Hey,

 

I have searched and scoured this site while unsuccessfully attempting to answer a question for myself: which is the "better" machine, a Rancilio Classe 6 or NS Aurelia (not WBC version)? My espresso tech here sells and services both, but I'm having a hard time getting a good answer out of him... he usually says "Rancilios are rock-solid, the Aurelia is more expensive." More expensive meaning about a $1,500 price difference between the two, and this is including install, filtration, etc. He is a straight tech — one with a great reputation among the biggest roaster and café owner in the region — but not a barista, so there are some things he doesn't feel comfy commenting on. 

 

Quick background: I have been in the coffee business for six years, about four of which were operated in a sort of ignorance where espresso is concerned. My shop has gone from $65,000 in annual sales to well above $250,000 in that time, and in a small city to boot. We've been running the same Astoria SAE that was there when I purchased the existing business, and as of late have really learn to deal with some of its flaws -- the steam wands, for some reason, are particularly painful to operate. 

 

Anyway. The one experience I had behind a Rancilio was an Epoca; I liked the steam levers, but maybe I would like the Aurelia's better? Who knows. Anyway, I get the impression that the "consensus view" around here would be to go with the Aurelia... What I am looking for, I suppose, is some informed opinion on this. (And yes, I know, La Marzocco is the best. Put that out of your mind.) 

 

Appreciation ahead of time, 

 

--Justin

 

 

 

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I believe you can try contacting and making the 5 hour trip to Atlanta to test a Simonelli.  I have their contact info somewhere here if I find it I will send it your way.

 

I do not own either said machine, but I got to play with both at Coffee fest this year.  I would lean toward the NS.  The Ranc. just does not feel like it is as well crafted in my opinion.

Well I've never used any machines from Rancilio, but do own/use a 2 group Aurelia daily. It's a rock solid workhorse that keeps up with any workload day in/out. Extractions are always extremely consistent provided all other variables are as well. I can pull from both groups while steaming with both wands and it just keeps up without a hitch.

 

I like the overall design of the machine. It is a "true barista" machine (if that makes sense) because of all the features incorporated that really work well when you're working on it for hours. The way the portafilters lock in smoothly, the amount of vision you have when extracting/steaming, the control the steam levers offer, etc. Just a great machine that's not too over the top. My only gripe with it is the shallow drip tray. Not a problem sitting level in a coffeeshop, but we use ours in a mobile operation and having a level place to park isn't always possible.

 

Furthermore, I surely wouldn't claim LM as being the best there is. I've worked on two LM machines and although quite nice, I wasn't overly impressed with either. That would be like saying Ferrari makes the best supercars in the industry... just an opinion and we all have one. 

I'm in agreement with everything that has been said so far.

 

I think it would be a mistake to take your tech's comment as an indication that the Aurelia is any less reliable than the Classe... that is just a good way to describe the Classe 6 - a solid but kinda basic machine.  To be fair, you're kinda comparing apples and oranges though - the Classe 10 is a more direct comparison with the Aurelia.

 

I'd have no qualms about putting either on your bar.  See if you can get your hands on one of each and figure out which feel you prefer.

I appreciate everyone's responses! After starting this discussion last night, I managed to find my way to plenty of info on the Aurelia, and I have to say that I'm really intrigued by a.) the ergonomics and b.) the ability to raise one grouphead to to-go-cup height. Mark Prince's old review of it was telling, too. Problem is there's no similar wealth of info (that I can find) on the Rancilio, but aside from a bigger drip tray, I can't see any real upside to the Classe 6. And while we're at it, I really can't find much upside to the Classe 8 over the Classe 6, aside from a couple minor automations. 

 

This will be a major upgrade for us, in a town where it mostly won't be appreciated. Very few people will notice a big difference in the taste of the espresso, because most of them are having all sorts of syrups added to their drinks, despite my pushing them to do otherwise. :-) But the ergonomics and efficiencies you guys have mentioned will have a major impact on my workforce, I think, which should lead to better service. Ultimately, that's my motivation — a better all-around experience for the customer, as opposed to street cred in the coffee connoisseur community. I'm sure the Aurelia will hands-down beat the constant drip-and-hiss of my old Astoria... but it's worth noting that I have never had the Astoria go down completely, despite having it serviced quite a few times over these many years — tanks are slow and bulky, but they do have their upsides.  

I can't speak to which is a better machine since people tend to have different standards by which to define this.  Yet I can say which I prefer, and that would be the Nuova.  Although we do not have a Classe 6, we have had a few Classe 8s in the shop and barista school, and a few NS Aurelias as well.  Overall, the NS just feels better to work on for hours on end, in my opinion.  Also, I don't know if this is consistent with all Rancilios, but I know that with the way the groupheads are on the Classe 8, you cannot overfill the basket at all!  We ended up buying deeper portafilters to accommodate triple baskets in order to fit enough espresso in there that we were happy with the flavor.  Anyway, just my thoughts. :)

A couple of quick comments.

 

Due to recent upgrades to the Classe 6, the advantages of the Classe 8 are fewer than they used to be.  The Classe 8 has the display, which shows shot times (after the fact, I believe) and makes programming easier. It also has the stainless steel side panels, which dress it up quite a bit.  You do now get the Clever steam valves on both, which are nice.  There are some other upgraded options on the Classe 8 that you'd not be interested in... like the iSteam auto wand.

 

Do note that the Classe machines all now have digital temperature control, vs the Aurelia's P-stat, though I don't believe that the temperature stability at the group is significantly different due to the massive size of the Aurelia's group.

 

I'm not 100% sure how the "tall cup" option works on the Aurelia, it may be a field-changable option to be done by an authorized tech, or it may be a factory option. It surely doesn't have the ability to be moved up and down by the end user.

 

Despite the presence of all of the sugary stuff, your customers will still notice the difference that an excellent shot and beautifully steamed milk make.  Either machine will give you an improved ability in that regard over a very old and it sounds like ailing machine.  Yours sounds like it could certainly use a full refurb if it stays in service.

@Brady

I think the machine needs to be purchased with the groups already decided as far as cup accomodation goes. I worked at a store with two of them and, seeing as we were a high-volume/Starbucks-like operation, our machines had all groups accomodate up to a 16oz paper cup. 20oz could fit, but you had to tilt it to clear the portafilter which sometimes spilled liquids out of your drink.

I vote for the NS hands down. Nothing like it. Always keeping up with the game, and comfortable as hell to work on. It's gorgeous, it's sexy, and it's what I would put in my store. I highly reccomend it.

I have had no experience with Rancilo for many, many years. But I do have experience owning and using a NS in a commercial setting, as well doing lots of significant tech work with them (complete rebuilds). In my opinion, if you are not waffling between hx machines and bd machines, the aurelia is a fantastic machine.

Something to note. The group height variable is done at the factory. Also, the number of extras that can be added to a new machine is amazing. However, I would be inclined to purchase a manual model rather than a volumetric model and save some cash to reinvest elsewhere.

 

Any clue whether you can just get one of the groupheads raised and leave the other low? Seems like that's the optimal setup for a place like mine, which does its share of to-gos but also serves traditionals in ceramics.
Not sure, but for the one at our shop that had the raised groupheads, there were little racks that sat on the tray to raise shot glasses or mugs up.  It was nice to have it flexible.

R. Justin Shepherd said:
Any clue whether you can just get one of the groupheads raised and leave the other low? Seems like that's the optimal setup for a place like mine, which does its share of to-gos but also serves traditionals in ceramics.
Turns out they can do one and one... For a $250 upcharge from the factory. :-)
How do those trays work? Do they lock? Are they heavy, and big enough to fit a latte cup?

Terika said:
Not sure, but for the one at our shop that had the raised groupheads, there were little racks that sat on the tray to raise shot glasses or mugs up.  It was nice to have it flexible.

R. Justin Shepherd said:
Any clue whether you can just get one of the groupheads raised and leave the other low? Seems like that's the optimal setup for a place like mine, which does its share of to-gos but also serves traditionals in ceramics.
We just went through this exact same dilemma - Classe 6 or Non-WBC Aurelia?

After several months with the Classe 6, we decided to switch to the Aurelia, and I was fairly happy with the move overall, for two main reasons:

- The steam wands on the Aurelia are lights out easier to use than the Classe 6. As a trainer, I found that my students were learning and steaming excellent milk foam much quicker on the Aurelia than they were on the Classe 6.

- I prefer the "behind the grouphead" technology on the Aurelia to the Classe 6 as well. It seems more forgiving. "Soft Infusion" they call it, I think. It's basically an automated pre-infuse.

I've used both extensively, and have my preference. That said, the Rancilio Classe 6 is not a bad machine by any stretch. We still sell them and recommend them to people when their needs are best met by that level of machine. I just have a personal preference for the Aurelia based mainly on the above factors.

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