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Stainless-Steel Espresso Makers
Espresso Maker Durability
One of the advantages high-end espresso machines have over budget espresso machines is durability. They're generally crafted from more stainless-steel and brass components, sit heavier on the countertop, and can pull shots in sequence without struggling to reheat between brewing.
Coffee aficionados recommend choosing a primarily metal and/or stainless steel espresso maker. Not only is this construction aesthetically pleasing, it's also practical. Metal parts tend to hold up longer, and stainless-steel construction adds to the weight (heavier machines shift less on the countertop when you're inserting or removing the portafilter and frothing/steaming the milk). The DeLonghi EC155 and Saeco Aroma 00347 feature stainless-steel boilers; the brewing system on the Capresso EC100 is lined in stainless steel; and the Nespresso Citiz C110 boasts a stainless-steel heating element.
Purchasers like the build quality of the Saeco Aroma 00347, and several report that previous units lasted up to eight years before needing replacement. In comments posted at Sur la Table, one user confesses to having bought several espresso makers over the years that didn't last long and is thrilled with the ongoing service (two years and counting) provided by the Nespresso Citiz C110.
Not surprisingly, we also read accounts for each of the models we researched indicating that some units expire well before the expected several-year time horizon. One user of the DeLonghi EC155, for example, has purchased three units over six years but is undeterred given the high quality output and relatively low price. A few disgruntled consumers point to cracks in the plastic sides of the Capresso EC100 and deteriorating performance over time as evidence it is poorly made. But among the models we researched, most complaints about durability involve the Cuisinart EM-200, a seeming exception to the rule that stainless-steel espresso makers hold up better. In reviews posted on Amazon and Best Buy, consumers gripe about leaks, loss of pressure, spewing water, and outright failure. When it works, though, users say the Cuisinart EM-200 makes a quality espresso.
Espresso Maker Maintenance.A quick cleanup after each use is a must with a budget espresso maker and helps maintain its functionality. Milk left to crust on the wand can clog steam pores, and ditto for grinds left to harden in the portafilter. Descaling is required periodically, particularly if you live in a region with hard water. Most parts are not dishwasher-safe; be sure to follow manufacturer instructions.
In comments posted on Price Grabber about the DeLonghi EC155, some consumers say the components come apart easily and cleaning proceeds quickly, although one says the plastic end-cap on the frother is difficult to clean. Some reviews of the Saeco Aroma 00347 say cleaning is very labor intensive -- the drip pan is hard to remove, for example, and the portafilter has deep, straight sides. Some users gripe about too much liquid left in the portafilter after brewing, making cleanup a chore. An expert review of the Saeco Aroma 00347 says upgrading to a non-pressurized portafilter should leave you with a nice clean puck, the hunk of fairly solid grounds left after the water passes through.
Of course, another way to minimize cleanup stress is by using the sealed pods. Although you must dispose of the pods, the portfilter just needs a quick rinse. On the Nespresso Citiz C110, the empty coffee capsules drop into a container at the back of the machine, a setup that users note keeps the brewing area tidy. With loose grounds not even an option, there's no portafilter to wash out. The capsule container, water tank, and drip tray on this model go safely into the dishwasher.
Capresso EC100 Review
Saeco Aroma 00347 Review
Nespresso Citiz C110 Review
DeLonghi EC155 Review
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