ECM Elektronika Profi II Review: Is It Worth The Price?
The ECM Elektronika II Profi is the rare ECM espresso machine with volumetric controls. It pairs the brand’s legendary build quality with the convenience of an automatic espresso machine. But as always, convenience comes at a cost.
Is this machine worth draining your bank account for? Maybe. It depends on your needs. Keep reading as this review outlines the cases for and against the ECM Elektronika.
Summary: The ECM Elektronika II Profi
- Heat exchange machine with E61 brew group and rotary pump
- Four programmable volumetric controls
- Best-in-class build quality
This machine is wonderful! It looks fantastic and functions even better. Easy to clean. I love having the option to use the built-in water tank vs. plumbed-in.– Joshua F.
A Full Review of the ECM Elektronika II Profi
ECM espresso machines are recognized worldwide for their exceptional quality. Pairing German engineering with Italian tradition, the brand’s line-up of top prosumer models is coveted by espresso fanatics everywhere.
Brewing Capacity – 3.5/5
The ECM Elektronika uses a heat exchanger (HX) boiler, a large steam boiler with a separate area for lower-temperature brew water. With this innovative design, you can simultaneously pull a shot and steam milk, a key feature for anyone who loves milk-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. The 2.1 L stainless steel boiler is paired with a powerful 1400 W heater for a rapid warm-up time of under 20 minutes.
The Elektronika has an E61 brew group, an iconic design standard in the prosumer market (1). It uses a thermosyphon system to cycle hot water from the boiler through the group. Because the group and portafilter weigh over 4 kg, they act as a massive heat sink, ensuring a stable brewing temperature. It’s a simple and elegant solution.
The E61 group on the Elektronika is a little out of the ordinary. It lacks the manual lever on the side typically used to start and stop a shot. Why? The Elektronika is an automatic espresso machine that relies on push-button operation instead. We’ll talk more about that in the Ease of Use section.
The portafilter baskets are the commercial standard 58-mm filter diameter, making buying accessories like tampers and levelers easy.
You can expect ECM’s signature features like dual pressure gauges, steam boiler autofill, a top-side passive cup warmer, and adjustable brew pressure. The rotary pump is powerful and quiet, particularly with ECM’s sound-absorbing design.
Two Obvious Complaints
The ECM Elektronika doesn’t use a PID for temperature control, instead relying on the older pressurestat system. Admittedly, a PID isn’t as useful in a heat exchanger machine as in a double boiler, but it has been shown to improve temperature stability (2). Plus, a solid state PID outlasts a mechanical pressurestat.
You might be wondering, looking at that lever-less E61 group: does the ECM Elektronika have pre-infusion? The answer is no. While it has a pre-infusion cylinder to improve extraction consistency, it is disappointing that there is no way to control pre-infusion like with a traditional E61.
Ease of Use – 4/5
The Elektronika II Profi uses volumetric controls, I found it easier to use than a standard semi-automatic espresso machine. There are four programmable dedicated volumetric brewing buttons, which you can set to different shot volumes. Brewing becomes as easy as hitting a button on the illuminated control panel.
I’m surprised that ECM included this easy-to-use feature on a machine with a heat exchange boiler. Heat exchangers are not “plug and play” espresso machines; it takes practice and skill to master puck prep and brew temperature control. I would expect anyone willing to learn an HX machine to also prefer the traditional manual brewing E61.
Automatic controls have advantages, however, regarding workflow and efficiency, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced user.
Switchable Water Supply
I was immediately intrigued by the switchable water supply, which is why this machine is often marketed as the ECM Elektronika II Profi Switchable Espresso Machine. With the flick of a switch, you can alternate between a fixed water connection and pulling water from the 3-litre reservoir. It’s a clever system, and in my tests, it worked perfectly. But I’m not sure it’s a necessary feature for most users.
Milk Frothing – 4.5/5
Heat exchanger espresso machines offer excellent bang for your buck regarding steaming milk because they have larger steam boilers than comparably priced double boilers. With a 2.1 L stainless steel boiler and 1400 W steam boiler wattage, you’ll never lack steam power with the Elektronika. Expect up to 2 bars of steam pressure, enough to prepare silky microfoam for your latte in under 30 seconds.
The no-burn steam wand has a double-wall design, something professional barista and roaster Neil Soque explains is increasingly common for home espresso machines (3).
These are broadly safer for home users who may not be as experienced as professional baristas, as they are less likely to scald themselves.
The steam wand is fully articulated and has a 2-hole tip, which I found was well balanced with the pressure. There is a dedicated hot water tap, but you cannot control water temperature.
ECM is known for using joystick water valve controls, unlike the knob controls found on many other brands. This is a matter of personal preference. I like the professional quick steam joysticks because it’s easy to snap the steam on and off quickly or generate short bursts of steam.
Build Quality – 5/5
ECM’s philosophy is centred on outstanding build quality, and the ECM Elektronika lives up to that reputation. ECM machines are handmade by skilled artisans in Milan, Italy, and I have yet to encounter one that wasn’t perfectly engineered. They’re not just built to last, but to perform flawlessly throughout their lifetime.
The ECM Elektronika II Profi Switchable espresso machine is built around a one-piece steel frame that resists warping and bending, even after years of use. The exterior has gorgeous mirror-finish stainless steel panels with rounded edges. It’s a large machine – measuring 32.5 x 47.5 x 40 cm and weighing 29 kg – but that’s okay because you’ll want to display it proudly in your kitchen.
The fit and finish is exceptional, a hallmark of the brand. Everything joint and seam is perfectly aligned, even the less obvious ones around the removable drip tray. The E61 group is capped with a stainless steel bell, an upgrade unique to ECM.
The Elektronika comes with two custom ergonomic portafilters that are angled and weighted to facilitate puck prep and the extraction process. They were designed for professional baristas, to avoid fatigue when pulling hundreds of shots a day, and home users are lucky to enjoy the same benefits.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 4/5
All the top prosumer espresso machines have similar maintenance needs, but this one has a few features that make it easier than most.
A direct water line connection removes many daily tasks like filling the water reservoir and emptying the drip tray. If you use the water tank, the Elektronika II Profi Switchable espresso machine has a low-water warning, so you never have to worry about it running dry. Of course, wherever you pull your water, use filtered water to avoid the limescale build-up. Descaling is never straightforward.
Using the included backflush disc, you should regularly backflush with water at least once a week. This machine has an Autoclean function for more thorough cleaning – a rarity I was thrilled to see. Just add a cleaning tablet to your portafilter and start the cycle.
Things We Liked:
- Can brew and steam simultaneously
- Incredible build quality and sleek housing
- Impressive steam power
- Quiet rotary pump with 16 bar pump pressure
Things We Didn’t Like:
- No pre-infusion control
- No PID temperature control
Don’t Buy The ECM Elektronika II Profi Switchable If…
- You prefer traditional semi-automatic operation: If you want the control of an E61 group with a manually operated lever, there are many fantastic options. The most obvious is the ECM Mechanika, a great machine similar to the Elektronika minus the pre-programmed volumes. Or upgrade to the double boiler Synchronika for a top-of-the-line pick.
- You’re not interested in milk-based drinks: If making lattes and cappuccinos isn’t for you, consider the ECM Puristika. This newer model is designed for the espresso purist. It lacks a steam wand, offering a simple, affordable, and beautiful way to make cafe-quality espresso.
- You want PID temperature control: Alas, there is no ECM Elektronika PID, but there is an excellent alternative. Check out Home Grounds’ Profitec Pro 500 review. Profitec is the sister company of ECM, and the Pro 500 contains many of the same internals as the Elektronika.
The ECM Elektronika II Profi Switchable espresso machine is an expensive major purchase. Partly, you’re paying for build quality, which I believe is always a worthwhile investment. But you’re also paying for the real convenience of pre-programmed volumetric controls. If you appreciate the easy workflow of programmable brewing, this machine is worth your money. But if you prefer more manual control, go for a semi-automatic espresso machine instead.
- Stamp, J. (2012, June 19). The Long History of the Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-long-history-of-the-espresso-machine-126012814/
- Partida, V. (2017, December 5). PID vs. Pstat. Retrieved from https://coffeetechniciansguild.org/blog/2017/11/21/pid-vs-pstat
- Soque, N. (2021, March 1). Six years on: An updated guide to buying home espresso machines. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2021/03/six-years-on-an-updated-guide-to-buying-home-espresso-machines/