Izzo Alex Duetto

The Izzo Alex Duetto - A new dual boiler machine from Grupp Izzo

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Some History

Rodney (the owner of Bella Barista) and I have talked about a twin boiler machine for a few years now, but the serious discussions were over dinner with Antonio (Export Manager at Gruppo Izzo) and Rodney Binley (Bella Barista) during October 2006. I felt Izzo had the opportunity to turn the existing Alex into a dual boiler machine, that at the time, would be difficult to better in the prosumer market. Of course at that time the name Duetto had not been coined. The problem was going to be persuading technical and financial divisions within Gruppo Izzo that such a venture was achievable and even worth doing. Rodney Binley at Bella Barista was very keen to push hard for the machine, borne from an interest in coffee generally and a belief that this was a machine the market wanted. I felt that if certain “design rules” were followed, then the difficulty and expense could be minimised. However, make no mistake, bringing a new machine to market is expensive, no matter what advantages you already have.

I can summarise these design rules as follows (and these of course evolved over time)

  • It should use the same case and frame as the existing Alex (which it almost does, the frame is modified slightly, with hole or two extra)
  • It should be no bigger than the existing Alex, whilst still retaining ALL the features including dual water (tanked or mains plumbed)…a tough challenge
  • It’s was initially thought the Izzo Vivi Boiler could be used for Steam/Hot water and the HX unit within it to preheat the water. I am fairly sure the prototype made around Christmas 2007 did that.
  • The Brew Boiler should be at least 0.75cc
  • It should have PID control
  • It should be electronically simple, no very expensive components to replace, as existing Izzo machines are very competitive with respect to spares costs.
  • Many of the existing components and parts should be common across the range where possible
  • It should avoid the perceived problems of other dual boiler machines. I had reviewed a few and saw quite a few areas, where I felt things could be improved.

It all went rather quiet for quite a while, but Antonio was battling away trying to persuade Gruppo Izzo that this should be built, along with considerable pressure from Bella Barista, who were convinced there was a market for the right machine and felt the time was right to produce one. Around October 2007 it was certain a machine was going to be produced and the e-mails started. I sent some stuff covering how existing machines worked, areas I felt could be improved and some other stuff that was new (at the time).

Around Christmas 2007 I heard a prototype had been built.

I never saw the prototype, so can only guess at some of it. They had a working twin boiler machine, had mounted the pump upright to squeeze it all in and I understand were using a Vivi boiler. There were two areas of disappointment for me.

  • The brew boiler was only 0.5litre (as in the Dalla Corte Mini, or the La Spaziale Vivaldi), I felt this was barely OK, but really wanted to see a minimum 0.75litre boiler
  • There was no PID, the temperature was fixed

There were a few other things and I think I made my feelings clear! Izzo went back to the drawing board and continued with the design. I was hopeful that the prototype was simply a proof of concept and not the future machine.

Machine Serial No….0001

Some months ago, I got more details of the final design and machine 0001 was going to be created! The designers had done a fantastic job.

  • PID (Gicar custom built unit)….wow
  • 0.8l Brew Boiler, custom made…….great!
  • Brew Boiler water preheat (when steam boiler is on)
  • 1.8l Steam Hot Water Boiler, custom made (it actually looks bigger, I must measure it)….fantastic
  • Thermosyphon taken from the correct part of the brew boiler….thank god!
  • Rotary Pump….excellent
  • Tanked, or mains plumbed at the flick of a switch
  • Proper drain system already built in
  • Increased Group to drip tray height (around 0.5-1cm, but it does help a lot)
  • Solid state switching for Brew Boiler, Pressurestat for steam/HW Boiler
  • Simple electronics, really the PID and solid state switching were the major changes
  • Same Huge Drip tray of the MKII Alex
  • Pump is much quieter
  • Powerful heating elements 1kW brew, about 1500kW steam.
  • Inside the same high quality components and wiring.
  • Even mounted the Vacuum breaker on an extension tube (something I had suggested a long time ago for all their machines)
  • All stainless steel case and frame
  • E61 Group (so you have the nice soft progressive preinsufion step of the E61), so all your existing stuff fits and it's a recognised standard
  • Seperate Brew and Steam pressure guages
  • Balljoint steam wands (and of course it's a very powerful steamer)

The Izzo Alex Duetto Arrives

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the machine….of course I wasn’t going to get 0001 was I? It had arrived in the UK and Martin (Mole) and I went to Northampton in early May 2008 to collect it. I did not want to risk couriers. Here is the serial number of my machine.


It had everything I could want in a dual boiler machine, with a few exceptions:

  • Insulated Boilers
  • The Ability to switch the Steam/HW boiler on or off, independently of the brew boiler1

Well luckily, with everything kept simple, I have to admit to already having modified the machine to allow me to switch the Steam/HW. It’s a temporary mod and fully reversible….until I drill a hole in the frame! Of course to protect your warranty when you get yours, you may not want to drill holes in the frame and add this mod. I will be posting pictures of how I have fitted the temporary mod, which utilises existing holes and takes around 10 minutes to fit….but of course would never endorse you doing this fully reversible modification. I am hoping that Izzo may fit this modification as a standard feature in the first batch of machines, fingers crossed?2

Boiler insulation is really simple and there are a few articles in this Wiki that cover it. I needed to take all the internal shots without insulation, but will probably insulate both boilers in the next few days.3

The quality of shots from the machine is excellent. Using a coffee I am intimately familiar with I was able to get pours that were richer and thicker and smelling/tasting much fuller in flavour. I can only put this down to the temperature stability during the pour and the ability to hit the right temperature for the coffee. The temperature of the water at the group was incredibly stable at even relatively large volumes. I did take measurements with and without a proper coffee puck. As usual, click on images to enlarge

Here is a quick look inside:


A shot of the other side, please ignore the grey cable, that's my own little modification (I couldn't help myself). Brew Boiler 0.8L clearly visible, as is 25A solid state switch and rotary pump.


It's the only machine built at the moment, but it won't be long before they are available. Bella Barista I believe are getting 6 machines only and the initial production run is only around 10 machines, the balance will be going to various resellers around the world. Please bear in mind my machine is the first one, I have already modified it, although I have tried to avoid showing those modifications and some things have already been fed back to production.

More to come as I get familiar with the machine….but at the moment…I’m loving it.