FrancisFrancis! X1 Coffee Maker
The best espresso machine ever!
I first bought this exact machine from John Lewis 10 years ago and just replaced it with the same again. I looked after the old girl, and I've worked out she's made around 20,000 espressos over that time, which I think is very good going!
Made by the Illy Coffee Co it's a lovely vintage design, simple to use, and very much a hands-on machine, nothing automatic about it, which gives you full control.
It's a bit like driving an old manual car, that once you get the hang of it, it doesn't let you down!
It's the only machine I've come across in this price range that delivers a perfect Italian espresso with perfect crema. However, you must use the right blend of beans, and don't rely on Illy themselves producing this for you, as their coffee can be too finely ground for this machine! Lavazza Rosso is the best at the moment. Just practice a bit with the different blends out there to find what suits you.
It has a tendency to overheat, so don't ever leave it on for long periods. If you do, don't attempt coffee making until it's cooled down again. It's a bit temperamental, like an old car, but the espresso is so superb it's worth the TLC. Friends who have machines 4 times the price can't produce coffee this good. And do keep it descaled regularly.
21 March 2014
Great but needs knowledge
The machine is great, it looks great and if you like the idea of playing 'barista', you'll enjoy it. If you want to press a button and have good coffee, go for the X7 or similar. This machine requires a bit of knowledge and patience. It doesn't mean you have to know beforehand, but you have to be aware that you'll take a while until you drink good coffee.
I struggled a lot in the beginning and contacted the Customer Service complaining about the 'bad quality' of the machine. The coffee was thin, with burnt taste and the milk wasn't great. They put me in contact with the EuroFoods customer service.
They were great. I realised that a lot of my complaints weren't problems with the machine as I thought. Now I can make perfect espressos and capuccinos, apart from my 'hearts' and 'leaves' on top of the drinks that look rubbish yet, but I'll get there.
If you buy it, here are some tips that I leant during the process:
- let the machine warm up for a while before using. The warmer the better. No rush.
- make sure you use coffee grinded for espresso. Very thin. If you use coffee grinded for filter or caffetier, the coffee can be a bit thin it won't have good cremma.
- always run some water before making a coffee. It cleans the shower plate from old coffee that can bring burnt taste to the coffee. You can use this water to warm up the cup, as on the top of the machine it can take a while.
- when using the tamper to press the coffee, don't be shy. Press it firmly.
- use the little brush that comes with the machine to clean around the portafilter regularly. There is always a bit of coffee there.
- if you know how to froth the milk just looking or feeling the temperature with the hand, great. If you don't know, buy a cheap termomether. It'll make such a big difference.
- when cleaning the body of the machine use one wet cloth first then one dry. It'll make the machine shiny without the marks of the water (in case you have the stainless steel).
18 May 2013
Looks the business, but lacks reliability
We've had one of these machines for 3 and half years and it drives me crazy. Looks great - no doubt about about it, but have had to have it repaired several times (once under warranty), but it returns from the service centre with the same problem.
Pump has gone a couple of times, as has the thermostat. Expensive to fix, so making do with the one cup of coffee it allows us to make each day, before giving up the ghost.
I've found that regardless of how gentle you are with the front of the drip tray, the enamel starts to chip away around the silver pull handle and starts to rust. It was easy enough to replace, but surprised at how quickly it fails.
Shame, as I LOVE the design, but not much use for making coffee
26 June 2012