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288 of 290 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Relief After Tons of Searching!
Like most who purchased this product, it was my first espresso maker. And I found out quickly that hunting for these things can be overwhelming! I purchased it at my local Target for $79.99 for convenience in case I had to return it -- with all of the mixed reviews out there, I was incredibly weary of choosing one! However, I will most likely not need to do so. It is...
Published on December 26, 2008 by L. Hamilton

versus
340 of 362 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lying is an interesting customer service strategy
11 months ago, when I read the review of this product, I concluded that it was a great bargain that was likely to be defective when I received it or to fail a short time later. I trusted that the 12 month warranty would be protect me in that case, but I wondered if it would be worth the hassle if I had to use it.

Fast forward: I really like the product. I...
Published on February 25, 2011 by Bit of a Geek


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288 of 290 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Relief After Tons of Searching!, December 26, 2008
By 
L. Hamilton (Chattanooga, TN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black (Kitchen)
Like most who purchased this product, it was my first espresso maker. And I found out quickly that hunting for these things can be overwhelming! I purchased it at my local Target for $79.99 for convenience in case I had to return it -- with all of the mixed reviews out there, I was incredibly weary of choosing one! However, I will most likely not need to do so. It is perfect for all of my needs!

PROS:
1. Incredibly easy to use! Directions and trouble-shooting pages in manual are simple and helpful.
2. Compact size, looks nice sitting on the counter.
3. Easy clean-up. All parts that need to be cleaned detach easily.
4. A standard sized coffee cup will fit under the spout -- not so with many models!
5. The steam feature is simple, fairly powerful, and works well. No problems here.
6. As long as you get a good batch of coffee grounds, this machine can turn it into delicious espresso!

CONS:
1. I have been experiencing a small leak onto my counter after use. I haven't caught it in the act yet, but if I return to the kitchen a few hours later, there is a wet spot near the machine. I read another review that mentioned the same thing, so it might be a universal issue with this product. However, it is a small leak, and not enought to cause a real problem in my opinion.
2. I would suggest making 2-3 cups before wasting any milk product on your first trial. This model does not have an automatic drip feature and you will need to manually tell it when to stop pouring. If you are not used to this, you might end up with a few nasty batches on your first try. No biggie. Just watch the color of the drip. It starts out as a medium brown, and changes to a much lighter brown if left alone. I would recommend shutting it off a second or so after it changes to the lighter brown. I have made perfect batches every time by this method. This all takes place over several seconds, so keep an eye out.

YOU MIGHT NEED TO KNOW:
It mentions this in the manual, but make sure to get the right size of grounds. About the consistency of salt. I would recommend griding your own either at home with a grinder or at the store at a grinding station. They taste better for one, and you won't waste your money on a mystery bag that doesn't work well with your machine.

Also, it does not come with a frothing pitcher. You will need to buy one separately. I purchased mine at Bed Bath and Beyond -- a Krups one, stainless, about $10? It fits fine. Just make sure you don't get one that is too deep, or the froth wand will not reach the milk. It is a countertop model after all. If you don't want to use as much milk you can turn the pitcher at an angle.

That's it! Definitely more pros than cons. I feel that for the price I paid, I could not have hoped for a better quality machine. I would highly recommend this model if you want something easy and you don't require tons of frills. If you want something more frilly, go ahead and spend $300 to $3000 on one. But I purchased an espresso maker to SAVE time and money (so long, Starbucks!), and this one's just right for me!
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180 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Coffee really did their homework on this one, January 8, 2009
By 
This review is from: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black (Kitchen)
I received this for Christmas from my loving wife who noticed a slight cloud over my weekends since my espresso maker went out several months ago. I had the Mr. Coffee model previous to this one. It served me well for over a year with regular use before I learned the hard way about not overpacking the grounds.

After taking this one around the block a few times I have to say I'm extremely impressed with the design improvements they've made. Overall, this machine is a tremendous value for under $100 (mine was $75 on sale). You would really have to be a coffee snob (and have a lot of disposable income) not to love what you get for the money (I'm a poor coffee snob.)

To sing this machine's praises, I'll highlight the improvments they've made:

1) You no longer have to remove the water container to fill it up. It's an awkward shape to try to fill from my refrigerator. So I just use my frothing pitcher and pour directly into it. This also chills the pitcher - which is good for the frothing I'll do soon.

2) I LOVE the top tray. I store my espresso cup, tamper (from the old machine - the new one is the only downgrade I've noticed), brew basket, and espresso pitchers on it. Did I mention I love the tray? It's a great design perk.

3) It still heats up quickly. A little faster than before for frothing.

4) They upgraded the design of the filters. Smaller holes that all converge into one hole on the bottom. Note: Don't put these or the brew basket in the dishwasher - you'll tarnish them.

5) The bottom of the brew basket is really cool, the single hole from the filter drips onto a silicone (I'm assuming) cone in the basket which appears to guarantee an even drip between two cups of espresso. This only matters if you're pulling separate shots. It may be overdesigned, but I think it's cool.

6) There's more clearance under the brew basket! You couldn't fit a coffee mug under there before (which is why I have the two espresso pitchers). One (or two) fewer thing to clean!

7) The drip tray has two larger holes in the middle. When your espresso is done (and the machine is off) you can take out the brew basket (it's bad for the valve to keep it there) and set it on the holes to drip and cool off before cleaning. It's a brilliant improvement. Also, the drip tray has a spout on it to make it easy to pour out.

8) The frothing wand swings! Very cool.

Here are my tips (echoing other reviews).
-Read the directions first! It'll last longer if you do.
-Make sure you use the correct roast and ground size and don't overpack.
-Play with the brewer until you figure out how long you want to brew (I count to ten).
-Ditch the single filter. You'll never use it.
-Get some demitasse cups.
-Get a frothing pitcher and use 1% milk.
-Ditch the rubber tip on the frothing wand. It's useless unless you want to easily grow bacteria.
-After frothing, blow a little steam out the wand so no milk dries and clogs it. Wipe the wand with a damp towel shortly after steaming (it's easier to clean when it's hot).

That's about it, folks. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this one. Even if it only lasted a year, I'd buy another one to replace it and I'd still save money over the more expensive models.

Enjoy!

UPDATE AFTER ONE YEAR: I use it off and on and it's still working well. The frothing works as well as it did day one. The espresso function works, but I made the mistake of pregrinding some beans at the grocery store with the "Espresso" setting. The machine struggled to force water through even with minimal packing (Next time I'll try the next largest size). It also seems like the seal isn't as tight as a year ago. That said, it still pulls a decent shot. For the money, I'm still pleased.
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340 of 362 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lying is an interesting customer service strategy, February 25, 2011
By 
Bit of a Geek (Dallas, TX, USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black (Kitchen)
11 months ago, when I read the review of this product, I concluded that it was a great bargain that was likely to be defective when I received it or to fail a short time later. I trusted that the 12 month warranty would be protect me in that case, but I wondered if it would be worth the hassle if I had to use it.

Fast forward: I really like the product. I brewed probably 300 cups of espresso and it worked well. Then it blew a gasket. When I called Jarden, who now owns the Mr. Coffee Brand, the customer service rep assured me that the product was manufactured at least 3 years ago and was therefore not in warranty. He had no interest in my purchase receipt, dated 11 months early. When I refused the steam expresso machine that he offered me as a "one time courtesy" and because the comparable unit was "not in stock" I went to the Mr. Coffee website and confirmed that it was indeed in stock, for purchase. When I refused the replacement and insisted that because I had purchased the unit less than a year ago, that the company should honor the warranty. The response was that the unit was not in stock, and they encouraged me to check back with them in 4-6 weeks.

I'm sure many people give up at this point and the customer service objective of not paying warranty claim or paying them at a much reduced price is realized. I bought the product and the warranty. I didn't realize until I needed it that the warranty was not actually included. When I asked for it, I was told that I didn't really buy it. Interesting! I'm probably powerless to enforce the warranty. It's certainly not worth any more of my time to try. But I can avoid buying another Mr. Coffee device and I can tell many, many people about my experience.

Caveat Emptor.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent cappuccino for few $$$, January 10, 2009
By 
This review is from: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black (Kitchen)
Don't listen to the coffee snobs who say you need to spend hundreds (or more) for a good cappuccino machine! I didn't get a machine for a long time because I figured they would be too complicated to use, time-consuming to clean, and the inexpensive ones would make lousy cappuccino. But Starbucks gets expensive, so when I saw this one on sale for $59.99 I figured all it needed to do was make 20 decent drinks to pay for itself. It has done that in a couple of weeks! Following the instructions, it's very easy to use, cleaning is also quick and easy, and the cappuccinos and lattees come out great. It's a huge plus that you can use regular coffee mugs, so who cares that it doesn't come with little espresso cups? The ONLY negative is that it really should have come with a milk frothing pitcher, but I picked up an 8-oz. one at the supermarket for $1.99 and it works fine. If you are on the fence about whether or not to take the plunge on an inexpensive espresso/cappuccino maker, buy this one.
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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ex Starbucks Barista. Buy this machine=Save $$$, August 26, 2010
This review is from: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black (Kitchen)
Okay, so there are a lot of mixed reviews on this product and if you are considering buying the Mr. Coffee ECMP-50, please give it a chance.
First of all I am no expert on this machine. I have just made my first Latte and am very relieved my machine works and the quality is what you make it as far as I'm concerned. Now understand this is my second machine! I just bought the ECMP-50 yesterday and upon setting it up, the machine only "flashed" it's glaring lights at me and nothing more. I was a little disheartened but figured it was a lemon, and thankfully it was!
So today I exchanged my machine for a new one and yes it works just fine but lets' look a little closer. So consider first off this is a low end espresso machine. $80... great price and honestly I don't expect much out of this for this price range. I am just tired of going to Starbucks and spending $3 a pop on an espresso drink. So point #1...

1- If you can get about 30 uses out of this machine... it just paid for itself. So if it breaks after that, who cares. Buy another one! It's not a big deal.

The steamer is probably one of the better features of this machine in my opinion. To really have full control of it though your going to need to ditch the rubber tip and just get comfortable using the machine itself. The rubber end piece while a convenient way to help maintain cleanliness and create sub-par foam, is going to hinder the quality of your drinks... plus you lose that awesome "screaming" sound.

2-To properly steam your milk! GET A THERMOMETER! Yes you need this. Next you need COLD milk. Steam up to about 140-160 degrees depending on your preference and you should be good to go. To get quality foam you need not just cold milk but lift the steam wand to the top of your milk towards the end of your steaming cycle to just steam the surface.

I can't comment on the leaking problem because I have not had this machine long enough but It sounds like a quick return to where you purchased it or sending it to Mr. Coffee should take care of this and all other structural/wear and tear defects. (hopefully)

So. Given my experience working at Starbucks for a few years I can tell you that after using this machine. Price does not matter. Starbucks espresso machines run from $5000+ easily and they break down a lot more than you think (also get used a lot more!) But think of this like a car. It's a machine, it's going to require maintenance and cleaning. Take care of it. Use clean filtered water to prevent build up. Run recommended cleaning solutions through your machine periodically to break down deposits. This is plastic, do not be aggressive or forceful with your machine. Treat it like a lady :)

What I don't like?
-So far it's just a minor inconvenience but turning the dial for the steamer setting with a required purge at the end is a little annoying. I'd rather be able to have a little more control over my steaming and be able to purge the wand myself afterwards. BUT the swivel on the wand is great, and I'm satisfied with the length and quality of it. My milk was the right temp (with thermometer) & did not take very long to do... and the foam was better than what I usually get handed at "the bucks".
-I don't like that I cannot brew espresso & steam at the same time.
-I don't like that the espresso will continue to brew until you turn the dial and make it stop. If your not paying attention you'll overflow your shot glass and lose your crema :( very sad. Speaking of shot glasses? Get espresso shot glasses, they will indicate where you should stop the brewing process making sure you have the best quality espresso possible.

I know this is a bit long and I have a hard time reading long reviews but I hope this gives a little insight. This machine is worth the money and will be just as durable and reliable as machines that run in this price range up to $1,000. It's frustrating getting a lemon but it happens. Don't be discouraged.
Starbucks makes a great little home brew kit with 2 shot glasses, measuring scoop, clamps, steam pot, and thermometer for about $20 as well which is a great companion for this machine.

Oh one last thing. You can buy this at Target. So very convenient to not deal with all the mail-order delays if you have an issue.
Best of luck, and happy brewing!

Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/ Cappuccino Maker
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great espresso, zero problems, October 13, 2008
This review is from: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black (Kitchen)
This is my first espresso machine. I make two to three cappuccinos a day. It's easy to use. The pump has plenty of pressure, and it heats up fast. I removed the rubber nozzle from the steam wand immediately. I learned to froth without fancy gadgets, and it's a skill you'll be proud of if you do it that way. Steam pressure seems good, and the espresso comes out in two golden heavy streams of froth, gradually condensing into a rich, dark liquid with good crema. I use Brazil Santos coffee, and it makes superb espresso. I have used it every day for three months with no problems so far. I got it on sale for $69.99, and I figure even if it only lasts a year, I got my money's worth of espresso. It's fairly easy to clean, and comes with everything you need to start making espresso right away. A few tips; do not grind the coffee too fine or tamp it too hard--this can make steam pop out of the gasket between the portafilter and the group. Grind and tamp require a little experimentation and practice, but it's not that hard. Also, as with any machine, don't store the portafilter on the group, or the gasket will compress and the seal will not be effective. So far, no negatives to report. I'll update this review if anything changes.

Update: May 2009. I have used this machine virtually every day (I say virtually every day because I use a Breville on the weekend). I make 2-3 cappuccinos a day with it. I have yet to experience any problems with it. I've decalcified it once in the last eight or so months I've used it, but only as maintenance. Easy to use, easy to clean. Water temp could be higher, but for an entry level machine, I'm still happy with it. Pump is still strong, steam is still very good. I would recommend this machine to anyone who wants to try making home espresso, but doesn't want to make a large investment in case they don't find it to their liking.

Update: March 2010. Still going strong! I trade every week between this machine and a Breville. The Breville
makes better espresso, but this machine makes better steam and is still easier to use. I still consider it just
an entry-level basic machine, but it's earned my respect. I've decalcified it several times in the last year, and the steam and water output is still strong. Honestly, even if it took a dump at this point, I would replace it with another one just like it. If you want to try making your own espresso, I doubt you'll find a more user friendly machine.

Update: December 2010. This machine functions the same way it did the first time I used it. Steam and water output is still strong. Yes it has some annoyances as others have pointed out. The drip tray is small and it leaks a little on the counter. I guess if someone really wanted a Gaggia or Saeco and bought this, it would be pretty disappointing. For me, however, this is my feel-good machine. It doesn't owe me a cent. I've probably made $5000 dollars worth of espresso drinks with this machine. It's easy to use, easy to clean, and doesn't require a lot of maintenance. I guess this is my final word on this unit. For the price, it can't be beat.
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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ECMP50, June 28, 2008
This machine does produce good espresso, but it is not durable. I purchased the maching in January, the pump stopped working the end of May. I called the company, they replaced it. New one arrived the beginning of June, began leaking out the bottom of the tray two weeks later. The company informed me it'll be September before they can replace it and offered a much cheaper model as a replacement. I'm very disappointed in both the product and the customer service offered.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great cup of espresso.. UPDATE 1/2/13, August 16, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black (Kitchen)
There are so many informative reviews, like L. Hamilton's, that I don't need to rehash them. I bought mine for my girlfriend to use as I didn't like coffee. Everything I tried from Starbucks tasted like acid. Along with the unit I ordered some well reviewed Lavazza Gusto espresso bricks. Within minutes I loved coffee (at least the coffee I make). I have since settled on Lavazza Rossa as my go-to blend. Pure arabica doesn't work for me.

Does mine leak? Yes. When I forget to empty the tray. Every time the frother is used the leftover water in the steam tank gets purged into the tray and I sometimes forget about this hidden water filling it up.

Does my water tank leak? No. I could see that tank seal getting worn from constantly removing the tank. I fill it in place and only remove it for occasional cleaning. If yours is leaking due to wear, smear a dab of silicone plumbers grease around the inlet on the machine that the seal goes over to fill in scratches from use.

Is there water under the unit? Occasionally from the steam purge as the tray spout is not air tight. I have sponges for that.

Does it froth well? Yes. I took off the rubber tip and put it in the junk drawer as it's another item to clean. I can easily froth whole milk, 2%, skim, half & half, and soy milk whether it's chilled or not.

Does super tamping help or really matter? Not that I can tell and over tamping puts strain on the pump. Unlike commercial machines, the included filter baskets force the coffee through a pinhole on the bottom of the filter to produce the crema. Heavy packing is not necessary or desirable. Firm is fine.

The only addition I made was an aluminum tamper as coffee likes to stick to the included plastic one.

Take reasonable care and keep it clean. Form a routine, including the Dance of the Buttons (stolen from another review) and all will be well.

1. Check tank and add water as needed.
2. Make your shots. Press steam button after last shot as it takes a bit to get ready.
3. Do your frothing. Clean the frother immediately after the last batch as the milk will cook on the tip (if you have removed the rubber thingie) and the stem. If you let it go and the milk has hardened, grab a warm damp sponge and wrap it around the tip for a few seconds until the milk is soft and wipe the tip. There will be a whiteish ring on the tip where it meets the stem. That's the rubber sealer for the tip so don't scrub it off.
4. Run the frother again in open air to clear out the nozzle and sterilize the frother.
5. Rinse out the filter and handle.
6. Run the brewer again without the handle in place for a few seconds to rinse off the brew screen.
7. Empty and rinse the drip tray.
8. Enjoy some fine coffee.

Yeah, it's a bit to go through each time you use the machine but the coffee is great and worth it to me for what I paid. Run some Lavazza Rossa, or any fine coffee, through it and you probably won't drink another Starbucks, again.

Tip: I like to make cold coffee and cappuccino and hate the grittiness if I have to add sugar. I make up a batch of simple sugar syrup and keep it in a squeeze bottle by the machine. Brew - squirt - froth - drink.

My apologies if folks are offended by some of this but some people just don't use common sense.

Remember, this is a budget priced home 15 BAR machine that just happens to make great coffee. You're not gonna get a Rolex for 80 bucks. Your gonna get a mass produced somewhat flimsy item and the occasional lemon. Get over it.

This unit was bought last year and put to daily use without issue or regret.

The only time I had to contact Mr. Coffee about a product, it was out of warranty and they treated me right.

If mine breaks I will get another if nothing else is outstandingly better in this price range by then. If I come across any issues I can fix (I'm pretty good at it), I will post a solution.

UPDATE 1/2/12: It's been 11 months since I bought this and I regret to say that it's still working fine and I'll just have to find something else to gripe about.

Here's a couple of things I forgot to mention:

During the occasional deep cleaning (like when you run espresso machine cleaner through the unit), remove the rubber divider from the brew head and clean under there as well. I use a chopstick to coax the 2 rubber nipples into the brew head and the divider comes out. Swipe some cooking oil onto the nipples to make putting it back in much easier. I'll post a pic or two if I can.

There is a "Stainless steel 2 cup incremental measuring cup, 1 pc" that I found here that works a treat as a frothing cup. It's the perfect depth.

Whew. All this writing - time for a cup of coffee.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Simple Inexpensive Espresso Maker, February 25, 2009
By 
Peter (New England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black (Kitchen)
EIDT. January 2013: I have now worn my first one of these out,or more accurately beat it to death. It was still working but I had gotten more out of it than I had ever hoped and it was time to retire it and buy another mostly due to operator abuse. I am on my second one for myself and I have given one as a present over a year ago which is still working well. I can't imagine morning without it.

**ORIGINAL REVIEW FROM 2009**

I had one of those steam pots for making espresso for years. (See my review of the Capresso Mini.) The little steamer was still working fine but I had banged it up a bit over the years. I went in search of a replacement and came across this machine.

I am not an espresso nut. For some people creating the perfect shot of espresso is reason to live in itself...not me. I just want a tasty cappuchino in the morning with the minimum of fuss. That is exactly what this machine delivers.

The quality is a bit plastic-y...but what would you expect for the price? Even so it is attractive enough that I don't mind it sitting on my kitchen counter. The foot print is a bit bigger than what I was used to with my Mini, but I do not think it is overly large when compared to other pump style espresso machines.

Like many other reviewers I immediately removed the rubber tip from the frothing wand and stashed the single-brew porta filter in the back of the junk drawer. doubt I'll ever use either one.

The coffee it produces is very good. A real step up from the old steam pot. Steaming for the milk is adequate though hardly robust. Still I have never failed to get the steaming results I wanted, so no complaints. One thing I do like is that the machine can be ready to froth milk in a few seconds without ever having to brew espresso. There are times when I like to use frothed milk in various "Adult" winter beverages, and now it is easy for me to to whip them up anytime.

As has been mentioned by other reviewers there is enough room beneith the portafilter (that's "brew basket" to the uninitiated)to place a full sized mug...not that you would want to brew a mug full of espresso all at once, but so that you can directly brew your shot into what will be your final cup. That is the real convenience of this feature.

The porta filter basket is a bit strange in that it has a double bottom to it. On the inside there is a layer with very fine holes to act as a filter as one would expect,....but turn the metal filter over and on the bottom there is only one single tiny hole. I believe that this may be a crema enhancing trick, but I am not sure about that. What I do know is that I have never seen another one like it. I also know that it causes a lot of constriction to the brewing of the coffee. Perhaps it is designed to make the dosing and tamping less critical in achieving a good cup of espresso? I do not have the answer, but so far it works, so I'm not complaining.

If you buy this espresso maker you will also need to get a tamper. The plastic one that comes with the machine is pretty flimsy. I got this one:

RSVP Terry's Tamper

Which fits properly and does the job just fine without a lot of expense or fanfare.

If you are thinking about trying an espresso machine, but are not sure if a fancy one is worth the expense, this is a great choice.

UPDATE: After 9 months I haven't had a single issue with durability. I have discovered by trial and error that it is possible to over pack the filter basket (portafilter) and when that happens the pump struggles. But by now I have gotten my "dosing" down to a system and I always get excellent results. The leaking that other reviewers mention is caused because the pump purges into the drip tray when you are done brewing. If the drip tray isn't emptied regularly, or if it isn't seated in the base correctly it will leak water onto thte counter. The instructions tell you this. I have never had a leak problem with my unit.

I love this machine! I wold buy another without hesitation if I had need of one, or I would give one as a gift with confidence. Good job, Mr. Coffee!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great machine for the money - both espresso and cappuccino taste excellent!, January 28, 2009
This review is from: Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black (Kitchen)
(Two important cleaning/maintenance tips included at the end of the review)

I went on a trip abroad recently and whenever I ordered coffee, it was consistently absolutely terrible... however, on occasion I was actually served freshly made espresso, and it was consistently absolutely fantastic.

I always thought that buying an espresso machine was a bit over-the-top and snobbish, but based on that experience, I decided to just break down and get one anyway.
I was appropriately and inevitably warned by some 'coffee connoisseurs' how you need to spend at least $500 and up, if you want even a remotely decent espresso machine. That might have been the case at some point in the past, but in my opinion, this little machine well under $100 bucks produces some amazing results.

I started off going really cheap - with Mr. Coffee steam driven Espresso Maker. While the frothing ability of that one was quite wonderful and the cappuccinos were surprisingly good, the espresso lacked "crema" - the coffee froth on top, which is my absolute favorite part.
I realized that the pump-driven machine is a way to go, so I passed the first device on to my friend, who loves hot chocolate, and uses it to froth the milk.

This machine was my second choice.
I still did not want to spend a fortune and hesitated a while between this one and DeLonghi (EC155), but got discouraged by the amount of the preheat/prep time on DeLonghi (about 25 mins based on most of the reviewers' accounts).

So far I am completely delighted with this one... it is astoundingly simple to operate and clean, the prep (preheat) time is minimal, and the espressos are JUST GREAT - there is plenty of froth (crema) on top to stimulate you visually and to satiate your taste buds as well... and also it froths the milk fabulously.

Yes, it does seem to leak a bit, but I was prepared for that, reading other people's reviews. The container with the water has a hole on the bottom, through which it attaches to the machine, and the water runs through there during the brewing, so it makes sense, that some miniscule amount of that might leak in the process.
Not a big deal, I just wipe it off periodically.

I highly recommend reading other reviews on here - you get quite a few helpful tips about the coffee grinding, the best coffee grounds to use, tamping, milk frothing etc ....

Bottom line: if you like a really good espresso, and either don't want to be spending megabucks at some *(star) bucks kind of place or don't want to plunk down couple of hundred bucks for a fancier-looking machine - then this one is a way to go.
Will pay for itself in a short time, and unless you are a true espresso aficionado, you will never notice the difference between your home-made espresso shot and most of the store-bought ones.

And finally, these are two maintenance tips, that I have picked up along the way and added:
1.
The cleaning instructions do not mention this, but make sure you always wipe out the part, where the filter holder attaches to the machine (I think it is called the filter head).
Most of the time there are some leftover wet coffee grounds that float up from the metal filter and get stuck to the machine after each brew, and of course you won't see them unless you look from underneath.
And if left uncleaned after a while, the old dried-up grounds will make each new batch taste bitter and/or stale.
2.
this addendum is written Jan 19th 2010, about a year later (BTW the machine still works perfect, even though I do not use it daily, as I am trying to cut back on coffee):
Whenever the coffeemaker just sits around for couple of days without being used, remember first to run through a cup or two of plain water before you start the next brew, so all the metallic parts inside get chance to clean and freshen up.
There were several times, when I made the coffee, and had to throw it away, as it had this weird, hard to describe metallic/oily taste... not completely toxic tasting, but just very unpleasant and WAY off.
Then I realized that it happened always after I have not used the thing for a while, and the problem got solved completely once I started running the water through first.
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Mr. Coffee ECMP50 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker, Black
$99.99 $89.99
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