M&V Vesuvius Espresso Machine Review: Pressure Profiling for the Home Barista
If you’ve gone deep into the espresso rabbit hole, there’s a good chance you’ve taken an interest in pressure profiling. What kind of espresso nerd wouldn’t be intrigued by another variable to toy within that quest for the perfect shot? If that sounds like you, prepare to be very excited about this M&V Vesuvius espresso machine review.
We’ll look at everything this machine offers, including programmable pressure profiling, to decide if it justifies its lofty price tag. Espresso geeks, scroll on!
Summary: The M&V Vesuvius Dual Boiler Espresso Machine
- Dual boiler semi-automatic espresso machine with E61 group head
- Five programmable pressure profiles with seven steps each
- Stunning design renowned for its clean look
Beautiful machine, solid performer with a lot of options. I like the joystick controls, and the mirror polish and wood handles make a beautiful addition in the kitchen.– Karra M., Customer
A Detailed M&V Vesuvius Espresso Machine Review
Let’s learn more about this beast of an espresso machine. How well does it brew? Can it prepare the perfect latte? And how long will it last? In this section, we’ll cover all that and more.
Brewing Capacity – 5/5
The M&V Vesuvius receives a rare top score in the brewing capacity category because there is very little this advanced espresso machine can’t do.
Let’s start with the basics. It’s a dual boiler espresso machine with a 0.8-litre brew boiler and a 1.5-litre steam boiler. Both boilers are stainless steel, a common choice in modern high-end machines thanks to their balance of durability and excellent thermal properties.
PID independently controls each boiler’s temperature, the gold standard for dual boiler espresso machines these days (1). With a PID, you can easily set and adjust your brew and steam temperatures, and you can trust that temperature fluctuations will be kept to a minimum with the PID’s constant feedback. Experiments have shown that temperature varies up to 10 times as much using an older pressure stat versus a modern PID.
Knowing what we now know about the importance of brew temperature on extraction is a vital factor to control if you want to get the best out of your specialty coffee.
On the front of the machine, you’ll see the classic E61 grouphead (2). First designed in Italy in 1961, this group style has stuck around this long because it works so well, and you’ll frequently see it on this type of espresso machine. What helps here is the grouphead – a massive piece of chrome-plated brass that acts as a heat sink. It uses a thermosiphon to circulate hot water from the boiler to the group, maintaining a stable temperature throughout.
The Vesuvius uses a rotary pump, which is expected in an expensive, top-of-the-line espresso machine. Rotary pumps cost more than the vibratory pumps typically found in lower-end models, but for good reasons. They maintain a more steady pressure, they’re quieter, and they allow you to direct plumb your machine to a water line.
Any Bells and Whistles?
Okay, with all that out of the way, let me get to what makes the M&V Vesuvius stand out. So, what justifies its sky-high price tag? This machine offers five programmable pressure profiles, each with seven possible steps, so you can adjust brew pressure as you pull a shot (3).
Different coffees and different roast levels will express different flavours depending on the profile you choose. The most apparent profile is to add a pre-infusion stage, but you can get more creative. For example, experiment with slower or faster pressure ramp-ups and ramp-downs or with pulling low-pressure shots. According to World Barista Championship finalist Fabrizio Sención, playing with pressure is a way to optimise your brew (4) truly.
Flow control allows you to target totally new extractions and discover the full complexity of the cup. You can refine existing recipes and potentially find undiscovered ones.
If that sounds like a lot of work, this probably isn’t the machine for you. But if that sounds like a fun hobby you want to explore, then the M&V Vesuvius is the perfect tool.
User Friendliness – 4/5
As I said, the pressure profiling aspect of this machine requires lots of experimentation, but the excellent user interface certainly makes that as easy as possible.
All of Vesuvius’s features are accessed via the dot-matrix touchscreen. It’s conveniently located at the top of the machine and angled upwards for easy viewing. It offers a ton of programmability, including pressure profiling, boiler, temperatures, and ECO mode.
One of the most practical features of this machine is you can program it to turn on, and set it to different times for each day of the week.
Having your espresso machine on and heating before you wake up makes a lot of sense with these big dual boilers, where the process can take a half hour or more. Strangely enough, this option is far more common on cheap coffee makers than expensive espresso machines, usually forcing buyers to pay extra for a smart plug. It’s great to see it built into the Vesuvius!
The touchscreen carries all the information you need to perfect your espresso drinks, including boiler temperatures and pressures. When you start pulling a shot, it automatically acts as a shot timer.
Moving on from the controls, the side-access removable water tank is another top user-friendly feature of the M&V Vesuvius. It simply tilts out for easy refilling. Most machines have the water tank at the back, requiring you to remove a top panel to gain access. By having it on the side, it’s easier to keep this machine under upper cupboards and it leaves more of the top surface for the cup warming tray.
Of course, you can also plumb in the Vesuvius to the wall with the rotary pump, avoiding the need to refill the water tank altogether. The plumbing and drainage kit are both included, and it’s easy to toggle between the reservoir and direct plumb with the flick of a switch.
Milk Frothing – 3.5/5
The 1.5-litre steam boiler produces a steam pressure of about 1 bar, nicely balanced with the included 3-hole steam tip. The milk frothing is very standard on this machine, which is to say it’s good, but it doesn’t go above and beyond. However, if you want to crank up the pressure, you can increase it by upping the steam boiler temperature with the PID.
One thing that does exceed expectations here is the internal stainless steel tubing. Unlike the more common brass or copper, stainless steel results in less condensation and thus drier steam. If you’ve worked with steamed milk before, you’ll know that drier steam makes it easier to produce the silky microfoam you need for latte art (5).
Both the steam and hot water wands are double-walled, so the exterior stays relatively cool to the touch, and they are operated with joysticks rather than knobs. Joysticks and knobs both have pros and cons, but those who prefer joysticks like that offer a more instantaneous on/off.
Build Quality – 4.5/5
Both the quality and appearance of the M&V Vesuvius are exceptional. This is an area in which you will find little to complain about. The only potential negative I’ll mention is that this machine is quite large, measuring 16.5” tall by 14.5” wide by 20” deep. So it won’t necessarily fit comfortably in smaller kitchens. Thanks to the side access water reservoir, or the direct plumb option, this machine can live under upper cabinets.
The overwhelming size of the Vesuvius is tempered by its sleek design. M&V has done all they can to keep it as clean-looking as possible. The only controls visible on the outside of the machine are the touchscreen and two subtle white indicator lights. Even the power button is tucked away with the water reservoir to keep the tidy appearance.
The exterior is wrapped in highly polished stainless steel, as is the drip tray, with smooth corners and expert welds.
It comes standard with wooden accents on the levers and joysticks, an attractive feature that most brands charge extra for.
It has adjustable stainless steel feet in case your counter isn’t perfectly level. The quality continues inside, with stainless steel boilers, tubing, and frame.
The accessories are equally impressive and extensive. The Vesuvius comes with a stainless steel tamper and not one, not two, but THREE commercial grade 58 mm portafilters. You get a single spout, a double spout, and a bottomless portafilter, all of which are adorned with beautiful wooden handles to match the machine. The inclusion of a quality tamper and bottomless portafilter quickly adds several hundred dollars of value.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 4/5
All E61 machines require a degree of regular care that goes above and beyond what you’re used to from a standard home machine (6). But the trade-off for that bit of extra effort is that a prosumer machine like this will last far longer — decades even, if you’re diligent. The user’s manual will walk you through standard maintenance, which includes regular backflushing, lubricating gaskets, and cleaning the shower screen.
But let’s look at specifics regarding the M&V Vesuvius.
First off, you should always use filtered water in a high-end espresso machine to avoid the build-up of scale, but the Vesuvius is better than most in this respect, thanks to its stainless steel internal components. Compared with copper boilers and pipes, steel is more resistant to corrosion and scale build-up.
If you do find yourself needing more extensive maintenance, like descaling the boilers, you’ll find easy access to the boiler drain and heating elements through the bottom panel.
When it comes to cleaning, a microfiber cloth is your best friend. A quick wipe each day will keep the mirror-finish stainless shell looking its best. A feature of the Vesuvius that I’ve seen on a few other machines is that the E61 release valve, which lets excess water out of the grouphead, goes all the way into the drip tray, rather than stopping an inch or two above. This eliminates splashing and gives you one less thing to clean.
Don’t Buy the M&V Vesuvius If…
- Flow profiling doesn’t interest you: The M&V Vesuvius is not a cheap machine, even by double boiler standards, and that’s because of its pressure profiling functionality. If this is of no interest to you, there are plenty of better ways to spend your money. The Izzo Alex Duetto is an excellent double boiler, or take a look at the Isomac Pro, one of our favourite Isomac espresso machines.
- You’re on a budget: If you like the idea of flow profiling but can’t justify the price tag of this whopping double boiler, consider a manual lever espresso machine. Certain Elektra espresso machines are a great option in this case, allowing you to vary the pressure manually using the lever. Another cheaper option with flow control is the popular Lelit Bianca.
- You want a commercial espresso machine: If you’re buying for a coffee shop, you need an espresso machine with a commercial rating, which Vesuvius lacks. Kees van der Westen makes stunningly beautiful commercial models, including the single-group Speedster, which isn’t much larger than the Vesuvius. The Unic Mira, an automatic commercial espresso machine, is also worth checking out. Read our Unic Mira espresso machine review to learn more.
Do you love specialty coffee and all the exciting and complex flavours it promises? Do you appreciate espresso not just as a beverage but as a hobby? Do you get a thrill out of the quest for the perfect shot? Then the M&V Vesuvius is the machine for you. With dual boilers, PID temperature control, and programmable pressure profiling, the M&V Vesuvius is an espresso machine for die-hard espresso lovers.
- Partida, V. (2017, December 5). PID vs. Pstat. Retrieved from https://coffeetechniciansguild.org/blog/2017/11/21/pid-vs-pstat
- Morris, J. (2020, December 23). The Faema E61 Espresso Machine. Retrieved from https://www.historians.org/research-and-publications/perspectives-on-history/january-2021/the-faema-e61-espresso-machine
- La Marzocco USA. (2010, February 19). Define: pressure profiling. Retrieved from https://www.lamarzoccousa.com/blog/define-pressure-profiling/
- Grant, T. (2020, July 29). How Flow Profiling Impacts Espresso Extraction. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/07/how-flow-profiling-impacts-espresso-coffee-extraction/
- Jayson, C. (2015, July 21). The Science of Steamed Milk: Understanding Your Latte Art. Retrieved from https://scienceandfooducla.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/the-science-of-steamed-milk-understanding-your-latte-art/
- Erasmus, D. (2015, September 18). Espresso Machine Maintenance: The Essentials. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2015/09/espresso-machine-maintenance-the-essentials/