If you love to make a good Cappuccino, then this is your machine...
Positive Product Points
- The machine has a "duo boiler" which allows you to make your cappuccino in a few seconds. It heats up the water needed for your espresso shot and enables you to use your steam wand in a few seconds too. - Easy to use. - Looks really good. Nice design. - Pannarello steam wand. Once you tape the little hole which collects extra air to produce more foam, you'll be perfectly able to make Microfoam.
Negative Product Points
- The electricity connection is placed right beneath the water reservoir (on the back of the machine)... Not that clever if you ask me. - I cant make perfect espresso shots (but this could be me as well). - Its rather difficult to see whether or not the machine is switched on or not. When the machine is switched on, the buttons have little icons that light up (light green colour), but in day light this is barely visible.
After using my Francis Francis Classic for about 6 years, i thought it's time for a new one... one that could help me waking up every morning with a proper cappuccino... I read a lot of reviews online, here as well as elsewhere and I got to know a lot about this machine. Little notes just before I will start my detailed commentary: Once you paid attention to the manual or reviews here, you'll be able to master this machine in no time. Some people dislike the word "Baby" right below the buttons, but seriously, its rather their interpretation of the word Baby that makes them feel ashamed or something. I guess they'd rather see "Ferrari" because that would turn the machine into a whole different thing...
Detailed: Microfoam: The steam wand (Pannarello) is easy to use and allows you to make Microfoam, but only after you tape the little hole on the side of the wand. You can do this with any kind of tape that will not melt that easy. I am using a 12oz pitcher and use only enough whole milk for just one cappuccino. I make sure my milk is very cold before I use it. The first thing I do is opening the steam knob so that all the water can come out. This is a bit tricky since a lot of hot water (30ml easily) comes out of the steam wand and the pressure makes the hot drops of water jump in different directions (it loves to aim for your arm). Then I close the knob and place the pannarello inside my pitcher just below the milk surface. Then I open the knob again and the steam starts heating up my milk. At the same time I make sure that the tip of my pannarello kisses the milk surface for the best foam. I use to hold my pitcher in a 45 degrees angle and create microfoam only until it reaches 55 degrees Celsius (not sure if it is my milk or a natural milk habit, but when my milk is hotter its becoming extremely difficult to produce more microfoam). Then I lower my pannarello into my pitcher until it reaches 75 degrees Celsius and swirl the pitcher so that the milk can mix with the microfoam. (You can take the pannarello steam wand off for cleaning purposes). Then i'll make my espresso shot while I still swirl my pitcher (and occasionally knock it on a hard surface).
Espresso: this is rather difficult for me. I use a Quickmill 031 to grind my beans with and it seems that I have to use the finest grind on that machine (which is Zero). With 20 grams of beans I can fill my PF and use a 58mm tamper... now this is where the problems start: If i tamp the grind firm, then sometimes the espresso comes out within 16 seconds (which is approx 9 seconds too soon)... but when I tamp the grind not firm at all, my espresso comes out in 40 seconds... Only if i tamp with moderae strength, i have 25 seconds taking espresso shots. I dont want to blame the machine, so I think its mainly my lack of skills... but even after weighting the amount of coffee I use, finding the right grind (because bigger grinds makes me produce espresso's in 10 seconds and they all taste bitter and sour), and programming my Baby Gaggia Twin, I get different results every time... Please help me out. btw. I also tried a new PF (one other espresso machines have), but despite ANY type of grind, I get 10 seconds taking espresso shots all the time. The espresso's have a nice cream layer and whenever my espresso shots take up to 25 seconds, then my espresso tastes good, is a little syrup alike...
PF: The portafilter is different compared to others... because the little basket has only one hole instead of multiple holes and it contains a little frothing jet device. I have no clue whether or not it is effective since I dont see any difference if i take the little device out or not. It also has the Pad-basket, where you can use espresso pads (will never use it).
The machine and its functions: The machine heats up rather quick (it says 6 mins) and as mentioned above, the right temperature for your steam is reached in some seconds too. The water reservoir is rather big (1.6L) and easy to remove. Buttons for single or double espresso: This is a bit confusing since you can program both buttons to your own preference (how much water will come thru for your espresso) and therefore make the single espresso button run longer than the double espresso button. However, there is a difference between these buttons: the single espresso shot contains a (in my opinion completely useless) pre-infusion function which cannot be switched off. When you press the single espresso button it splashes a little water over your grinded beans and 2 seconds later it will start producing your espresso... I have not noticed any difference. Programming button: there is a button you can use to program the size of your own shots. Pretty handy, but note that its not the time you program, but the amount of water that comes thru your PF. And that makes sense since every grind and way you tamper makes it easier or not for the water to flow through. Just press the M-button for 3 seconds until it begins to flash.. then press either the single espresso button or the double espresso button and wait until you have the right amount of espresso in your cup, then press the single or double espresso button again and after that the M-button again to leave the programming menu.
I bought my machine online and they delivered it 10 days after ordering. I dont have complaints at all... I found all the information about this machine i needed online.
Three Month Followup
I am very happy with this product. In the beginning I encountered some difficulties when I made my cappuccinos or espressos, but it did not take me long to realise that it was me rather than the machine that messed up my cappuccinos and espressos. I found out that every coffee bean has its own perfect grind for this (and probably every other) machine. I am using 3 different kinds of beans (2 containing caffeine and 1 without) and all 3 kinds need a different grind in order to make the best espresso shot with this machine (i am not even mentioning the tamper pressure). If the grind is not good, the machine will finish the shot in approximately 15 seconds, leaving you with a bitter taste.
Some criticisms: -the Pannarello steam wand feels like it could fall off any minute. I havent found out why they did such a bad job on attaching the steam wand to the machine. -the inside of the Pannarello steam wand still contains a little bit of milk after you used the steam to "clean the steam wand from the inside". Although it is easy to take off the steam wand to a proper cleansing, it can be annoying from time to time.