Welcome to this new article, long-awaited by many, where I will be looking at and analyzing the Lelit Mara X coffee maker, an amazing and innovative home espresso machine. For its price range, let’s look at why I think this is the best espresso machine on the market.
General features of the Lelit Mara X
It has a full satin stainless steel body and feels amazing, very robust, with that premium feel that Lelit knows how to handle; they did a very good job with the design.
This has to be the smallest machine of this style that I’ve seen, which is a big plus for anyone who doesn’t have a huge kitchen or a lot of space to dedicate to it, yet being so small, it feels very comfortable to use. You’re not going to feel like you’re missing out on anything versus a larger machine, which is why I think the design is so great.
To be specific, this machine is about 33 inches tall, 22 inches wide, 41 inches deep, and weighs 18 kilos; it’s a good weight because of the good quality materials, but it’s something you can move easily, it’s not going to cost you that much to move it if you need to.
External components of the Lelit Mara X
Inspecting it from above, we can see at the back and lifting the lid, the water tank with a capacity of 2.5 liters and can be easily removed to fill it. And at the front and top, we see a rack to place some cups and keep them warm.
On the front, we see two knobs, commercial type, for water and steam, with rods that are cool to the touch so as not to burn us and thus facilitate cleaning. In the center, we have the E-61 type group head, with its shower and the commercial filter holder of 58 millimeters, with the double spout characteristic in the Lelit that makes the coffee slide forward.
It comes with four baskets, three different sizes, and a blind filter for cleaning. But something to highlight from Lelit is that they collaborated with IMS to manufacture these precision-made baskets, giving you a noticeably better extraction, which is really to be applauded.
To its right, we have the group lever with which we activate the water if we go up a little and pump in its upper position. To the left, we have two led lights, one that indicates when the water reaches the desired temperature and the other when it is necessary to add water to the tank.
Below is the double pressure gauge, above for the steam pressure and below for the pump pressure. Then the power button is made of backlit steel, the most modern Lelit logo, and below the drip tray, which is quite large, has a capacity of 500 milliliters, all steel with its grid, and is very easy to remove and remove clean.
Once we move the drip tray, we can see two switches, and this is where it gets very interesting; we will see these functions in detail a little later.
Internal components of the Lelit Mara X
The inside of the machine is a work of art, from the quality of the materials to innovative technology.
Mara X is a machine with a heat exchanger and vibratory pump. It has a fairly large insulated stainless steel boiler with a capacity of 1.8 liters. Inside this boiler is a tube that heats the water for the coffee and keeps it separate; this creates a thermo-siphonic circulation that heats the E-61 group and maintains the correct temperature. At the same time, the water for the steam and the water tap is located inside the boiler itself.
Normally heat exchanger machines have only one temperature sensor in the main part of the boiler, but Lelit added a sensor in Mara X inside this heat exchanger tube. This sensor monitors the water temperature for the coffee, and together, they act intelligently to ensure that it remains at the temperature setting you select.
This is a very good thing since the big problem with machines with heat exchangers is that they maintain a very high temperature, and to prepare coffee, it is always necessary to discharge water through the group to cool it, so we never know with certainty what temperature the water will be.
Lelit solved this problem with new technology. Now let’s go back to the switches and see how this works.
What is the new technology applied to the Lelit Mara X?
With the side switch, you can control how you want your machine to work. When it is in position 1, which is how it comes from the factory, it is in coffee mode; with this option, Mara X gives priority and keeps the water temperature for the coffee constant, according to the temperature you determine.
And you can do this by using the other switch on the front that has three positions 0, 1, and 2, where zero is the lowest temperature of 92 degrees, 1 is 94 degrees, and 2 is 96 degrees. This will change according to the roasting style of coffee you are using.
This change does not affect the steam pressure, as in other machines, and when the side switch is at zero, Mara X is in steam mode; it becomes a traditional heat exchanger machine and gives priority to the temperature for the steam.
The front switch will handle the steam pressure, with zero being the lowest at 1.2 bar, in position one at 1.4 bar, and position two at 1.6 bar. You can modify this according to the amount of milk you want to texturize; the higher the pressure, the higher the temperature, so the more water you need to discharge to cool it down before preparing coffee.
My recommendation will always be to leave the setting as it comes with coffee mode since, in addition to maintaining the temperature you choose for the preparation, the pressure for the steam is more than enough to texturize milk, in my experience.
Note: generally, machines with vibratory pumps are very noisy and squeaky; Mara X is not.
Finally, it has a few more good functions, for example, the sleep or standby mode; after half an hour without use, the energy-saving mode is activated, which can be easily deactivated if desired.
Also, following the line of giving importance to the extraction of coffee, if the water tank runs out during use, the pump uses a reserve mode of 1 extra minute so that you do not run out of coffee.
Also, during use, if the sensor detects that it should be filled with water, this does not occur until the extraction is finished so that there are no changes in pressure and you can obtain a perfect espresso at all times.
How does the mechanical pre-infusion of the Lelit Mara X work?
One of the things I like most about the Mara X is its mechanical pre-infusion. To better understand how it works, I’m going to explain it with the complete espresso preparation, so you can follow the steps to see this marvel better:
Preparation of the espresso in the Lelit Mara X
- First, we will fill the tank with filtered water to the line indicating the maximum level. If you do not have good-quality water, you can use the filter in the Lelit accessory box; remember that water is the main part of the drink, so we have to make sure it is of good quality.
- Then we turn it on, ensuring the side switch is in coffee mode, and select the temperature we want. As I use a medium roast coffee, I set it to position 1.
- When the Mara X is in coffee mode, it takes about 25 minutes to heat up; in steam mode, it takes about 40-50 minutes. A good thing to know is that with the Mara X, you can use a smart plug and thus determine a schedule when you want it to turn on or do it remotely from the app.
- When the Mara X has reached the desired temperature, the LED light stops flashing, and we can use it.
- To grind the coffee, I used the William grinder from Lelit, which produces a good grind.
- We will weigh about 18 grams on the scale, distribute the coffee and break some lumps with a tool called WDT, which I highly recommend you buy for all espresso machines.
- Then we compact the coffee with the tamper that comes with the Mara X, which is very good.
- Once the coffee pod is ready, we insert the filter holder into the group, place a scale with a cup and lift the lever to the stop, activating the timer on the scale.
- And now, let’s pay close attention to the pressure gauges; first, we see that the pump is activated; it keeps a few seconds at low pressure and then gradually rises to 9 bar. This is the mechanical pre-infusion that I love, it reduces the possibilities of channeling, and the espressos come out perfect.
This pre-infusion takes approximately 11 to 13 seconds, so it must be considered for the final extraction time. With these 18 grams of dry coffee that we put in, we obtain 40 grams of espresso in a cup, which is the recipe that fits well for this coffee. This recipe will depend on the coffee you are using.
How to modify the pump pressure
It is also worth mentioning that the pressure of the pump can be modified very easily if you want to do so; here is the step-by-step:
- First, we must place the blind basket in the filter holder and turn on the pump by lifting the lever; with this, we can see the pressure it has.
- To modify it, we must make sure, first of all, to turn off the machine and unplug it.
- Then, we remove the top cover, and by removing the screws, we have access to the overpressure valve on the left. It has a nut under the hose that we have to move counterclockwise to the left to lower the pressure and clockwise to the right if we want to increase it.
- After moving it, we plug and turn on the machine with the filter blind, checking the pressure and modifying it again, if necessary, until the desired pressure is reached.
Mara X is designed to prepare all the espressos you need at home without the need to flush to cool the water, as I mentioned before. It stabilizes the temperature between one and a half to two minutes, less than it takes to discard the coffee pod, clean it, and reload it.
When it is in use, we can see that the steam pressure rises, and this is because the machine is heating new water that enters the exchanger. Still, at the same time, this gives a pressure boost to the steam, so if we want to prepare drinks with milk, I recommend first making the espressos you need, and once you have them all, you can texturize the milk at the same time of the last one or after it.
Maintenance and cleaning of the Lelit Mara X
After using the steamer, we should immediately clean the entire filter holder of the basket and then enjoy our drinks. Mara X stabilizes the temperature to continue preparing coffee in less than 15 minutes.
This machine is very easy to maintain, for cleaning is the same as with any other commercial espresso machine, if you do not know what I mean, I recommend you to see the article I did some time ago on this subject, where I show the step by step. Even the Mara X comes with its little group brush and a kit to get you started with cleaning.
By now, I think you must be as in love with this machine as I am; I think it’s an excellent machine, and I think it’s the ideal machine for most people. It looks amazing, has spectacular construction, works great, and has mechanics and technology that make it the best in this price range.
I have nothing negative to say about it; it’s amazing. If you don’t need a machine with a double boiler like its sister Bianca, which we will see later, Mara X is the one for you.
I love this machine because you can add a group pressure gauge and knob and do flow control or manual pre-infusions.
Also, something that I recommend buying a lot is the wooden details of the water and steam knobs, the filter holder, of course, we suggest one without a bottom to be able to see the extraction, and the handle of the group lever and ready, you are going to have an excellent mini Bianca. I think there is nothing more to say; the Mara X is more than highly recommended by me.