Tag Archives: espresso machine

Capresso EC PRO Espresso Machine

Capresso EC PRO Espresso Machine

The Capresso EC PRO Espresso Machine is a professional commercial grade espresso machine that has an open bottom and two shot portafilter for control and convenience.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

A bottomless portafilter shows you exactly how well or badly you are pulling your shot in an honest and direct way that closed filters cannot. Before you can even enjoy or cringe at the quality of your work a bottomless filter will show you whether you got the tamp, grind and dose right.

If you get everything correct when making your preparations a bottomless portafilter will have a smooth steady flow into your cup. An uneven tamp, wrong amount or incorrect grind of beans will splatter all over the machine and possibly your counter.

The bottomless filter is just one way of improving your espresso while a quality commercial grade machine makes for the beginnings of good espresso. The EC PRO from Capresso comes with a removable water tank and the two porta filters as well as a plastic scoop/tamper and instructions.

Capresso EC PRO Espresso Machine
Capresso EC PRO

The machine is stainless steel with a quality pump and boiler for the perfect pressure and temperature that also warms the top of the machine for a cup warming tray. The EC PRO has the usual removal tank that holds 42 ounces of water so there are not constant trips to the sink for filling.

The removable stainless steel tray is handy for cleanup while the machines steel surface also makes the work after a bad shot easy. Just like any espresso machine bad shots are inevitable but pulling good ones comes pretty easily and fast when you do a little research.

Nothing beats using a bottomless portafilter to see what you’re doing wrong but the enjoyment of pulling that perfect shot is almost priceless. The EC PRO is an excellent machine and well worth the cost which is around $250.

whats in the box Capresso EC PRO
Whats in the Box

The steaming wand also makes quick work of frothing or steaming and is easy to use with a little practice just like pulling shots. The wand is not removable for easier cleaning but this is a tradeoff with the quality of the machine and any convenience you may gain.

Controls on the front consist of a main power switch and a heater switch for the espresso or steamer with an on off dial for the espresso and steamer function. The EC PRO really is easy to use and did not require more than a casual glance at the instruction book for me when I first unpackaged it.

I cannot recommend highly enough the EC PRO as an inexpensive espresso machine that makes espresso like the higher costing machines. I have been using the EC PRO for a couple months and have been very pleased with my results and very excited to delve into the very visual bottomless portafilter.

I highly recommend the EC PRO from Capresso as a fantastic espresso machine for the home that is a professional commercial grade appliance.

EC PRO @ Capresso

EC PRO @ Amazon

Pros
Quality materials and workmanship
Large removable water tank
Excellent choice of portafilters

Cons
Plastic scoop/tamper is not good at tamping

Mr Coffee Steam Espresso Cappuccino Maker Model BVMC-ECM260

Mr Coffee Steam Espresso/Cappuccino Maker Model BVMC-ECM260

The Mr Coffee Steam Espresso/Cappuccino Maker is a great basic espresso maker that can also steam or froth milk for great espresso based drinks.

Ease of Use/Performance: 3/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 4/5

Total: 4/5

Mr Coffee Steam Espresso Cappuccino Maker

The Mr Coffee Steam Espresso/Cappuccino Maker model BVMC-ECM260 is the newest basic espresso machine from Mr Coffee that uses steam to make espresso. The Steam Espresso machine does a good job at making espresso but not as good as a pump driven machine can.

To make a really decent espresso you need to force very hot water through the fine ground coffee beans and steam just does not emulsify the oils like a pump machine will. The Mr Coffee does more like a moka pot but also gives you the ability to make steamed or frothed milk at the same time.

The main difference between a steam driven machine and a pump one is that a pump espresso machine will force the water through the grounds faster and with more force. When the hot water is forced through the grounds with enough pressure it extracts more of the coffee beans flavor and creates the crema which espresso is known for.

The Mr Coffee Steam Espresso Machine does a good enough job at making espresso and you can enjoy a quick cup to four cups of espresso from the machine. Making espresso is as easy as grinding your coffee beans and filling the stainless steel porta filter to the appropriate level and installing it on the machine.

Whats in the Box

Fill water in the top fill water reservoir and ensure the cap is on tight then turn the side control knob to brew with the glass carafe under the porta filter. The Mr Coffee steam machine will brew the espresso in about four and a half minutes for four cups of espresso.

I found that stopping the brew process at about half way between the two and four cup level indicators was perfect to get four cups without getting any bitter taste. The Mr Coffee steam espresso machine has enough steam pressure to steam or froth two or three drinks along with making the four cups of espresso.

You may not be able to steam or froth four full drinks out of the same filling of the water reservoir but a few times I did have enough for four cappuccinos. I did try numerous times but on occasion there just was not enough steam to heat up milk for four drinks.

I have used the Mr Coffee Steam Espresso Machine for a few months and have made mostly just espresso for a quick four cup on the go drink. The four cups of espresso nicely fills my Starbucks Christmas travel mug even though it is an eight ounce cup.

Mr Coffee Steam Espresso

The four cup espresso carafe is about 8 ounces of liquid which is a bit more than true espresso but this really only makes very strong coffee. The Mr Coffee Steam Espresso Machine is great if you have never made espresso drinks before and want to try your hand at lattes and cappuccinos without spending much money.

While some may say that the steam espresso machine is nothing compared to a real pump driven espresso machine it does make a decent enough espresso. The Mr Coffee Espresso Machine is a nice introduction into espresso and starts you off without costing too much.

You will need a good grinder as well and a common advice I have seen from espresso connoisseurs is to buy a good grinder and a steam machine to get started in espresso. I have often read at espresso websites and do agree that the single most important piece of equipment for great espresso is the grinder.

You can use the same grinder for the steam machine and a pump machine but you will need to start off with a good grinder to make any espresso. You can always upgrade the espresso machine later which is why so many recommend a good grinder first.

Mr Coffee Espresso & Cappuccino

The Mr Coffee Steam Espresso Machine does an excellent job at frothing milk without using much of a technique like other frothers may require. The frothing wand or frothing aid as Mr Coffee calls it is designed to allow for quick and easy frothed milk without much effort.

You can also use the steam feature to heat milk for lattes just as quickly and cleanup of the frothing and steaming wand is easy. The rubber end of the frother comes off for easy washing while the wand can be wiped clean along with the machine itself.

The carafe and lid as well as the removable tray are dishwasher safe or can be washed by hand with soapy water and a quick rinse. The Mr Coffee Steam Espresso Machine does a great job at making espresso and espresso based drinks for a beginner and has the price tag to match.

The BVMC-ECM260 costs about $45 which is pretty good for an introduction into the world of espresso and espresso based drinks like cappuccino. I highly recommend the Mr Coffee Steam Espresso Machine BVMC-ECM260 for a good start at espresso with an easy to use and clean machine.

BVMC-ECM260 @ Mr. Coffee
BVMC-ECM260 @ Amazon

Mr. Coffee Steam Espresso Machine Video

Pros

Inexpensive espresso machine
Easy to clean
Very easy to use frother

Cons
Does not make very good crema

Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe d Italia Single Cup Espresso Machine

Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe d Italia Single Cup Espresso Machine

The Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe dItalia Espresso System is a new single serve capsule espresso machine that serves up authentic espresso that tastes great but variety is lacking.

Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe dItalia Espresso System

Ease of Use/Performance: 4/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 4/5
Total: 4/5

 

The Bialetti I Caffe dItalia Espresso System is a great espresso machine that makes espresso from capsules that are unique to Bialetti. The Bialetti Mini Express espresso machine comes with the compact pump designed system with a side water tank and pullout tray that collects the empty capsules and drips.

The machine from a retailer will comes with a small variety pack of 10 capsules with the new machine but this may not be enough to see which on you like. The capsules and espresso machine are starting to be available at websites such as Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond as well as the Bialetti shopping website but not in local stores as yet.

Parts of the Bialetti Mini Express

The Bialetti Mini Express System uses a 20 bar pump to push the water through the capsules but the machine is a mechanical ejection with the top handle that moves the capsule into position when you close it. When you open it again to put the next capsule in the current capsule falls into the tray which is also an empty capsule container.

The Bialetti I Caffe dItalia has a rear power switch that turns the heater on and the front push button switch starts and stops brewing. When you have placed a capsule in the top capsule spot and have heated the machine you simply place a cup on the tray and push the small espresso cup indicator to start the brewing and again to stop the extraction.

I would consider the Bialetti Mini Express single serve espresso machine a manual one because you have to manually insert and eject the capsules as well as manually start and stop the brewing process. To clean the machine you can add some scale remover to the tank and run this through the machine then rinse out well with the same brewing process without a capsule installed.

The capsule system works well and it’s very easy to put capsules into as well as ejecting them into the tray and the system is quick with only a minute or two to go from off to heated and steamy cup of espresso. The espresso is great with a very good amount of crema and flavor for all the varieties they have available but the choice of only 5 capsules is a bit limiting.

Capsule Lever and Capsule Bialetti Mini Express

The decaf or Italian Deca is a medium roast while the other four available capsules are a light roast called Milano, mild roast called Venezia, medium roast called Roma and a dark roast called Napoli. I prefer the Roma as the dark roast is a bit too bitter for me but the light roasts are also very good but more variety would be nice.

The variety is a bit of a disappointment and I am hoping that Bialetti will come out with more of a variety like Nespresso has as well as a possibility for refillable capsules. The capsules for the Bialetti I Caffe dItalia are available from Bialetti and Bed Bath & Beyond for 75 cents and 62 cents per capsule respectively.

This is a pretty good price per cup of espresso when you compare it to the other espresso machines that use capsules like Nespresso which I have found cost at least 75 cents per capsule. Comparing to the Nespresso for taste is also not very fair when you consider that Nespresso has a couple dozen flavors of capsules while Bialetti only has five currently.

The Bialetti Mini Express I Caffe dItalia is a great machine and as easy to use as the current Nespresso manual machine and costs about the same for the machine which is $150. The capsules are where you save money and the Bialetti espresso machine can make a better machine for the home with a savings of at least 10 cents per espresso capsule.

Brewing an Espresso Bialetti Mini Express

While 10 cents may not seem like much over time it could change your mind when comparing the cost for 30 cents per day for three espressos a day means saving about $100 a year. This can be a significant savings if you have frequent espressos and the Bialetti machine does a great job of giving you one after the other of great tasting espresso.

I had no problems taking the machine to a hotel during a conference and using this for a few days and brewing eight shots in a row before checking out of my hotel room. I wanted to have a few shots of espresso for the trip home and ran eight espressos one after the other to put into a small thermos and had no problems.

The Bialetti Mini Express single serve espresso machine does work well and the only thing holding me back from making a top rating is the lack of variety for capsules which I hope Bialetti will solve soon. I highly recommend the Bialetti I Caffe dItalia as a great single serve espresso machine but you are limited to the current five capsule choices at the time of this review.

I Caffe dItalia @ Bialetti

I Caffe dItalia @ Amazon

I Caffe dItalia Capsules @ Bed Bath & Beyond

I Caffe dItalia @ Cerini Coffee & Gifts

Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid Espresso Maker Review

Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid Espresso Maker

The Handpresso Wild Hybrid makes a decent espresso and with the Outdoor Set Hybrid you have just about everything you need to make espresso in one handy case on the road or outdoors.

Ease of Use/Performance: 3/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 4/5
How much I enjoy 3/5
Recommendation: 4/5

Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid

I love espresso but don’t have the money or a good enough website to get the more expensive machines that coffee centric websites get for reviewing. I love checking out those oddities in every product area and the Handpresso Wild Hybrid does qualify as one of those non main stream espresso makers.

The Handpresso Wild Hybrid is the latest hand pump espresso maker where you only need a way to heat up water to get espresso wherever you happen to be. The Outdoor Set Hybrid does come with a way to store that hot water in a convenient thermos so you’re all set to hit the road and enjoy a fresh espresso.

The Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid contains the Handpresso Wild Hybrid, the single-hand thermos-flask, four unbreakable cups, a small napkin and the instructions for the Handpresso Wild Hybrid. I also received an extra rubber gasket for the Handpresso Wild Hybrid but I am not sure if this is in every package as it does not state this on the website at handpresso.com.

Parts of the Handpresso Wild Hybrid

The Outdoor Set Hybrid is very handy and would makes a great set to take on camping and other outdoor trips as well as hotel use or on the road for business trips. The Handpresso Wild Hybrid is the heart of the set and makes some pretty decent espresso for the hand pump espresso maker that it is.

I have made “espresso” in Moka pots and using the Aeropress but would not really categorize their results as real espresso as it does not have the same flavors and richness that pressure extracting gives. Real espresso needs pressure and heat to process the coffee beans or the flavor is just not there so the Handpresso does have at least what it takes to be considered espresso.

The Handpresso hybrid works by adding hot water to the cup and uses either an espresso pod or ground espresso in a basket to extract the shot of espresso. You do need to use very hot water and preheating the Handpresso bowl and cap does help to make better espresso as well as using fresh espresso that is also freshly ground.

The body of the Handpresso Wild Hybrid uses a hand pump to pump to get 16 bars of pressure and the push button on the side of the filter basket releases the air through the filter. To use the Handpresso Wild Hybrid for either fresh ground espresso they have a small basket while the E.S.E. pod uses the adapter that holds the E.S.E. pod above the water.

Handpresso Indicators

The Wild Hybrid does a great job of extracting a decent shot of espresso but it does lack the crema that indicates at least some of the CO2 necessary in its formation. CO2 is important to forming crema and getting the oils out of the grounds as it passes through but it does not indicate good flavor, only that gasses have been trapped.

The taste we get from espresso grounds come from the oils and the soluble liquids that have passed through the grounds and not the gasses trapped in the liquid as it drops into the cup. I have had good shots of espresso from a relatively cheap machine and some great shots from slightly more expensive ones.

I have also sampled coffee shops for shots of espresso straight from the machine to make sure I knew what I was missing at home in my search for inexpensive home espresso and reviewing the machines I was getting. I can say that the Handpresso Wild Hybrid does make a good enough shot and is worth your money as a portable espresso machine.

The Outdoor Set does give you everything you need for on the go espresso in a handy and very stylish case but the thermos does not keep the water hot enough for very long. At home I used water just below boiling and did rinse out the bowl and cap of the Handpresso to preheat it but using the thermos it does not stay hot enough to preheat the bowl and have hot enough water for great espresso.

Handpresso Espresso and Bialetti Mokona

The thermos is a great addition and without any other options out in the woods or on the road where coffee shops are just not to be found the thermos along with the Handpresso does work well. Checking out other people’s opinions about the Handpresso Wild Hybrid I did come across several video reviews but the overwhelming opinion about the quality of the espresso shot can be summed up in a quote. “It’s like really strong coffee”

I just think that the Handpresso Wild Hybrid misses the mark for great espresso even after using the device through two boxes of Lavazza and Illy E.S.E. pods and at least the same amount of shots from ground espresso. I was just not that impressed with the shots of espresso from the Wild Hybrid and felt for the price you should be getting a bit better shots.

The Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid does make it convenient to make espresso when you’re outdoors or without the convenience of a better machine which does give me pause in my recommendation. In the end the Handpresso does make a good enough espresso and if you need a handy all in one kit for making espresso on the go or outdoors the Handpresso Outdoor Kit Hybrid is worth a look.

Handpresso Wild Hybrid @ Handpresso

Handpresso Outdoor Set Hybrid Website

Seattle Coffee Gear

Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Electric Espresso Maker

Imusa Bistro Espresso Maker

The Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Espresso Maker is an affordable espresso machine for all those great espresso based drinks with the included frother that adds that perfect touch to a finished cappuccino or macchiato.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4.5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 4.5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 4.5/5

Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Espresso Maker

There are a broad range of espresso machines out there and the cost is also widely varying from under a hundred dollars to well over ten thousand for those fully automatic ones you see in the coffee shops. Being a home barista and creating those fancy espresso based drinks does not have to start off expensive and you can easily work toward those more expensive appliances while enjoying your own espresso drinks.

At the lower end of the cost scale we have the Imusa Bistro 4 cup Espresso Maker that is a great 4 cup machine that both makes espresso and has the additional frother for the frothed milk and steaming. Lattes, cappuccino’s, machiattos and other drinks based on espresso are all at your hands with the Bistro Espresso Maker with a simple to use system that has the internal tank heating system.

The Bistro Espresso Maker comes with the machine itself, a glass carafe with lid, filter basket, porta filter and instruction manual. Imusa also sent me the 4 cup porcelain espresso set called Peace with chrome rack which makes a nice accompaniment to the espresso machine.

Whats in the Box Imusa Bistro Espresso Maker

Imusa has a wide variety of espresso cup and saucer sets with racks and at the affordable price of the espresso machine getting a set of cups and saucers will not be all that hard on your wallet. The 8 piece porcelain set has the 4 cups and saucers with a chrome rack that holds all the set to keep things organized on your counter or in your cupboard.

The Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Espresso Machine is easy to use with the tank for water accessible from the top under a plastic cover to keep things neat looking when not in use and the screw top makes for a secure pressure tank during use. To make espresso you simply fill the tank with water and fill the filter basket of the porta filter with your choice of espresso then twist the porta filter on the machine.

The handle on the side for making espresso or steaming is easy to use as well and simply turning the handle to the espresso marking starts the pressure and heating. Once the machine has brewed about 2 cups of espresso you can turn the handle to the steam setting to froth or steam milk for those espresso based.

Fresh Cappuccino

I found the machine was easy to use and having the correct grind is an all important step to brewing good espresso but getting practice with the machine is also helpful. Once you have the process down you can experiment with various drinks like lattes and cappuccinos’ but the espresso itself is very good.

I also received a 10 ounce Café La Llave pre ground espresso from Don Francisco’s Coffee Trader’s which made a fine choice for this review. If you just want to try some espresso and keep the starting costs down you can buy ground espresso such as Café La Llave for a try at the world of espresso and see how easy it is to make.

I had no problems using the machine and for the cost it does make very good espresso but this is only a basic machine for the price of about $40. I did find that you really need to be careful with going to 4 cups of espresso as toward the end of the 4 cups you can get bitter tasting coffee because of the scalding of the espresso grounds.

Cafe La Llave Espresso

The more time you are pulling a shot of espresso the more bitter it can be and to try and go for 4 shots of espresso can be trying your luck a bit. The balance between good espresso trying to make the four shots the machine is capable of can be a bit of a balancing act but I found the machine is fast enough to just worry about making two at a time.

I do think this type of machine with more shots than a more expensive espresso machine does work well enough and is well worth a look for someone looking to break into espresso making. A good grinder is also essential but using a ground espresso like the Café La Llave can also work well for a starter as well as buying espresso ground at a local coffee shop that sells and grinds espresso beans.

Imusa 8 Piece Porcelain Espresso Set

I highly recommend the Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Espresso Machine for anyone wanting to try their hand at espresso and to start their own home barista. After finding how easy it is you can slowly work your way up to better espresso starting with a good grinder then maybe a better espresso machine.

Bistro 4 Cup Electric Espresso Maker @ Imusa

Imusa Bistro 4 Cup Electric Espresso Maker @ Target

Francis Francis Y1 IperEspresso Machine

Francis Francis Y1 by Illy

The Illy Francis Francis Y1 is a capsule exclusive espresso machine that uses the Illy iperEspresso capsules to make really quick espresso drinks with the compact and handy machine.

Ease of Use/Performance: 25/25
Convenience/Storage 25/25
Appearance/Design 20/25
How much I enjoy 24/25

Total: 94/100

Francis Francis Y1 IperEspresso Machine from Illy

The Illy Francis Francis Y1 iperEspresso Machine is a new capsule espresso machine that easily makes espresso’s in a very short time without hassle. The Y1 machine only takes a minute to warm up and you simply put a capsule into the capsule compartment and use the lever to lock down the top compartment then press the brew button.

The Illy Francis Francis Y1 which costs about $175 uses iperEspresso capsules made exclusively by Illy and only these capsules to brew a single espresso. The Y1 comes with the machine itself but you will have to order some espresso capsules to get you started as they are not included with the machine.

Since this machine uses capsules and does not use any kind of grounds you do not need anything but the machine, it does have two pull out pieces in the water tank and empty capsule drawer. The machine is easy to understand and use, simply plug it in, fill the water tank and run some water through it to clean it out.

Once you want to start your first cup of espresso simply place a capsule in the compartment using the pull up handle and push it closed. You have to make sure you catch the handles hooks into the base of the unit on the tower when closing but this is really the only tricky part.

Turn the machine on and once the white light around the button comes on the unit is ready to use, push the stainless steel button and the water will start to flow through the capsule into your cup. The machine is used expressly for smaller cups but it does have a little extra room when you remove the steel platform for your cup.

Francis Francis Y1 Whats in the Box

The Illy Francis Francis Y1 goes through a two step process when brewing with the water going through the grounds in the capsule then the brew getting aerated in the bottom of the capsule. The Y1 is easy to cleanup as the coffee never touches the machine parts, water goes through a small needle like piece in the top and then the capsule only.

I have noticed it does get a little coffee on the back of the tower above your cup tray but this is easily wiped off but also the capsule drawer needs rinsing out. When you’re done with the brewing simply cycle the handle to have the machine pickup and deposit the capsule into the drawer.

This also puts a little brewed espresso in the drawer that spills from the capsules when they go tumbling into the drawer. You should clean out this drawer every few days if you put capsules into it as the dripped coffee can start to mold if you leave it in for a week or more.

The etched glass top has plenty of room to place cups, not included, for warming on the decorated top which makes the Francis Francis Y1 look very distinguished. The machine is about 9.5 by 9.5 inches square so has a smaller space for your countertop and is shorter than most espresso machines.Francis Francis Y1 Machine Inserting Capsule

Using the machine is simple but this is only used with the capsules from Illy so you need to continue purchasing them either on the internet or at local stores. My unit came with two cans, 21 capsules each, but you can purchase a variety of capsules at about $20 to $30 per can of 21.

I did not find any at my local stores but Bed, Bath and Beyond as well as other stores do carry them so you may find them locally depending on the store near you. Illy also offers a bargain with a recurring coffee capsule delivery for three cans of capsules and you get the machine for $125.

The recurring delivery is three cans a month of any variety at their price so you can always have capsules for your coffee available at home. The capsules are pretty good to use and the espresso you get is very good but not as good as from a regular espresso machine.

The machine may not be quite as good as regular espresso from a more conventional machine but it does make a really quick cup of coffee or espresso which is what it excels at. You can make one or even two espresso shots in about three minutes without any fuss with cleanup that does taste good, but the lack of crema is noticeable.

Francis Francis Y1 Parts

I find this machine is perfect if you need a quick shot or two of espresso for on the go drinks as you get ready to face the day. The Francis Francis Y1 makes an excellent machine for an office as well as home use if you need quick coffee or espresso while you’re heading out the door.

I used this more often when going on a trip or out for some errands in the morning and wanted to make a quick drink before tackling the day. The Illy Francis Francis Y1 makes an excellent espresso machine for on the go use for a really quick espresso for your espresso based drinks.

Francis Francis Y1 @ Illy