You will soon see the differences. Two grinders (each 290g capacity) mean you can put a darker, stronger roasted bean for black coffee in one and a lighter roast bean (or blend) for white coffee in the other – or leave one empty. You can independently adjust the grind (coarseness). Water capacity is 2.1L for heavy use.
Add water, turn on and let it go through the pre-heat/rinse cycle. Initially, it plays a little animated demo video on the screen – cute.
Maintenance is easy – Exceed
Like all good coffee machines, it has a rinse cycle on power on. From time to time it will tell you to descale (duration depends on water hardness and if you use a water filter).
The most important thing is to keep the milk system scrupulously clean. Milk can ‘go off’ in scant hours – keep the container in the fridge between uses. The milk clean system is effective, but over four weeks, we found occasional sterilisation (use a sterilisation tab) of the container and lines ensures good milk.
Users – lots of options (and x2 at a time) – Exceed
Favourites – Exceed
- Black – Espresso, Coffee, Doppio+, Long, Americano
- White: Cappuccino/+/Mix, Latte macchiato, Caffe Latte, Flat White, Espresso macchiato and hot milk.
- Cold milk and drinks
- And a manual bypass on top for other coffee grinds
You can adjust/save these for cup size/number, froth, aroma (heat/extraction pressure), coffee type (grinder 1, 2 or manual by-pass) and temperature – or just hit OK.
We found the black coffee was very hot and milk coffee was just right – Goldilocks could not have done better, but you can also adjust temperatures if you wish. And the crema was amazing.
We were impressed with the ‘carafe’ (jug) function where you can make up to 750ml at a time (machine grinds and ejects the spent coffee according to volume).
Warm-up time is about 1.5 minutes. Thereafter you can make coffees in one to two minutes (Espresso to Long Flat White).
Milk Coffee – Exceed
As coffee drinkers know, skim or low-fat milk makes denser froth, and full fat makes lighter froth. So, if you have a variety of users with different milk types you can adjust the froth before you make a cup.
We did not experiment with Soy, Almond or other faux milk but the froth adjustment should cater to these.
We were impressed with the customisable settings to produce perfect milk coffees. Caffe Latte had no froth, flat white just a touch, macchiato in between and Cappuccino was nice and heady.
Oh, and it makes great hot chocolate with the Choco Stirrer and the Mix Carafe.
And you can make ‘cold’ drinks too – but the temperature is only room temperature water and refrigerated milk (3-5°) in the Carafe. Ah, that is where the ice cube tray comes in!
BTW: The milk container has a manual feed lid as well in case it runs out mid-cup – attention to detail.
The steam wand – Exceed
I love steam wands and have learnt the hard way (from a barista) to make milk coffee with it – but I still need a milk thermometer. In part, that is why for lower-cost machines, we look at the effectiveness of the grinder and the steam wand above all else.