Price (RRP): $799
This is an attractive machine, with a matt metallic look (although the casing is actually plastic) and simple, logical controls. The LCD screen talks the user through the operation and maintenance of the machine, providing confidence for the novice.The casing doesn?t show up fingerprints and wipes clean easily.
First time users should have no problems getting underway with this machine. It comes with a very clear instruction manual that is logically set out with clear diagrams. A simple placard on the side of the machine provides basic instructions for the non-reader of manuals. Even without instructions, this machine?s controls are intuitive, in conjunction with the LCD screen.
Unlike the other machines reviewed here, the Sunbeam?s bean hopper sits on top of the machine. An advantage of this is that the user can see the volume of beans at all times, and it?s easy to remove for cleaning and emptying.
The water reservoir sits in the front of the machine, sliding out when it needs filling. The clear gauge at the front indicates the water level clearly. The LCD also indicates when refilling is needed and the machine won?t operate without water.
Two cups fit easily side-by-side and, even though the pour spouts don?t go as high as the other machines, they can still fit a mug underneath.
A neat feature is the reminder ?empty waste container? which appears on the display every time the machine is switched off. This is a simple operation as it slides out like a small drawer. Removing the brewing unit for cleaning is not quite as simple. This involves operating three different locks in a certain order – a process that was fiddly and a bit frustrating.
The Sunbeam machine gives the user quite a bit of control over each coffee. Cup sizes range from 20 ml to 40 ml and there are five different options for strength of brew. The best combination for my personal taste was when ?medium size? + ?strong? were selected. This produced a smooth tasting coffee with a decent crema.
While the steam wand produced a good strong jet, it had limited movement on just one axis. However, the wand was easy to wipe clean after use, with no need to remove little plastic fittings like the De’Longhi Magnifica EAM 3000 and the Gaggia Titanium.
This is an easy to use machine that produces good quality coffee. I would recommend it as offering the best value for money of these four machines.
Reviewer: Sarah Cumberland