Top positive review
98 people found this helpful
I use it ALL the time; best gift ever!
on November 26, 2013
Note: this was a gift with accessories (tamper, stainless steel "jug", grinder, cups rack and plates, etc) all from Amazon, and I haven't yet used the coffee pot. (I've already got one; this will be used when the other one blows; we drink a LOT of coffee so I anticipate needing the coffee pot part one day, lol).
I'm a major espresso drinker, so what a nice gift this was! I've had a few others, but either they didn't shoot the water hard enough to get a good pull, or the machines were too complicated and hard to clean ...and those machines sit in my cabinets. When I first opened this present, I was honestly thrilled because someone KNEW I loved espresso, but I admit, I also imagined, "oh my, a THIRD espresso maker to sit in my cabinets ...while I visit coffee shops in town," but after I tried it, I'll admit, I've used this Every. Single. Day. since I've gotten it. A month yesterday.
My "likes" about this one:
* GOOD PRESSURE due to sturdy construction of the water basin (for good jets of hot water, and good steam). The lid and machine feels heavy like a pressure cooker. (By the way: GET THE TAMPER! It makes all the difference) so you can get a good pull of even 4 shots at a time. This is the important part, really, because if you don't get the pressure, you'll won't get that microfoam milk, and then you won't get the magic (crema) to your espresso. No pressure, you get flat, "drip coffee" espresso with no crema, no matter how you tamp it. GOT to have the pressure. So that makes this machine at the least adequate: you WILL get a good pull of espresso.
Although you do the milk first, I set it up with the coffee tamped and locked in, add the water for both the milk AND the espresso, then froth the milk, clean the steam nozzle (using the steam and a sponge), then turn the knob to espresso immediately (takes a few seconds all told). Filling the portafilter with coffee grounds and tamping is easy, and easy to clean. Of course before you lock it in, you tamp your coffee: TAMPING IS HUGE! The harder the tamp, the creamier the espresso! Only problem I've seen is rather common: if you're only making only a few shots, the tamper can get stuck, so you pull it out funny and you lose your tamp (flat, hard pressure fill) and have to start over again. So my attitude is, since you just need a LITTLE more grains to make 4 shots, make the four shots! Tamper never gets stuck then, and you'll get good pulls (complete with crema, that brown froth stuff in your espresso from a good tamp)!
* FROTHING THE MILK. It may not be evident: you froth your milk first, then pull your espresso, which is why the carafe has a "steam" indicator line around the 1 shot mark. You're supposed to pour the steam water in machine, wait, turn dial towards you to froth your milk, froth your milk, then open the machine and pour in more water for your espresso, then pull your espresso. WELL, I CHEAT: I pour the whole shebang (amount of espresso water I want to pull PLUS amount of steam I want, which varies depending on my milk and the drink I want). That way, the minute my milk is frothed and my nozzle is cleaned, I turn the knob back to "espresso" and let the machine do it's magic.
YOU WILL GET NICE FROTH! I'm talking, MICROFOAM, not BUBBLES. I couldn't believe I got a machine that could produce microfoam! YAY! Mostly, it's in HOW you hold your stainless steel milk container: the little holes that shoot steam should be immersed JUST to the little holes; if you have enough pressure, and this machine does, you'll get a good microfoam easily within 30 seconds. (In fact, it can boil on you if you're not keeping an eye on it, so respect this machine: it'll quadruple your milk in seconds and you'll get bubbles.) There are youtubes on the methods to get various froths, but what's nice about this machine is the steam nodule rotates to your preferred position, and is long enough you can avoid burns, so you can really keep an eye on it and control your frothing. (AND NOT GET BURNED!)
The problem I've had with steam nozzles on other machines is that the steam nozzles seem like "afterthoughts": the steam nozzles weren't long enough, so you'd burn yourself trying to froth, grrr, or the machine didn't make hot enough steam to blow the surface of the milk, much less to froth it. But this machine shoots out PLENTY of hot steam. I can do breves (with heavier cream) on this machine. So Caps and lattes are EASY. (Mainly make sure you add more water if you're wanting to froth half-and-half or whole milk.)
* MILK CLEANUP: I use a little extra water so when my milk is frothed, I set it aside, have a damp sponge available (SPONGE or you'll burn yourself!!!) and use the scrubby side of the sponge to wrap it around the nozzle and twist the sponge around AS THE STEAM IS COMING OUT; then I let steam escape alone for a few seconds, then I hit it with the sponge again and then turn the knob to espresso and wipe the counter if needed. NO dried up milk on the nozzle, and I haven't had to use needles to clean the little steam holes at all. EASY clean up. I pull the espresso, pour it, add the frothed milk, rinse the milk container, turn the machine off, and that's IT. I'm drinking my latte and have left the kitchen. I use this thing like, several more times a day than I should, LOL, but when cleanup is easy, and you don't have burn marks on your hands from too-short nozzles, you WILL use the thing.
* GENERAL CLEAN UP! Dude, it's done! No seriously, I'm drinking a breve or latte and the counter's clean. Just turn the machine off and forget it. I use it enough that a few hours later, when it's cool to the touch, I tap the coffee grains out and am ready to go again. If I'm headed to bed, I'll tap the grains out at night, then rinse the portafilter, but that's it. You're DONE. DRINK! DEO GRATIAS! If this thing breaks, I'm buying another one.