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A Sexy Espresso Machine

By 08/21/2012January 28th, 201735 Comments

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I drink my coffee black and I prefer Americanos. For a few years now we have had a Saeco (ours is an older version of this one below). We make a shot of espresso, add hot water and yum, coffee’s ready.

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But now that I have a new kitchen, I needed a sexier espresso machine. My Saeco is plastic silver and is looking worn.

Breville

So on the weekend, we were in Costco and we bought the Breville (above). I had just been at a call on Friday where my client made me a latte and it was yummy. Then that same day another friend said they had this machine and loved it.

Well we brought it home and after making shots with both the single and dual wall filter baskets, there is absolutely zero crema and it tastes awful.

So after reading about it on-line, all I could conclude was that the beans must be less than two weeks old. In other words, they must be freshly roasted.

My New Kitchen

Okay, so I am not that much of a coffee connoisseur. Seriously. I think it’s already a step up that we grind our beans fresh every day but it never even occurred to me that I should have freshly roasted beans delivered to my doorstep before a more expensive espresso maker will make a decent cup of coffee.

So I called customer service and the unimpressed agent at the other end confirmed what I read on-line, the beans must be fresh.

Now I do remember when I first bought the Saeco, it made terrible coffee for about a month. I would have returned it but the store I bought it from wouldn’t take it back.

Do any of you have any experience with this machine? Must we have freshly roasted beans ground to perfection before it will work? Because if that’s the case, it’s going back.

My old machine, although not as pretty, makes great espresso!

I’d love your help!

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35 Comments

  • Maria says:

    Get a Nespresso. It is the best! No mess and the hottest best espresso ever. The only downside is that you have to use their coffee only but worth it. Fast and easy and consistent. Money well spent. They even have a new machine that has a milk container that froths the milk. I have a Breville Milk Frother that I love that I purchased at William Sonoma.

    • Maria Killam says:

      My sister has one and we don’t like the coffee. She loves hers though! Maria

      • Maria says:

        They have lots of different coffees to choose from. Maybe you haven’t found the right one. Keep trying 🙂

  • Rebecca says:

    We have the Breville model one step above the one you purchased (bought at Home Outfitters). It grinds the beans per cup of espresso being made. We have a friend that has the same one that you purchased and she has the same complaint that you do about her machine, hence why she told us to get the next model up. Return yours and get the one we have! I drink Americanos, as well, and have always been happy.

  • s says:

    Roasting is very simple and the roaster is not expensive. Mine is the size of a small Cuisinart. You can mail order green beans-they keep forever. You simply put them in the roaster and walk away. The only issue is the smell-not great. So, roast in the garage, and you will have very fresh beans, and the coffee you dream of from that fancy machine will be there for you, every day.

  • Nicole says:

    Hi Maria,
    My husband and I did a lot of research before we purchased our espresso machine. We wanted the Breville because of the sexy factor, but after reading reviews online we decided we would rather have something less sexy that will stand the test of time and make great coffee. (if you read the 1 star reviews, the main complaint seems to be that the Breville breaks down!) We ended up buying the Saeco and haven’t looked back. The crema was there from day one and while it may not be the prettiest machine, we know it’s a tank and will last! Sometimes function trumps form. Not often, but sometimes. *wink*

  • Amanda says:

    Hi Maria! Now, this is a serious post here. We have the Lavazza Espresso Point. It is pretty pricey ($695 USD). It makes fabulous espresso, all with a nice crema top. Lavazza also has a more affordable espresso maker, the EP-850 ($150 USD). You just pop in a coffee capsule to both machines and it works like a charm. My siblings have the EP-850 and it is fabulous. Not sure you if will like the styling, though as it is red. Still, if fantastic espresso is what you are after, you cannot go wrong with Lavazza!

  • Bridget says:

    I agree with Maria. Try the Nespresso. Perhaps you just don’t like the type of coffee your sister ordered. They offer many different roasts and types. Our machine is an older model but still going strong and making great coffee. If and when it fails, I’ll purchase another that very day.

  • Brenda says:

    Hi Maria ~ I have been through a variety of machines, and I too, drink Americanos. I have owned a Ranchilio, an Ascaso, and finally I am happy with my Saeco Syntia. The Ranchilio and the Ascaso were very tempermental and difficult to work with, and they ended up breaking down on me. I purchase my beans from Murchies, whenever I am in Victoria and when I am not, I order them online. Simply because I enjoy the flavour of their beans the best. The Saeco produces that yummy crema that we enjoy so much, it is the most reliable machine I have owned so far, and the Saeco company provides the best customer service I have dealt with. So… my advice is to stick with your tried and true.

  • Ricky says:

    I lived in Hoboken, NJ for years when the Maxwell Coffee plant was still in operation (now they are condos with great views of NYC). The smell of roasting coffee is nothing like the smell of brewing coffee. It is a sickly sweet smell. I think is smells like molasses. If you choose to roast your own beans do listen to S and don’t do it in the house.

  • Mira Crisp says:

    Maria, after checking out your new machine I realized it’s a non-pump (better know as ‘steam’) espresso maker. Steam makers are usually not powerful enough to make that cream you desire. To make a true espresso cream, the machins needs to be a pump espresso maker. We are both espresso lovers and this fact was one of the things we learned while living in Italy. We have a DeLonghi pump espresso maker that now helps us get over the fact that we no longer live in Italy because it makes a divine espresso every single time.
    You can read more on steam vs pump machines here: http://www.kitchenkapers.com/desofnonandp.html

    Hope that helped. 🙂

    • Adria says:

      Just wanted to second this comment. You can’t get true espresso flavor (or a crema) unless the water is forced through the beans under pressure. If your machine doesn’t have a pump, it can hardly be called an espresso machine.

      And if you really do like the taste of good espresso, don’t go for the Nespresso, which suffers from the additional problem of lack of good temperature control and ancient coffee (if it’s sealed in a container, it’s not off-gassing nitrogen, which means that it’s stale). Nespresso is probably only able to achieve a crema by including robusta beans in their proprietary coffee blends, which are generally thought to be lower quality and less tasty than arabica beans.

  • Carmel A Reggi says:

    Hi Maria,

    I have had my Saeco nearing 10 years and it stills makes a mean coffee – so I agree with Nicole – go the Saeco, I am sure there is one that looks sexy and makes great coffee – at least you know it will withstand time and you can have which ever coffee bean you fancy.

  • Aussie Girl says:

    Thank heavens I’m a tea drinker!
    Where are those new kitchen photos? Can’t wait!

    • Julie from Australia says:

      I’m with you Aussie Girl! I only drink Nescafe Instant Coffee…..I’m certainly no coffee expert..as everything else just tastes bitter to me…weird taste buds I have maybe. Also with you on the revealing of the new kitchen photos. Can’t wait to see them.

  • Vered Rosen says:

    Hi Maria, first I’d like to point that just like a bad color
    choice will forever bug you on a daily basis,
    a bad coffee machine might make you cranky every morning. So I wouldn’t settle on this one!
    In our case, my husband discovered that it’s crucial
    to have a really good grinder, one that would ground the coffee to a finer powder, which will subsequently
    result in a more flavorful coffee with crema.

  • jan says:

    I would recommend taking it back. We all need consistency in the morning!!! (: Regarding fresh beans, I agree that it is important… but seriously, a good machine should be able to make fabulous crema in spite of older beans. I have a Gaggia. Love it. Had it for years! By the way, I love your blog. It makes me smile in the morning….along with my beautiful lush crema! (:

  • S says:

    Nespresso all the way! Love mine. Perfect crema every time. Great customer service too. My frother stopped working and a new one is on the way. Perfect lattes every time. The ease of use can’t be beat!

  • Melissa says:

    Hey Maria,
    Go to http://www.coffeegeek.com for all things coffee. These guys are hardcore about their brew!
    Thanks!

  • s says:

    -don’t fret over the need for freshly roasted beans-roast your own! Small roasters are inexpensive, only the size of a small food processor, and work automatically. Green beans can be ordered online and keep forever. The only downside is the smell, so we do it in the garage.

  • Kristen says:

    THANK YOU for this post! I agree that the Breville is sexy, but I made the mistake of purchasing an espresso machine for looks rather than function
    (http://www.amazon.com/Lello-1375-Ariete-Prestige-Coffee/dp/B000E3ZF76),
    and the taste makes me grumpy every time I use it. So much so, I buy coffee almost everyday from Starbucks or Caribou, which doesn’t help my wallet 🙂 I will try the fresh beans trick though to see if that helps. Good luck in your quest to find the perfect cup!

  • ellen Rush says:

    Hi Maria, we have a wonderful coffee roasting/mail order business here on Thetis Island. You can have your coffee delivered by mail to your house as often as you want. It is called Pot of Gold and they have been in business here since the early 80’s. Their e-mail address is: [email protected]
    I love these people, they are all about community!

  • ellen Rush says:

    Forgot to say how beautiful the bowl of fruit looks on your new counters!

  • Anne Lubner says:

    Hi Maria, I am a serious coffee drinker and I’ve had my Capresso automatic coffee maker for decades (with a little refurbishing). It was expensive but I’ve never regretted buying it. It grinds the beans for every cup and consistently produces fabulous espresso drinks with lots of crema. I used to buy Caribou Coffee online which was freshly roasted and mailed the next day, but now I’m buying Starbucks beans because I have a gold card and get a free drink when I buy the beans. It’s the oil in the beans that makes the crema, so that’s why the beans can’t be old.
    http://www.capresso.com/automatic-coffee-centers.shtml

  • Cate says:

    I worked at Starbucks for years, have owned a variety of machines at home and only drink Americanos when I’m out. Sure, fresh beans are the best but that isn’t what’s going to give you crema- the length if time through the pour/density of coffee (tamping) are key.
    Usually I find that there is too much crema to start when using a home machine, so this machine sounds opposite.
    Time your shots- they should be running 18-23 seconds ( I hope I am remembering that correctly).

    On another note: I have ditched the whole espresso machine idea and use a French press now- and don’t miss the Americanos much (make it strong in the pot). Much less mess!

  • Wow, your readers sure are a helpful bunch! I hardly ever drink coffee, but I love making myself a mocha on Saturday mornings. I use the Bialetti to brew my espresso, and since it’s the size of a mug it fits nicely away when I’m done! I tried to justify buying a machine just so I could have it looking pretty on my counter, but it really made no sense for me. Great to see you on Friday Maria. 🙂

  • Eva says:

    Maria,
    First I would like to thank you for an awesome blog – a favorite for sure!

    Second, a good cup of espresso/coffee always requires freshly roasted beans. It’s amazing how many restaurants (even fancy ones) serve stale coffee – and supermarkets almost always have stale coffee for sale. Once you have freshly roosted coffee – you can never go back!

    We use the Nuova Simonelli Oscar espresso machine at home and love it! We also roast our coffee beans fresh every week at home (in the garage). Check out http://www.sweetmarias.com for how to roast at home. Not at all difficult and the result are amazing – will be the best coffee you’ve ever had. Guaranteed.

  • Gail says:

    The Rancilio Miss Silvia with the Rocky Grinder is the best home machine you can get! We have one and it’s awesome.

  • Well, from the country known as the most coffee snobbish in the world…..I have a Breville espresso machine here in Oz that looks very similar to yours. We love it. And we don’t buy fresh beans every 2 weeks! What does make a HUGE difference is how you GRIND the coffee. A little slash type grinder doesn’t work well enough. You need a conical burr grinder to extract the right amount of oil to get that crema happening.We have a Cuisinart. Cost as much as the coffee machine, of course, but it’s worth it.

  • Oh – nearly forgot – once you’ve got your nice finely ground coffee from the conical burr grinder, you have to tamp it down very firmly. As I put in the coffee, I firm it down slightly with the spoon each time and then tamp it by pushing as hard as I can. This means the water can’t go through the coffee too quickly, which will make it taste bitter. If you watch a barista (& getting a sexy barista was the first thing I thought of when I started reading your post!) they lean on their arm when they tamp the coffee to get enough pressure. Sorry to go on about it – I told you we’re coffee mad here!

  • GaBi says:

    Dear Maria,
    To have a best coffee and to enjoy the taste,smell and of course nutrition value, best machine what you can get is from company OCS “Quality Coffee System Corp.;Burnaby
    1-877-461-4445 or (604)291 – 6166, this is the Swiss company who makes machines for the Starbucks.
    Best and freshly roasted coffee around Lover Mainland you can find at the “Republica Coffee Roaster” 9203 Glover Road Fort Langley (604) 628 – 0485.
    This combination is the best what you can ever find on the North American continent. Trust me, because Europeans are very fusy about drinking a very good coffe.
    Hugs to you
    GaBi

  • Sue says:

    Ditto all the positive comments about Saeco. Love mine! When I was doing some research on machines, I kept coming back to the Saeco even though friends had the Breville. Let us know what you ultimately decide.

    Sue

  • Anita Junttila says:

    I drink the strongest blend mom didn’t like my coffee either until I ordered her a blend she liked. It’s a small, pretty machine. I wouldn’t write it off so quickly. Those huge clunky machines take up way too much counter space in my opinion.

  • Andrea says:

    The machine and the beans are both important. We have a Butterfly http://www.absolute-clarity.com/butterfly.html it is a little expensive, but you’ll never look back. Also beans – we use Intelligencia http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/ or JJ Bean and buy in 10 lb bags shipped to our door and freeze. You can find good information here http://coffeegeek.com/

  • We just got a Saeco XSmall espresso machine and the first cup I brewed was with … ahem .. 2 year old espresso beans that I had kept in the freezer (I know I’m probably breaking all of the coffee rules here but I didn’t have a proper grinder for the previous machine). There was plenty of crema and the espresso was delicious. Every cup I have brewed since has had wonderful crema… Perhaps you should go back to another Saeco machine???

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