Choosing a coffee machine.

Frank Pio Russo - January 09, 2016.

Update: Onto the market leader - the DeLonghi Eletta!

After about 7 years service from the Breville Ikon, I've now relegated this machine to simply being a back-up... running it only once or twice a week so as to keep it in running order. The new machine that I've chosen for myself is a fully automatic one from DeLonghi: called the "DeLonghi Eletta"... not only is it their latest but it's also their best selling one! It's now great to expect a perfect latte every-time as the automation replicates everything perfectly every-time: the grinding of the coffee, the tamping down so that the pressure does its job well, and the "creaming" of the skim milk : is all done to perfection and you can adjust the temperature to your personal preference!

It's fantastic to actually be prompted to fill the tank and replenish the coffee beans, and also to empty the coffee grounds when necessary... the latter are all neatly stacked as circular pellets and you just void them into your kitchen-tidy: no more 'squishy' and messy bucket and no more mess on the floor and cup-boards! Furthermore, their professionalism knows no bounds as I was supplied with a water-testing strip so as to determine how often to descale it! As I expected, no reading registered which possibly means that it may never need descaling... this because I use soft rainwater which is also boiled and then allowed to cool down before putting it into the machine. Incidentally the Ikon was never descaled or decalcified for the whole 7 years that I've had it!

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly strongly recommend this DeLonghi machine to anybody who's a lover of coffee and is contemplating buying a new machine!

Frank Pio Russo.

Ps. I also have great expectations for their Connoisseur beans which I have recently purchased!


Frank Russo - August 11 2009.

The main 2 brands on the Australian coffee machine market for domestic use, are Breville and Sunbeam and I've had a lot of experience with the Breville "Cafe' Roma" and "Ikon" as well as the Sunbeam "Cafe' Crema" and the "Espresso".

In my opinion, although the Sunbeam brand has a very high reputation, I've found that their coffee machines need to improve somewhat. For instance, on one Cafe' Crema the drip tray rusted out within a few months, regardless of the fact that I'd emptied the water waste regularly and even dried it each time: I was told that "they'd been badly let down by their manufacturers"... whoever these people might have been...

As for the Cafe' Espresso, this one had a slightly lower price than the Crema and came with a plastic drip tray. It however - like the Crema left a lot to be desired in the descaling procedure outlined in its manual, as it involved just 3 tablespoons of vinegar per reservoir of water: I commented that this was inadequate and that they would end-up with a lot of returned machines with no pressure to speak of! i.e. choked by calcium deposits. Of course, should one use rainwater from a tank... this water is very soft and will make your machines last a lot longer without descaling: the Sunbeam manual should alert the consumer to using rain-water instead of mains water!

Both of these models had another bad problem... one found it very difficult to froth-up the milk and get it very hot, and I would guess that their 15 atmospheres pumps would very often give-up the "ghost", simply because they could not heat up the milk quickly enough... perhaps the steaming wands and nozzles were too restricted and the back-pressure might damage the pumps.

The Breville Cafe' Roma on the other hand, appeared to have no problem in heating-up and frothing-up the milk, and the vacuum pump seemed to have a steadier pressure and it also had a plastic handle on the steam wand, so that one does not burn his hand as he manoeuvres the wand. I however ended-up disliking the Roma because its operation was rather noisy and the vibrations seemed a problem also... furthermore, the main operating knob was a bit faulty!

The machine much to my liking is the Breville "Ikon", however this one is about twice the price of the others retailing at $399.00...the steaming wand is commercial and the water level is easily visible, with the water reservoir at the front of the machine and of a lighter transparent colour. This is in stark contrast to the other 3 machines which had it either out of sight or with such dark plastic as to render the level virtually invisible!

I guess as the saying goes... "you get what you pay for!"... and the Ikon does show its worth by having a "Brew" function where the machine actually delays the build-up in pressure so that the coffee actually "brews" in the "filter-holder"! The instrumentation of the Ikon is also far superior with very good flashing lights as well as a separate variable "steam controller" with which you can control the steam output. A further great feature of the Ikon is its power saving capabilities: if left on the machine actually eventually switches itself off! This would have been very handy with a "Roma" I had experience with... the latter overheated and it took my safety switch to trip the power off! I HATE TO THINK WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF  I HADN'T HAD A SAFETY SWITCH! (?)

Getting back to the Ikon... this is of a mainly stainless steel construction with a stainless steel boiler... the drip tray however is made out of plastic. Now of course you want the machine to last so you want to be able to clean the "shower head". I've been told the Sunbeams were very difficult to get off. You presumably needed just the right screwdriver for the job and even then it was very easy to damage it. And whereas such a screwdriver did not come with the machines... the Ikon comes with a tool kit which includes the appropriate allen key for the job: as I've said before, "you get what you pay for"!