Italian Espresso Machines-Reviews
By Kathie FitzPatrick
No, espresso did not originally come from Seattle.
Thanks to North African and Turkish merchant traders who brought the early concept of espresso through Venetian ports to Italy in the early part of the 20th century during the Renaissance period, coffee had already become a part of daily life in Italy. In the year 1763 there were 200 coffee shops in Venice.
Then about 140 years later, in 1903, a businessman, Luigi Bezzera, was trying to figure out a way to make his coffee faster. He was an owner of a manufacturing business and was losing patience with how long it took to make his coffee each morning.
Bezzera delightfully discovered that by adding steam pressure to the coffee making process this not only cut down the time of the brewing process itself, but created a far stronger and more robust cup of coffee. It was a new creation of its own. Upon further study and tinkering he cleverly came up with what he called his “Fast coffee machine.” The word “espresso” means fast in Italian.
However, Bezzera was not as talented in marketing as he was creating the first espresso maker. In 1905 he sold the rights to another businessman, Desidero Pavoni. From there a short time later the machine was patented. Also within a short time Pavoni’s name was associated with everything having to do with espresso.
In current times Italy now has over 200,000 coffee bars and growing.
It’s fun to look at the history of espresso coffee creation! Today we are going to take a big leap forward in time and review some of the favorite Italian espresso machines for the home. So now you will get a good look at all things “espresso machine Italian,” and make the right choice for the best Italian espresso machine for your personal home!
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- 1 Italian Espresso Machines-Reviews
- 1.1 * * * *
- 1.2 Italian Espresso Machine Brands
- 1.3 La Pavoni PA – 1200 Napolitana Stainless Steel
- 1.4 Italian Espresso Machine – Manual Style
- 1.5 La Pavoni EPOC-8 Europiccola 8 cup Lever Style Espresso Machine, chrome
- 1.6 Italian Espresso Machine – Manual Style
- 1.7 La Pavoni EPBB-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine, Black Base
- 1.8 La Pavoni PPG-16-Professsional 16-cup Espresso-Brass
- 1.9 Italian Espresso Machine-Manual Style
- 1.10 Breville BES870XL Barista Express
- 1.10.1 Italian Espresso Machine – Semi automatic
- 1.10.2 Breville BES980XL Oracle Espresso Machine, Silver
- 1.10.3 Click here to buy the Breville Oracle on Amazon:
- 1.10.4 Gaggia 1003380 Accademia Espresso Machine
- 1.10.5 Here are a few comments from customers who bought this machine on Amazon:
- 1.10.6 Click here to buy the Gaggia Academia Espresso Machine on Amazon:
- 1.11 Tested in Italy
- 1.12 Saeco Philips Syntia Super Automatic Espresso Maker
- 1.13 A Favorite Italian Espresso Machine
- 1.14 Click here to buy this Saeco Philips Syntia Super Automatic Espresso Maker on Amazon
- 1.15 La Pavoni KIA Isomac Espresso Machine Stainless Steel
- 1.16 Conclusion
Italian Espresso Machine Brands
Italian Espresso Machine – Manual Style
The La Pavoni PA – 1200 authentic Italian coffee machine that seems to be a sheer delight to the owners, according to Amazon reviews! Owners also suggest that this is an excellent espresso machine for the either starter or the advanced barista!
Some of the primary features are:
- Stainless steel baskets
- Built-in conical bur grinder and coffee press
- 16 bars of pressure
- 100 oz water reservoir and removable drip trays
The heavy brass boiler, brass head with filter, heats up quickly and keeps the machine ready for use. The machine is solid stainless steel and meant to last over the years!
One purchaser wrote in and reviewed the machine saying that it had been working perfectly for eight years, and she will write in again in 2019 to let everyone know how the machine is doing! Over all the La Pavoni espresso machine received mostly positive reviews. The only cons were a “steep learning curve,” as one user put it, and also learning to dial the burr grinder in just right. But all seemed to think the machine produced excellent espresso, and was one of the very best on the market!
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Italian Espresso Machine – Manual Style
Once again you have a high quality authentic Italian espresso machine that takes up very little counter space! This machine requires a little Barista skill as it has the features of the manual type machine. Some of the primary features are:
Sturdy all steel construction under heavy chrome plating
Comes with measuring ladle, tamper, screen, screen holder and cappuccino attachment
Ideal for making coffee special drinks of all kinds at home
Measures 11 by 7 by 12 inches
1 year warranty
According to one customer who bought this machine and absolutely loves it, you’d better know your coffee before you even start looking at this espresso maker. It is a manual pull espresso maker, meaning there is some art and a lot of trial/error incurred when making your coffee. That said, he said that this machine has produced some of the best espresso he’s ever had. It’s a smaller maker, and is great for someone who just wants about 4-6 espresso shots before needing to refill. He works out of a home office, so this was perfect for this customer.
Another customer commented on an Amazon review that he bought one of these authentic Italian espresso machines a couple of months ago and although it was a bit expensive, but then decided it was one of the best purchases he had ever made in a long time. It looked great. It was so well made, it felt like it would last forever as it is so simple, no electronics to break down no plastic bits to break off.
He said he enjoyed the way he got a huge amount of control over the way the coffee tastes, it’s all in the speed of lowering the handle and the tightness of grinds. It takes a few attempts to get it right he said, but once you’ve worked it out you’ll never look back.
According to consumers, some of the Pros are:
* Small, means it doesn’t take up much counter space.
* Manual Lever – If you want fill control over your coffee, this is the way to go.
* More than enough steam pressure/volume to steam 12oz+ of milk.
* Solid construction. It is mostly all metal.
* Comes up to heat FAST. (About 5min with a full tank.) The head also comes up to temp quickly.
* Visible water level
* Easy clean drip tray
* Easy screw-off levers, knobs, etc – easily replaceable/customizable.
One purchaser expressed his thoughts this way:
“Simply put, this machine rocks for high quality espresso!”
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La Pavoni EPBB-8 Europiccola 8-Cup Lever Style Espresso Machine, Black Base
This Italian style machine delivers espresso, cappuccino, caffe latte, and other coffee drinks
• The lever style permits crafting espresso to your personal taste .
• This machine makes makes 8 cups continuously without adding more water.
This unit Includes automatic milk foamer, measuring spoon, 1- and 2-cup filters
• This machine measures 11 by 7 by 12 inches; Comes with a 1-year warranty
Happy customers make these comments on Amazon:
“I have owned this machine for over ten years and everyday when I make my morning cappuccino I love it more. You can spend more for a machine that measures the coffee, tamps it, pulls the water through and steams the milk for you, but you can tip the kids behind the counter at Starbucks and they’ll do the same thing. Making espresso should be a little art and a little science and this machine an impeccable balance of the two. If you aren’t the kind of person who takes joy in mixing the perfect martini, making a risotto that whispers with flavor, or whipping a meringue to impossibly tall peaks, this probably isn’t the machine for you.
The La Pavoni is for the person who will find tremendous joy in going to the lengths required to make a perfect cappuccino by hand everyday.”
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“We bought the 16-cup version on our honeymoon in Italy. We’ve had it for five years. It makes great cappuccino. I bought some extra filters from Thomas Cara in San Francisco, and I can crank out 4 cappuccinos in a row. When we have guests over, they rave about the coffee, and swear it’s the best they’ve ever had.
The machine isn’t hard to use – true, you need to learn how it works, it’s not like Mr. Coffee, but that doesn’t make it hard. It has good instructions, and you can mostly figure it out by looking at it – water goes here, coffee goes there, lift and lower the handle for coffee, steam a little milk – and cappuccino heaven! Ok, it’s a little more work than Pop-Tarts, and you can infinitely play with the grind and techniques to create the perfect espresso… so what? You’re going to make coffee with this machine for the next twenty years.
The machine is fussy about the grind, however – too coarse, and the water just gushes out. Too fine, and the water won’t come through at all! Of course, once you get your grinder set “just so”, you never need to adjust it.
I never succeeded at steaming milk with the “wand.” My Pavoni included a plastic “cappuccino automatic attachment,” which consists of a tube which you put into the milk, and a black plastic aerator. This attachment makes fantastic, foamy milk.
The quality of the milk foaming depends on its freshness. Milk doesn’t foam as well after 3 or 4 days (Funny – milk tastes the same after 3 days, but it doesn’t foam the same). Like most home machines, La Pavoni won’t get the milk as hot as commercial machines will. By pre-heating the cup with steam or hot water before putting in the milk or espresso, you can overcome this.
Our Pavoni isn’t just an appliance. It’s beautiful to look at, and it’s built with heirloom quality. It needed repairs once, but… refitted its worn gaskets, polished its chrome finish, and got it working like new.“
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Made in Italy
This is a Professional-style machine
- It has an attractive chrome base.
- Also is Great steaming mechanism for cappuccinos .
- This machine comes with with detailed instructions and an instructional video.
- This machine is made in Italy.
Many coffee connoisseurs claim that there is just nothing like the espresso shot made by an Italian lever machine. One owner of a LaPavoni Professional lever machine did a lengthy review on this style machine for Amazon:
“After 15 years of near daily use, I thought it was time for me to relay my experiences and opinion on the La Pavoni PC-16.
This review is for the pre millenium model. The current production model does have slight differences with the group being slightly larger
I was a bartender and barista for about 3 years in a high volume cafe and bar, and believe that this gives me a reasonable level of proficiency in making espresso and espresso based drinks.
The La Pavoni PC-16 is a manual lever group and operates in a manner that is much different from automatic and semiautomatic machines. This must be appreciated and understood by the potential buyer, or it may cause dissapointment.
The concept of preinfusion is why a lever machine can produce a truly outstanding shot of espresso. This is where water wets the grounds prior to the applying of pressure, and this is what makes a lever group superior to other mechanisms in my estimation. The ability to preinfuse the grounds manually can drastically change the result of the shot. For example, the lever is slowly raised to a count of 5, and only then does the lever get lowered. Since this is a manual machine, this means that you alone are raising and lowering the lever, there are no pumps or springs to do the work for you. As the lever is raised, you will hear the water entering the group. This is when your count begins.
The amount of time that is taken to do the preinfusion step is what can drastically alter the result of the shot given that the grind, group temperature and tamp is identical.
Now I will decribe the various details that go in to the requirements for producing a quality shot from the PC-16.
The grind is the most difficult part to correctly apply when dealing with this machine. As perfect of a consistency is absolutely necessary with a fluffy grind, no clumping will be tolerated. You will need to judge this on your own, but a slightly finer than average espresso grind is what it takes to get thick crema with minimal blonding during extraction. I still wind up with the occasional sink shot because of this machines absolute sensitivity to grind quality.
I use a light tamp, about 10 pounds of pressure, leaving approximately 1/4″ space from the top. Pay extra attention to achieving a level surface. The Elektra Microcasa A Leva portafilter basket allows more coffee to be used than the PC-16’s with far better results. Between 19 and 23 grams of freshly ground beans being the ideal amount depending on the bean being used . Refer to Orhanespressos slap shot method.
Get a good tamper with 90 degree corners and a flat bottom. I use a custom fabricated stainless steel one, but there are many available online. Unit to unit variation means a standard 49mm tamper may not work.
The following are general guidelines. I can only guess at the reasons for the changes in behavior of this machine. Perhaps variations in humidity or barometric pressure or maybe sunspots. As you become more familiar with the PC -16 you can adjust your operating method. I have found that using 2 preinfusions per shot gives superior results-1st preinfusion-raise lever slowly until you hear a faint snap hiss, allow approximately 15 seconds, slowly lower lever about 1/3 of the way,2nd preinfusion-slowly raise lever until the hiss is heard again for about 5 seconds, and finally slowly lower lever. There will be considerable resistance, maintain a steady hand as it will require a bit of controlled force. Again, sometimes only one pull is required, on rare occasions, I’ve even used 3 separate pulls.
Water quality. I prefer reverse osmosis versus other methods of filtration including various mineral waters. Experience has shown that r.o. has given the thickest crema and most complex notes. I add 1/16 tsp of Himalayan salt and 3/8 tsp methylsulfonylmethane per 32 oz of r.o. water. Distilled resulted in a slimy shot with various mineral waters giving a range of quality from good to poor. Chlorine and chloramines found in most tap water tastes terrible and will quickly degrade the rubber gaskets.
It is best to avoid descaling, since it always affects machine performance negatively. Rather use water that is already softened.
Compared to a commercial machine, the PC-16 makes a much more intense shot with more clearly defined flavor. This can be a double edged sword, depending on what it is that you are looking for.
This machine gets hot quickly, and have found that more than 2 shots isn’t possible without turning the machine off for a while. Do not flush or run any water through the group before pulling a shot. This will only raise the group temperature. I have discovered a pretty simple way of dealing with the excessive and destructive heat by placing clean and dry
portafilter baskets in the freezer and taking them out a minute before filling them with coffee.
For years I believed that perfect microfoam was nearly impossible. The original 3 hole tip is virtually useless. Later I used a 4 hole tip from a Faema machine that allowed me to make nice latte art but not true microfoam. However, with a single hole tip, the user can easily achieve beautifully textured microfoam. This simple and inexpensive modification is a must if properly textured milk is of any importance to you.
Even with the use of a single hole tip, the machine still will not produce enough steam power to get the super dry foam that you would get in a traditional cappuccino in the Italian style but is still sufficient for an excellent latte.
There is no anti suction valve, the steam wand will draw milk back into the water tank. Pour out water and refill before turning on machine.
And lastly, make sure that everything is maintained. Generally just a matter of changing the gaskets every 2-4 years depending on use. Keep the machine off when not in use. If you aren’t comfortable working with tools, find a local tech that works with espresso machines. You can usually find one in most cities. Always respect the machine.
The La Pavoni PC-16 can represent a steep learning curve, but like me, you can be rewarded with outstanding espresso and enjoy the process.”
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Italian Espresso Machine-Manual Style
Here is your chance to purchase a high quality professional level 16 cup espresso machine for your home!
According to owners, this style manual Italian espresso machine is only for those who take joy in fiddling with the many variables of grind, pull speed, preheating, and coffee bean choice. “If you don’t want to put in all the extra effort to coax performance from a beautiful piece of Italian engineering, save your money and buy something automated,” one reviewer on Amazon commented. Owners of the Pavoni PPG thought that a potential buyer might want to read about some of these unique features, and personality points of this particular machine. “
“First, no matter what you do, the first shot you pull will taste bad. Preheat, pull hot water for the first shot–nothing will change the fact that the first shot doesn’t taste good. I resigned myself to wasting that first shot.” “Second, if you want to pull shots soon after each other, you’ll find out that this unit does not have a pressure release mechanism. So when you unseat the filter holder soon after pulling the shot, there’s still pressure against the grounds, which will now ‘poof’ blow back outward onto your fingers and the machine. You’ll get used to knowing when it’s been “long enough”, and in a pinch you can carefully ease the holder out, slowly letting the pressure to escape.”
With a pump espresso maker, you can pull “lungo” or “ristretto” shots, which have (respectively) larger or smaller shot sizes. Since the amount of grounds stays the same, this means more watery or stronger. But with this unit you have to live with the pull size implicit in the amount of water moved by that piston for a pull. They give you two holders, which gives you two sizes. The smaller one is the only one I ever used, which was a ristretto–a good choice, if you have to take a single choice!” Unlike most espresso machines for the home market, you have steam available all the time on that side steam wand–you don’t need to switch it into “steam mode.”
Here are some of the unique points specific to the Pavoni PPG – 16 cup-Espresso Italian machine:
Lever-model espresso machine makes up to 16 2-ounce cups of espresso
- 38-ounce solid-brass boiler delivers fast heat-up times; internal thermostat
- Steam-pressure piston; dual frothing systems for cappuccinos and lattes
- Rosewood handles; ETL listed; made in Italy; instructional DVD included
- Measures 16-1/4 by 4-1/2 by 12 inches; 1-year warranty
These are words of wisdom from a purchaser who did an Amazon review on this product:
“I owned one of these for three years, and agree with the only other reviewer that this item is only for those who take joy in fiddling with the many variables of grind, pull speed, preheating, and coffee bean choice. If you don’t want to put in all the extra effort to coax performance from a beautiful piece of Italian engineering, save your money and buy something automated.”
These style Italian espresso machines for the most part are manually operated. So maybe it’s time to get your hands into it and start creating and enjoying some fantastic espresso!
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An American Espresso Coffee drinker in Italy
Before I review a few more Italian Espresso machines, I’m going to share a slice of my personal experience with espresso coffee in Italy as a typical American espresso coffee drinker. I’ve visited there twice as I had some friends there, stayed in their villas, and got around the country with people who spoke both English and Italian!
In one of our days in Rome, I started wondering where the espresso coffee places were . . . cafes, coffee stands, anything. In Italy what is on every corner is not espresso coffee stands like where I come from . . . but gelato, the Italian version of ice cream! Everywhere was gelato. I did grow to love it, especially chocolate and pistachio in the same cup!
When in Rome, I told my friends, “You know the central bus station in Rome where all the Americans and other tourists get on the double decker tour buses and just branch out everywhere? There needs to be a Starbucks right there! What a money maker that would be! It would save me a lot of pain too. Where are those espresso coffee shops, anyway? Don’t they know how much money they could make on we Americans looking for the espresso we love?” Apparently not.
The Italians have no concept of the same espresso coffee we Americans have come to love so dearly such as vanilla lattes, iced and hot mochas, Irish cream espresso, Carmel Macchiatos, and all the rest we see on the list of our favorite American espresso cafes. They do not know or understand all these flavored drinks. To Italians espresso coffee is the dark rich shot of espresso shot in a cup with the froth on top, and that is it. Yes, that is it. And Italian sodas . . . forget that. They have no idea what an Italian soda is. Well, I didn’t know if I could survive very happily once I discovered this.
Once I got up to Positano, my favorite beach town on the Amalfi Coast, I knew I was going to be at a favorite hotel most of the week and enjoy the beach and the shopping. Some of our meals were served to us there or we ate at there out on the roof top restaurant. I finally cornered the young guy waiters and cooks there one afternoon.
“I’m going to show you how to make me an iced Mocha,” I smiled, a little impishly. Now the Italians are so skimpy on ice you might as ask for solid gold cubes in your drink. You cannot even buy ice in the mini-marts over there.
“You are going to show how to make a . . . what?” the cook asked in broken English.
“An iced mocha. Where is your espresso machine?” They led me to the kitchen to the espresso machine and I showed them how to make the iced mocha. They had some kind of Italian chocolate syrup there, thankfully. If not, I was about to have them melting chocolate bars. Soon the wonderful mocha creation was done. I realized I might be the only one in Italy drinking an iced mocha at that moment!
“Put it on my tab, ” I said walking back to my out to my sunny table on the rooftop of the hotel, and my waiting friends. They could have cared less about it, but I was in espresso coffee heaven at least for a little while. Every where I went, I taught espresso coffee baristas to make mochas and iced mochas! What do you want to bet. . . they are still making them today for many happy customers? In all fairness, this was back in 2005. They must be making all the flavors by now, don’t you think? If you live in Italy, or have visited there recently, and know for a fact one way or the other, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from you!
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Italian Espresso Machine – Semi automatic
Amidst all this information and discussion on manual Italian coffee machines in which the shot is carefully crafted by the one who pulls the shot, I wanted to offer this popular Breville BES8870XL Barista Express Semi-Automatic machine. Beautifully crafted in heavy duty stainless steel this espresso machine is sure to please, and is easy to operate according to it’s owners!
Here are some of the features:
The machine has a 15 Bar Italian Pump and 1600W Thermo coil heating system.
- Purge Function: Automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for optimal espresso extraction temperature
- Stainless steel conical burr grinder with 1/2 lb. sealed bean hopper
- 67 fl.oz (2L) removable water tank with handle
- Newer model of the Breville BES860XL Barista Express
Owners of the Breville Barista Express really seemed to do their research before buying this particular machine. They all seem so glad they did!
“This is a wonderful coffee machine. I have a latte every morning,” states one happy owner.
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If you loved the Breville Barista Express, be sure to check out the new addition to the family of Breville espresso machines, the Oracle. This machine was created in the tradition of the Italian Espresso machine. Sturdy stainless steel, this is a beautiful machine for the serious espresso lover!
The Oracle automatically grinds, doses & tamps exactly the required amount of coffee for mess free, barista-quality espresso. The programmable hands-free milk texturing with automatic purge is a nice feature.
- This machine has dual stainless steel boilers and dual Italian pumps with PID. The Boilers of the Oracle can be descaled by the user.
- The One Touch Americano delivers water directly into the cup after extraction. This machine has 3 preset & 6 customizable settings.
- This unit has programmable shot temperature from 190 Degree-205 Degree. Displays in either Degree F or Degree C
- The product Dimensions: (L) 16¼” x (D) 15″ x (H) 18″ Weight : 35lbs
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Here’s what satisfied buyers are saying on Amazon:
I have been using it for about a week. I have wanted it for about 2 years, since I saw it at a William Sonoma and tried a sample and loved how it operated. I have a Saeco super automatic machine that I have used every day for over 10 years. It is slowly breaking (display stopped working, water tank occasionally leaks, can’t run the decalcifying program anymore). So, I didn’t need this machine now. But, I was going to need it. The Saeco is a workhorse and I never expected to last as long as it has. I thought the coffee tasted fine from the Saeco. But, I realized it tasted like crap once I got this machine.
Very easy to set up. There are a few things to know about operating it that requires reading the manual. But, day to day operation is pretty simple. It takes way longer to get ready than my Saeco. But, you can easily program it to turn on at a designated time. The main display is more old school than it needs to be. In this day and age, they can use something more than an old school lcd display. For some of the functions, if you don’t know what it supposed to be displaying, you won’t understand it. Probably used it for the aesthetic.
I really like the manual part of this machine. It is still essentially an automatic machine. But, you have an espresso basket to put in one port for the grinds to be dispensed into and tamped. Then, you move it to the other port and it makes the coffee. If you make a triple cappuccino, like I do, it is a bit more work than pressing the espresso button 3 times, like I did on my old machine. With this, I have to move the basket from one port to the other, then bang out the grounds in the included barista ground disposal thing, rinse it off and start the cycle again and do that 3 times. You also have to move the cup for the coffee off the machine when you remove the espresso basket or you risk knocking it over. That takes slightly more time than a fully automatic machine but it is more the attention it requires. If you want to multitask while the machine does all of the work, this machine is not for you. One nice feature that saves time is that you can froth the milk while the espresso is being made and you can do that hands free. So, compared to my Saeco, the active time making a beverage is about the same, since the Saeco required my attention in frothing the milk.
I think this machine provides the perfect amount of manual interaction in an automatic machine – and the interaction that I want. I would love to get a shiny La Pavoni and a professional grinder, learn the perfect amount of pressure to tamp and have that for the weekend and a fully automatic machine for the work week. But, I don’t have the money or the counter space for that. This machine gives me close to both experiences. I get to use an espresso basket (which makes it feel more like an authentic coffee making experience) but still not have to worry about tamping it perfectly and watching the coffee come out and stopping it when it makes the right amount. Yet, you can still experiment with the time for the water flow to control the strength of the coffee. You can control the water temp, the tamping pressure, the grind and a bunch of other options. Or, you never have to fool with those settings.
Did I mention it makes amazing coffee? It does. It tastes incredible and the froth is perfect every time. I haven’t even used espresso beans in it yet. I have been using some light roast that a local roaster made and was given to me as a gift mixed with some Philz dark roast that I had left over.”
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“This is one of the best purchases I have ever made! I have owned over 10 machines ranging from manuals to super automatics by Saeco and Jura. This is hands down the best machine I have ever owned. It is the perfect blend between full automation and manual control. It feels manual yet you can customize everything so much to dial in your exact beverage. I am amazed! Playing with the grind setting allows you to pull perfect shots given your exact water and coffee conditions. Being able to set the texture and temperature of your milk is unbelievable. I know it expensive but if you love good, CONSISTENT (that is the key!) espresso drinks this is the machine to get. Enjoy!”
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“Have now had this machine for about 4 months. It was a replacement for a Jura Capresso Super Automatic that we have had for about 12 years (and been repaired several times).
Compared to the Jura, the coffee from this machine tastes a lot better, the milk is frothed perfectly, its easier to clean and operate, quieter and there is less to go wrong internally. In short, a great replacement if you want a semi-automatic that makes very tasty coffee.”
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This machine has an adjustable telescopic coffee dispenser with a maximum height of a little over 6-1/2-inch to accommodate a wide variety of cup sizes
- The espresso coffeemaker has a eramic burr grinder with integrated bean hopper and double lid aroma saver.
- This unit has an integrated coffee grounds container, removable from the front.
- Thus machine is capable of programmable coffee quantity – from 7 to 10-cup
- Pre-brewing system for maximum flavor extraction.
Here are a few comments from customers who bought this machine on Amazon:
- “I have been using super-automatic espresso machines since 2001. This is my 6th machine and by far my favorite. Having owned one Capresso C1500, three Jura-Capressos, one Saeco and now the Gaggia Academia, I’ve found this machine to outperform the rest by far. I loved the quality of the Capresso and Jura-Capresso machines, but having to send them in once a year for service at a cost of over $300 was excessive. There is no way to service the inside of these machines. Plus, I could never get the milk hot enough with the built-in frothing system on the S9 One-Touch or the Z5 and these machines lacked an external frothing wand so it was impossible to heat the milk any hotter than it came out of the machine. Next I purchased Saeco Primea Touch Plus and that was a complete mistake. The milk system is internal and constantly clogged and refused to function. This machine was returned shortly after purchase. I began looking for a machine that was as well-constructed as the Jura-Capresso, but had the ease of maintenance like the Saeco. I learned that Philips had recently purchased the Saeco/Gaggia company, so I decided to take a chance on a Gaggia machine after seeing a demo in-store.What I Like:- The machine is fully adjustable by coffee strength, milk amount, water amount, etc. You can even adjust these settings on the fly via the color screen.
– The machine is bomb-proof. Another reviewer noted that there is still a lot of plastic and yes this is true (although much less so than in Jura machines), but the machine is all metal where it counts. In the in-store demo, the demonstrator lifted the machine by its hinges to show how well it is constructed. This machine will undoubtedly hold up to years of use.
– The machine has a “sealed” bean container that keeps the beans fresher that other brands of super-automatics that lack this feature.
– The automatic frothing container could not be any easier to use. You snap it in a press a button. It automatically cleans itself after use and any leftover milk can be left in the container and refrigerated for next use eliminating waste.
– Machine rinses itself before and after every use, so there is no “old” coffee taste when you brew your next cup.
– The quality of coffee is amazing! This machine produces coffee very close the the Pasquini semi-automatic at my office. The quality is much better than my Jura machines.
– The Mavea water filter removes the chlorine taste from tap water and lessens the amount of maintenance you must perform on the machine.
– The adjustable coffee “spout”. One of my biggest complaints with the Jura machines is that you aren’t able to fit a proper sized cup under the automatic spout. You’re limited to cups about 4″ in height. Because of the nearly infinite adjustments available on this machine, my 16 oz to-go mug fits no problem.
– The built-in frothing wand. Most of the milk that comes out of super-automatic machines is not hot enough if the latte or cappuccino is not going to be consumed immediately. This is not a problem with this machine. If the milk is not hot enough simply activate the built in steaming wand and heat it up a few more degrees. This is one of the few fully automatic machines that has this feature.
– The ease of maintenance – my favorite feature by FAR. The brew-group is removable. Simply remove it from the machine and rinse it out. No expensive trips back to the manufacturer for cleaning.What I don’t:- The price. This machine is very expensive. If you have couple-of-times-a-day trip to S’bux like I did, then the machine will pay for itself in about a year. However, it still in the same ball park as a lot of nice used cars.
– The pickiness with coffee beans. With super-automatics you can not use beans that are oily AT ALL. This limits my bean choice and I am unable to use the beans of some of my favorite artisan coffee roasters.
– The frequency of emptying the internal and external drip trays as well as spent coffee pucks. The machine has two trays and an internal coffee grounds drawer and they have to be emptied at least every other day or about after every five coffees. The Jura-Capressos had very large drip trays and dump bins that only had to be emptied about once a week. This can be annoying if you’re in a hurry in the morning and the machine flashes this message before you can brew a coffee.
– The small water tank. This tank is very well designed, but it must be refilled after about 6 coffees. My Jura machines would brew about 20.My complaints are very few and after using this machine for over 6 months, I couldn’t be happier. Even with the high price, I believe I got exactly what I paid for – a well-built machine that easily brews quality coffee and coffee drinks with ease of use and little maintenance. I would highly recommend this machine to anyone l who loves coffee, but doesn’t want to grind, tamp, brew espresso, and froth milk manually. Within 30 seconds, you can have a coffee drink that rivals that of all but the best baristas.”* * * *
“You’re probably going to get the same number of brews from the J5. My Jura-Capresso that I was about to get 20 brews or more out of was a semi-professional commercial machine. I will say, that the water tank in this the Jura tended to get pretty disgusting and the coffee grounds developed mold if not emptied often enough. The good thing about the Gaggia is it’s extremely easy to empty and maintain – the Jura machines weren’t with multiple parts to disassemble. As for the coffee quality, after owning three Jura machines, the Gaggia produces hands-down better coffee. I never could seem to get the Jura machines hot enough with either regular espresso or milk-based drinks. I honestly don’t think you could go wrong with this machine for ease of use, build, and coffee quality.
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Tested in Italy
A Favorite Italian Espresso Machine
BEST SUPER-AUTOMATIC ESPRESSO MACHINE MADE IN ITALY
SAECO PHILIPS SYNTIA
The Saeco Philips Syntia Super-Automatic Espresso Maker is a premier espresso coffee machine, with surprisingly strong features set for the sub-one thousand dollar price range.
As with every machine in this class, this is a bean-to-brew fully automated espresso maker that does everything for you. Crafted and tested in Italy, you can be sure that this machine will give you perfect results every time.
There is a variety of settings you can try here, and you can program and save your preferred settings, which takes all the guesswork out of your brewing. The presence of the milk frother means that if you want to add milk or cream to your coffee creations, that too, is all handled for you and made easy.
Since the grinder has a number of settings, be sure to try the settings to discover how coarsely or finely you want to grind the beans. This will will alter the richness and overall flavor of the finished product, and this is definitely worth experimenting with. Perhaps best of all, the grinders are made of a ceramic material, which won’t leave your beans with that nasty burnt aftertaste. That can happen sometimes when metallic grinders get hot, and is totally avoided with this particular machine.
It’s also very easy to clean. Not only does the unit come with an automatic cleaning and de-scaling system, but also most of the parts are dishwasher safe and easy to remove. Perhaps the best part is the fact that you’ll get your coffee made quickly, and with minimal waiting, thanks to the quick heat boiler in this unit. The end result is aa satisfying fast, perfect cup of coffee, every time you brew!
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Italian Espresso Machine
Here is a solid stainless steel machine with both a water wand for tea or hot chocolate and a steam wand for frothing milk for your espresso. When you see it has the LaPavoni name you know it’s a quality espresso machine. A few of the other features of this machine are as follows:
This machine has a 1.2 liter stainless steel boiler.
- Side group lever coffee delivery
- Hot water dispenser
- Boiler thermal retention wrap
- Cool touch, Steam and water wands
In 2015, the Isomac Coffee Company celebrated 70 years of espresso brewing greatness! If you ever had the opportunity to work with an Isomac espresso machine then you will know that they are unique and a cut above the rest when it comes to espresso machines as a whole. The Isomac has incorporated into some of the most popular models and styles of today.
One of the early originators of the Isomac concept, Gioivanni Fontana, back in 1977, had the distinct privilege to be working with other coffee specialists including companies like La Faema, as production chief during the 1960’s.
While working with La Faema, Fontana learned about authentic coffee culture and traditions and service which were invaluable to him and his new company. Isomac soon became famous in the coffee world. Today they can be found involved in the international coffee market collaborating with distributors such as La Pavoni, KIA and others. The assembly of these machines is carried out by expert craftsmen who are dedicated to both tradition and customer service!
Italian Espresso machines have their own distinct style and flair! Dating back to ancient coffee use in Africa, Turkey and Ethiopia, they are part of some very interesting original history concerning espresso coffee and the creative geniuses that brought it to us from the early beginnings. Many of the modern ones today are manual machines which stress personal style and talent in creating the espresso shot. A few of them come in semi-automatic and super-automatic styles. They are often made of heavy stainless steel and sometimes brass by gifted craftsmen. With the proper care they can last many years!