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Smeg is a name in the electrical appliances market that is synonymous with retro style and high quality. It’s not surprising, therefore, that when they decided to produce their own coffee machine, the Smeg ecF01 it reflected their much-loved 1950s style.
Despite being a relatively recent entry to the coffee marketplace – and Smeg’s first foray into the standalone coffee machine market – it’s already made its way onto the best buy lists of manual espresso machines.
Despite being an entry-level manual espresso machine, its ratings vary between 4.5 and 5 stars on Amazon and other retail sites, although its price tag is somewhat heftier than similar models.
The Smeg ecF01 is a manual espresso coffee machine, which means that you need pre-ground coffee beans to produce your cup of coffee. For true coffee lovers you’ll need to invest in a good quality coffee grinder too.
As a manual machine, you’ll also need to fill the filter and tamp the coffee (tamper included), then steam and froth the milk too. A manual espresso machine should be about controllability, and that’s something that the Smeg ecF01 offers.
It has just three buttons which allow users to set the volume, strength and temperature of your coffee, as well as set it for water hardness. It’ll also remember your preferences for next time.
The steam wand is also easy to use thanks to the simple lever design. And, in an added twist, in addition to ground coffee, the Smeg ecF01 also has the option of using Easy Serving Espresso pods, (ESE, or disposable coffee pods), for when you want a caffeine hit without the fuss.
The Smeg ecF01 has two dispensers, making brewing multiple cups or larger cups of coffee a speedier experience, especially as its thermoblock water heating system means that from switch on to optimum temperature takes just forty seconds. The drip tray is removable to allow for larger cups, and while the 1.5 litre water tank isn’t the largest on the market, it still holds enough to produce several cups of coffee without needing refilling.
The manual milk frother also heats up within seconds and makes well textured, frothy milk that’s ideal for all types of milky coffees, including cappuccino, latte and macchiato. The steam wand also dispenses hot water, for turning your espresso into a long drink.
As with all coffee machines, cleaning is essential for keeping your machine in good working order and extending its lifespan. While the Smeg ecF01 has a warning light that indicates when it’s decalcifying, there are no auto-programmes for the cleaning process, and it’s down to the user to carry out what can be a fiddly, time-consuming task. It’s also recommended that steam is run through the milk wand every time it’s used. The drip tray is removable for easy cleaning and features a handy ‘float’ that indicates when it needs emptying.
There are a couple of drawbacks with the Smeg ecF01. While having just three buttons should make using it simply, users report that setting their preferences requires a fairly complicated and obscure button-pressing sequence, and recommend keeping the manual handy. There’s also no water filter, which means that in hard water areas, it can need decalcifying fairly frequently.
As a basic, manual espresso machine, the Smeg ecF01 doesn’t offer much functionality above the obvious. The three button system is surprisingly versatile, allowing users to set strength, volume and temperature, and allow for local water hardness.
The coffee filter comes with three inserts; one for single espressos, one for double espressos, and one for ESE pods. Preferred volume can easily be set by pressing and holding the single or double espresso button until it reaches your ideal level, then letting go, and the Smeg ecF01 will remember your preference.
The steam wand is controlled by a lever on the side of the machine, which enables users to switch between hot water for topping up their espresso, and steam for perfectly textured milk.
The manual does state that the steam wand should not be used for more than 60 seconds at a time, which could be a problem if you want to make multiple milky coffees.
And while the Smeg ecF01 also features a cup warmer on top of the machine, some users have criticised how slowly it actually warms the cups.
Although an entry-level machine, users can expect a quality that matches the Smeg ecF01’s sleek appearance.
It includes a speedy thermoblock water heating system that ensures that within forty seconds the water is at your preferred temperature every time, and boasts a professional standard 15 bar water pump.
It also allows users to set how long it’ll stay on for, with options of nine minutes, thirty minutes, or three hours.
For fashion-conscious coffee fanatics who want to combine style with quality, the Smeg ecF01 is impossible to beat.
Its retro looks are matched by Smeg’s reputation for excellence, making it a beautiful addition to every kitchen.
However, the name comes with a price, and it’s expensive compared to similar machines in the marketplace. It does score consistently highly for quality coffee, however, and the manual milk frother adds functionality to this sleek machine
Last update on 2019-06-20 at 13:33 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API