This is our Smeg Espresso Machine review.
The Smeg Espresso Machine ECFO1 is a handsome machine. It’s curvy, retro, and sleek.
It’s hard not to fall in love with it. I mean, I’ve fallen for Corvettes, Cadillacs, drive-ins, and the whole 1950s aesthetic.
But don’t rush it. It’s enough to grab it to notice that it isn’t as premium as it might seem.
The Smeg Espresso Machine is an outstanding option for people who want an espresso machine to match other Smeg appliances. However, the rest of us can find better options for a lower price.
Whoa! Was I too harsh?
You may ask if I hate the Smeg Espresso Machine after reading that.
Let me be clear. I wrote this Smeg Espresso Review to raise the red flag to people on a budget looking for a mid-range espresso machine. The thing is that the Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine is a pretty good piece of gear for espresso beginners, but considering its key features, build quality, and price, it’s worth considering other similar options before pulling the trigger.
So, if you want to learn why I am reluctant about the Smeg Espresso Machine ECFO1, keep reading below.
Smeg Espresso Machine Review: Main Features
The most robust feature of the Smeg Espresso Machine ECFO1 is its visual design, which is both retro and elegant. Additionally, the machine comes well-equipped to make delicious espresso and frothy drinks at home.
The downside is that you can find all of these features in espresso machines from reputable brands for 100 or even 200 dollars less.
Sleek Looks. Cheap Touch.
The Smeg ECF01 is a beautiful espresso machine that comes in many colors. It has a classic 50s style design that will brighten up any kitchen space. Furthermore, it’s a stainless steel body, a chrome steam lever, and a chrome-plated base. It comes with a 1-liter removable water tank in plastic, a cup warmer, and an automatic shut-off system.
On the downside, the body is encased in plastic and feels flimsy. The feeling when touching and holding this machine is disappointing at this price range. Additionally, it’s a bit contradictory in terms of style.
Of course, if you have more Smeg appliances in your kitchen, having a machine matching in shape and colors can get you stunning visuals at home.
Easy Setup Process
The Smeg espresso machine is easy to set up and quick to use. The setup process takes only a few minutes and is relatively simple. The machine itself is straightforward- you can make either a single or double shot of espresso with it. The entire process to prepare espresso takes only a few minutes, and its pressurized portafilter is very forgiving. Most Smeg espresso machine owners are happy about their espresso shots’ body, taste, and aroma.
Setting up the Smeg espresso machine is straightforward and quick. Before the first use, it needs a quick clean. It’s recommended to hand-wash the filter holder, filter baskets, measuring spoon, water tank, and drip tray. Then, it’s appropriate to run the machine through several cycles without any coffee grounds to clean the interior components.
According to the instructions included with the machine, it’s important to run through six times and rinse out the milk frother twice.
Overall, the setup process is straightforward.
Functional for Espresso and frothy coffee
Feature-wise, the Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine ECF01 is a relatively basic manual espresso machine. It comes with a portafilter with three inserts – one for single espressos, one for double espressos, and one for ESE -easy serving espresso- pods.
The pressurized portafilter is a common feature across entry-level machines. Likewise, the Smeg portafilter is reliable and forgiving, providing good results, even after making minor mistakes that would ruin a shot with a more advanced piece of gear.
The steam wand isn’t professional but an entry-level system. It’s easier to use than a regular steam wand, but it provides less control over the results. To control the steam wand, a lever on the side of the machine lets you switch between hot water and steam to froth milk. As a result, it’s easy to make your own lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, cortados, or any other frothy drink at home.
Additionally, the top of the machine is a cup warmer, similar to more premium espresso machines, which is a nice feature to have.
Like similar entry-level espresso machines, preparing frothy coffee is slow and sequential. You can’t start frothing the milk before finishing your espresso, and it’s essential to bear this in mind to avoid unnecessary frustrations.
Good Performance and Easy to Use Manual Machine
Standard espresso machines deliver 9-bars of pressure. So, when you learn that the Smeg Espresso Machine features 15-bars, you might think it’s a superior machine. But, it’s not that way.
The Smeg Espresso Machine comes with a system to control pressure automatically, like other domestic espresso machines. So, in the end, it delivers a reliable amount of pressure. But you can’t adjust it manually.
Many domestic espresso machines come with thermoblock heaters instead of conventional boilers. It’s a safer, quicker, and more appropriate technology for home use.
The machine gets ready pretty quickly in terms of heating because it has a thermoblock heater and a small water tank.
Regarding basket technology, they’re helpful for untrained baristas and beginners. Pressurized baskets help obtain more consistent and reliable results without needing advanced coffee grinders or barista skills.
Regular Cleaning Needed
Cleaning an espresso machine tends to be boring and time-consuming. The Smeg Espresso Machine isn’t the worse machine in this regard. On the contrary, it’s easy to clean compared to other similar devices.
The milk frother and filter baskets must be cleaned immediately after each use. Yet, the drip tray and cup tray are easy to remove and clean.
Care instructions suggest rinsing the boiler after every 200 coffees. Use approximately 500 ml of water by pressing the coffee dispense button without adding coffee.
The Smeg Espresso Machine comes with a descaling alert. If you get this alert, you can follow the simple steps provided in the tutorial below:
For descaling, it’s vital to get a special descaler in advance. Nobody wants to get an orange alert without a descaler on reach.
Build quality and durability
The Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine is a domestic piece of gear that can last for years. The problem is that it isn’t made for heavy use.
Some parts are more prone to damage than others. For instance, the plastic casing is not as durable as other materials. The same happens with the portafilter handle, the steam lever, and other moving parts. Overall, the machine can be fragile and flimsy, which is disappointing if you consider its price and close competitors.
Smeg espresso coffee machine alternatives
A few espresso machines have similar features to the Smeg Espresso Machine. Some of them cost 100 or even 200 dollars less than the Smeg, having the same or better features, build quality, and performance. Below you’ll find the best alternatives I found.
The De’Longhi EC680M is a decent entry-level espresso machine. Technically, it has the same specs as the Smeg, without the plastic encasing and curvy shape.
In other words, both machines feature a thermoblock heating system with a 15 bar pump, a pressurized portafilter, and a panarello steam wand.
So, if you feel attracted to buy the Smeg Espresso Machine because of its performance and functionality, check the De’Longhi EC680M price first.
You’d be surprised!
Gaggia Classic Pro
The Gaggia Classic Pro is an espresso machine for more advanced -or ambitious- home baristas.
With this machine, you can get more control over your drinks and learn proper latte art using its commercial-grade rotating steam wand.
The portafilters, baskets, and the body in this machine speak of the Gaggia tradition in the coffee industry. It looks, feels, and weighs like professional gear.
Breville Bambino Plus
The Breville Bambino Plus is an excellent alternative to the Smeg Espresso Machine if you are looking for an affordable machine that still has good performance and usability. It is made with brushed stainless steel and has a compact body, making it easy to use and store.
The Breville Bambino espresso machine has been praised by both new and experienced coffee drinkers. The steam wand is perfect for beginners, as well as the portafilter. Reliable and easy to use, the Breville Bambino is a great machine for uncomplicated espresso enthusiasts and beginners.
For more information, read our comparison of the Breville Bambino vs. Bambino Plus.
The Verdict – Is the Smeg Espresso Machine for you?
The Smeg Espresso Machine is a good-looking machine with a decent set of features. However, you can consider it’s overpriced if you aren’t in love with its unique curvy look. For those on a budget, it’s a terrible option.
Now, if you’re looking for a beautiful machine with entry-level features, the Smeg Espresso Machine ECFO1 is a good option.
SMEG Espresso Machine: FAQ
Since its launch in 2017, the Smeg espresso machine has acquired a good fan base and people wanting to get one for their beautiful, retro kitchens.
Thanks to the experience of so many Smeg Espresso Coffee Machines owners, it’s now easy to answer many of the most common questions about these machines.
Here are some of the most common questions about the SMEG Espresso Machine.
Is SMEG A Good Brand?
SMEG is a brand that is known for its retro-style appliances.
However, according to many customer reviews, the brand doesn’t offer consistent durability, customer service, and technical support across its different products and markets.
However, this issue is different in every country Smeg products are available. If you already have Smeg appliances and you have had a positive service experience, you might have a better chance to get good technical service when necessary.
Can You Use Nespresso Pods In The Smeg Espresso Machine?
No, they are designed specifically for use in Nespresso machines.
What Pods Can Be Used With The Smeg Coffee Machine?
The Smeg coffee machine is compatible with ESE -easy serve espresso- pods. ESE pods resemble a teabag. They don’t come in capsules or encased in hard materials like metal or plastic.
Where Are Smeg Espresso Machines Made?
Smeg was founded in Italy and the company currently operates in several countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States.
Still, the Smeg espresso machine is made in China.
How Many Cups Of Coffee Can You Make With A Smeg Espresso Machine?
Each espresso shot consumes around 40 ml of water. Depending on how much you use your steam wand, you can make between 10 and 15 shots without frothing milk.
If you prepare drinks with the steam wand, the process is slower, and you’ll consume the water tank faster.