Francis Francis 208003 X8 iperEspresso Machine, Black
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- Pump-driven espresso machine that exclusively uses Illy coffee capsules
- 2-stage brewing process ensures full-bodied aromatic coffee with crema
- Simple controls; easy-to-read LED display; manual shut-off; steam wand
- 40-ounce removable water reservoir; decalcification solution included
- Measures 13-4/5 by 8 by 13-2/5 inches; 1-year warranty
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The X8 machines uses the new revolutionary iperEspresso Method to prepare espresso. Hyper Espresso is a unique and innovative two-stage process. The first is hyper infusion. This is followed by emulsion, resulting in a thick, velvety crema and full-bodied espresso.
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This machine is for people who want convenience. This machine uses pre-packaged espresso servings. If you do not want to fuss or mess that comes with grinding your own beans, you have three options:
1. Nespresso. You have to buy the machine and the capsules from Nespresso. I tried this machine and didn't really like the espresso. Not enough rich crema.
2. E.S.E Pods. Made by lots of different companies. This is an industry standard format. It's basically like an individually packaged tea bag, with a compressed puck of finely ground coffee inside. You could use this in a convensional espresso machine with the appropriate adaptor. Widely available. But the quality of your espresso will depend highly on your machine.
3. Illy's iperEspresso capsules, used by this machine, the Francis Francis X8. Not much of a selection of coffee, but what they do offer is very good. The crema is excellent. I find the machine very easy to use. The multi-color LED tells me when the machine is ready. Switches quickly between brew and steam (< 30 seconds). The frothing wand works pretty well, but it tends to over froth a bit. That's great for cappuccinos, but not so great for lattes.
1. Extremely easy and convenient.
2. It acually makes decent drinks.
3. Seems to be good quality construction.
4. Never really runs out of steam. The pump inject small amounts of water into the boiler while steaming.
5. Switches between steam and brew (and vice versa) in under 30 seconds.
6. Heats up very quickly (under 30 seconds).
1. This is not for espresso connoisseurs. The espresso is acceptable, but not in the same league as a Rancillio or Gaggia. My other machine is a Silvia. I bought the X8 because I wanted a second machine for the office, where grinding beans and making a mess is not an option.
2. The Illy capsules are not individually wrapped. Once you open the tin (14 capsules), the shelf life is 14 days.
3. The construction quality is excellent, keeping in mind the whole thing is plastic. Again, not in the same league as something 100% stainless steel or polished chrome.
4. The steam power is very weak, however due the sophisticated design of the steam wand, it does a good job creating froth because it mixes lots of air into the milk. Nonetheless, you don't really have the power or flexibility that you'd find on a high-end machine.
5. It's mainly designed for single shot drinks. A tripple shot "venti" cappuccino will be rather tough to make with this machine (and expensive). Steaming a large enough portion of milk will be a slow process. Also, it would take you nearly two minutes to brew three capsules. By then, both your crema from the first shot and froth in the sitting milk would have started to collapse and your end result will not be great.
Overall, I love this machine.
After using the machine for about 2.5 years, it stopped working. It began leaking cold water from the base of the machine, and did not pump water through the pods anymore. I had performed the regular descaling maintenance as required, and used only filtered water in the machine. Customer service informed me that it was only under warranty for 9 months, and my options were to pay to have the machine repaired myself or to purchase a new machine. The minimum cost of paying to have them look at it (not even the cost of the repairs) was almost the cost that I originally paid for the machine. So although I enjoyed the Francis Francis X8 while it worked, I cannot recommend it. For the price, I would expect an espresso machine to last longer than a few years. Given Illy's inability to stand by their product, I'm don't think I will purchase an espresso machine from them again. Does anyone have a pod espresso machine by another company that they recommend? I'm in the market again.