Once out of the box, it was a breeze to set up, taking no longer than 10minutes. This was made easy with the help of a simple to understand user manual and quick start guide. Along with the supporting material it was a pleasant surprise to find some barista tools that would help me prepare my first espresso including a hand tamper, milk jug, group head brush and 7grm coffee scoop.
When setting up the machine a number of key features caught my eye. Firstly, the group head has its own boiler, completely separate from the steam and hot water boiler. This “twin boiler” is a feature that better commercial espresso machines often have and it helps maintain a constant brew temperature and allows the steam pressure to recover quickly.
The other was the auto shut down feature. This is important for domestic espresso machines that are not plumbed to the water mains because they are not turned off after use and the boiler continues to heat the water eventually it will run dry and damage the elements.
Now set up I prepared my first espresso. The feeling was similar to that of using a commercial machine; the group handle was comfortable to hold and locked into the group head easily and in the same manor. Being a manual machine, there is not a pre-set volumetric key pad, rather one button to press to start and stop the extraction. This gave me full control over my extraction volume and weight. Whilst under extraction, the pump makes a quiet humming noise that is barely noticeable and the espresso poured like honey – I couldn’t be happier.
Once the extraction had finished it was time to test the unit’s steaming capabilities. With an independent boiler I expected good steam pressure and that’s what I got. Before use, the plastic Frothing Nozzle is to be attached, but I found this add on actually made it impossible to achieve perfect, silky paint-like milk. So, I tried again without the Frothing Nozzle and I was much happier with the results. For those that like an extra foamy cappuccino this add on is perfect but if you’re working on your latte art it can easily be removed.
All and all the KitchenAid Manual Espresso Machine not only looks great and was easy to set up it has the features of a commercial espresso machine. Making it easy, with practice, to produce both an excellent espresso and perfectly textured milk without losing water temperature or steam pressure like most domestic units. I would highly recommend this unit to any home baristas who are serious about their coffee.
Review by Brent Deller, The Coffee Training Co. & Baristatools.Net