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on December 7, 2007
I purchased this machine at a Kohl's for roughly $220. I think it's of an exceptional quality for the price.

Positives: #1 Well built (it's actually quite heavy)
#2 easy to use, filters allow for a single or double shot to be made - also comes with a pod filter but I've never used it
#3 large water reservoir that has allowed me to make 4 or 5 espressos and steam milk too
#4 comes with a DVD that teaches you how to use it (much easier than reading the booklet) - this is especially helpeful if you're new at making your own drinks
#5 easy to clean
#6 has a warming plate on top (good if you need to make more than one double shot cups or two single shot cups
#7 espresso has a good taste (although I think this has as much to do with the quality of the coffee you're using) The machine actually does produce a good amount of crema for the price you pay
#8 Stainless steel frothing picture is just the right size for one latte or two cappucinos
#9 15 bar pump allows for more than enough pressure and for great taste.
#10 has a feature that allows you to get plain old hot water too if someone isn't interested in the espresso and wants tea/cocoa/whatever

Negatives: #1 the steam nozzle is too long - you kind of have to tilt the pitcher to get the nozzle out - this isn't a problem so long as you know so you can use less milk or you can place the machine so the nozzle can be used on a non-countered space. The nozzle has a good range of movement so this does help counteract.
#2 the distance between the portafilter (where the coffee comes out) and the drip tray is not very tall - I've found that I have to use a smaller cup to brew and then dump it into a larger cup if I'm going to make a latte and want to fit in a decent amount of frothed milk.
#3 you have to be really careful to not overtamp your grounds or you'll end out with coffee everywhere - this machine is a little pickier than I expected (and pickier than the really cheap machine this replaced). But, with that said, the taste is 100x better. You can catch it if you overtamp too so long as you closely monitor and make sure the water is coming out of the portafilter at a decent rate. If you overtamp, barely anything drips out. After a while you figure out how much is too much.
#4 - my biggest complaint, and this one is quite dangerous - There's not a great way of knowing that pressure has been released - this means that once your espresso is made and you're ready to clean out the coffee grounds you have to be really really careful or it'll explode the hot coffee grinds all over you and your kitchen. I've been seriously burned a couple of times. It might not be a problem if you're used to espresso machines (I wasn't when I first bought this one) or you learn to be super extra careful always.
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on January 6, 2008
We had a Krups combo coffee pot/espresso machine and after several espresso calamities in a row, I gave up and got this Cuisinart. So far it has been great! It seems that there used to be only basic espresso makers or extremely expensive ones on the market, with nothing in between. But the Cuisinart satisfies the coffee connoisseur on a budget by making truly wonderful espresso and more.

One of my frustrations with our last model was the "perfect froth" tip, which was disastrous to say the least. I just need a basic steam wand and I can take it from there, and the Cuisinart fits the bill - it steamed and frothed my milk easily and quickly. Just be careful to use less milk than you might think, because the volume doubles in no time. I'll probably switch to a larger pitcher than the one that comes with the Cuisinart, though it's fine to start out.

A couple tips to get started: the instructions say the heating light should come on right away, but it didn't for me until I switched the small knob to the droplet icon (as opposed to the middle neutral position). I figured this out by watching the video, which I recommend as the instruction manual is pretty bare. It's also good to see how much pressure one should use to tamp the grounds.

The only negative thing I can say is that the warming tray doesn't seem to get very warm, but I do like being able to store my cups on top anyway (more space in the cabinets now, plus a certain café aesthetic is always nice), so I don't mind. Positives are that it's fast, it's quiet, everything is sturdy and well designed (and clicks or locks solidly in place so you know things are seated correctly), and the espresso is truly café quality - an enormous difference from the more basic espresso machines on the market.

UPDATE: Since this review I have had some experiences with clogging. Cuisinart customer service was totally unhelpful, but here's what I do to remedy the situation:

1. As soon as you notice espresso isn't coming out, turn off the machine, take off the basket (you may have to wait for the pressure to subside), rinse it out well, and fill the machine with water.

2. Scrub the underside of the metal grid that the filter basket attaches to with a damp cloth.

3. Reattach just the basket with no filter. Heat water and run that through to get any clogs in the upper part of the machine. I fill up a milk pitcher. Then turn the big black dial to neutral, add the empty filter to the basket, and repeat. As long as water starts running through that ok it should be all right. I hope it works for you!
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on March 3, 2008
I like my coffee. In fact, I freely admit to being a coffee addict. And before I say anything else, let me say that this machine makes great coffee. With the right beans and a bit of practice, you can beat the taste of any coffee shop with this.

That said, I am glad, I still have my french press, because sometimes this machine decides to be difficult. It usually starts if you tamp your coffee too hard. The coffee maker is then unable to pass water through and ceases up completely. Make sure you watch what you are doing, so you can stop it from trying if necessary. Now, the real problem with this is, that you will have a very hard time removing the basket, as long as there is still pressure inside. It takes somewhere between 5-10 minutes at least, before the pressure has gone down enough, that you can pry the basket off (watch for exploding coffeegrounds, if you didn't wait long enough).

To make matters worse, the machine seems to have a hard time recovering after an incident such as this. It seems to get even pickier, with what it will accept, and it will be easier to resort to the backup plan, and let the espresso machine recover.

I would rate the EM-100 a 5/5, if it weren't for this problem. I hardly apply any strength, when I tamp my coffee, and I still run into trouble from time to time. In fact, the first one I had got so picky, that I took it back to the store and exchanged it.

To minimize my risk, I take great care to clean every bit of the coffee maker after each use. If you can live with this issue, the coffee that comes out of this machine really is to die for.
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on October 26, 2010
I have been using this machine for several months and wanted to give a little feedback about the machine not pumping water through the portrafilter, because this happened to me last night.

I thought the machine was defective or broken... but what I found was that it had to do with the size of grind of the coffee I was using. I've been experimenting with the fineness of the grind (using a burr grinder) and I got it too fine and it clogged filter itself. I found this out because once I managed to get the portafilter and handle off and swapped it out with the second filter that comes with the unit, it worked fine. The clogged filter-- even with no grounds in it-- would not pass water through it!

If you notice the bottom of these filters (for using your own coffee rather than pods) you'll see there is only one very small hole for the coffee to exit into the portafilter body. If this hole is clogged or for that matter if the holes just under the grounds of the filter are clogged (by, in my case, too finely ground coffee) then no amount of pressure will push the water through the grounds of even the empty filter, and the whole machine will lock up.

I soaked the clogged filter overnight in a weak bleach solution and then used the small tools that are supplied to unclog the exit hold on the bottom of the filter. It now works just fine.

I got a can of Illy ground coffee to study the size of the grind they recommend. I was way over on the extra fine side of the spectrum by comparison,

I compared the filter with my old (now defunct) Buon Cafe machine that I got about 15 years ago and that filter has an equal number of small holes on the top and bottom of the filter-- so that one is much harder to clog.

I got on several web sites to study up on the areas of grind size and tamp pressure and that's where I may have gone wrong at least with this particular machine. I was coming up with figures like 30 pounds of pressure to tamp (using a bathroom scale to push against to get an idea of what 30 pounds would feel like...). that may be fine where you have more than one exit hole and keep your grind from becoming too fine!. Cuisinart recommends moderate pressure.

In any event, if you grind and tamp your own coffee instead of using the pods, Cuisinart's recommended timing of 15 seconds for a single shot or 25 seconds for 2 shots works just fine, but you have to balance the grind size and tamp pressure to achieve that. That's probably why people use the pods! My advice would be to stay away from grinding too finely thereby clogging the filter holes-- just use the middle of fine (not towards the super-fine end)-- if you are using a burr grinder, and then get your time in range using the tamp pressure to avoid this problem (as I noticed some others have mentioned in their reviews).
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on October 29, 2008
Use it at least twice daily with both ESE pods and ground espresso. It really is a nice machine. If you are like some other reviewers and have problems with coffee grounds blowing out over the kitchen after you are done then you are likely tamping them too hard or using a grind that's too fine. Easiest way for a first time user is to buy some coffee in ESE (easy serve espresso) pods from the internet and feel it to see how hard the coffee is tamped in the pod. Cut it open and see how finely it is ground. Go to the grocery store and grind a pound of your favorite roast to about the same grind. At my grocery store the second or the third finest setting works fine. You can use your own grinder but a good burr type grinder costs some money and the less expensive blade grinders are useless for espresso. Tamp it to about the same hardness as the pod was. It makes wonderful espresso with lots of crema on top. I've never had an issue with grounds or steam blowing out after I release the pot--even with the machine on and waiting just until the coffee stops dripping to detatch it. I don't see how you could go wrong, but some obviously do.

This one looks nice. It works well. Has a self-priming pump (a good feature that alot don't include). It comes with a tamper, a stainless-steel frothing cup, filter holders for pods, single, and double shots. It also includes 2 tolls to clean the little holes the espresso is pumped through. It comes with pretty much everything you would end up buying for it in the first year. I have a water softener so scale will never be a problem but you would want to descale it once in a while if you don't use distilled water. The only thing I wish it had was a dial thermometer so I could watch the water temp more closely. I believe that it has an aluminum boiler. I would prefer brass but you just can't get it at this price. The pump makes some noise but not more than any other I've used. Steam espresso machines are cheaper, much quieter but burn the coffee and it doesn't taste nearly as good.

Overall, very good product, easy to use and the best value by far at this price.
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on December 30, 2011
Most of the people giving bad reviews on here simply sound just a little under informed of coffee and espresso in general and how this works.
First things first, do you have a blade grinder or burr grinder? if you said blade(meaning it chops the beans with a blade) then that is your first mistake. you will not get the proper grind with this machine as it lacks consistency due to the mechanics of the machine.i dont care what it says on the front of the machine, it wont grind properly. you need a burr grinder. not only a burr grinder but a conical burr grinder. These can be expensive for one that actually works good enough to grind espresso. My solution to this problem is go to starbucks or your favorite local coffee bar and ask them to grind your beans for you. They typically have grinders that are commercial and cost upwards of 2500 dollars plus!
Most people on here do sound aware of tamping so im not going to even try to explain that.
Also, dont use a bigger jar for frothing milk. use the one they give you. The goal when frothing is to get tiny bubbles. the best way to do that is to steam from the bottom of the jar up never letting the wand out of the milk. Why not use a bigger jar? because if you do you simply wont be able to reach the bottom of the cup with the wand. Also, dont bob up and down. hold the wand about a quarter inch off the bottom of the jar, once you feel it getting hot on you hand slowly raise the wand making sure not to let it exit the milk.

ALWAYS CLEAN EVERYTHING EVERY TIME. If this is too much to ask, then you can expect bad results. revert to a drip maker.

Key notes for best results with this machine GRIND, TAMP , CLEAN. if you get those three things good everytime you will enjoy this machine for years to come.
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on February 23, 2008
The Cuisinart EM 100 is a true bargain and a great espresso maker. Over the past 15 years I've purchased two Krups and one Capresso in the $250 range. Neither brand was capable of processing an espresso grind. They usually blocked up and let no water past the grinds. I had to resort to using drip grind coffee. The Cuisinart does a great job processing an espresso ground coffee, leaves a fine crema, steamer works perfectly and is a breeze to clean up. Its built like a tank, looks cool and I'm totally surprised and satisfied with its performance.
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on May 10, 2011
My wife is a devoted fan of our Keurig machine while I have always used a french press on the weekends when I've wanted a good cup of coffee... When I broke the my french press, I decided I wanted to look at an espresso machine. Having worked in a retail coffee shop for almost 2 years, it's safe to say that I have some experience making espresso. The grind makes a huge difference and I think this is where people have a lot of problems with the home units. If your unit is taking forever to drop a shot, your grind is too fine and you need it coarser. Likewise, if your shot drops too quickly, make the grind finer.

It's been ~2 months since I purchased this unit and I am thoroughly pleased! It works well! Turn it on and it's ready to go quickly...I'd guess ~2 minutes or so... I have used coffee that I've ground and I've used pre-ground Illy coffee, ground for espresso. The Illy is a no brainer, I've found the grind works perfectly. For the coffee I've ground myself, I had to experiment with the grind in my burr grinder, but once I found what works, it's basically "set and forget."

As mentioned by others, the steam wand is low which is challenging at times. But just hang it off the corner of a counter and you can steam using a bigger container.

What I really like about this machine is the ease of cleaning. I think that is key to long term reliability. The ingenious porta filter "catch" works nicely as you can "bang" it against the inside of the trash can to get grounds out. I run the machine with the porta filter off after I'm done for a few seconds and then wipe the internals with a damp cloth.

I almost forgot, the machine makes a NICE espresso with very good crema! Pre-heat the cup you'r using with hot water before dropping the shot and you'll get even better results. NOTE: It was quite a challenge to get the unit to prime with the first tank of water. I almost had to send it back because I kept trying to no avail. Then it "caught" and there has been absolutely no problems since. I used it regularly so I always have a little filtered water in it. I'm not sure I'd let it run dry and store it for long periods of time for fear that it might not prime again.
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VINE VOICEon January 15, 2010
What a treasure to find this espresso machine!The Cuisinart EM-100 came with a 15 min instruction DVD, and after learning the process, we were making espresso drinks as good as the local Starbucks! The quality and taste of the espresso is the absolute best! My brother has a built-in $3500 espresso machine, and I can say there is no difference in taste between his and our Cuisinart EM-100. I am a coffee addict, verified coffee snob with fresh roasted coffee delivered to my door-and THIS is the machine for me!

I ordered two from Amazon, one for me and one for a family member and I'm very pleased with the purchase. This machine replaces a Christmas Gift I received (Krups Espresso Machine) which was poor quality and required 30 minutes wait time for each cup of espresso. Please shop one online store I was charged sales tax and shipping fees. At the local stores, the price was $100 higher than the price here. It pays to shop around!

Since I drink daily lattes from the local Starbucks, I calculated that in 37.72 days, this Cuisinart EM-100 has paid for itself, saving me both money and time at the coffee store. Get yourself a red Starbucks coffee mug, a bottle of Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Syrup...and make the drinks at home with your new Cuisinart EM-100.
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on October 31, 2014
Today 10/31/14 it finally died. And actually not the machine itself died, but steamer broke off. A little plastic piece that is inside the machine just snapped and whole steamer came out. This Espresso maker served me a little shy of 4 years. Every day making a great cup of latte or sometimes even two travel mugs. I think it today's world appliance that serves you 4 years is a good thing. I'm giving it 5 start because i never had any problems with it. If you follow right procedures, clean your machine and do it right way (read manual) you'll have no problems. If another one like that will serve me 4 years i'll be happy coffee drinker.
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