Until now, flow profiling has been exclusive to just a few commercial-grade machines. With the Lelit Bianca, you get precise flow profiling in a dual boiler espresso machine designed for home baristas. It sports a PID, shot timer, silent rotary pump, and the ability to be direct plumbed or run on its internal reservoir. All this makes it more than a full-fledged flagship espresso machine. The included real walnut accents are just icing on the cake.
Need to know
What is it?
The Lelit Bianca is an Italian-designed and built dual boiler, rotary pump, E61 espresso machine with a built-in PID, and shot timer that can be direct plumbed or run on its built-in reservoir. It also features a unique flow control paddle.
Who is it for?
The home barista who is excited about diving deep into the world of espresso. You want something that'll enable you to get the most out of every coffee by allowing you to control flow so you can ramp up the pressure, reduce channeling, and nail every extraction. You don't need a commercial workhorse, but you certainly hope to serve groups of friends with cappuccinos and straight shots once you've perfected that new recipe.
Why do we carry it?
The Lelit Bianca occupies a unique spot in our lineup. It's not only the most affordable flow control machine by a large margin, but it's also our only E61 espresso machine capable of flow control. Having access to this powerful feature on an E61 machine is great on its own, but the Bianca doesn't rest on its laurels. Its large boilers are fitted with powerful 1400W heating elements, making nearly bottomless power for shots and steamed milk. Its rotary pump isn't just silent – it also allows this machine to be used with either its reservoir or directly plumbed. In a unique stroke of genius, the reservoir is modular. It can be detached when direct plumbed, making the machine drastically smaller. When in use, it can be fitted to the left, right, or back of the machine to suit your kitchen's needs. On top of all that, you get an included bottomless portafilter and all of the wood trimmings. We've been drooling over this thing since the day we got it in our showroom – at least the included premium microfiber towel makes cleanup easy
The Bianca lets you imitate these manual machines, but the control of flow isn’t done with a lever—it’s done with a wooden paddle above the E61 group head that you can swivel to the left or right. This paddle controls a valve that allows water to pass from the boiler into the group. Right is wide open. Left is almost closed—just a trickle of about two bars of pressure.
You can adjust the paddle at any point while pulling your shot. A brew pressure gauge mounted on the group head lets you know where you’re at. So in effect, this feature gives you the same level of control that you have with a lever machine (assuming you want it).
Why buy the Bianca instead of a regular espresso machine or a classic lever machine? Because this feature gives you nearly limitless flexibility, as I’ll explain in the next section.
Experimenting with the Lelit Bianca
A classic lever machine limits the volume of water you can push through the puck per stroke. If you want more volume, you lift the lever to allow more water in, and pull again.
The Bianca does away with this limitation. You start the flow of water by lifting a lever, and then you leave it. The water is either flowing or it isn’t, and you can keep it flowing as long as you like while you keep an eye on the shot timer. Just depress the lever again to shut it down.
The paddle controls this flow. Think of the implications of that. You could slow the flow to a trickle and keep it going for five minutes with a French press grind in your portafilter, and it would probably work! In fact, people do this.
That’s an extreme example, but the point is that between a basic ristretto shot and a “French press” espresso, there is an infinite number of possibilities. You can use any grind from Turkish to French press, and any coffee-to-water ratio.
For example, many conventional espresso machines have trouble with lightly roasted, acidic coffees. Not the Bianca. You grind that coffee really fine and give it a long, slow pre-infusion using your all-powerful paddle, and the acidity will mellow right out.
Of course it’s going to take you years to perfect all these nuances and pull out exactly the flavors you want, but that’s OK! You wanted a machine you could grow with, right?
And besides, learning how to pull a basic shot with the Bianca is quite straightforward. In fact, I recommend you do that before you start experimenting. You can program your preinfusion time electronically, and just leave the flow open until you get to the point where you know exactly what grind and dose you need to pull a good shot consistently—all other variables being equal. Once you’ve got that dialled in, you can start playing with the pressure profiles and see what you come up with.
As you gain experience, you can move on to different grind sizes and brew ratios.