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Starbucks Barista - Joe Foo's Review
Posted: July 8, 2002, 12:12am
review rating: 7.0
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Starbucks Barista
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Arrow The Starbucks Barista has 163 Reviews
Arrow The Starbucks Barista has been rated 8.23 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Starbucks Barista reviews have been viewed 1,038,918 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Bam T 9.50
Carl Lobitz 8.67
Rick Wayne 8.22
Dave Jahsman 8.00
Kevin Bailey 8.00

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 7.4
Manufacturer: Estro Quality: 7
Average Price: $350.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $250.00 Cost vs. Value 7
Where Bought: Starbucks Aesthetics 7
Owned for: 4+ years Overall 7
Writer's Expertise: Intermediate Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Gran Gaggia, Rancilio Betsy
Bottom Line: Solid machine, easy to use. Don't pay list for it. Skip the grinder model.
Positive Product Points

You can get it cheap if you look around
Solid metal construction
Pressurized portafilter makes good espresso easy, but you'll eventually outgrow it

Negative Product Points

Built in grinder/doser is unreliable
Useless plastic drawer and tamp box

Detailed Commentary

These machines are made by Saeco for Starbucks. They used to be called Estro before being rebranded as Barrista. I have an Estro Profi, which is the old model with a built-in grinder.

The machine is solidly built, metal all around, except for the tray, drawer and tamp box. The drawer and the tamp box is too small and basically useless. I chucked them so I have more space below the portafilter and doser. The built in tamper is useless as a tamper, since you have no leverage when you push up against it. It works well with the pressurized filter though, since all you need to do is to even out the grinds.

The steam wand is too short and the steam rather weak. I work around it by using a smalleritcher (12oz) and steaming while the boiler is on (before the ready light turns on). This is about 30 seconds after I hit the steam button.

The pressurized portafilter is a mixed blessing. I have the old Gran Crema portafilter, which has a valve that you can control by turning the handle. It actually is quite usefull, since it provides another point of control. I usually start it off closed to pre-infuse the puck, then open it wide to brew. If I screw up the grind or the tamp, I can usually save the shot by closing the valve a little to extend the brew to about 25 seconds. The downside is that even though the crema is excellent, it dissipates rather quickly. You can also get a non-pressurized portafilter from Saeco if you want slightly better espresso.

The grinder is also a mixed blessing. You get a decent (Saeco 2002) burr grinder cheap, it saves space, and it's really convienient since you just move the portafilter under it and it automatically grinds and doses. But doser is kind of weird - the grounds jam up in a small compartment, which hits a switch to turn the grinder off. You then place press the portafilter against a switch below which dumps the grinds, which in turn starts up the grinder. This obviously leaves 1 shot of grinds, which gets stale rapidly. I turn the grinder off before the last shot to work around this. The whole contraption is just way too complicated and flimsy. I had to open it up to clear out the stuck grounds, re-adjust the springs. The design also causes grounds to jam up in the grinder, which will eventually cause the grinder to jam. Just brushing the grinder out doesn't help, you have to take the grinder and the doser apart to clean properly. While these problems may have occured in a seperate grinder too, in hindsight, I would not have got built-in grinder, since it would have allowed me to upgrade/replace the grinder easier.

The espresso machine itself, though, has been reliable for 5 years.

Buying Experience

I got this during one of the yearly Starbucks half off sales. Worth the $250 I paid for it, but not at the regular price.

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review rating: 7.0
Posted: July 8, 2002, 12:12am
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