Espresso Machine Restoration
The Enrico "Italian Style" CE-12 lever espresso machine came in two forms, the spring assisted model shown in the picture on the right and a more rare, non-assisted style. These machines have a poor reputation due largely to the fact that their relatively low cost frequently puts them in the hands of newer users who often don't have a sufficient grinder or the patience to figure out how to get good results. If you are considering or have already purchased one of these, please know that these machines can make outstanding espresso with the right grind and a little practice. If you have purchased a machine that needs to be refurbished, which most of them do at this point, the most likely issues that you will encounter are that the U-cup piston seals are hard and brittle and no longer seal, and the piston itself may be corroded and pitted to the point it is unusable. The latter will depend on the amount of usage the machine saw more so than on the age of the machine. You will need a decent ($200+) burr grinder that is designed to be used for espresso grind in order to grind fine enough for use with this machine. The basket on this machine is very large while not very deep, thus a coarse grind will give you a cup of brown water with almost no extraction. With a very fine grind you can achieve, an unusually large shot of excellent espresso which, due to its size, is perfect for making large lattes. The machine uses a 1500 watt heating element and has a large boiler, so production of steam is no problem, however the steam wand uses a needle valve and has a single orifice, so getting enough flow to froth milk, while achievable, does take some practice.
Enrico Full Size CE-12 Overview
Enrico Amore CE-14 Overview
The Enrico Amore CE-14 lever espresso machine is the little brother of the CE-12. These smaller machines are more similar in nature to many of the more popular and expensive brands of lever machines and in my view they are a great starter machine. They are missing a few notable features (no pressure gauge, no sight glass, and no portafilter basket retainer ring) that prevent them from being a really great machine, but the simplicity of the design also makes the machine repairable and economical. The pressure/temperature control system works very well which largely offsets the downside of not having a pressure gauge, but many advanced users will see the absence as a major downside. If you have purchased a machine that needs to be refurbished, which most of them do at this point, the most likely issues that you will encounter are that the U-cup piston seals are hard and brittle and no longer seal, and the piston itself may be corroded and pitted to the point it is unusable. The latter will depend on the amount of usage the machine saw more so than on the age of the machine. A high percentage of these machines also have a casting defect (divot in the sealing face) underneath the rear side of the portafilter seal that allows leakage around the portafilter when a shot is pulled. This defect can be easily and effectively repaired by filling the divot with epoxy and sanding it smooth. Check out the FAQ for repair instructions. I have found that this defect often resulted in a machine being used very little throughout its life, so if you have this defect, the rest of your machine may be in remarkably good condition.