In the tradition of faithfully evaluating: low priced luxuries, as well as high priced novelties, I had to start with a premise… “Crema isn’t everything.” As blasphemies go that one ranks highly if you are looking at $300 – $5000 machines which can faithfully produce the kinds of espresso you expect in an Italian bistro. I am genuinely sitting in a Starbucks and comparing it mentally to the product I’ve become accustomed to in the mornings. I say product because in spite of the low price point the Mr Coffee machine has a bit of Crema if I squint, and the overall taste is somewhat better than I’d have expected from a $40 machine.
Build Quality 3.3
Metal encased in plastic but more than adequate for daily use. A novel plastic cover on the steam arm that makes cleanup a snap compared to the $60 comparable machines I’ve evaluated. The flavor pulled from a low pressure machine like this, (I’d guess roughly 3 bar) is rich enough for dark roasts and I’ve been delighted by the more exotic blends I’d tried in it so far. I sat in disbelief at the quality of Death Wish Coffee out of this machine and checked several times to make sure I wasn’t mistaken over what I had used.
Overall Impression 3.5
I’d have expected this machine to show up in a dorm room… next to a waffle iron, but honestly for what it is I’m very impressed. I’ve had expensive machines that didn’t perform as well. My oldest DeLonghi would have run circles around this unit in terms of pressure but had essentially the same components at roughly 30x the price and the result was close enough for a machine with no pull arm. The hardest point of comparison seems to be stove top units which depend entirely on the skill of the manufacturer vs willingness to invest in a superior product. Stovetop units are awesome if you get a good one and have a gas range.
At Starbucks today I’m having an old standby, Venti Quad Toffee Nut Mocha Ristretto. It’s candy, but if you like that quad: (4 shots) as a standard measure of Espresso for drinks etc you might have similar enough tastes to enjoy this product. If you can’t imagine a world without a steam arm or 15 bar pressure – you’ll be turned off by it.
That’s a palette difference and it’s legitimate.
Dark Chocolate vs Milk Chocolate
The notes in exotic roasts that are smelled/tasted by certain mouth shapes… do bias some of us against dark chocolate, in that situation a 15 bar pressure system can pick up mineral flavors that are off putting. I can’t really cite a study, it’s just been my experience.
3.5 isn’t quite high enough to impress many of you but to be fair I love the machine and use it daily. While some of you make coffee I make espresso and I make it maybe 5-8 times a day. I always make 4 shots at once and I usually drink them straight. If this machine gets 3.5 from me it’s a good machine. Not because my palette is refined, but because I’d have broken it by now if it was garbage. (I haven’t obviously)