Beautiful vintage aesthetic
Slim and lightweight
Easy to use
Makes good espresso drinks
Tamper is weak
Lack of customization
Regular cleanup required
We purchased the Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
Espresso machines today are available in a variety of sizes, colors, and even styles to fit within any kitchen decor. One brand that takes style to the next level is Smeg, an Italian-based company that's known for its 1950s-retro-style appliances. We tested out the Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine to see if its espresso quality, cleanup, setup, and price can match its impeccable design by putting it through a number of taste tests. Read on for the results.
Design: Slim, lightweight, and flawlessly vintage
The Smeg espresso machine boasts a 1950s-retro-style. With rounded edges and a simplistic design, this espresso machine is one of a kind in terms of aesthetic. It also is available in a beautiful array of unique colors, including pastel blue, pastel green, red, white, black, cream, and pink. The pastel colors in particular are quite rare for kitchen appliances. They not only speak to the 1950s era, but they also make these machines all the more stunning. We tested out the cream espresso machine and were stunned at its sheer beauty. It stands out in our kitchen, and it's the immediate focal point due to its flawless aesthetic.
On top of this, the Smeg espresso machine is also slim and lightweight. Measuring 6 x 13 x 12 inches and weighing just 11 pounds, we had no problem moving it around or finding a spot for it on our counter. It was easy to slip in next to our other kitchen appliances because it is only 6 inches wide. This was by far one of its best qualities, as many espresso machines can be quite heavy and bulky.
Setup Process: Straightforward and quick
The setup process for the Smeg espresso machine was easy and fast. There weren’t a ton of pieces that needed to be cleaned right off the bat, which helped to speed up the setup. Before the first use, we washed (by hand) the filter holder, filter baskets, measuring spoon, water tank, and drip tray.
After those pieces were cleaned and dried, we ran the machine through several cycles without any coffee grounds to clean the interior components. Per the included instructions, we ran the espresso maker through six times and rinsed out the milk frother twice. The entire process took about 20 minutes, which went pretty quickly.
It’s a great middle-ground option for beginners who want to make espresso and look good doing it.
To begin making espresso drinks, we placed our desired filter basket into the filter holder. Next, we put our ground coffee into the filter basket and tamped it down using the included tamper. We locked the filter holder into the group head and placed our mug under the filter holder. Then, we pressed the button on the front of the machine to make our espresso. Depending on which filter basket is used (1-cup or 2-cup), there is a button to make a single shot and a button to make a double shot.
Once the espresso was extracted, we were ready to froth our milk. We pressed the third button on the front of the machine to warm up the milk frother. When the light stops flashing, it’s ready to use. As we waited, we filled a cup with about ½ cup of cold milk. We placed an empty container under the frother and turned the steam valve towards the front of the machine to drain any water and then moved the lever back up.
Next, we placed our milk container under the frother and turned the steam valve towards the front again. Moving the container up and down, we were able to achieve a decent foam. We turned off the valve and proceeded to pour the milk over our espresso.
Performance: Very easy to use, makes good espresso drinks
The Smeg espresso machine makes single and double shots of espresso and froths milk to make espresso drinks. There is also a soft pod filter basket to use coffee soft pods in place of ground coffee.
We made several espresso drinks with this machine, including cappuccinos and lattes, and right away, we loved how fast this espresso machine heated up. Once plugged in and turned on, this machine was ready for use in about two minutes—quite speedy compared to other machines we’ve reviewed. We also loved the simplistic design: There are only three buttons on the front of the machine and a frother lever on the side, making it is easy to work with. Because of this, we think this would be a great introductory espresso machine.
Once plugged in and turned on, the Smeg espresso machine was ready for use in about two minutes.
Though this machine is easy to use, there were a couple of things we didn’t like. The tamper, for instance, is made of plastic. This weak material made it difficult to pack the grounds tightly inside the filter holder. We also didn’t like the machine’s lack of customization. Though we were able to stop the flow of espresso at an earlier point than the machine’s pre-set time, we were not able to control other important variables, such as water temperature and flow rate (which contribute to making a good espresso).
Despite these flaws, we were impressed with the quality of the espresso. It wasn’t totally under-extracted, as we had expected. We were also able to get a nice crema even with the plastic tamper at times, if we packed it down very tightly. As for the frother, it worked well for our purposes in making cappuccinos and lattes and produced delicious frothy milk.
Ease of Cleaning: Requires regular cleaning
This machine requires a bit of upkeep. The included instructions recommend wiping the exterior with a soft, damp cloth after every use. The drip tray and the cup tray are removable and should be cleaned by hand, and the filter baskets also must be cleaned with running water after each use.
If the milk frother was used, that too must be cleaned immediately after, and the water tank should be cleaned about once a month by hand.
After about 200 coffees are made, the group head should be cleaned. There is also a descaling process the machine should go through once the frother button lights up orange. More details are included in the manufacturer instructions.
Price: Fair price for the aesthetic and performance
Considering the performance, the beautiful design, and the ease of use, this espresso machine is definitely worth the price (retails for around $570). This machine also comes with a one-year limited warranty to add to its value. While it is certainly not top of the line in terms of espresso machines (which can run over $1,000), it's an excellent middle-ground option and especially great for beginners.
Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine vs. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
We also tested the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista, a top-performing espresso machine that retails for a much lower price than the Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine (around $250). It’s similar in function in that it can make single and double espresso shots and can froth milk. It also has the ability to make espresso drinks semi-automatically, which is a perk for beginners.
However, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista does not even come close to the stunning design of the Smeg espresso machine. The Smeg is also much slimmer, and we would even say it’s easier to use. If you have the means to purchase the Smeg, by all means, go for it.
- Product Name Espresso Machine
- Product Brand Smeg
- MPN ECF01WHUS
- Price $570.00
- Weight 11 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 6 x 13 x 12 in.
- Color Options Pastel blue, pastel green, red, white, black, cream, and pink
- Water Tank Capacity 1 quart
- Power (Watts) 1,300
- Voltage 120V
- Warranty 1 year, limited
- What’s Included group head, filter holder, stainless steel drip tray, water tank, water tank cover, measuring scoop/tamper, 1-cup ground coffee filter basket, 2-cup ground coffee filter basket, and soft pod filter basket