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Smeg Espresso Machine Review: Is It Any Good?

It seems every kitchen appliance company has its own version of an espresso machine.

But not all of them are created equal.

In all my years in and around the coffee industry, I developed a keen eye for picking out high-quality machines. And one of them is Smeg.

In this Smeg espresso machine review, I’ll go over every aspect of the machine and give you my unbiased opinion.

So, let’s dive straight in!

Smeg Espresso Machine: A Quick Overview

Smeg Espresso Machine Black ECF01 BLUS
  • Design 5/5
  • Brewing 5/5
  • Milk Frother 3/5
  • Capacity 4/5
  • Ease of Use 5/5
  • Cleaning 4/5
  • Value for Money4/5

Smeg has been around for a lot longer than I personally realized. It started in 1948 as a kitchen range company.

In the decades since, Smeg expanded to become a producer of all types of household appliances, from dishwashers to ovens.

Smeg has a reputation for producing beautiful, retro-styled appliances without compromising function.

The Smeg espresso coffee machine is a relative newcomer to the consumer espresso market. But it packs quite a punch.

It’s a very simple and easy-to-use machine that comes in gorgeous pastel colors. You can easily create cafe-style drinks with the machine and achieve some tasty espresso coffee.

The big downfall is that it just doesn’t quite have the capacity to brew more than one or two shots of espresso at a time.

I’d still recommend this to someone looking for an aesthetic and functional espresso machine for occasional use at home.

Pros

  • Gorgeous colors that will match almost anyone’s kitchen theme
  • It’s a simple coffee machine that’s easy enough for anyone to learn how to use
  • It has the capability of producing cafe-level espresso and drinks with the right attention to detail

Cons

  • The Smeg espresso machine doesn’t have the capacity for more than one or two shots at a time

A Rundown Of Smeg Espresso Machine’s Features

Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the features of the Smeg espresso machine.

It’s a lovely little machine that deserves more attention than it gets at the moment.

How good is the design?

smeg espresso machine design
Source: 4flow.cloud

I mean, c’mon, it’s maybe the best-looking consumer espresso machine I’ve ever come across.

It has gorgeous curved lines that make it almost look like a spaceship. It’s slim enough to fit most kitchen spaces and small enough that it won’t take up much cabinet space if it needs to be stored.

But in all honesty, you’ll probably want to keep this machine on the counter to show it off.

The body of the machine is made from stainless steel and durable plastic. And all of the components are made from the same steel and plastic.

That ensures that your machine will have a long lifespan.

Overall, it’s a great-looking coffee machine that I have absolutely no qualms with. However, I understand if the retro theme isn’t your style.

BOTTOM LINE
It looks incredible. And the materials are there to back it up.

How does it brew?

While it may look amazing, how does it actually brew?

The main thing that I look for when judging a consumer espresso machine is the pump. Namely, does it reach enough pressure to craft a proper espresso?

A machine should be capable of producing upwards of 15 bars of pressure to create a true, crema-rich espresso shot.

And the Smeg espresso machine hits that mark. It’s got an Italian pump that can reach 15 bars of pressure.

That’s important because it never actually uses that much power. That means your machine doesn’t strain to produce coffee, and you’ll get a longer lifespan out of it.

The other thing I look at is the heating component. The Smeg espresso machine is made with a Thermoblock heating system.

That’s a good thing.

Thermoblock is almost the industry standard. It means that the Smeg coffee machine will heat up quickly and consistently.

BOTTOM LINE
It brews great espresso. And brewing consistently won’t strain your components.

Is it good at frothing milk?

smeg espresso machine
Source: 4flow.cloud

What’s an espresso machine without a steam wand?

Well, it’s technically still an espresso machine, but it’s a boring one.

Luckily, this Smeg coffee machine has a steam wand.

But how good is it?

In all honesty, it’s passable.

It’s really not the greatest steam wand out there. But it works. The problem is that it’s just too small. There’s only so much Smeg can pack into such a small coffee machine.

Smeg decided to put more energy into making a great espresso than making great frothy milk. And I can’t really blame them for that.

But the steam wand is a little bit lacking. It still works fine. But don’t expect to create anything more than a small latte or a cortado.

If you want better results, it might be worth investing in a handheld milk frother. That way, you can create a wider variety of drinks without relying on the only-okay Smeg espresso wand.

The bottom line is that the Smeg machine is an espresso-first machine. There are other options out there if you’re looking for a better all-around espresso machine.

BOTTOM LINE
The milk frother is just too small to be great. But it works for smaller drinks like cortados.

What about capacity?

The biggest thing to think about in terms of capacity is the water tank and the size of the filter itself.

So, let’s take them one at a time and start with the filter.

In the ideal espresso drink, you’re looking for about a 1:2 coffee-to-water ratio. That means that for every gram of the coffee ground, you need two grams of hot water.

The Smeg filter is smaller than a commercial-sized portafilter. However, it still has enough capacity to brew a decent double shot of espresso.

You can also choose between brewing a single or double shot.

I’m satisfied with the size of the portafilter for home use.

The water capacity is a little different.

Yes, the machine itself is small. And yes, there is technically enough water for a latte or two. However, the water tank is a little bit smaller than I would expect. 

At just 33 oz, that’s on the smaller side of similar-sized espresso machines on the market.

Now, that isn’t necessarily a major fault. You just need to know that you’ll end up refilling the tank a little more often than you would a different coffee machine with a bigger water tank.

If you plan on making a lot of espresso drinks every morning, then this probably isn’t the machine for you.

BOTTOM LINE
The portafilter is fine. The water tank is a touch small for brewing a lot of espresso at once.

Is it easy to use?

smeg espresso machine side view
Source: 4flow.cloud

Everyone’s favorite question: “How easy is it to use?”

The answer? Pretty dang easy.

As far as consumer espresso machines go, the Smeg espresso machine is on the easier side.

I mean, it only has three buttons. That makes it really, really hard to mess up.

The point of the Smeg espresso maker is that you don’t need to be a barista to create a great coffee. All you have to do is press the button for either a single or double shot and let the machine do all the work.

But my favorite part of the ease of use is that you have control over two aspects of your coffee that aren’t typical.

You get to control the water hardness and the temperature of the coffee.

Now, the water temperature is more standard, but not every coffee machine of this size and price has the feature. That makes the Smeg machine stand out.

But the water’s hardness makes it stand out even more.

Your coffee is over 98% water and is often an underestimated part of brewing. The hardness of your water refers to how many minerals are in the water you use to brew. Too much of any one mineral will change the taste of your coffee.

So, being able to adjust the water hardness is an incredible feature on a consumer-level machine.

BOTTOM LINE
It is most certainly easy to use. You don’t need any barista training to create great espresso.

Is it easy to clean?

Cleaning any espresso machine is a little more involved than a regular coffee brewing machine.

That’s only because there are more parts and more technology.

The good news is that Smeg makes it pretty easy to clean this espresso machine.

While it doesn’t have a dedicated cleaning cycle, you can simply run a couple of water-only brewing cycles. That will clear out the pipes of the machine and keep your espressos tasting great.

The removable parts of the machine are all hand-washable. That’s the drip tray, portafilter, and water tank.

The outside is washable with a damp cloth.

If you want a deeper clean, I would suggest getting a standard descaling solution and running a couple of cycles based on those instructions.

But you can do that twice a year and still have great results from your espresso coffee machine.

BOTTOM LINE
Yeah, it’s pretty simple to clean. Not much to it.

Are you getting your money’s worth?

smeg espresso machine drinks
Source: 4flow.cloud

So, we arrive at the big question: is the Smeg espresso machine worth the money?

I wish I had a more satisfying answer.

The answer really comes down to what you’re looking for in an espresso coffee machine.

Unfortunately, you’re paying a premium for the aesthetic of the Smeg espresso machine. And for just a little bit extra money, you could get a much better machine.

However, if you’re looking for the perfect espresso machine to match your kitchen vibe, then you can’t beat the Smeg. It’s a good balance of looks and function.

So, the value question is hard for me to answer.

But in the end, I would have to say that yes, it has enough value to match the price for me.

BOTTOM LINE
While it might be a touch pricey for the features, it’s a great buy for an aesthetic kitchen that needs a powerful machine.

FAQ

I get a lot of questions about the Smeg espresso machine.

So I took a little extra time to answer some of the most important questions in this section.

Can I use Nespresso pods in Smeg?

No, the Smeg espresso machine is not compatible with Nespresso pods.

The Smeg espresso machine is a manual espresso machine. That means it takes ground coffee instead of single-serve pods.

Can you make a cappuccino with the Smeg espresso machine?

Yes! You can easily make a cappuccino with the Smeg espresso machine.

You can either pull a single or double shot of espresso and steam milk with the frothing wand.

How do you make Smeg coffee hotter?

Here’s how to make Smeg coffee hotter:

1. Hold down the steam button for 10 seconds.

2. Press the single espresso button for coffee temperature (the lights will start flashing)

3. Press the desired temperature button

– Low temperature: single espresso button

– Medium temperature: double espresso button

– High temperature: steam button

4. The button will flash

5. Wait 15 seconds for the machine to exit settings mode

Conclusion

The Smeg espresso machine is a gorgeous little consumer-style espresso coffee machine.

The retro theme, combined with a powerful Italian pump, makes for true cafe-style espresso.

It even has a steam wand so you can create espresso drinks like lattes or cappuccinos.

The Smeg machine is super easy to use and allows you to change both the temperature of your coffee and the hardness of your water. Those are somewhat unique traits in espresso machines of similar size and price.

In the end, I’d recommend this machine to someone looking for the perfect balance of capability and aesthetic for their espresso machine.

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Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.