Reviewer: Ella Smith
The Saeco Primea Touch Plus is a domestic espresso machine with one-touch colour display operation that allows you to prepare two cappuccinos or two latte macchiatos at the same time.
It features a colour touchscreen that allows you to make a coffee with minimal effort and in just a minute or two, at most. The touchscreen features very straightforward icons to help you determine the correct coffee for your personal tastes, whether you prefer a cappuccino, a macchiato or an American coffee. If you don’t find the icons self-explanatory, you simply press ‘show icon explanatoion’ and you will see textual explanations of each beverage option.
This machine uses Saeco’s patented Saeco Brewing System, or SBS, a device mounted on the front of the machine with a dial that allows you to turn a knob to adjust the intensity of the brewed coffee. It can even be adjusted while brewing. To make an intense Italian ristretto, turn the knob to the right, or to make an American-style long coffee you simply turn the knob to the left.
This machine also features a ceramic grinder. Saeco chose to incorporate a ceramic grinder (rather than a grinder using metal components, that featured on previous machines) due to the inert nature of the ceramic material. Saeco also believes ceramic grinders ensure consistent results without altering the flavour of a coffee. Saeco also believes ceramic grinders ensure even dosing and blending, and give you greater control over the density and body of your coffee. It also significantly reduces the amount of coffee residue left in the cup.
The first step is to fill the bean hopper with beans, install the supplied Aqua Prima water filter, fill the water tank and attach the power cord. Switch on the power button (on the right-hand panel of the machine) and the appliance automatically performs a self-diagnosis of its functions. This diagnosis takes place each time the machine is turned on. When the machine is switched on for the first time you are required to select the desired language.
Saeco recommends that you use a water filter with this automatic machine (it comes with one Aqua Prima water filter and replacements cost around $20 each from major appliance retailers). Remember: ensure that you soak the filter for half an hour the first time it’s installed, and be sure to rinse out the water container and refill it. Don’t forget to go to the programming menu and activate the filter, too.
This machine is incredibly versatile. For every beverage you make, you can adjust the coffee’s brew temperature, the quantity of coffee to be ground as well as the coffee’s pre-brewing process (this process slightly dampens the coffee before brewing, bringing out the full aroma of the coffee and extracting the optimum flavour).
You can either see the display in icon format or in a text format. As well, you can also choose the intensity of the coffee – that is, the quantity of coffee to be ground. Choose from weak, medium or strong. As well, you can choose to use pre-ground coffee or beans.
If you really love to indulge your customisation fetish you can also adjust the cup illumination light (switch it on or off); set your preferred coffee temperature; select whether the cup warming tray is on or off when the machine is in standby; change the brightness of the display; operate the machine with or without a water filter; set the water hardness or even deactivate the rinse cycle (which cleans the internal circuits each time the machine is turned on when it is cool).
Or, if you want to take the machine’s diagnostic capabilities another step further, you can even monitor the number and type of coffee that you make, using the ‘coffee counter’ setting.
The Primea Touch Plus has a mechanised drip tray that you can raise manually or electronically with a light touch – it’s adjustable for any cup size. This is great if you like to use everything from tiny espresso glasses or even big mugs. To raise the drip tray, press lightly on the lower part of the button. To lower the tray press lightly on the upper part of the button. Simple.
Touch2Cappuccino is another inclusion. Touch2Cappuccino is a patented Saeco technology that allows you to prepare two cappuccinos or two latte macchiatos simultaneously. The Touch2Cappuccino system consists of a milk container placed directly inside the left hand side of the machine. Milk is drawn from this container, frothed internally and dispensed into a cup. Once you’ve made your coffee you can simply place the milk container (supplied with a lid) in the fridge so it’s chilled and ready for your next coffee. If you leave the milk container in the machine overnight it tends to curdle so watch out for this. If you leave the milk container in the machine it can also affect the consistency of your next cappucino as they cappucinatore can easily become blocked with milk residue.
For those concerned about the hygiene of relying upon an internal milk system, each time you switch on the machine, a milk circuit cleaning cycle activates, which provides great peace of mind. It also draws upon nanotechnology to complete the cleaning process which Saeco says was designed to guarantee that all components in contact with milk are perfectly clean.
This espresso machine comes with its own water filtration system. The Aqua Prima water filter (supplied) was developed to remove impurities from water that can alter the taste of your coffee. The AquaPrima water filter’s purpose is also to improve the taste of coffee while protecting the machine from limescale damage. This needs replacing around every three to four months.
Another fun inclusion is the ‘Coffee of the World’ function which you can find under the ‘Extras’ menu. This allows you to visit a menu where some of the known coffees from across the globe are stored. Using this menu you can prepare a true Italian ristretto, a North European coffee, a typical French/Swiss coffee… or a tasty latte macchiato that’s nice and weak…saving you from the fear of not being able to sleep! Or, you can access the machine’s demo mode, which shows you the machine’s main functions (particularly good if you are not a product manual user).
The Saeco Primea Touch Plus has its own maintenance button on the main menu. There, you can lock the touchscreen so you can clean the display without activating the screen, start a milk cleaning cycle to rinse the milk circuits and more. If you ever find the quality of your milk froth to be disappointing, simply pull apart the components of the cappuccinatore. I would recommend doing this at least once a week. This certainly solved the problems I encountered, such as inconsistent froth due to milk blockages.
This machine is very simple to operate, thanks to its LED screen. Regardless of which operational cycle you are using, there is always a simple icon to press to help you get to the right selection. For example, if you want to make two cappuccinos you simply press the cappuccino icon twice. If you have made an error during the coffee selection cycle, you can always see a text display allowing you to stop the operation ie ‘stop milk dispensing’ or ‘stop coffee dispensing’.
I was excited about the ability to adjust the coffee temperature and the strength of the coffee. However, feedback from a team of coffee drinkers I trialled the machine with all said the coffee could be hotter. Saeco assured me however that the coffee temperature is set to correct temperature for a proper espresso.
This automatic, touchscreen espresso machine is ideal for people wanting the convenience of an easy-to-use espresso at the touch of a button. This machine is definitely for the technically-minded person who loves to control every aspect of their coffee, using the simplicity of a touchscreen display.
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