Lelit Elizabeth Review: The V3 is the Best Yet
Just because you want a dual boiler espresso machine doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune or build out an entire nook in your kitchen. With Lelit’s Elizabeth, you can enjoy the benefits of double boilers in a compact footprint.
And, the best thing is, you can do it at a reasonable cost.
The latest upgrade, the V3, was released in the fall of 2020 and includes some brand-new features that make it better value than ever. Keep reading to learn all about them and what else makes this machine so unique.
SUMMARY: The Lelit Elizabeth PL92T
- Dual-boiler espresso machine with a compact footprint designed for home use
- The unique programmable pre-infusion system gives a lot of versatility in brewing
- Remarkable steam power for such a small machine
Hard to imagine why this machine is cheaper than the majority of heat exchangers on the market, but produces a shot of coffee far above its price point.– William T., Customer
The Lelit Elizabeth PL92T Review
The Elizabeth is an impressive espresso machine. This model truly STANDS OUT from the crowd! It offers an abundance of features packed into such a compact and inexpensive machine. And with the new V3, Lelit has really gone above and beyond. The upgrade makes it a fantastic value for anyone in the market for a double-boiler espresso machine designed for home use.
Let’s do a deep dive into the details of this machine, from its brewing capacity to its maintenance needs. We’ll find out what makes it so unique and if it’s right for you.
Brewing Capacity – 4/5
Lelit’s Elizabeth is a dual boiler espresso machine, which has separate boilers for brewing and steaming. You can brew coffee and steam milk at the same time. It uses a vibratory pump, making sense in this context as they are smaller and less expensive than rotary pumps. Usually, the downside of a vibratory pump is its noise. Yet, in this case, Lelit has used the same ultra-quiet pump found in their Mara X.
Both the coffee boiler and steam boiler are relatively small. The former is a 300 mL brass boiler, and the latter is a 600 mL stainless steel boiler. But you won’t find this to be a hardship during use as Lelit has cleverly compensated with their excellent software.
Boiler temperature is controlled with a PID, which offers better accuracy and stability versus a pressure stat. In the new V3 edition, the temperature of the coffee boiler can be set hotter than before, up to 95 ℃ so that you can find the ideal temperature for extraction. The steam boiler can also be set much higher than an average prosumer espresso machine, which is how this small machine offers such powerful milk steaming.
With small boilers, this machine draws far less power than most.
So it’s reasonable to leave it on all day.
To make it more efficient, you can quickly turn the steam boiler off. Or you can take advantage of the economy mode, which lowers the boiler temperatures after 30 minutes of inactivity.
You brew by using two illuminated buttons on the front panel. Plus, you can program each can with a particular brewing and pre-infusion time using the intuitive Lelit Control Centre (LCC). This might feel a bit less tactile than the lever operation of an E61 machine, but it makes for a simple workflow.
Anything unique about it?
What makes Elizabeth unique is that you can do low-pressure pre-infusion in two ways. That this blooming function can go two ways increases its versatility versus competitors’ models, like the Rancilio Silvia Pro.
- You can use the coffee blooming function, in which a constant low pressure is applied to the puck using the steam boiler via the brew boiler. The coffee blooming function turns on automatically if the steam boiler is set above 115 ℃.
- You can use the pump blooming function. In this case, the pump runs to generate some pressure and then stops, and the coffee blooms as the pressure subside. This gentle wetting of the puck allows for a finer grind and the extraction of more flavour. The pump blooming function turns on automatically if the boiler is off or set below 115 ℃.
According to professional barista Tasmin Grant, any pre-infusion method is essential to avoid channelling and improving extraction (1).
Pre-infusion prepares the puck for the sudden intake of high-pressure water, reducing the likelihood that it will become disrupted and cause channeling.
Another upgrade to the latest Elizabeth V3 is the improved expansion valve, which allows you to adjust the pump pressure. Compared to previous versions, it’s now larger, higher quality, and easier to access and modify.
As a brand, Lelit is known for its attention to detail. And fortunately for the user, this usually translates into thoughtful touches that make these machines a pleasure to use. There are plenty of examples of this on Elizabeth.
Like all Lelit’s higher-end models, it’s operated using the LCC. The LCC looks like a simple display with some buttons. But it’s a powerful computer that makes it a breeze to program brewing and access other features.
You can update the LCC’s software. So, if Lelit releases a new model, you don’t need to buy a new machine for a programming upgrade.
From a usability standpoint, the display is bright and clear. When you start a shot, a shot timer function turns on automatically. Cleverly, the pump pressure gauge also illuminates when it starts a shot.
The Elizabeth uses a standard on/off switch, which is perfect if you want to pair it with a smart plug. Although given its relatively speedy 15 minute heat-up time, you may not find this to be necessary.
Operation is effortless, with just two buttons for brewing and a third for hot water. The buttons are illuminated, which is attractive and practical on dark mornings.
It has a nice large drip tray in stainless steel, which is a great time-saving feature as you won’t find yourself constantly needing to empty it. It also has a vast amount of clearance between the drip tray and the portafilter. This is great for brewing into larger mugs or making room for a scale. And, for using smaller espresso cups, it comes with a set of risers to avoid splashing.
The front half of the top of the machine is a wide cup warmer, while the back provides access to the removable water reservoir. An excellent addition here is Lelit’s Last Shot Protection. If the Elizabeth runs low on water during a shot, users can finish performing the extraction before it shuts off. A lot of machines will stop right away, ruining your drink.
Milk Frothing – 4/5
The quality of milk frothing is a surprisingly high point on the Elizabeth. Lelit espresso makers are not typically known for exceptionally high steam power, and the miniature steam boiler of the Elizabeth seems like cause for concern. However, because the boiler temperature can be set so hot, this machine actually has steam pressure upwards of 2 bar. This is much more than many prosumer espresso machines, even far larger models (2).
The result is you can make perfect cafe-quality microfoam for your latte in well under 30 seconds.
The steam wand is a stainless steel multidirectional wand with a 1-hole tip. It’s not double-walled so that it will get hot during use. Be careful not to burn your fingers and wipe it down quickly after steaming.
The control knob for steam pressure is on the side of the machine. It doesn’t offer the same quick on/off as a joystick, but it is very responsive and does allow for more precise adjustments. Users with large fingers might find it slightly on the small side from an ergonomic perspective, but this isn’t a concern on a home machine. You likely won’t be making lattes through an 8-hour shift in your kitchen.
Surprisingly, the hot water tap is one of the most impressive parts of the system. Like the brewing, it’s easily operated with an illuminated button. It mixes water from the brew and steam boilers, even if the steam boiler is switched off. This gives a smoother draw with less splashing, and it means you can pull a lot of water without dropping the temperature of the coffee boiler too much.
Build Quality – 3.5/5
The Elizabeth is part of Lelit’s VIP line. As such, it has a sleek and modern design, with clean lines and square edges. It’s clearly designed for home rather than commercial use.
And, it’s not trying to hide that fact.
The Elizabeth is very compact, shockingly so for a dual boiler. Anyone with a shallow counter will appreciate its short depth of just 11 inches. And at only 15” high, it fits under cupboards with room to spare, though you may need to slide it out to access the water tank.
It doesn’t feature the standard E61 group head seen on most prosumer machines, but the group is E61 (3). Apart from the shower screen, it still works with all E61 accessories, including a 58 mm diameter portafilter.
It comes with just one dual spout portafilter, which features Lelit’s patented Coffee Slide spout design. This unique shape looks beautiful and supposedly also enhances both the flavour and crema of the shot.
You also get three baskets, a single shot, double shot, and a blind disc for backflushing. As I said, Lelit is known for its attention to detail. That shows up in the design of their baskets. The specific shape makes them easier to clean than most. The pucks knock right out.
The Elizabeth comes with a cheap, plastic tamper that you should quickly discard. Given the value pricing on this machine, this isn’t a huge disappointment. But be sure to add the price of a decent tamper to your budget.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 4/5
Not everyone loves the look of Elizabeth’s brushed stainless steel compared to a mirror finish, but it is certainly easier to keep clean. Combine that with its boxy shape, and it is swift and easy to keep this machine looking pristine.
It runs using a 2.5-litre water tank located in the back and is removable for easy filling. There is no option for direct plumbing, so prepare to keep it topped up. It has an automatic shut-off feature, so you don’t need to worry about causing damage by drying it.
A particle filter is included, which is great for removing general grime, but if you live in a region with hard water, consider adding a water softener as well. The brass coffee boiler is particularly susceptible to the growth of scale compared to stainless steel boilers.
Backflushing is a piece of cake thanks to the automatic backflushing functional accessible through the LCC. But you can also do it manually if you prefer.
The V3 has a new anti-vacuum valve on the steam boiler, which prevents a vacuum from forming in the boiler as it cools. This is definitely best avoided as a vacuum can suck milk back into the boiler (4). But with the new anti-vacuum valve, you have one less maintenance worry.
Don’t Buy the Elizabeth If…
- You don’t need a double boiler – If you don’t make a lot of milky drinks, a single boiler machine will meet your needs and save you a lot of money. Consider the Lelit Victoria or the Kate model, which has a built-in grinder for something with a similar style at a much lower cost. Or for a higher-end single boiler that will still save you a bit of cash, check out the ECM Classika.
- You want more control – If you’re interested in getting more involved in the espresso process, take a look at the Bianca model. This double boiler machine offers flow profiling, making it an incredible value even though it is priced higher than the Elizabeth.
- You want the E61 look – If you like the traditional look machines with the E61 group head, you can still find it at this price range, but you’re probably looking at a heat exchanger rather than a dual boiler. Think about the Bezzera Magica or Profitec Pro 500.
Suppose you’re looking for a compact and efficient dual-boiler espresso machine for home use. In that case, I don’t think anything else on the market matches the Lelit Elizabeth, particularly at this price. Despite its small size, it packs many excellent features and benefits tremendously from Lelit’s signature attention to the details. Cappuccino lovers should be very excited!
- Grant, T. (2021, April 5). Technical evolution: How have espresso machines changed in the 21st century? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2021/04/technical-evolution-how-have-espresso-machines-changed-in-the-21st-century/
- Makela, K. (2020, July 21). Steaming Milk – Theory Behind the Microfoam. Retrieved from https://www.baristainstitute.com/blog/karoliina-makela/july-2020/steaming-milk-theory-behind-microfoam
- Burton, G. (2011, January 11). The E61 Group Head: An Oldie but a Goodie. Retrieved from https://fivesenses.com.au/blogs/news/the-e61-group-head-an-oldie-but-a-goodie/
- Joseph, H. (2019, February 22). The Vacuum Breaker. Retrieved from https://coffeetechniciansguild.org/blog/2019/2/22/the-vacuum-breaker