How Does It Compare?
The Gran Baristo line just keeps getting better and better. Built with a dedicated smartphone app, coffee is only a tap away with the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti. The app features an impressive drink menu and a “Help & Manuals” section to provide an extra helping hand. Even with the app, you can still program your drink preferences with the Avanti’s digital display. We have to say, we’d happily take this machine home. If you’re already looking at the Gran Baristo, it might be well-worth the extra expense to purchase the Avanti for the added functionality.
With 18 customizable drink options, the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti makes it feel like the possibilities are endless. Choose from favorites like a flat white, latte macchiato (or even an espresso macchiato), espresso, etc. There’s even an “energy coffee,” which seems to be a very potent Americano (also known as a ‘shot in the dark’). With each of these drinks, you can customize the aroma from very mild to extra strong as well as adjust the volume of coffee and milk. In the “Expert Settings,” you get more specific by adjusting the temperature and taste. Once you’ve got the ideal drink, hit the “Favorite” button near the drink picture and it’ll be saved to “My Coffees” for you to brew again and again.
We took Saeco’s standard latte macchiato sizing and increased the milk to fit a 10-ounce cup. The only annoyance we—to clarify, some of the Crew—had with the settings is the amount is in milliliters and you can’t change it. For those of us who order from the local coffee shop, we intuitively know sizing in ounces. Luckily, you’re already using your phone, so it’s just a matter of consulting the internet to convert milliliters to ounces. Better yet, you can program your espresso using the machine’s interface; simply press and hold the espresso button, release and then press once you have the amount you want. You can also program the amount of milk for milk-based drinks.
One of the overlooked features on the Avanti is probably our favorite—the removable bean hopper. With a fairly large 9.3-ounces, it’s easy to fill it up with beans and later change your mind. In front of the hopper, you simply slide it to unlock and then pull it out. This feature is especially great if your beans have gone stale. Underneath the hopper is the adjustable grind setting, so you can customize your espresso even more! If you have pre-ground coffee, the Avanti also has a bypass doser.
The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti features a carafe to create that one-touch brew you can’t help but love. Select your favorite milk-based drink and it’s made directly into your cup. The carafe holds up to 500 ml (nearly 17-ounces) of milk, which you can remove and store in the fridge for tomorrow’s cup. One thing we’re missing on the Avanti is the ability to customize the milk temperature and frothiness. You can choose the amount of milk in each drink—an awesome feature—but you’re limited to the preprogrammed foam of each drink. Although, if you want to experiment, you can tweak the milk amount to achieve something new.
One-touch brewing is definitely improved by Bluetooth connectivity. The Saeco Avanti app is intuitive and easy to use—we give it a thumbs up! We also appreciated how easy it was to install the app on the Crew’s iPhone and Android devices. While we love the idea of never needing to get out of bed, you’ll still have to get up to put out fresh, cold milk. Another reason to get up is the Avanti auto-rinses when it turns on and off, so your cup will be full of rinsing water. But, hey, the app allows you to multitask more than ever!
In the app, there are three main coffee tabs (color coordinated like the Italian flag) for your coffee: Classic Coffee, My Coffee and Recent Coffees. The beautiful, illustrated coffee icons make it easy to see what you’re getting—in the iPhone app version, when you adjust the espresso or milk volume, the picture will change. The straightforward icons and settings make it easy to get down to business and brew yourself a cup of coffee.
The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti certainly has the style to match its enhanced interface. The brushed stainless steel casing appeals to modern taste and integrates well with modern kitchens. The sleek, rectangular body easily slips onto counters but watch out for it’s deceptive depth—it’s more than 19 inches long! It’s definitely not the biggest machine we’ve seen, but the length might leave the drip tray hanging off the counter. We do like how narrow the Avanti is and thanks to the front-access into the machine we can easily squeeze it next to other appliances. While you can place the Avanti under a cabinet just don’t forget that the water tank and bean hopper will need extra clearance to be removed.
The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti is built with an intuitive app that makes grabbing a delicious cup of coffee a snap. We already enjoy the conveniences that one-touch superautomatics offer, so the addition of an app sweetens the deal even more. The app makes it incredibly easy to adjust your shot temperature, volume and strength to find that ideal espresso—and let’s not forget, you can also adjust the milk amount for an extra rich latte. The Avanti’s definitely on our wish list! What do you think of the latest superautomatic from the Gran Baristo lineup—would you take the Avanti or a different Saeco machine home? Share your thoughts in the comments below.