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Saeco Armonia Espresso - Ray Taylor's Review
Posted: December 10, 2007, 8:25pm
review rating: 8.0
feedback: (1) comments | read | write
Saeco Armonia Espresso Machine
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Arrow The Saeco Armonia Espresso has 1 Reviews
Arrow The Saeco Armonia Espresso has been rated 8.20 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since October 28, 2007.
Arrow Saeco Armonia Espresso reviews have been viewed 18,783 times (updated hourly).

Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.2
Manufacturer: Saeco Quality: 9
Average Price: $275.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $200.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: Fenton Gourmet Aesthetics 5
Owned for: 1 week Overall 9
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: If you are a beginner, you can't go wrong - no need for fancy grinder or a barista training to get excellent espresso. The same guts as the Saeco Aroma line for hundreds less.
Positive Product Points

With good coffee, this machine makes espresso comparable to the best I had in Turin coffee bars.

Negative Product Points

Can't seem to get enough steam to froth milk for two capuccinos

Detailed Commentary

After returning from a 5 week business trip to northern Italy and drinking great espresso, the thought of returning to drab cafè americano was quite depressing. I am a home espresso newbie, and after going through this site, the thought of making really good espresso at home was quite daunting (grind, dosing and tamplng seemingly a craft I did not care to invest time in). I was also on a pretty tight budget (around $300). After reading a few positive consumer reviews on the Breville Roma and seeing it on sale quite cheap locally (as low as $170 this weekend, with a bonus espresso cup set) I was seriously tempted. I also looked dreamily at the Rancilio but it was out of my price range. Lo and behold the Saeco Armonia shows up in a Fenton Gourmet store at the local mall on sale for $199. A quick look and I found out that this is basically the same machine as the Saeco Aroma line but with a plastic instead of a metal case. The 2 year warranty and less maintenance factor won me over the Breville.

Getting the machine up and running was quite simple and using some of the excellent Hue Hue cafe Il Supremo from the Pausa café cooperative in Turin http://www.pausacafe.org/lista_acquisto.html  (part of the Slow Food movement) I managed to pull an amazing shot on my first attempt! After the 3rd or 4th shot I was getting quality on par with the best espresso bars in Turin.

Despite the fact that the geeks on this site do not recommend "crema enhancer" pressure type filters, I cannot speak highly enough of how this machine makes pulling good espresso a much easier task. This machine is very forgiving of the grind of coffee (my $60 burr grind Krups is just fine) and there is no need to tamp. Dosing is about the only picky variable in terms of flavour. Also this machine does not require any fancy fine tuning in order to use pods (just pop in the included adapter).

Even though this machine appears to produce ample steam, It seems to not heat up the milk when frothing enough for two capuccinos.  I find I have to stop halfway and wait for the boiler to catch up before finishing it off.

In all I am extremely pleased with what is turning out to be a no-fuss and easy to use machine (great for beginners). Despite what this and other sites say, the Saeco crema pressure filter produces excellent espresso. Perhaps not the best according to purists or professional baristas, but if you balk at the idea of $400 coffee grinders and $150 tampers and several kilos of coffee before you can pull a decent shot, then you can hardly go wrong with this machine. Also the two year warranty and lower maintenance (The Breville needs to be decalcified once a month) make the Saeco option pretty hard to beat.

Buying Experience

No complaints. I was quite surprised at how knowledgeable the staff at Centre du Rasoir (Personal Edge in the rest of Canada) were about espresso machines. Even though I did not buy it there (shame on me wanting to save $100) I can recommend this store for great advice. Fenton Gourmet was a bit odd, as they did not know anything about either the Breville, Saeco or the Cuisinart (ugh-ly) that they had in the store. I only decided against the Breville Roma because the Sears next door to the Fenton was demoing the machine and I was not that impressed....

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Posted: December 10, 2007, 8:25pm
feedback: (1) comments | read | write
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