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Francis Francis X1 - Ben Wickham's Review
Posted: June 12, 2003, 6:58pm
review rating: 6.6
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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 254,693 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: 7
Average Price: $799.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $580.00 Cost vs. Value 6
Where Bought: Brighton, UK Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 1 month Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: Intermediate Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: A fine machine that doesnt compromise on quality or style
Positive Product Points

Simple to use and operate out of the box. Flexible thanks to the pod and ground coffee portafilters. Looks speak for themselves

Negative Product Points

Steam wand could be located (shaped?) better. Pods have a habit of dripping. Cup warmer is next to useless

Detailed Commentary

The X1 has its detractors, theres no doubt, in fact even those who own it are rarely steadfast in their praise. However it fills a niche in the espresso machine market, that of a design led product. More of that in a bit.

The X1 is a lovely machine to use. Its very simple in it's design, with functional rocker switches and minimal fuss on the front. The thermometer lets you know what the boiler is doing as well as looking pretty cool.  Pulling a shot is a simple matter of activating the switch (very solid feel) and watching that flow closely. All the exterior components feel sturdy, and the portafilter heats up nicely when locked into the group.

Pods are the antithesis of espresso to the purist I know, but take a moment to consider the upside. Firstly, no mess. Whatsoever. The X1 will pull a fairly decent shot with a nice layer of crema on top, time after time, and perhaps more importantly, with no effort. Personally, I much prefer making espresso with freshly ground beans, I love to grind ,tamp, watch it pour etc, but sometimes Im in a rush. I know a can lock a pod in, and get a nice shot, no trouble. In comparison with Nestle's Nespresso pods, the ESE ones are gourmet. They also supply 3 filters, so be it ristretto, standard or even longer shot, you can get what you want.

The X1 also works great with ground coffee. A decent grinder is obviously the main component in this relationship, and the quality of your shot will be limited by this, not the X1. Even with my Dualit I've got some pretty decent pulls in recent days (Im a newbie to all this, so give me time).

Gotta be a downside in everything. The X1 isnt really known for its build quality. The exterior seems pretty much bullet proof, but after 2 weeks the thermostat circuit died on mine. Annoying, but I had it repaired within 2 days, so no great problem.  The steam wand looks about the same as most others, but seems to make it difficult to steam in a large pitcher somehow.  The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that it also costs about the same as the Silvia. No answer to this one. It depends on what you want out of a machine.

As I said before, the X1, and all the FF! machine fill a big hole in this market by looking really really good.  In the same way that the Siemens Porsche drip machine is almost certainly not the best, there is no comparison out there in terms of style. The X1 is the same.You pay a premium for the design, but get a fine espresso machine under all those curves. Its easy to use, and perfect for the newbie since it will cope with your growing knowledge. If the thought of paying extra for flash looks seems ridiculous to you, dont go near this machine. If (like me) you're looking at all the other machines thinking, "all that $$ to make my kitchen look like a industrial unit", then I think youve found your machine.

It's a great machine, but chances are, you either loved it or hated it as soon as you looked at it.

Buying Experience

Steamer trading, in Brighton UK, could not have been more helpful. For anyone in the south of england, give them your business! The one fault was dealt with very quickly. No one else could find me a lime green X1 (I wonder why?)

Three Month Followup

I have to say I still love this machine. It takes some time to get used to the steam wand, since it has a permanent frothing attachment, but with a slighty altered technique (which Mark seems also to have discovered, judging by his X5 review) microfoam is an acheivable goal. Pulling shots a a joy now I have a source of fresh beans and so far my X1 has been more than a match for my growing abilities.  Still highly recommended.  And I saw it on Will and Grace last month, which is nice.  :)

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review rating: 6.6
Posted: June 12, 2003, 6:58pm
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