Lelit Mara X - In Depth Review

* Commissioned Review*

Lelit Mara X In Depth Review Review

The Mara X is my second Lelit. If you check out the review I did on the Lelit Bianca, I mentioned that Lelit definitely beats to their own drum. Their machines do look very similar to the traditional E61 style of machines, but they use many design elements that I find quite a bit different than other Italian made machines.

It seems like in the Mara X’s price point, its main competitor is the Rocket Appartamento. Luckily I also was able to review an Appartamento, so I hope that sheds some insight into what might be the most bang for your buck.

The Mara X arrived in a cardboard box. Packaged similarly but slightly better than the Bianca I received. Upon opening the box, you will find another box which contains a lot of amazing accessories.

I must say, I am impressed with the accessories that Lelit supplies with the machine. Typically a cheap tamper, and a single spouted portafilter which no one ever uses is in the box. Lelit however has an extremely unique portafilter which works great for both single and double shots. I is so much easier to tamp compared to a traditional single spout as well. The tamper which Lelit supplies is similar to a Big Step tamper in my opinion. Very high quality over sized tamper. You might want another, but there is absolutely no need.

A handful of other items such as cleaning tools, backflush blind basket, single and double baskets, water hardness test, etc. are also provided.  One awesome thing to note is that Lelit has started using IMS baskets.  They have been provided for quite a while now although I think very early machines did not.  These are premium precision baskets!  Even the backflush blind is made by IMS.

The first thing I noticed, which I did not realize initially is that the machine is brushed stainless instead of polished stainless like many other E61 machines. To me, the brushed stainless cheapens the machine a bit. The grouphead, steam wand, water wand, and certain accents are polished, so the contrast does look quite good together.

The Mara X is a water tank only machine. The reservoir is accessible via a cover on the top of the machine. The cover is very similar to the Bianca, which is a flimsy piece of sheet metal. The tank however lifts out of the machine quite easily.

Lelit machines come with a cartridge water softener system, these cartridges do wear out over time.  I have seen where people are able to recharge them.  Just google it.  I won't suggest doing so, but it is supposedly possible.   They filter roughly 35 liters of water, so you shouldn't need to change very often.   What I find as a great feature is they have integrated these sliders into the handles of the water tank.  Each time you fill the tank, you move up one notch.  Depending on how hard your water is, you might get more or less life out of these softeners.   Still an amazing feature to help you keep track of the filters life.

The cup warming rack is also very similar to the Bianca. A simple stainless steel grill. There is not much of a ledge to keep your cups safely on top of the machine. It does hold them in place, but many machines have a small cup rail.  The cup warming rack does its job, but is definitely on the more simple end of the spectrum.

Many of the controls on the Mara X are identical to any other E61 machine. An amazing E61 group head which is designed to siphon hot water through the group head to maintain the perfect temperature. The hot water and steam valves are knob style, and very reminiscent of the majority of similar E61 style machines.

The steam wand was not much of an issue for me, but the water wand sits awkwardly next to the group head lever.  It came tucked behind the lever, as show in the first picture.   In order to pull it out, you must raise the group head lever slightly and pull it out.   Once it is out from behind, it is still awkward I think.  I don't see how Lelit could remedy this other than to make the machine larger.  Long story short, it always seems in the way to me no matter the placement.

The power button is unique to Lelit, it is a push button with a ring around the button which illuminates when the machine is turned on. It is definitely a more modern take on the traditional old school toggle switch which is commonly seen still.

One thing that I had never thought much about was the Lelit badge/emblem on the machine. I think it looks good, and the red has a very nice pop to it. I was surprised to find out after speaking with a handful of people that they just really do not like the red badge on the Lelit brand. I guess you either love it or you hate it. I don't think I would allow that to prevent me from picking up the Mara X or any of the Lelit products.

Espresso machine manufacturers are doing something which I think is a great idea. My first Rocket, the Giotto V3 with PID had two pressure gauges. One for the brew pressure and a second for the boiler pressure. Machines like the Mara X appear to only have one pressure gauge, but upon closer look it is 2 gauges in 1. The top part of the dial shows the steam/boiler pressure. The bottom part of the dial shows the pump pressure. The gauge itself is large enough to easily read, and also looks attractive against the polished stainless body.

I am glad to see that manufacturers are opting for larger drip trays, especially with these heat exchanger machines, which I typically like to give a quick group head flush prior to pulling a shot. The drip tray itself kind of has some sharp edges once you remove the grill, but it does have a lot of room, which I do like. All of the Lelit machines use a metal bar/grill style drip tray and cup warming rack. This is kind of a pro/con for me. The pro is that it does not show scratches from cups like a flat piece of polished sheet metal does. I do however find the grill style to be springy and cheap feeling. I personally prefer a flat sheet metal style tray.  Another thing Lelit provides is a wire cup rack which is designed to elevate the cup closer to the portafilter.  Since there is a lot of space between the drip tray and group head, having this riser can come in handy.

The Mara X is a PID machine, but it is kind of out of my normal comfort zone.  Its controls are extremely simple but at first, they didn't make sense to me.  There are two hidden switches that you can find as soon as you remove the drip tray.   The first switch is on the right side of the machine.  Its purpose is to toggle between steam temperature priority mode, and brew temperature priority mode.   Since the Mara X is a heat exchanger machine (HX), there is only one boiler with a heat exchanger built into the boiler.  The boiler only has one heating element.   Depending upon which is most important to you, you are able to select which is most important from a temperature standpoint.  In this case, either brew or steam temperature.  Below, the switch is up into the 1 position, this position is set to brew temperature priority mode.  Similarly if you were to toggle down to 0, that is steam temperature priority mode.   My 2 cents, brew temperature is always more important to me, so I will be leaving it in the 1 position.

Meanwhile, also behind the drip tray on the left side of the machine is a second switch with three positions.  This three way switch allows you to set the PID set points.   Feel free to play around with this, depending upon the temperature you are looking for, you might opt to use this feature.  For all my testing, I did on the 0 position and had amazing shots.

Temperature settings in Brew Temperature Priority Mode:

  • 0 (center): 91-92 degrees C
  • I (Left): 93-94 degrees C
  • II (Right): 95-96 degrees C

Temperature settings in Steam Temperature Priority Mode:

  • 0 (center): 120 degrees C (1 Bar)
  • I (Left): 123 degrees C (1.2 Bar)
  • II (Right): 126 degrees C (1.5 Bar)

Note: when using the steam temperature priority mode, you will want to use a cooling flush to drop the boiler temperature before pulling a shot.

One thing I found extremely odd with the Mara X is the lack of feet on the machine. Even the Appartamento has very shallow but bold feet. It might not seem like a big deal, but when I pull the machine out to fill the water reservoir as well as to clean under/behind the machine, having a small space under the machine is extremely handy. With the lack of feet I was not able to grab ahold of the machine as easily as every other machine I have used. I also do not think it looks as good without feet. This one is up to you on if you like or do not like.

Parting Thoughts:

My overall thoughts of the Mara X are positive!  I really enjoyed using this machine.  It is a nicely sized, and value packed machine.  I know this is why so many people gravitate to them.  The machine is small enough that it will fit into even the smallest of kitchens, and also fit under kitchen cabinets if need be.  It looks like a very premium piece of machinery in the kitchen.  The shots I pulled on the Mara X were amazing!  I recommend using a great grinder with great beans, otherwise you are not going to appreciate this machine to the fullest.  I typically like black espresso, but if a latte or cappuccino is your thing, the steam this machine produces is ample, especially for a more introductory machine, as some of the pro dual boiler machines will steam milk faster than most can handle.  The biggest competitor to the Mara X in my eyes is the Rocket Appartamento.  Both have their pros and cons.  I do think the fit and finish on the Appartamento is leaps and bounds better than the Mara X.   The Mara X however comes with a lot of premium accessories, and the simplified PID system.  It would be a tough call for me to say which one I like more, both are amazing machines for their price point, so I will let you make the choice as to which fits your lifestyle.

The Mara X retails for approximately $1549, check it out at Espresso Outlet! 


  • Awesome accessories included with the machine - IMS baskets, amazing portafilter, high end precision tamper.
  • The machine is quite small, this is nice for small kitchens or people who do not want a huge espresso machine taking up valuable counter space. The Mara X is also short enough that it fits under any standard kitchen cabinet.
  • Power cord is removable, it might not seem like a big deal, but it is very handy when cleaning around your machine, or purchasing a shorter cord if you desire. (make sure to buy the correct wire size if you do this)
  • Large Drip tray
  • Integrated and simple to program PID


  • Lelit sheet metal is very thin and flimsy compared to other machines out there.
  • The drip tray is one of the most awkward to remove and replace I have ever used (especially when full)
  • I do not care for the metal bar/grill style cup rack or drip tray. It feels springy to me and my drip tray did not fit completely flat when I pulled out of the box.
  • Using the PID, you must choose between brew temp priority, or steam temp priority.  There is no way around this being a HX machine.
  • The hot water wand is just totally in the way. It doesn’t tuck away next to the grouphead lever as nicely as I would hope. I just always felt like it was in the way and its location was not well planned.
  • This machine has very short feet. The bottom of the machine sits on the counter with no space below it. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but after having taller feet on my other machines, this drove me crazy when I needed to pull the machine out to fill the water reservoir.
  • The Bianca came with a bottomless portafilter. This isn’t a must, but it is the first time I have ever seen a machine come with a bottomless portafilter out of the box. The Mara X only comes with a spouted portafilter. You might want to pick up a bottomless as time goes by.

Indifferent or noteworthy:

  • You can look as a pro or a con, I personally prefer a polished sheet metal machine. I was not aware that it was brushed stainless until it arrived.
  • Non plumbable, water reservoir only
  • The Mara X is a heat exchanger machine. There is a single boiler with a steam heat exchanger integrated into the boiler. This is a huge pro compared to most single boiler machines as you can go from pulling a shot, directly to steaming milk. The downside to heat exchangers is they can tend to run a bit hot, especially when pulling a shot. So people typically purge the grouphead a bit before pulling a shot. Not a must, but just typical of heat exchanger (HX) machines.

A few items I would recommend you get when you buy your Mara X:

  • A grinder such as the Turin DF64, or the Eureka Mignon Specialita
  • PortaKeepers/TamperKeepers to store your Lelit accessories (Website)
  • A scale such as the Timemore or the Acaia Lunar (Review here)
  • A knock box
  • Tamping mat
  • Milk Pitcher
  • Microfiber cloths to keep the machine looking brand new


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