Next in our series of the crew’s favorite picks covers the world of traditional espresso machines. Find out which single, heat exchange and double boiler machines the team digs.
Single Boiler Espresso Machines
Heat Exchange Espresso Machines
Dual Boiler Espresso Machines
You don’t actually have to break the bank to pick up an espresso machine, love. In fact, there are several great options under the $300 mark that will produce great shots and steamed milk so that you can easily craft your favorite espresso drinks at home.
We asked Jess and Teri to choose a few of their favorites within this price bracket and they selected DeLonghi’s EC155, Saeco’s Poemia & Aroma and Krups’ XP5280. Watch them discuss the features and specs of each of these machines, how they compare and what they do and don’t like about them.
Even if you don’t buy into New Year’s resolutions, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about little ways to improve your quality of life and that of those around you. (We know what you’re like without your morning coffee. It’s okay, this is a safe place.) Why not start with a commitment to make better coffee in 2013? Here’s a list our best selling gear from last year to help you get started!
Saeco Aroma Black – $229 Stainless Steel – $259
Compact and durable, the Aroma is a great entry-level espresso machine. It’s extremely easy to use, and the pressurized portafilter and included pod adapter will have you brewing with E.S.E. pods, pre-ground espresso, or freshly ground beans with ease.
Saeco Via Venezia Black – $299 Stainless Steel – $349
The Via Venezia and Aroma share the same internals therefore they function almost identically, but the Via Venezia offers some slight improvements: larger capacity water reservoir (98 oz), steam wand with more mobility, and more clearance between the drip tray and brew head so you can brew into larger cups. This little workhorse will keep you caffeinated with no problems.
Breville Infuser BES840XL – $499.95
The Infuser is the only espresso machine in this price range to offer an internal PID, and while it’s not programmable, it stabilizes the brew temperature for perfect shot extraction. With built-in pre-infusion, commercial style steam wand, and compact stainless casing, you’ll be proud to have this on your counter top.
Rancilio Silvia – $629 with PID – $879
Simple, reliable, durable. The Silvia is one of the best sellers in the home espresso market and it’s a great machine on which to hone your craft since you’ll need to be precise with your grind and tamp. Upgrade to the installed PID version for programmable temperature control.
Saeco Syntia SS Superautomatic – $849
The Syntia is a compact and stylish superauto that offers the convenience of automatic espresso brewing paired with manual milk steaming – perfect for folks who order extra-hot lattes. With Saeco’s removable brew group and Intenza water filter system, it’s also easy to maintain and a great option for those who need a little extra help in the morning. ☺
Crossland CC1 – $699 (now 10% off!)
A PID comes standard with this single boiler, which let’s you customize brew and steam temperature, pre-infusion time, and volume. We love the stainless steel casing, thermo-block enhanced steam to switch quickly between brewing and steaming, and the programmability for this price point.
Breville Double Boiler – $1199.95
When you’re ready to brew and steam simultaneously, you’re ready for this bad boy. With an easy to use interface, you can program the electronic PID with extraction temperatures, volumetric control, and pre-infusion duration.
Nuova Simonelli Oscar – $1050
If you think you need a dual boiler for simultaneous brewing and steaming, think again. Heat exchangers like the Oscar provide similar benefits at a lower price point. This machine has great steam pressure, a large water reservoir, and is also available as a direct connect machine. It’s available in a sexy metallic red as well – vroom vroom.
DeLonghi 23450SL -$1499.95
This is one of DeLonghi’s newer superautomatics on the market, and if you are a bleary eyed zombie before your morning java, you will appreciate its one-touch functionality. It produces some of the hottest coffee we’ve seen from superautos.
Saeco Exprelia -$1899
This one-touch dual boiler is streamlined and compact, and we love that if offers both one-touch functionality for auto-frothing milk or manual steaming with a stainless steel steam wand – no panarellos here. Right now we are offering a year’s supply of coffee with the purchase of a new Exprelia!
Rocket Cellini Premium Plus – $1799 Giotto Premium Plus – $1899
Hand craftsmanship, a commercial grade E61 brew head and high polished stainless steel seduce many an espresso lover to bring the Cellini or Giotto Premium Plus into their lives. You’ll be extracting delicious shots and impressing all your friends with this one.
Sky’s the Limit
Rocket R58 – $2699
You’re ready to take it to the next level with this powerhouse. The dual boilers work independently to stabilize the espresso boiler, and maximize steam pressure without compromising shot quality.
Saeco Xelsis – $2999 or Xelsis ID – $3199
The only thing missing from these superautomatics is the ability for them to read your mind…coming in 2015 (Just kidding!) Right now you’ll have to be satisfied with the ID’s fingerprint recognition technology to access your drink profile and create beverages at the touch of a button.
Izzo Alex Duetto II – $2250 Duetto III – $2495
This dual boiler has commercial quality components, electronic PID control, and the option to plumb into your water line. It’s new older brother, the Duetto III offers an upgraded fit and finish, larger drip tray, and stainless steel cup rails. Both solid performers can take your java to the next level.
There will be a day in our future — perhaps distant, perhaps not — in which we will seriously regret the little robots we have allowed to take over our lives. Sure, it may seem a far-fetched form of paranoia straight out of a whole slew of science fiction films, and sure, these one-touch superautomatic espresso machines aren’t going to hijack your space ship or implant themselves in your brain … but this is where it begins, friends. This is where it begins.
Show your DeLonghi superautomatic espresso machine how deeply you care for it by … well, caring for it! Their recently introduced Coffee Care Kit gives you all the goodies you need, specially formulated for your DeLonghi machine.
Watch Gail take us through what’s included in the kit.
If you’ve ever wondered about the finer points of the coffee pucks created by superautomatic espresso machines, we’re here to put that mystery to rest. Finally!
We setup three different machines — the Saeco Syntia, the Jura Ena 4 and the DeLonghi Magnifica S — to grind at their finest and dose their maximum quantity, then we compared them side by side. Check out how they differ in grind, consistency and dose.
Earlier this week, Gail and Kat whet your appetite with an overview of the EC155, BAR32, EC270, EC702, ECO310BK and kMix. Are you still craving more? Wondering about shot performance, steaming functionality and other nuances between these machines? As a newbie to Seattle Coffee Gear, here’s my take on the Delonghi single boilers. Let’s start with the similarities:
Ease of Use: All of the single boilers have the same basic functionality, and are extremely easy to operate. They all use pressurized portafilters and include plastic tampers (all uptamp excluding the kMix). The EC155 and BAR32 have a dial to power on and select either steam or brew functionality. With the EC270, EC702, ECO310BK and kMix, these were updated to 3 buttons vs the dial. One push (or turn), and you’re good to go!
Shot performance: I used illy Medium Roast Espresso in my testing, and overall shot performance is comparable across these models. I noticed slightly less crema from the EC155, but aroma and shot temperature (130-135 degrees) seemed on par.
Milk Frothing: All of these models come with slightly different panarellos, which make frothing a breeze. The average time for milk to reach 140 degrees was 45-50 seconds. The panarellos all have limited mobility, and smaller pitchers work best, especially for the EC155 and BAR32. You won’t get a velvety microfoam from these wands, but there was no difference in foam quality across the board.
Now, on to the differences:
EC155: This has the smallest footprint of the bunch, but with that comes extremely low cup clearance – nothing but a small shot glass will fit under the brew head unless you remove the drip tray. While none of these machines include a solenoid valve, this machine delivered the wettest puck.
Bar 32: The retro styling of this machine is the only thing setting it apart from the EC155, and with that comes slightly higher cup clearance.
EC270: This machine marries the styling of the two previous models – with the studded metal top from the EC155, and the Bar32’s rounded lines. Crossing the $100 threshold gets you a passive cup warmer and a side knob for steam control.
EC702: Stainless steel casing sets this machine apart, and it has the largest footprint of the group. It also delivered the driest puck!
ECO310BK: If you want rounder lines, a passive cup warmer and a monster drip tray, this is your best bet.
kMix: Its compact design packs a punch with great cup clearance, shorter recovery time between shots and nice build quality. This model also has an upgraded portafilter with rubberized grip.
So, after all this testing, which single boiler would come home with me? It mostly boils down to aesthetics and space. With little counter space to spare, I’m sold on the kMix’s small footprint and cup warmer. For under $200, I’d place my bet on the EC702, but I’m a sucker for stainless and straight lines.
We asked Gail to set these guys up and give us a side-by-side feature set comparison between the EC155, BAR32, EC270, EC702, ECO310BK and kMix. Watch as she breaks it all down into wonderful, bite-sized pieces.
As you know, it doesn’t take much to make us happy, but something we love more than anything is when a manufacturer gets a little bit crazy with its bad self and releases a piece of equipment unlike others we have tested. DeLonghi’s new EC860 is a sort of hybrid between traditional espresso machines and their robotic counterparts, featuring standard espresso extraction with the option to automatically froth the milk.
Watch as Gail talks to us about its features, then demonstrates shot extraction, frothing with the wand and making a one-touch (aside from all the touching involved with grinding and tamping, of course!) cappuccino with its automatic frothing option.