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Francis Francis X1 - Daniel Butterfield's Review
Posted: May 15, 2003, 2:43pm
review rating: 4.0
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Francis Francis X1
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Arrow The Francis Francis X1 has 43 Reviews
Arrow The Francis Francis X1 has been rated 7.20 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Francis Francis X1 reviews have been viewed 250,013 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Scott Smith 8.75
Patrick Moss 8.00
Josh Alwitt 8.00
Steve Strawman 8.00
Phil M 7.60

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 7.6
Manufacturer: Francis! Francis! Quality: 8
Average Price: $799.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $499.00 Cost vs. Value 5
Where Bought: WIlliams Sonoma (Wife bought it) Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 1 year Overall 7
Writer's Expertise: Advanced Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: Great machine.  Wears out after 5 years (about 1500  Capucinnos w/ 3000 shots)
Positive Product Points

Heats quickly.  Great pressure.  A couple of critical caveats can be resolved.

Negative Product Points

Expensive.  Stock ground kit only works with European style 100% Arabica Espresso (e.g. Illy, La Vazza Gold, etc.).  However, this can be resolved.

Detailed Commentary

(5 year update -- the problems  below were apparently just due to "newness"  and went away after breaking in the machine)

I was very disappointed when the X1 arrived.  Our old '94 Estro Vapore (pre-cursor to Starbucks Barista) had worn out and our new house wanted the machine to locate on the kitchen island.  My wife really wanted the X1 due to looks.

Problem was, it only makes decent espresso with pods and/or European style 100% Arabica Espresso, using the ground kit, which can be expensive unless you look around.

Like others reported, I could not get any crema using Starbucks, Peets, or other beans no matter what grind setting, which was sad because I like to rotate coffee styles.

Well, on a whim I tried my porta filter from my Vapore (A Starbucks Barista would also work) -- and it fit!  Now all type of ground coffees produce excellent results.  I can even get great crema using non-espresso, light-roasted, light body beans, e.g. Starbucks Kenya, etc.

If you are stuck with this machine and have access to another porta filter -- try it!

Buying Experience

My wife bought it through Williams Sonoma and it was mailed directly from Francis Francis.  Note, they forgot to add the ground-kit, but it showed up later.

Three Month Followup

The machine "broke in" after about 3 months (100 capucinni + 200 shots).  Works really great.

One Year Followup

Actually this is my 5 year follow up.  We've really grown to like this machine.  The issue with not getting crema just has to do with the porta filter being to new -- after it breaks in and sufficiently clogs the pores of the porta filter (perhaps to get enough back pressure?) it pulls thick crema shots from most any decent roast/grind/bean.

Compared to other machines, the drawbacks are:
1) Takes a long time to heat up steam and it takes a relatively long time to build up foam on the milk pitcher or latta directly.  But the results are worth it -- better than many other machines I've tried (microbubbles rule!).

2) The needle valve for the steam wand wears out (3 years) and it leaks when it supposed to be off.

3) All of the seals wear out (5 years) and it leaks all over and  it's basically dangerous / useless to use.

I can't see buying another $500 machine ($600 now).  I'm trying to find a way to get it re-furbished.  Please offer suggestions.

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review rating: 4.0
Posted: May 15, 2003, 2:43pm
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