Yes!! We love it and it’s taken the baton from the Crem in our opinion.
Pressure profiling is a big thing in home espresso and until 2020, you really needed to spend the best part of $10K to get yourself a good, albeit flawed one. Then came the Crem LFPP.
The Crem did some really good things with its rotary pump, but you needed a very thorough read of the user manual to drive it and if you wanted to roll your own profile, you either tried two-handed shots with the leva and the knob on the side and then saved what you had done (clunky), or you wrote a text file and then saved that to a USB and then loaded it via the port in the rear of the machine. Somewhat too fiddly for ours- but it did what it did really well and for under $5k.
Bring on 2021
Enter the new VBM Domobar Super 2B and to our astonishment, you can spend similar money to have one of them. Just wow.
So how do you rate it?
For mine, good software and interfaces are intuitive- you don’t need to read the manual and there is no doubt that in this respect, VBM have excelled and produced a gear pump (read $$$$ here for that tech.) machine which retails at under $5k!
Up onto the bench, switch it on and let it warm up (and this was super rapid for an e-61 at under 15 min) have a look over the beautiful colour display and in a minute or two, I had switched on, found a slot, loaded a profile I really like and use regularly on my Rocket Espresso R Nine One and there you have it- shot o’clock…
In the cup, it looked really good. For giggles, I ran exactly the same profile, same dose and same bean against the VBM on the R Nine One.
So what was in the cup?
The R Nine one is a $10k machine and looks and performs like one. Over 2 years later, I still rate it as the best single group machine in production. Period. I have owned them all right up to Slayer and the R Nine One? Better- but boy, this VBM is impressive!
I really, really wanted to taste a difference in the cup and perhaps I did, but this was no blind tasting and what you desire versus what you taste is not necessarily the same thing. In a blind tasting, I honestly think I would struggle. Both were close to perfection for my palate and espresso desires.
There really is so much to like about this brilliant new machine:
- The tank is not too large- it encourages you to use fresh water
- Simple (and also simple mechanically to plumb in)
- Brilliant, easy to use interface offers programable profiles, boiler pressure and the ability to play with a host of other parameters including auto on/off settings.
- Quiet, premium sounding operation via gear pump
- Great and easy to use steam via cool touch wands. This is a quantum leap from the previous Domobar steam wand design
- Slotted side panels which allow it to breathe to keep cool and different design looks via magnetic click on covers which go over them whilst allowing air circulation- covers available are black, white or stainless in Australia and that’s before any custom work gets done to one
- Cool red float in the drip tray tells you when it’s time to empty it
And the niggles:
- You can’t drive a profile manually and then save it. Like the much more expensive ACS Vesuvius, you have to program it via the interface
- Some may want for a larger tank (we see the smaller tank as a positive)
- Lightweight drip tray
- The hot water and steam valve handles feel a little small. In a design sense, the presentation here could have been a little better.
- Average presentation of drip tray cover which looks like it was polished first and then laser cut
- The front panel curves around to meet the drip tray and this presents a small depression which would potentially gather water. This bend in the front panel doesn’t quite follow the matching curve in the side panel. To this point, it seems not to be an issue with our demo machine. Water is not gathering there in operation.
- We hope that the steam boiler element and element seal prove to have longevity as a replacement will not be fun (read $$$).
- Some of the wiring is sloppy. Cable ties and make it neat VBM!
- And lastly, it ships with a poor quality $2 plastic tamper afterthought which is totally unacceptable at this price point and needs to be binned! We will be providing purchasers of this machine the opportunity to purchase a Bogav Craftsman tamper at 50% discount.
- Would I personally buy one ahead of the Crem? Definitely. As always, it’s a personal decision, but this machine offers incredible bang for buck.
- Would I buy one ahead of the R Nine One? Tough one, but no. The R Nine One is saturated group and offers so much more and the build quality is also far better. If you have the budget, it still is comprehensively THE BEST, but the VBM scores a worthy second in this particular matchup.
Overall, we like this machine and our advice is that if you have $4k to $5k to spend, you should have a look over it. We rate it highly.
Like to read more? Just scan the QR code to see the user manual.