Saeco Via Veneto, Pasquini Livia 90, Olympia Cremina
Stick with French Press, Vaccume Pot or even a stove top moka maker if you cannot afford a pump driven espresso machine.
Positive Product Points
This machine is cheap and easy to use. It is very quiet. It does not take up much counter space. It froths well. It was cheap enough that I could give it away a couple of weeks later without feeling that I blew too much money.
Negative Product Points
It is cheap. It is cheap looking, cheap fealing, and fragile. It does not really make espresso--it is a Moka maker. The coffee tastes burnt. You can get steam burns pretty easy. You will never get crema. The portafilter handle broke off the first use--I made a wood replacement handle. It is not even a machine that you can practice on or gain any skill from for when you do upgrade to a real espresso machine.
I purchased this machine as an inexpensive introduction into making espresso at home. At the time I did not realize there was a differenct between the way this machine made coffee under steam pressure from pump driven "true" espresso machines.
The machine makes up to 4 demitasse cups of coffee/moka (not espresso). I found that if I prepared the machine for 4 demitasse cups of coffee and pulled the glass carafe after only 2 cups had streamed out, I could get a much better cup of coffee. I just let the rest run into the drip tray. Instead of tasting burnt it tasted like the coffee had been overroasted a bit and was a little less bitter. The water that brews the coffee is much to hot and burns the beans. At the end of the coffee shot you get pure steam that really burns the beans bad. You cannot control the timing of the shot. You will never get any crema. You never get the correct pressure for a proper espresso extraction. You cannot by definition make a shot of espresso. Here is the definition of a shot of espresso according to Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano, www.espressoitaliano.org defines it as follows:
Necessary portion of ground coffee = 7 g ± 0,5 Exit temperature of water from the unit = 88°C ± 2°C Temperature of the drink in the cup = 67°C ± 3°C Entry water pressure = 9 bar ± 1 Percolation time = 25 seconds ± 2.5 seconds Viscosity at = 45°C > 1.5 mPa s Total fat = > 2 mg/ml Caffeine = 100 mg/cup Millilitres in the cup (including foam) = 25 ml ± 2.5
This coffee that this machine makes meets none of the above criteria with the one exception that you can portion 7 g ± 0,5 of coffee into the portafilter. The coffee is not suitable for drinking strait or with water like an americano. It is somewhat suitable to be served with milk. At least with milk it tastes ok. A stove top Moka\espresso pot works much better. If you cannot afford a good pump driven espresso machine (saeco via veneto or saeco classico or better) stick with French press, or even better a Vacuum Pot.
After about 2 weeks I gave the machine away and purchased a Saeco Via Veneto. This was a fantastic upgrade. I could now consistatly make espresso better or as good as most of the local espresso bars. After my sister saw the difference she gave away her Krups Steam Espresso machine (that she stopped using a couple of years ago) and went out and purchased a Saeco Classico and is extreemly happy. She uses it every day. It has saved her about $90 a month in going to Starbucks.
Went into the store, pulled it off of the shelf, took it to the counter and purchased it.
Three Month Followup
I quit using it after about two weeks and replaced it with a Saeco Via Veneto. What an improvement. I replaced the Via Veneto with a Pasquini Livia 90 after about 1 year, and another year later replace my livia 90 with an Olympia Cremina. Now I am in coffee heaven. The Krups sat in my closet for a few month before I gave it to a friend that buys the cheapest coffee she can find, likes her coffee strong, and mixed with milk. She cannot really tell the difference between coffee and used motor oil. So, I figured that this Krups would be perfect for her since I cannot tell the difference between the coffee made with this machine and used motor oil. She is very happy. She even reuses her coffee beans several times before she throws them away. This machine really is perfect for her.