An eye-catching, effective espresso machine for people who want a quick, tasty shot of love.
Positive Product Points
Very quick warming time. Wonderful espresso with rich, usually 3-mm crema. Easy to clean. Gorgeous on counter and interesting point of conversation for guests. Excellent with pods and ground coffee alike. Very informative manual included.
Negative Product Points
Ridiculous tamp/spoon included with machine. Steaming wand is awkwardly placed but it's OK if you have a short pitcher. Cup warmer is lame.
This machine has been a pleasure to use for the last year or so. It requires very little maintenance (as long as you remember to wipe the head and dump & wipe the tray with a warm cloth after every use) and produces a wonderful shot almost every time. The weight of the machine (I have the stainless steel model) helps, because you usually need to apply some gentle force to screw on the shot to the head. For a while, I was without a grinder and I found that Illy pods are perfectly suited to this machine. I will always use the traditional, ground shots, however, as long as I have a workable grinder. The steaming wand is awkwardly placed but fine if you have a short pitcher- you can really get your "surf" on, if you will. I've discovered that the steaming process is different with the Francis! X1 because you should always steam the milk first, then make your espresso, instead of the other way around. I flip the switch to activate my steam build, then froth the milk into perfect microbubbles, then I flip the switch off and drop a blank shot (water) to cool the temperature down. It usually goes down to 80 after filling my cup with water, so I wait several seconds until it's back to 100 and then start my real shot. Altogether, the process works fine. I would suggest using a blank shot to warm your cup and just forget about the so-called "cup-warmer" up on top of the machine, which doesn't work worth a squat. The noise level on this machine is fine and the results are excellent most of the time. Be sure to buy a proper tamp, though. The one included fails to function as either a spoon or a tamp, and should immediately be thrown in the garbage. Overall, this machine is well worth the money, primarily because it produces a wonderful cup of espresso quickly and efficiently, with very little clean-up. For those of us in a hurry in the mornings, go ahead and drop a pod and you'll have a great cup in less than four minutes from start to finish. Bought mine on Ebay- a floor model- and I saved a ton of money. You really lose out if you buy this one at retail at WIlliams-Sonoma or the like. Definitely a worthwhile investment for beginners and intermediates.
Buying a machine on Ebay usually means you will be receiving a used machine or a floor model, but not always. I would suggest getting a floor model, because it has never, or rarely, been used to make coffee. Oh yeah, it's also several hundred dollars cheaper. I would suggest throwing the extra cash towards getting a stainless model, just because it's more classy and easier to spot blemishes and oils. Don't worry about getting ripped off- most of the dealers on Ebay want to retain their good score so they will usually see to it that the machine is tip-top before sending. Look for dealers with many ratings, because those are usually the ones who depend on positive feedback to maintain their profitablity online. I never had to deal with customer service but the dealer looked legit, with mucho good feedback. Remember, buying this machine at retail is not a good deal. You can still get a warranty from an authorized dealer on Ebay and pay hundreds less. Just be careful and look at the details.
Three Month Followup
Still works great!
One Year Followup
Still performs well. I use it every day, and I've only cleaned it three times in the last year, which was really easy. I would, however, recommend tinkering with your grind until you find one that work best with this machine. Callibration is a must with the Francis because you really want to milk a decent shot from this puppy and sometimes a new bean and grind will give you less-than perfect shots with Francis' temperamental pressure consistency. I have come to the realization that this is not the best machine in the world, but as far as domestic machines go it usually pulls a decent shot.