Expert Review: Lucca A53 Direct Plumb Espresso MachinePublished on 09/27/2023 · 7 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the espresso machine, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2023.
All photos courtesy of Andrea D.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the espresso machine, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2023.
The Lucca A53 Direct Plumb espresso machine is a solid machine whether someone is a home barista looking to up their game or looking for a lightweight commercial machine. It’s feature-packed, has solid steam power, and has a pretty quick recovery time between shots.
About the gear
- Model: 2023 Lucca A53 Direct Plumb, Black
- Boiler Type: Dual boiler
- Pump Type: Rotary
- Experience: I’ve been working in coffee for nine years — starting in quick service coffee, educating in specialty coffee for six years, and running multi-unit specialty coffee companies. I’m also an avid home barista, constantly pursuing the best coffee I can make at home, and I will try out most tips and tricks. Still, at the end of the day, I’m looking for the easiest way to get the best cup I can.
- When I bought it: August 2023
- Days used: 15
- Cups per day: 3-4
- Grinder used: Niche 64mm burrs, Lucca DF64 64mm burrs
- Coffee beans used: Allegro Coffee, Costa Rica El Volcan medium roast
- Milk used: Whole and oat
- Drink made: Latte, cortado, Americano, cappuccino, iced latte, iced Americano
How it performs
What I was looking for
I wanted a machine that I could plumb in, was volumetric, had options to change settings and fit well on my counter. Coming from working in coffee shops for many years, I was excited to find that I could get everything I wanted in a lightweight commercial machine for an affordable price.
Why I chose this gear
I decided to purchase the Lucca A53 because I really wanted a volumetric machine that felt like other commercial machines I had worked on in coffee shops. I previously used an E61 machine (Rocket Mozzafiato) and didn’t like turning off the water flow at exactly the right time, so volumetric dosing was extremely appealing. I also love that this machine internally is the same as the La Spaziale Vivaldi II — a small commercial machine that has been on the market for years — so it’s tried and true. The A53 is more aesthetically pleasing but still offers the customization and programmability I want.
I also considered the Nuova Simonelli Musica Direct Plumb. I’ve used Simonelli machines in the past, and they’re also great machines. However, the Musica doesn’t feature a rotary pump (rotary being much quieter than vibratory and less maintenance over time). Hence, it’s louder, and the Musica is a heat exchanger machine instead of a dual boiler like the A53.
What I love about it
- Durability: The A53 is extremely durable. It’s a commercial machine that was aesthetically redesigned for home. It’s easy to get parts because they’re pretty standard, and the Lucca (Clive Coffee) manufacturer is extremely responsible and helpful with any issue I may have. The A53 also comes with a three-year parts and labor warranty for home use (one year for commercial), which is pretty unheard of for espresso machines. Having a rotary pump means I’ll never have to replace the pump (vibratory pumps get replaced every 5-6 years, depending on use). The intervals of the machine are well-placed and easy to access by a front, back, or side panel.
- Time to heat up: The brew boiler is rather small, so this machine technically can pull shots in under 10 minutes, but as with any espresso machine that isn’t thermoblock, one wants to wait at least 20-30 minutes to let all metal components in the machine heat up properly. Ideally, one should always leave the machine on, especially in a commercial setting. The rubber gaskets/pieces and the metal tubing don’t like constantly heating up and cooling down. One will get more durability out of a machine by leaving it on instead of turning it on and off daily.
- Efficiency: The steam boiler can be turned off if someone is an espresso-only drinker. The A53 can only be used with 15a power (previously, one could choose 15 or 20a), but that’s a good thing. The machine efficiently alternates between heating the brew or steam boiler to maximize energy efficiency.
- Heat control: The A53 features digital temperature control, with a 1° temperature control adjustment on both the brew and steam boiler. So far, this seems accurate. I haven’t changed the steam boiler temperature yet.
- Size: This machine will fit under standard counters, which is one reason I chose this over the Musica. It’s relatively compact, given that it’s a dual boiler. It’s not the smallest espresso machine but the smallest commercial machine. The water line is directly underneath and in the center of the machine.
- Pre-infusion/Post-infusion: Yes, the pre-infusion is included and is programmable between 0-8 seconds.
- Ease of use: This machine is extremely easy to use. I’m used to commercial equipment and an E61 machine, and this feels more like a standard commercial espresso machine.
- Features: The machine’s top gets very warm for warming cups, which is very nice. It’s also a very easy machine to get into if someone wants to install their suggested shot timer.
- Home/Commercial: This machine is ideal for home and commercial use.** **The A53 is commercially rated and carries a one-year commercial warranty. It only takes 20-30 seconds to recover between shots of espresso, which is fantastic for a low-volume commercial use like a coffee trailer or pop-up.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Steam Wand: The stock steam wand is not cool touch or insulated. Milk dries out and crusts extremely quickly, and I need to use a wet towel to clean it off (not a big deal). I don’t love the amount of water that accrues in the steam wand that needs purging before steaming (purge is needed for any machine; this one just has more water than I’m used to seeing). There is an option to add a cool touch, insulated steam wand for an extra charge that takes care of these issues. But, the stock steam wand is very powerful. Easily used to get microfoam and poured latte art within a few tries of getting used to the steam wand (I can adjust the pressure).
- Other: I wish the dose buttons were a little larger, and a digital readout screen with a shot timer would make this machine perfect. However, it's very straightforward once one gets used to this machine.
Favorite moment with this machine
So far, my favorite moment was that first drink (after dialing in espresso and practicing on the steam wand a few times) because it brought me so much closer to the drinks I used to make when I was a barista in specialty coffee shops. My previous E61 machine was really nice but had a different feel and taste than a commercial machine. It was a true “aha!” moment. I knew I finally had found what I was looking for in an espresso machine.
Value for the money vs. other options
Nothing else compares to this dual boiler, rotary pump, and volumetric machine. Internally, this machine is the La Spaziale Vivaldi II. Still, Lucca does a great job by adding better accessories than the Vivaldi, making the home's aesthetics look more pleasing. Customers can also order this machine with luxury wood panels and a wood portafilter for ultimate aesthetics.
The closest machine I would compare this machine to is the Nuova Simonelli Musica. The Musica runs almost $1,000 more than the A53, and one still gets a vibratory pump and a heat exchanger. The A53 could be the same price as the Musica, and I would still pick the A53 over the Musica.
The Lucca A53 is a high-quality machine that delivers so much bang for one’s buck, whether someone is looking for a great home machine or a light-volume commercial machine. It’s quiet, consistent, and boasts incredible features and specs, especially for the price.