268 of 270 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2010
I've had this machine now 4 months. I've had many machines before it, including the ever popular DeLonghi. This is an amazing machine, but there are a few things to know.
1. All espresso machines, and even some coffee machines, need to be primed. If there is water in the tank, yet it's not pumping but making noise, chances are you just need to prime it. Turn the steam knob just like in the manual, and if it fails, try again. You only have to do this when you first get the machine, or if you some how let it run dry.
2. The specs list this as not coming with a tamper, that's only partially correct. It comes with a plastic scoop / tamper combo thang. Before you get too annoyed with it, I recommend ordering "RSVP Terry's Tamper" (probably advertised on the same page). It's less than 7 bucks, and the small side fits this machines portafilter perfectly.
3. Some reviewers have knocked this machine because the "Filter keeps getting clogged". Here's a news flash: All espresso filters will get clogged if your grinder leaves too many fines. You can get pre-ground espresso (I recommend LaVazza InBlu, or Illy), or you can get yourself a good grinder (doesn't need to be great, as long as it grinds *evenly*). If you accidentally grind too finely, this machine comes with pins to un-clog the filter. You can save a bit of time by just rubbing your thumb over the filter aggressively while running watter over it.
4. Noise. Without a doubt, this is the noisiest espresso machine I've ever owned. That said, I just purchased a Kurieg for my wife, and it is noisier and had even more trouble with it's initial priming. To the Kurieg's credit, there is no grind to mess with, and the clean up is Zero. :)
Now for the stuff that Hasn't been mentioned, but if I where Cuisinart, I'd be shouting this from the roof tops...
1. This machine has the most rock solid temperature across shots I've ever seen. Nothing else comes close.
2. This machine has integrated pressure relief. It's not perfect, which is probably why they didn't mention it, but even Gaggia's solenoid freaks out from time to time too. Most every other manufacture with this feature charge double this machines cost. It's a big deal.
3. I've been inside DeLonghis, Gaggias, and others, this thing is pretty well built. It also looks pretty nice on the outside, and has a water res that is easy to use, large enough, and above all else, leak free.
4. The steam wand works well. It actually works better than my Gaggia's (which was 4 *times* as much money), but it is Different, and takes some initial practice.
5. This machine has an auto power down. That's a Very Nice feature that is often overlooked on less expensive machines, and it's very handy too.
6. The dosing on this thing actually works. I've had a couple other machines that claimed dosing, yet they all seemed pretty random. This one actually works and it works reliably. Before you think this is a feature you can live without, consider this: With non-dosing machines, you need to use a shot glass or some other way of eye-balling when to stop, then put into final glass for mixing. But, with dosing, you can punch up a double shot right into the final cup, and it gets it right. Every Time. How cool is That??? Very Cool!
The only things I wish they did different:
1. I wish the machine was quieter.
2. I wish they had a non-pressurized portafilter basket option.
But, when you compare that to the plus side, it's a no brainer: Buy This Machine!
Not having to temperature surf, not having gooey cleanup, having a cup warmer that actually works, AUTO POWER DOWN, dosing, etc., all for the price of a used Gaggia? Just click "Add to Cart" already!
55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2010
I did a lot of research and read a ton of reviews of different espresso machines before buying the Cuisinart EM-200. This machine works excellently, but you have to make sure that you read the instructions (or watch the included instructional DVD). Here's a couple things that will help you make sure that you brew great espresso with this machine, which is especially easy to do once you get the knack of it!:
1. Make sure that you use good quality water so that you're espresso tastes as great as possible. If you're water is chlorinated or has a lot of dissolved minerals or metals, then you should probably run it through a Brita, Pur, Zero, or some other filter.
2. Make sure that the water tank is seated well so it activates the spring valve on the tank otherwise you will not get any water into the machine. Also, if the tank is not seated properly, it could potentially leak. However, I have never had any problems with mine.
3. Think carefully about what coffee you are using. Lots of people seem to use "espresso roast" coffee, but then complain about the lack of crema production. Crema production is partly a function of the roast of the coffee. Many European espresso shops use medium roasts (sometimes called a "city roast"), which tend to yield a better crema. It's your coffee, of course, but you might want to keep this in mind before purchasing espresso, French, or Italian roasts for your espresso maker.
4. Make sure that your espresso grind is very fine and even, if you're not using espresso pods (I rarely use them). It's tough to get a good, consistently fine grind with a blade grinder so you'll probably want to use a bur grinder. There are a bunch of good ones out there for around $25-$50.
5. You'll want to use 13 grams of ground espresso for a 1.5 fluid ounce (the "single serving" standard brew on the EM-200), 17 grams if you're going to brew a double shot (2 fluid ounces ), and 25.5 grams if you're going to brew 3 fluid ounces (the "double serving" standard brew on the EM-200). You can use the combo tamper/measurer that comes with the machine, but because espresso can compress *very* easily, it's better to weigh it for the sake of consistency.
6. Make sure that you tamp your coffee down well. The combo tamper/measurer is a little hard to give ground espresso the right pressure, so I use a stainless steel tamper to tamp to 40 lbs. of pressure. (The instructions with the EM-200 are not very specific on the pressure, but 40 lbs. of pressure yields good results for me with this machine.) I place the portafilter on a kitchen towel and then tamp the coffee so as not to damage the portafilter.
7. If the EM-200 is starting cold, it can take a minute or so to heat up. I usually fire it up before measuring, grinding, and tamping the coffee. This way it is ready to go as soon as possible.
8. Either select the manual, pre-programmed single or double serving, or the programmed serving and brew your espresso! (I know right, finally!) On my machine with properly tamped espresso, the pre-programmed 1.5 fl. oz. and 3.0 fl. oz. buttons were spot on and yielded those exact amounts. (I measured them in a graduated beaker.) If your yields or steam production declines over time, it could be due to mineral buildup in your machine. You can run a mineral cleaning product through your machine. They are cheap to get and easy to find on Amazon.com or your local Bed, Bath, and Beyond, for example.
9. If you're frothing milk for your espresso, you'll want to hit the steam button right after your pulling your espresso shot so the machine builds steam as quickly as possible. Once the steam button indicates it is ready, start the steam over the draining grate on the machine (in case any water comes out). After you see good steam coming out, move your milk pitcher into position and heat your milk to around 160°-170° F. You'll probably want to use a frothing thermometer, which are pretty cheap ($5-10) to get.
10. Pour your milk and spoon your frothed milk into your espresso (if you're using it) and you're all set!
Cleaning the machine is easy. I clean the portafilter, steaming wand, and drip tray by hand since it's easy and far less harsh than the dishwasher.
I've read reviews of this machine and think that probably 90% of the complaints about this machine are due to "operator error" and people really not knowing what they are doing, in my opinion. This machine works great when you use it properly! :-)
This machine is definitely worth the money and if you're looking for a semi-automatic machine, then I would recommend this one!
68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2007
I read that another reviewer had trouble with her machine. Hopefully it was the exception and not the rule. It comes with a 3-year warranty, so I figure that I have reasonable protection should anything break.
This is my first espresso machine and I did a lot of shopping and read a ton of reviews before deciding to buy. I was nervous about buying it because there were zero reviews at the time. However, I loved the look, liked the feature set, and believed in the Cuisinart brand. I have had the machine for a week and have used it at least once each day. So far I am extremely pleased.
I had considered the DeLonghi EC155, which gets good ratings and is reasonably priced. However, it requires the operator to guess or measure the volume of espresso. I am terrible at guessing the volumes of liquids, so I liked that this machine has buttons that make a pre-set (or programmable) volume of coffee. It turns out that this is a great feature and really frees me to multi-task. In the mornings, I hit the power button, and by the time I fill the portafilter the machine is ready to brew. I hit the brew button and mix up my meal replacement shake. After the coffee is finished, I hit the steam button and pour the milk for frothing. It takes less than 30 seconds to froth and steam the milk, so I am pleased with its power. I have never run out of steam and was able to make a nice foam with very little practice. I can make my breakfast shake and a cappuccino or latte in under 10 minutes with the above process. Not bad for an amateur.
Overall I am very pleased with the machine and am having a great time with it. I would recommend it based on my experience thus far.
68 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2008
This unit is nicely put together, with its stainless steel finish. It definitely has a quality feel to it. I had no problem with turning the steam knob, as others have mentioned.
The machine makes excellent espresso, both in semi-automatic and manual modes. Good crema, excellent taste.
Where this machine fall short, though, is in steam volume. It takes a long time to froth the milk, and getting it right is very hit or miss. At first I thought there was more to the art of frothing than I'd assumed, and I kept working on my technique. The best approach, I found, was to include a couple of ice cubes in the milk, to keep the temperature down as the froth built up. Results were barely satisfactory.
I have since discovered that a stronger steam flow is the key to frothing effectively. I'm now using a fully automatic DeLonghi machine that makes excellent espresso and has a far more powerful flow of steam than this Cuisinart (at least the one I had).
If espresso is your thing and you don't mind the manual grinding, tamping, and brewing, this is a great machine. If frothing milk is part of your favorite drink, I'd suggest looking elsewhere.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2011
I bought my first home espresso machine, a baby Gaggia, more than 30 years ago. I know how to make espresso and I have made it with a series of machines we have owned, one at each of our two homes: Gaggia, Starbucks Barrista, a Swiss machine whose name I can't recall, and a Saeco Gran Crema. They generally last 5 to 7 years and (I'm assuming its used to make coffee, not as an ornament) then need replacing because machines in this price range aren't usually repairable at a cost that's worth it. When our Starbucks Barrista failed and we couldn't get another Saeco like the one we currently have at our other house--model discontinued--we tried this Cuisanart. A series of problems persuade me that their common cause is a defective pump or perhaps a defect in the water line feeding the pump.
Others have mentioned difficulty in priming the machine. It's true that every machine we have owned requires priming when you first use it and at any later time if it has been emptied of water. And the standard method for priming is simple--open the steam valve as if you were going to froth milk, except that you have machine set for brewing coffee, not steaming. The result is that a stream of water rather than steam comes out the frothing wand, and that primes the machine. This did not work with the Cuisinart. Having read another user's review suggesting it did work after it sat overnight, I tried that, and it was then able to prime. Odd, I thought, but no real problem. But then I saw that every time we frothed milk the machine would also release a lot of steam, after the frothing was done, from somewhere underneath. (This machine, unlike any I've seen before, seems to have some kind of relief valve located behind the drip tray.) This big cloud of steam concerned me, but so long as everything worked I thought well, another oddity but no real harm.
But everything did not work. The first warning sign was that the machine limped when you first turned on the steam function for frothing--it would take a while for the frother to get up a sufficient head of steam to do anything at all. This is the opposite of any other machine I've used, where the pressure builds up till the machine is ready to froth, and then when you open the steam valve it bursts forth at full pressure. Again, this seemed odd but I continued on. But then I had terrible problems making a decent cup of expresso with this machine and I ultimately had to use three shots to get the flavor for a cappuncino that should have required only two. It was not extracting properly, not after the first few cups I made. Then I tried the manual's recommended method for making a cappuccino, which is to froth first and then get your shot of coffee--not the order I have always thought best with this kind of machine, but since I was not having good success I tried it. Total failure because the cup of espresso it produced after frothing was pathetic--hot brown water with no flavor, not coffee. My wife had the same experience. So we went back to our method and kept hoping we would figure out how to make a decent cup of espresso. But then the machine lost its prime again--in the middle of frothing milk, with a water tank more than half full! That is simply impossible in a properly functioning machine.
So we returned the machine. The problem, I think, is either the pump, or the system for getting water from the tank to the pump. This machine, like the Saeco Gran Crema (a now discontinued model)at our other house, does not have tubes that go down into the water tank to extract the water. Instead, the bottom of the tank has a nozzle that fits over an intake valve on the machine when you set the filled water tank back on the machine. This is actually a very convenient system, and it works on our Saeco. But our Saeco also sometimes, when it had been empty, is a little tricky to prime, and they supply a tool for forcing water through the value in case you have a problem. My guess is that Cuisanart did not want to do that, scare people off, and thought they had designed a tubeless system that would work reliably and not need it. But they didn't. So that might explain why the pump often can't force the water through the coffee properly to extract what it should, and sometimes it won't prime at all without the water tank sitting full for hours, and sometimes it loses its prime in the middle of frothing!
There are other reviews here by folks who love this machine. It may well be that the problem is quality control in production, and that if you get a good one your are fine. But we chose to return rather than exchange for another because my feeling was that these quality problems did not augur well for for durability of even those machines that may start out working better than ours.
It's a big disappointment. The machine looks solid and feels hefty, and the programmable one and two shot buttons is a nice convenience we have never had. In contrast, our old Saeco seems much lighter and less impressive, but in fact it works great, produces great coffee and steams milk just fine.
We had tried the Saeco Aroma from Amazon but returned it without using it because the water tank came with a piece having been cracked off in shipping. But when we saw that machine, we realized it was not the same as the Saeco we have at our other house and love, and has a very annoying steam valve design, as some reviewers of that machine have pointed out. That's when we tried this cuisinart, which we bought locally and returned to the store. We have now ordered a Saeco Via Venezia from Amazon. It is not like the model we currently own, but appears, from the picture, to be very similar to the old Starbucks Barrista machines which we had and liked--and which were made for Starbucks by Saeco. So we are hopeful about that.
In short, my guess is that the Saeco Via Venezia is the best bet now in this price range but we will really know after we get it. But I do know that I would, sadly, have to advise strong against buying this cuisinart.
UPDATE: We have now received our Saeco Via Venezia. We are keeping it. It is clearly a slightly updated version of the old Starbucks' Barrista machine that Saeco made for them. It has no extra bells and whistles like programmable shot buttons on the Cuisanart. But it is built like a tank--as hefty as the Cuisinart with a more solid feel, it clearly has the same stainless steel pressure tank inside, as did the Barrista. It makes a great cup of espresso, good crema, and the steam wand has been improved a bit--froths the milk quickly, nice texture. It still has the steam wand on the left, which is a bit idiosyncratic but not a problem, and the wand, unlike the Saeco Aroma, swivels which is very convenient. Like the original model, you can fill the tank from an hatch opening on the top, or you can remove it entirely by pulling it forward (after removing the drip tray)and bringing it to your water source to fill (we use bottled rather than tap water since the tap water in the Phoenix area is awful and destroys the coffee). No oddities, it just works like it should, and fairly quietly. The main con with the machine is that it is sometimes difficult to see the water level in the tank (just a question of light, the tank is slightly darkened) but that may depend also on the lighting in that part of your kitchen. All in all, a very nice machine that I would expect would last.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2010
I received this espresso maker as a birthday gift. I am a hard-core coffee drinker, drink multiple cups daily and very particular about my coffee. I've used it for about two weeks and have to say, this machine makes as good or better espresso, lattes and breves than I can get at my local coffee house. It put a reasonably thick caramel-colored crema on the top of the very first cup of espresso, but after experimenting with different grinds and types of coffee (yes, I have been playing with it a lot!) I've gotten it just about perfect with no bitterness. You cannot expect a machine of this price range to handle every detail of brewing for you, so it's important that you make the effort to pick a good coffee, get the right grind and learn to tamp it to the right pressure for the machine. This takes a little experimenting and if you are willing to do this, you can get very good results with this machine.
Unlike other reviewers, I have not had trouble getting the milk to froth properly. There is a technique to this and once you get it, it textures up nicely and evenly with no large bubbles. The only thing I've found is that its best to do the milk first, then pull the espresso shot once the milk is done as there is little lag time with this method. If you do it the other way around, it takes a while for the frothing steam to heat up after you pull your espresso shot, and your espresso will sit there and cool while you work on the milk.
One thing I should note, I don't think Cuisinart's method of cleaning the steam wand is adequate. I found that periodically steaming a milk pitcher full of only hot water will release all sorts of milk residue out of the steam wand and that it seems to function better after doing this. I clean the wand as advised in the instructions between each latte, but when I'm done with the machine for the day, I will steam a mug of hot water before putting the machine away.
I cannot address longevity issues as I've only had the machine for a short time, but I'll update this review as I get a chance to put it to long term use.
Otherwise, good product, seems to be solidly built, attractive and great espresso! I really love it!
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2008
This machine is amazing! Makes great expresso! I bought this machine to replace a Breville that I was not completely happy with, as it made weak espresso and I needed to turn a knob to brew the correct amount. NOT WITH THIS MACHINE! Push a button and walk away, come back to a single or double shot. The water tank is easy to refill (I use a clean syrup bottle to refill it, instead of removing it). The frothing knob is hard to turn at first, but upon the 3rd or 4th use, it is fine. I do not find the frothing wand to be too low or drippy, after all it swivels over the drip tray, duh!!! Looks great on the counter, large cup warming surface, truly stainless, not painted plastic, like some of the Breville is. A++++++
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2010
From reading the other reviews, it appeared that people either love this or they hate it. Those who hate it couldn't get it to pump water from the start, and returned it as defective. I reasoned that the defects had to be ironed out, so I took a chance. Plugged it in, filled it up -- didn't pump water. Took the tank off & put it back on several times; tried the steam wand; nothing.
It was late at night, so I decided to return it in the morning. Meanwhile, I did more research, and others figured that there had to be a vacuum or bubble in the water feed, but there was no way to "burp" it. Three hours later, I went back in the kitchen, and it worked fine. It just needed to sit on the counter with a tank full of water for a while. If you do this the first time, it's never a problem again. I agree that this shouldn't be happening, but how many of the top rated Italian machines are described as "tempermental", or needing a little extra attention? It's a minor quirk of the machine -- just be patient. You'll only have to deal with this once. After that, the convenience of having the only fully automatic espresso maker under $200 will make you forget all about it. It's a good machine. Here's my take on some of the negatives I've read:
Water won't flow: Fill the tank and let it sit for a while. No biggie.
Noise: This is BY FAR less noisy than the Krups pump machine I replaced. Very quiet.
Cheap materials: Only the portafilter handle feels kind of plastic, but it works fine.
This is a home unit -- the only fully automatic pump machine I've found for under $200. The main unit is full stainless steel, not silver plastic like competing units. The portafilter isn't going to bother you unless you're used to something else, and if that's the case, just use your old portafilter (my old Krups portafilter fits like a glove). But seriously, the one that comes with it works just fine. The tamper is plastic too, but they throw in a nice stainless steel frothing pitcher for free. The rest of the machine is very well built and good quality. The exterior, including the whole drip tray unit, is solid stainless steel.
The espresso itself is wonderful, with a nice crema. The convenience is outstanding. I used to waste so much coffee when I got distracted early in the morning, and my old maker overflowed. With this one, I just push a button and walk away. The programmability works as advertised. The warming tray warms. The steamer wand steams. This is a fine machine that stands on its own merits, but when you factor in cost, it is an outstanding value at under $200 (just try pricing any other fully automatic programmable machine, and you'll see). I wouldn't hesitate to buy it again.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2010
This is our fifth espresso machine, so we consider ourselves "professional" home cappucino maker users. Last time we bought a Gaggia from Costco (it was slightly more than this one) and it worked ok, but it was completely manual and lots of things started breaking until it was unusable after about two years. Of course this Cuisinart is brand new, but we use it several times every day and so far it far exceeds our experience with espresso makers. It is extremely easy to use, we love the automatic functions and the foam is dense and fluffy and it makes sufficient for each cup of espresso.
October 21, 2012 edit: We have had some issues with this machine, based on our usage, which is probably far more than the average home based on my husband's consumption alone. However, while the machine is under warranty the company will replace it with a brand new one, free of charge, and have for us.
The metal baskets have a tendency to eventually clog up, despite running vinegar or cleaning solutions through. Cuisinart has also sent us new metal baskets at our request, again free of charge. We purchased our Cuisinart cappuccino maker almost three years ago and, while it may not be perfect, taking into consideration our heavy usage and customer service from the company, I am very impressed.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2008
I love this machine. I love that I can push a button and walk away. I think that what the other customer said is true about the knob. But trying only one more time just isn't giving it a chance to loosen up. I did have a tough time with the steam knob but I have been using it daily sometimes up to 3 to 4 times a day and have no more problems with the knob. I have had this machine for about a month now. I'm so glad I picked this machine just be sure to brew your coffee always before steaming your milk. I can even start the steam on my milk and walk away or do dishes while it steams. I have saved so much money so far by not buying a coffee everyday. In just one month I have saved half of the cost I have paid for this machine. Well coffee about $4.00 a piece and I have had about two a day sense I bought this machine. My boyfriend also makes 1-2 a day too. I do go through alot of milk but a gallon of milk is cheaper than one coffee.... Good investment. I recommened...