Lelit Kate PL82T Espresso Machine Review
Having an espresso machine with a built-in grinder can be incredibly convenient. (So can saving space and money.) But not everyone wants to sacrifice all control and get a super-automatic model. For you, there’s the Lelit Kate PL82T.
It’s a compact and well-built semi-automatic prosumer machine with an integrated conical burr grinder. In this review, I’ll look at the pros and cons of this model so you can decide if it’s just what you’re looking for.
SUMMARY: The Lelit Kate PL82T
- Semi-automatic single-boiler espresso machine with a built-in burr grinder
- The Lelit Control Center allows for easy programming and tons of features
- Durable build with brushed stainless steel casing
It took me a few goes to get the balance right, which is normal for any new espresso machine. Once I had it all figured out, the espresso was spot on.– David Ludlow, Customer
The Lelit Kate PL82T Review
Let’s dig into the details of this machine to find out where it fits in the Lelit line. More importantly, let’s see how it can fit in your lifestyle. From brewing capacity and milk steaming to cleaning and maintenance, here’s everything you need to know.
Brewing Capacity – 3/5
The Lelit Kate PL82T is a single-boiler dual-use machine. This means that it doesn’t have separate boilers for brewing coffee and generating steam. Instead, it has a single 300 mL brass boiler that can do both. The PL82T also offers a programmable pre-infusion, which benefits the shot quality.
The downside is that you can’t do both at the same time. You’ll need to wait a few minutes after pulling an espresso for the boiler to increase steam temperature. If you make a lot of milky drinks, this can be frustrating. But if pure espresso is your thing, it has some excellent advantages, including MORE COMPACT and much MORE AFFORDABLE.
The unique selling point of the Kate is its built-in grinder, which saves the cost of buying a separate one and frees up counter space.
The integrated grinder is a step up from an average cheap burr one, with a micrometric stepless grind adjustment and 38mm conical burrs (1). Still, it’s not quite on par with something like the Baratza Sette 270. It is great value for money, though, consistently producing fluffy and uniform grounds.
Lelit uses a powerful 1200 W heating element in the Kate, so it heats faster than many comparable models. It takes about 3 minutes for the boiler to come to temperature. Then, another 7 to 10 minutes for the group and portafilter to stabilize.
User-friendliness – 4/5
Like these, all higher-end Lelit espresso machines are equipped with the Lelit Control Center (LCC), an onboard computer. This adds a lot of functionality and is simple to program. Thus, Lelit espresso machines are more manageable than average to operate.
With the Lelit Kate, you can program the temperature for brewing, steaming, and water, the pre-infusion time, and a countdown shot timer. You also use the LCC to program the grinding time for a single shot and double shot, as the grinder doses by time rather than weight.
The grinder is straightforward to use, with a hands-free holder for the portafilter. Simply press the portafilter against the grinding plate — once for a single shot or twice for a double shot. The grinder will then dose based on the pre-programmed time. Alternatively, hold the portafilter against the plate for manual grinding time.
Pulling a shot is as easy as pushing the backlit stainless-steel button on the front panel.
This also automatically starts the shot timer, but the shot doesn’t stop when the timer reaches zero. The timer is just a guide; you still maintain control over shot length.
The front panel is equipped with a backlit pressure gauge as well to monitor the pump pressure range during brewing. This can help you dial in your grinding, tamping, and dosing.
As with most of Lelit’s VIP Line machines, Kate has a lot of clearance between the group head and drip tray. This is great for brewing into larger mugs and makes it easier to work under a group. For smaller demitasse cups, a riser is included, which slots firmly onto the drip tray.
The least user-friendly aspect of this machine is probably the grind size selector, a small knob on the side of the machine. It works perfectly well, but the knob is unmarked, so it can be challenging to keep track of grind settings. And it’s set up so that you might need more than a 360-degree rotation for larger adjustments.
As with all new European-made espresso machines of this type, the Lelit Kate PL82T has a standby mode. Though given its fast heat-up time, it’s hardly necessary. After 30 minutes of inactivity, it will drop into a low power consumption mode. You can turn this feature off if you don’t want it (2).
Milk Frothing – 3/5
As with any one-boiler machine, milk frothing isn’t a priority with the Lelit Kate PL82T. Anyone with a true penchant for milky drinks will be more inclined towards a heat exchanger or dual boiler. That said, the available steam power is more than enough to produce the silky microfoam you need for latte art or the airy froth that marks a cappuccino. You just can’t do it while also brewing coffee. Plus, it might take a few seconds longer than a machine with more steam power.
The steam wand is multidirectional. It comes with two different tips, a 1-hole, and a 2-hole, which is a pleasant surprise at this price. The steam pressure is controlled using a knob on the side of the machine, and it is responsive and intuitive to use.
When you turn off the steam, it automatically vents and returns to brewing temperature, a practical feature you will definitely appreciate.
The Lelit Kate PL82T doesn’t have a separate hot water wand, but you can dispense hot water from the steam wand. In fact, you can even set the temperature of the hot water using the LCC, a rarity even among more expensive models.
Build Quality – 4/5
The build quality is a standout feature.
The brushed stainless steel casing gives it an elegant look and ensures that it’s ultra-durable and easy to clean. The brushed stainless doesn’t show scratches or dirt, and a simple wipe with a damp microfiber cloth will keep it looking shiny and new.
Some other stainless-steel features, like the hopper lid, drip tray, portafilter, and baskets, demonstrate that Lelit has built this machine to last. Though I wish they’d opted to include a stainless steel tamper in place of the plastic one.
The portafilter is a HIGHLIGHT of this machine. It’s a standard commercial size 58 mm portafilter, making it easy and cost-effective to purchase accessories (like that tamper I just mentioned you’ll need). The handle is ergonomic and slanted so that the portafilter lies flat for tamping, saving you have to buy a separate tamping station.
You only get a dual-spout portafilter, but it features Lelit’s innovative Coffee Slide design. The Coffee Slide is aesthetically beautiful, yet, it also serves a purpose. The espresso comes out more smoothly with less sputtering, ensuring your layer of crema stays intact.
According to barista and cafe manager Tyler Hickmott, maintaining the crema until you’re ready to drink improves the tasting experience by enhancing the espresso’s aroma (3).
When you break the crema, you allow the aroma to come out all [at once].
Three baskets are included, a single shot, a double shot, and a blind filter for backflushing.
Bear in mind that this machine is quite TALL due to the extra height of the bean hopper. At 16 inches high, it won’t fit comfortably under all cupboards, especially if you want easy access to the bean hopper or water tank at the back. However, at just 10 inches deep and 12 inches wide, its footprint is small enough that finding the right space shouldn’t be too hard.
Cleaning and maintenance – 4/5
Keeping the Lelit Kate up and running is very easy. That is undoubtedly one of the advantages of a machine with only one boiler. Yes, you will need to do a bit of extra cleaning regarding the grinder, significantly if you’re changing beans often, but this would be true of any grinder.
The 3-way solenoid valve is expected in a machine at this price range, so I’m happy to see it here. This releases excess water and pressure from the group into the drip tray. As a result, your used coffee puck will be dry enough to easily knock into the garbage, simplifying clean-up after each shot.
The 2.5-liter water tank is in the back, and it’s a bit finicky to fill. It lacks a handle and has a few tubes that you need to remove. The easiest method is to use a water jug to fill the water tank without removing it. There’s also no way to gauge the water level from the outside, which is a bit frustrating. But the LCC will alert you when it’s getting low.
Keeping the internal equipment in good working condition is a piece of cake. Use the blind disc to regularly backflush and swap out the water filter every six months. Brass boilers are more prone to scale build-up than stainless steel boilers, so consider using a water softener if you live in a region with hard water.
Don’t Buy the Lelit Kate PL82T If…
- You already have a grinder: If you already have a good espresso grinder, there’s no reason to pay for another. Instead, save your money and get the Lelit Victoria, which is nearly the same model without integrated grinding.
- You enjoy milky drinks: If you drink a lot of lattes or cappuccinos, you’ll benefit from a machine that can froth milk and make espresso at the same time. Sure, it will cost a bit more upfront, but you’ll appreciate the time saved in the long run. Try the heat exchanger Lelit Mara espresso machine or the dual boiler Lelit Elizabeth. For something even more impressive, take a look at the Lelit Bianca. This model allows flow profiling so you can really optimize your espresso.
- You’re on a tight budget: If you want an espresso maker with an integrated grinder but can’t justify the price of a Lelit, check out the best-selling Breville Barista Express. This popular machine doesn’t quite have the user control or build quality of the Lelit Kate, but it is great value at less than half the price.
If you’re ready to dip your toes in the water of semi-auto prosumer espresso machines, the Lelit Kate PL82T is a fantastic first step. With its build and 58 mm portafilter, it’s a big step up from an appliance level machine. It offers a beautiful balance between convenience and control.
- Petrich, I.L. (2020, May 12). Coffee grinders: What’s the difference between conical & flat burr grinders. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/05/conical-vs-flat-burr-coffee-grinders-difference/
- Ransome-Croker, L. (2015, January 5). EU rules force coffee machines to switch off. Retrieved from https://www.which.co.uk/news/2015/01/eu-rules-force-coffee-machines-to-switch-off-391073/
- Yew, S. (2021, April 12). Aroma, body, flavor & finish: A beginner’s guide to tasting espresso. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2021/04/aroma-body-flavour-finish-a-beginners-guide-to-tasting-espresso/