on July 6, 2009
For the money this is an excellent machine for non-commericial use. My spouse is totally hooked on lattes. We usually make 2-20 ounce lattes at one time; although, we have made 3 sets of 2-20 ounce lattes back to back. The Capresso is fast. The espresso is flavorful and hot. The steamer quickly heats the milk to perfection and creates as little or as much froth as you prefer.
During the last 20 years, we have had 6 or 7 different espresso machines ranging from $40.00 to $180.00 in price. This one which retails for $105.00 (we paid less on Amazon)is the best. It is easy to use and creates exceptionally good coffee drinks.
A word of caution for any machine you purchase: READ the INSTRUCTIONS. The directions for each machine differ slighty. My caffeine addicted hubby overfilled the water chamber on a very expensive espresso/cappuccino machine and broke it.
The Capresso 303.01 is the machine I would recommend to friends and family. We are extremely happy with this machine.
UPDATE January 2012: We are still loving this machine. After at least twice a daily use (sometimes abuse), it is just starting to act a little tired. The carafe was replaced due to human error. Apparently glass breaks when dropped into a sink. (Amazon had the least expensive replacement.) The steamer is still going strong. Recently I have noticed that the espresso is not brewing quite as hot as it had been for the first 2+ years. Other than that our espresso machine is functioning well. When this machine finally dies, I plan to replace it with another 303.01. The price is currently at an all time low.
on January 3, 2010
So I bought this machine because of the price, expecting it to be a piece of junk or perhaps a surprise. As the directions in the box say, this is an entry level machine. After using it, I think they are correct, although that is not a bad thing at all.
The espresso is very good, although it does not create much crema. I have had better espresso in Italy, but I really bought this to make cappuccinos with and $59.99 is cheaper than a flight to Florence. It is also very dependent on the type of coffee you use (I purchased Illy's espresso ground in decaf - amazing! I was very, very surprised with the quality of the coffee - yum!).
I became very, very frustrated with the frother, even purchasing an aerolatte frother to see if I could live with that type of froth (btw - I can't. There's nothing like steamed froth). The frother seemed inconsistent at first. Most of that is my lack of experience frothing, which after reading online the various debates and instructions, perhaps the best advise was to buy a gallon of milk and get started because it does take some practice. BUT I had an amazing discovery, and perhaps this will help you too:
1. I took off the plastic attachment and am just now only using the metal wand, and am having very few problems. I just couldn't seem to get the hang of the plastic gizmo which is supposed to make it easier. But the metal wand by itself works great!
2. Start with cold milk and froth first (Don't follow the company's directions of heating the milk first and then frothing. Perhaps this is correct, but I couldn't get a consistent froth - either me or the machine, can't say.). The milk will heat naturally with creating the froth, and as soon as you are done with your froth, you can finish it off by putting the wand deeper in the milk and completing the steaming.
3. When frothing, hold the container by it's body, not by a handle, and don't let it get any hotter than you can comfortably hold. If the milk gets too hot, the froth will start to disappear. It's got something to do with chemistry - if you're interested, there are lots of sites online that go into excrutiating detail.
4. Directions say that nonfat or 1% are the best choices of milk. Online, they say 2% or whole milk. I would say, go with the higher fat content. They do in Italy, and look at you funny if you ask for nonfat. The frothing seems to work better with a little fat and the cappuccino tastes really wonderful this way.
5. Making these things take a little time. Not something you want to do if you're in a hurry to get to work.
6. Also, you need to stay and watch the thing - get involved. Frothing is quick (about 30 seconds), but you have to concentrate and not get distracted with other things. You have to pay attention or you will ruin your froth.
7. The process of making the espresso requires that you watch it. Sorry, but you can't go and do something else.
In answer to the irritable person that said it took a lifetime to drain the steam out of the machine to make more cappuccinos, here is my response to that:
1. It does NOT take a lifetime - about 5 minutes total. Put a tall glass underneath the steaming wand, turn the steam up all the way, and leave it alone. You can make more cappuccinos after that.
In answer to the other irritable person who said their coffee tasted burnt, here is my response:
1. What the heck are you doing? Perhaps not reading the directions? If you let all the water filter through like you would a coffee pot, it will taste burnt (and the instructions tell you that clearly). You have to follow the directions, perhaps read them a few times, and wait for the pot to either fill to 2 or 4 cups (making sure you put in the right amount of coffee).
Anyhow, I am keeping the machine. I am THRILLED to be able to make cappuccino's at home. It was really fun to be able to offer fresh cappuccinos for desert on New Year's Day dinner, that was truly delicious and an appropriate ending to a gourmet meal. They really are delicious.
I can see how eventually, I will want a more expensive machine that is perhaps more sophisticated, but for the time being, it serves the purpose just fine, making a delicious cup, giving great pleasure and relaxation, and letting me learn how to properly froth milk.
UPDATE Jan 5, 2010: My husband mentioned that the metal which holds the coffee was kind of funky looking. I started getting nervous, thinking that perhaps it might be aluminum, so I called the company. The company informed me that both the water boiler and the thing that holds the coffee ARE aluminum (not true for all the capresso products, but true for this lower end model). They come in direct contact with your water, get heated, and therefore, your coffee. I was trying to avoid aluminum products due to the uncertainty of the metal (there seems to be links to alzheimers and aluminum - although not conclusive, FDA is ok with it, but probably not worth the risk). I'm probably going to return the machine as I am just too paranoid to take chances. Thought you all should know BUT it does not change my opinion of the quality of the cappucinos should you choose to buy it. I may purchase a Capresso steam frother instead (which is mostly plastic), and a stovetop unit made of stainless.
on March 9, 2010
I just made my first cup of cafe mocha with this new machine and it was almost perfect. Yes I frothed the milk (I left it too cold and too much milk left, but more on that later). Just follow the instructions and it's almost impossible to mess up. I also made it at my office early in the morning and I can do it quietly (I couldn't believe it, just a couple whistles from the steamer during frothing and that was it until I had to vent at the end).
Here are some tips to those negative aspects I have seen reviewed to date here:
The double lock cap is not a problem it is intuitively obvious how to use it. It is placed on in one spot, pushed down (it just sets down really) and then just tightened???
The too cold problem may be that during the milk frothing you don't get the milk warm enough (160+ degrees). Also, it may help to let the espresso start just until it covers the bottom of the carafe then swith to steam for frothing, then switch back to fill carafe to your level. Also clean-up at the end while my almost perfect cafe mcoha sat in my perfect large cup helps cool it off.
To froth go here [...]. I removed the tip from the steamer like one person suggested (it is a rubbery thing that just pulls off) and I made perfect "microfoam", just not enough of it because like an idiot I used a 12 ounce coffee mug instead of a good cheap 20 oz. milk pitcher. I made good foam almost overflowing, but not hot enough. I'll get the thermometer for the next cup.
Also the espresso holder (basket and filter holder) are aluminum. If you don't like aluminum, the basket from a Krups 963/A fits perfectly (a magnet sticks to it, but I don't know what it is made of?).
I use starbucks mocha mix (2 heaping teaspoons seem just about right for 4 cups espresso) for cafe mocha. I may try skinny Caramel Macchiato someday. I'll add updates after I have used it for a while, but initial indications are all positive.
on January 3, 2010
I got this wonderful machine for Christmas and have been using it nearly every day. I am a college senior and aspiring medical school student, so I'm hoping it lasts me a while. I'm so happy to be making my own cappuccinos and espressos using the delicious Illy brand that they used in Italy, France, and Greece when I was abroad.
I really don't understand some of the negative reviews--I have no problem getting the boiler cap on (you just have to make sure it's aligned), have never burnt my espresso (follow the instructions and don't run all the water through!), and releasing steam (for 1-2 shots) only takes about a minute.
Pros: Small, sleek design. Easy to clean. FAST. Comes with a scoop/tamper-in-one. Good for one person, and for entertaining a few guests. You can control the strength of your coffee. Frother is easy to use--I love my froth. Not messy.
Cons: For me this is not a con because I can't drink things that are too hot, but like a previous reviewer said, the espresso is a bit on the warm (not hot) side if you're only making one shot. Also, it is slightly annoying to clean off milk residue from the silver froth wand, but I just do it immediately after use and it's fine.
This is my first espresso/cappuccino machine, and all in all, I think it's a wonderful, easy to use machine.
on April 18, 2011
This is the second Capresso, exact model I have purchased. I make several lattes a day and literally wore out
the first machine after several years. I was so happy with the machine, I have purchased it twice. I have worked in coffee houses and I have tried four other home models. But they did not meet my standards of the quality of the espresso it produced. I like to pack my coffee grounds, which gives a stronger and more uniform usage of the coffee. Many machines do not have the pressure needed to do this job. This Capresso does. No unused coffee with this machine. This machine DOES require a break in period. 6-10 espressos. It also requires patience in learning how to use, if you are not familiar with making lattes. I fill my four cup espresso with water all the way up to the steel rim, (which you can see in the photo). I set my machine right in the middle between espresso and steam. When you have two cups brewed, don't move the setting, but start steaming the milk. This process continues with the espresso making while still having enough water left to steam your milk to the correct temperature. Good luck. Enjoy.
on December 30, 2009
I received this machine as a Christmas present from my wife. After reading the directions (a must) and running out to the supermarket for a canister of Illy espresso and carton of skim milk, I was ready to make my first cappuccino, braced for a bit of trial and error. My worries were all for naught. The machine worked as advertised and the frothing wand frothed up a perfect pot of milk.
While it's capable of making great cappuccinos and lattes, I've yet to extract a first-rate shot of espresso worth drinking black. I'm still experimenting with grind, brew strength, tamping and a few other variables, but I don't expect this machine to be able to do what an experienced barista with a $10,000 machine can do. I've worked with such machines and know how tricky it is to extract the perfect shot.
If frothed milk and the occasional glug of flavored syrup is your thing, this machine is capable of delivering better-than-Starbucks results. But if you demand your espresso straight up with a perfect crema that sticks around until the far-from-bitter end, you'll need to buy a bigger, better machine.