in a row, a machine with a heat exchange boiler like the Technika can offer very similar performance at a slightly lower price. Read our full ECM Technika review for more info.
You only care about what’s inside: The Profitec Pro 700 has the same guts as the Synchronika, and the dual boiler Rocket R58 is very similar, though it uses brass rather than stainless steel boilers. However, neither can match ECM on build quality, and both use knob rather than joystick controls.
Home espresso enthusiasts often speak of their “endgame” espresso machine, the one you spend a lot of money on because you know it’s going to be the last you ever buy.
If you’re in the market for your endgame prosumer machine, I can highly recommend the Synchronika. It’s not cheap, but the high-quality espresso, milk frothing capability, and durability — not to mention the possible flow control mod —give it incredible value for money.
- Petrich, I.L. (2018, June 29). How Can Water Flow Rate Help You Pull Better Espresso Shots? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/06/how-can-water-flow-rate-help-you-pull-better-espresso-shots/
- Clive Coffee. (2019, May 19). What Is Pre-Infusion? Retrieved from https://clivecoffee.com/blogs/learn/what-is-pre-infusion
- Burton, G. (2011, January 11). The E61 GroupHead: An Oldie but a Goodie. Retrieved from https://fivesenses.com.au/blogs/news/the-e61-group-head-an-oldie-but-a-goodie/