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Old 07-09-2011, 12:28 PM
 
2,186 posts, read 7,528,085 times

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This is an attractive machine in black with stainless silver accents that consistently produces a rich and flavorful cup of espresso with a topping of 'crema,' the emulsified foam that authentic espresso aficionados crave. This appliance has a suggested retail price of $140, and is one of the only inexpensive espresso makers that are pump driven, a necessary feature to produce the tasty layer of 'crema.'

A quality coffee grinder and dark roasted espresso beans are necessary equipment for the best cup of coffee. The filter holds two full scoops, tamped down. It's possible to use E.S.E. (easy serve espresso) pods, which are the pre-measured coffee in sealed filters. Just pop one in and go, rather than having to grind coffee, measure it out and tamp it down. The E.S.E. certification is a nice feature for busy people.

There is a preheat element that takes about 15 minutes to warm up the appliance and prime the pump. This is a necessary procedure, as the machine functions better when it's been preheated. However, there is a short cut, which is to run two cups of water through the machine before making coffee. There is no cup warmer. Preheating cups needs to be done in the microwave, or by pouring hot water in the cup and letting it sit while you make espresso.

The water reservoir is ample - it won't need to be refilled until 8 to 10 shots have been processed.

There are two separate thermostats, one for water temperature and one for steam pressure. The steam wand is short, but it swivels out. For best results, use cold milk. If you find you're having trouble fitting your frothing pitcher under the wand, it may be necessary to put the machine on a short stand to allow more room. The flow through the shot doesn't stop automatically, so you decide when the shot is done. This gives you control over the strength of the coffee, but it means that you will not make the same cup of espresso each time. There are features to be mastered with this machine, but for true coffee lovers, the ritual is part of the experience of espresso.

The spout is only appropriate for espresso cups or short mugs. If you want to drink out of a larger cup, you need to transfer the espresso from the small cup to the larger.

The machine needs to be cleaned periodically, but this can be accomplished by running water through the machine with no coffee in the pod. Doing this simple procedure once a week will keep the appliance running smoothly. To do a thorough cleaning of the parts, it's easy to unscrew them and pop them in the dishwasher. The boiler is made from durable stainless steel and stays clean with regular maintenance.

Overall, this is an excellent machine for the price and will make a cup of coffee to rival that found in gourmet coffee outlets.
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