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on August 29, 2007
I must confess that I spent a lot of time trying to get a good coffee maker, I had a Krups Single Serve My Cafe for about a year, I was never happy with it anyway. I am the only coffee drinker in my family, so I do not want to shop for a drip 10 cup type of coffee machine, so I bought this one.

Here is my review of this machine:

1. Build quality - Yes, the knob and top cover is a bit of hard to turn, build quality is so so, but I think the inards of this machine is ok, it generate steam quickly and appear to be built with no better or worse quality than many of the steam type espresso machines.

2. Coffee - Here is something that I am really surprise of, I think it makes great coffee, I run through it with three different kind of Ethiopian coffee, to my surprise, I can tell the subtle different among them, this machine produce very good coffee. Coffee is also hot enough contrary to some of the reviews mentioned.

3. Cost - I think this is a very good deal considering I spent more than $100 for a single serve machine but I do not get the enjoyment of coffee from that, I do now.

4. Design - it looks ok and do not occupy a lot of counter space. I actually think it has appeal of its own.

Be aware of the amount of water you pour in, I usually turn off the machine before the last drop get vaporized, otherwise, your coffee will taste a little bit overdone.

I think this is a good machine as long as you treat it gently, it may not have the best build quality but it gets the job done. I am happy.
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on June 3, 2005
I picked this product up at a local store for mid $20's after getting sick of making my coffee with a stove top espresso machine. I couldn't see spending $100+ for something conceptually as simple as an espresso machine. I know someone who got a simple Krupps machine for about $40 years ago and it still works just great. But since I couldn't find anything else in the sub $40 range, I settled on this one.

It makes a fine cup of coffee if you just want to use prepackaged coffee grinds or you use a basic coarse to medium grind. BUT, when I tried to use a very fine grained "espresso" grind on my beans, almost nothing came out. It seems that too fine a grind stops up the filter holes and the machine just doesn't have the oomph to force the water/steam through.

Also, it does suffer from

- a very difficult to turn knob (don't get this product if you have arthritis)

- a caraf lid that won't stay on let alone stay properly oriented

So basically, it's good for making a medium to fairly strong cup of coffee (by my subjective measure), but if you really want something strong and sludgy, this machine won't do the trick unless you want to wait for an hour for it to eventually push enough liquid through.

I guess now I understand why espresso machines aren't cheap. Years of using a really simple stovetop espresso maker led me to believe that they're really simple machines. But perhaps when you try to package it up as an appliance it isn't so straight forward.
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on May 3, 2006
I have read so many negative reviews of this wonderful little moka machine, I must put in my 2 cents. First, this is a stream machine, meaning it makes moka not espresso. If you like Bialetti but want cappuccino instead of cafe latte, then this is perfect. The grind must be close to espresso, finer than for Bialetti, and you must tamp it down, but no tamper included. There is only 1 knob, yes it is stiff, but i don't have arthritis. The round design makes it easy to handle even though it is very light. It descales with...vinegar! How about that, actually a traditional machine. The panarello works, just put in extra "cup" of water for steaming. Make 2 "cups", not 1 or 4, and always start with cold machine, or use very, very cold water. Stop the brewing as soon as moka hits 2 "cups" or it starts to steam instead of brew, then switch the knob to steam for the milk. If you don't, coffee will taste slightly burned. I have owned espresso and moka machines from USD5 to USD1,000 over a period of 40 years. If you like moka, don't waste money on anything more expensive. But, like any machine, read the manual, and experiment if things don't work the way you want. Finally, garbage in garbage out. If you want great cappuccino, use good organic coffee and organic milk.
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on April 17, 2007
One of the biggest complaints with this machine is that the reservoir lid is difficult to open. The manual tells you to release the remaining pressure by turning to either coffee or steamer. Then it opens easily. The knob to select steamer, off, coffee gets easier to use once it is broken in, but I agree, if your hands are not dry, it is a bit slippery.

The manual also gives clear details how to make different types of coffees and a troubleshooter. The frother makes long-lasting tasty foam, and I found the coffee to be plenty hot. I cools quickly because there is no hot plate to keep it warm, but you are only making one cup at a time--why wouldn't you drink it right away?

The coffee I liked in my previous coffee maker didn't taste the same in this machine. I had to experiment with a variety of brands and finally decided on Bustello. Someone else I talked to raved about LaVazza, but I didn't share her enthusiasm for the taste. It's all about individual preference.

I like that with one machine, My husband can make his espresso, and I can have my weaker American style coffee by simply adjusting the amount of coffee vs the water.

I have had my machine almost 6 months and my handles have not broken. Perhaps the other folks contributed to theirs breaking by banging the coffee basket against something to release the grounds. This may have weakened the handle? The glass is thin and you do need to take reasonable care not to break it. The metal parts are not Stainless Steel (except the inner grounds basket)and I found the finish on the frothing tube began wearing off (to what looks like brass or copper? )when I used a scrubby to clean off the dried milk. I have since steamed water with it right after use, use only a sponge and finger nail to clean and have not noticed more wear.

This machine is the same one sold at Walmart as Mr. Coffee (same model #)for $25 and at Walgreen as Signature Gourmet for $20 (the one I bought). It is not going to be made with the finest materials, Folks!

It does make very good coffee, is extremely affordable, simple to use, takes up minimal space on your counter and has held up almost 6 months so far. That's why I gave it 5 stars

EDIT - It is now November 2008 and My coffee maker is still going strong! The knob is easy to turn but the white lettering has worn off. I broke the carafe by throwing groceries against it in a rush. The carafe can be replaced for about $10 but I am using a regular coffee mug. It works fine and the coffee is just as great!. Best $20 I ever spent.
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on March 12, 2008
o.k. let's all get a grip concerning this product.
it cost me twenty-five dollars at walmart three years ago and i and a co-worker draw about twenty shots a day, every day at work (backstage at a theater) and it makes a perfectly fine, strong coffee... not bitter... but no crema... it's not espresso.
it's not supposed to be.
tastes fine black... i use milk and sugar sometimes... sometimes i froth the milk... sometimes i heat it in the microwave... sometimes i pour it over ice and add cold milk... it all tastes fine.
if i want a real double shot of espresso i go to the locally owned coffee house and splurge every week or two.
so i know what really good espresso tastes like... as many of you do.
if you want strong, cheap, good coffee... brew it with this thing using a good quality course grind or a good espresso grind (fair trade would be nice)... don't tamp it down (too tight for the pressure it delivers)... and it you want it to heat up water quickly turn it on before you filter your water and set the grounds into the coffee filter (a couple of taps on a table after you fill it will get the grounds to settle in).
oh yeh, and the carafe will break apart almost immediately, so i've used a big, low profile mug to catch the coffee for all three years... man, what a chore. ha.
as a perpetually starving actor of twenty five years this is a tasty way to get your caffeine cheaply without injecting it directly into your bloodstream.
and to all you espresso fanatics... welcome to the new economic depression...i hope you have already purchased your several thousand dollar machine, time to brew the best cup of coffee you can for the least amount of money at home or at the office for your economically deprived friends ... and let starbucks sink under it's own expensive weight.
if not, get this one and go socialize at a locally owned coffee house when you get an extra dollar or two.
whoohooooo! i'm buzzed already!

Update:

i've used the thing backstage for over six years now and it is performs exactly as described above... never cleaned it... still twenty shots a day... still using the same low profile mug as a substitute for the piece of junk carafe.
i'm trying to kill the poor little thing, but it just won't die.
oh, and welcome to the double dip depression.
aren't you glad that you are buying a home espresso machine to save cash?
shots at the coffee house add up quickly.
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on August 19, 2012
Highest recommendation. Will not last forever. However. I DO NOT consider that a drawback. But I need to get this first tip right out in front for new purchasers:

1) Never, ever use the HANDLE ALONE to "unscrew" the basket assembly or it will go the quickest (just think "cosmetics" for it) Get your hand up underneath to do the job, or the thing will too soon break off in your hand. You can't avoid some pressure on the handle when unscrewing as I've instructed. Its demise is inevitable, but you can still use the basket assembly w/o it, of course. OTHER TIPS TO FOLLOW the following:

Consider me the expert on Mr. Coffee ECM20--it's my third time around for this unique product, which makes coffee tasting about midway between a very good drip and true espresso = great for the price and user-friendliness Great coffee in about 3 min. VERY QUICK and easy, no filters to mess with, and its small size fits anywhere. The only problem is LONGEVITY, or lack thereof. Expect the machine to disintegrate slowly and inevitably until, for me, it's the SWITCH that will finally cease to operate. Then it's time to simply order a new one. It's worth it. After all, the cost adds up to about $10 a year over its lifetime for a convenient and excellent cup of coffee. (the milk steamer thingy on thye down side of the switch BTW works perfectly) I've had many complements, some even to the effect that it was the best mug (I always fill basket to the brim)of coffee that they've ever had. Truly.

2) It's the HEAT, stupid--not really Joe DiMaggio's fault. Perfect engineering would quadruple the price. at the least. So always REMEMBER TO TURN OFF THE MACHINE IMMEDIATELY after each "batch." Set a kitchen TIMER for 5 minutes after you turn the somewhat unhandy KNOB/switch to "coffee" if you have to, in case you're prone to forget. VERY IMPORTANT for helping this little guy to last.

3) TAMPING--no commercial tamper will fit, as some reviewers have pointed out. So here's what I have done: look to your spice shelf and pick one of those supermarket plastic spice bottles whose top will fit the basket rim. Dump out the spice, fill the little plastic (or glass) jar with pennies, lead shot, nails or whatever, and you've got a tamper. Works perfectly for me, though admittedly not very fancy.

4) Always use COLD tap water from the fridge or likewise club soda as I do, to force the machine up to full heat in order to get the hottest steam and compression etc. for that one go-round. I know that sounds a little contradictory vis-à-vis the #2 tip, but no, not if you remember always to turn off the machine after each batch. Get the maximum efficiency out of the coffeemaker while you can, because some parts will inevitably start to decimate anyway.

5) Looking way ahead (because I honestly believe you're gonna get hooked, as I am), KEEP SPARE PARTS from one machine to the next. (As I said, 4-6 years average, if you take care.) I have for instance, among other items, the carafe from my last ECM20 in storage with only the top half of its handle(gives you some idea of how the thing falls apart usually). But the unit still was usable until the switch shut down the whole works. The little espresso-maker DOES take on a kind of personality, I'll admit, because you have to kind of nurse the thing along over the years you have it, so you CAN become kind of attached. Kind of. That's the word--be KIND to Mr. ECM20, and he will be etc. (Also, Gorilla brand black tape will sometimes patch up the two handles for a while, when they start to go. And no one will notice.)

If you want absolutely true extra strong and sticky shots of espresso, with all the hassle and expense such an experience would cost or entail, this is not the machine for you. Go to Starbucks, but at home keep this handy little fellow handy. Believe me it's well worth the price - pays for itself for a full year with maybe one trip to Starbucks, if you have the big latte with a snack, for example. Can't beat that. And the shipping, because it's over 25 bucks, is free from Amazon. Buy it. You'll NOT be disappointed, believe me.
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on April 20, 2010
I am extremely happy with this little espresso machine! I read tons of the reviews before purchasing this, and have some responses that I would've appreciated before I bought this machine.

Knob- I haven't found this to be hard to turn at all, unless you have wet hands or something like that.

Frother- the "frothing attachment" just makes milk ridiculously bubbly. After taking it off, all the difficulty I had trying to froth milk was gone. For a beginner like me, it is good to know how easy it is!

Leaking- the machine hasn't leaked at all for me. It drips if you have excess pressure built up that you don't release.

Cheap parts- don't manhandle the thing and you will be fine! If you jerk on the brew basket when putting it on, it will break. The carafe is glass; don't drop it. Yes, some parts are plastic. It wouldn't be a good idea to step on them or anything. The carafe lid isn't tight, but it doesn't fall off or anything.

Coffee/grind- buy good coffee, grind it for espresso. I went to my local coffee shop, bought espresso beans and asked them to grind it for me. Perfect. No problems.

The only criticism I have for this machine is the serving size. You must make at least two servings. As best I can tell, one "serving" on this machine is about equivalent to two shots of espresso. You can't simply make less, because if you do there won't be enough steam built up to be able to froth the milk. In fact, I usually have to add extra water to make sure I have enough steam.

Read the instruction manual and you will have no issues.
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on November 1, 2005
First of all....

CONS

- Neither it makes good espresso or cappucino with its present design (so, if this what you want it for...DON'T BUY IT)
- does not heat up your espresso or coffee with the steamer / frother, it is a piece of junk
- very hard to turn the knob

Pros

- makes excellent lattes
- no need for filters

But if you like strong coffee (lighter than espresso) or caffe latte (adding milk to the brew) this does a very good job. Better than all the other coffee machines I have used ($15 - $25 ones you find at walmart)

My wife likes only lattes (with stong brew and milk), she never used to like it from any other coffee maker. But this was an instant hit with her.

One hint - you do have to REGRIND the coffee powder you buy off the shelf to get the thick strong brew. This is the way to check it - If the coffee drips ar more than half a cup in one minute, your powder is too coarse, you need a finer grind.

This makes excellent Madras Kaapi (might help any south Indian from tamilnadu)

EDIT - Update As of June 1, 2009

It has been more than 4 years since I purchased this product. It is still making good coffee for us. The handle for the coffee powder holder broke 1.5 yrs ago, but I can still use it. The glass coffee holder broke 2 weeks ago, but I am using a regular coffee mug.
I am very satisfied with the $25+ investment I made and I couldn't expect anything better than this. I grind my coffee v.fine (finer than espresso) and it gently drips for 5-7 mins to make 1 cup of coffee. You need to be careful with the amount of water you add, so that you maintain you coffee's consistency and taste. I had to remove scales twice during the 4 year period to get the steam to flow again through the coffee powder.

I'd recommend this product to any one looking for a decent coffee maker.
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on August 27, 2012
I have owned three of these. Each one lasted about 2 and half years at an average of 4 cups a day. So, when the last one gave up the ghost I thought i'd buy another. Bad idea. I received my new Mr coffee and put it into use the same day, but after a week it had to be returned - steam was HISSING out the top - couldn't tighten the lid any tighter. Returned it. Amazon is the Greatest!. I received another and guess what - no hissing but no coffee either. Back it went. Note to Sunbeam Corp. If it ain't broke don't fix it. You fixed yourself's right out of a customer. Now it really is broke. Dump it and start over.
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on July 19, 2006
I've had two of these machines. The first was replaced thinking I'd gotten the lemon and the second would be better. HaHAHAA Here's the progression of dissatisfaction:

first, the top is hard to open, especially if you tighten it like the manual tells you. The knob is hard to twist to even turn the machine on. After a few uses, the outer part of the handle will break off. After a few more uses the clips holding the lid will break off, rendering the lid to the pot useless. Then the rest of the handle will break off about the same time the handle to the filter basket gives way. If you're stubborn and still need espresso like I did and keep using the piece of junk anyway the glass pot will break.

Both machines I've had did this, I don't think I got the two lemons MrCoffee made.

I'm not sure if it was user error so I'll add as a footnote that I also had a problem with main water reservoir. I had to make sure it was completely drained or the water would turn a chalky mineral white. I'm not sure what that was about, I've used two different cities' municipal water and rural well water and had the problem at each location. Once I also had the steamer vacuum rather than blow steam. It sucked up my milk I was intending to froth and made it a complete mess.

As far as I'm concerned Mr Coffee espresso machines are junk. I'm ordering something else this time.
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