UPDATE -The first unit failed after about a week.
The replacement failed after making just two cups.
After returning from warranty repair in less than a week it has been working perfectly. However, I noticed that changes had been made to the firmware with the result that coffee recipes other than the top level presets can no longer be easily selected from the drop-down menu on the screen. You can still make non-standard coffee recipes but you have to go deep into the menu and change the coffee recipe made by each top-level option. That change will remain on that preset until changed again.
Our current bean to cup coffee machine, the Delonghi ESAM 4000, is starting to get a bit cranky, so I was pleased indeed to get a chance to replace it with this new all singing all dancing machine from Melitta. Priced at an eye-watering £1149.00 it has a lot to prove.
In the rather battered box was the coffee machine itself, external milk container, two flexible milk/steam tubes, instruction book, cleaning fluid, descaling fluid, Water filter, water PH testing strip, a tiny cleaning brush, coffee scoop, water filter bracket.
Build quality although largely of plastic feels good although perhaps not quite as I would have expected for the fancy price. That said everything is well made and clicks smoothly into place. The enclosed printed User Guide is well written, nicely illustrated and easy to read with an online pdf version also available.
On the left side of the device is the single large Off/On switch and water tank, on the right the removable panel to access the grinding/heating mechanism and adjustment lever. On the top are the dual chamber bean container and ground coffee chute, both with air sealed lids. On the front to the left is the colour LCD control panel with the large backlit touchscreen button panel above running the whole length of the unit. On the front above the drip tray is the height adjustable stainless steel outlet panel which dispenses coffee, milk, steam and water. The whole lower part of the coffee maker pulls out to reveal the large drip tray and coffee grounds container. The drip tray also has a hole into which the milk/steam tube can be connected for cleaning.
Setting the device up is nice and simple. After removing all the various shipping tapes and padding the milk/steam hose needs to be connected to the outlet of the steel coffee dispenser on the front (there are outlets for right or left handed setup). Then, after turning the device on you have to configure the language, clock display, determine the water PH level and set the device accordingly – if you use the enclosed water filter this is not needed although you have to change the settings to allow for this. The device needs to know this to alert you when the filter needs changing and/or the device needs descaling.
Across the top of the front fascia are backlit buttons for easy selection of Espresso, Café crème, Cappuccino, Latte macchiato, Milk froth/warm milk, Hot water. There is also a button to select two cup dispensing, and sliders to vary the fluid output level, and coffee strength. There are also buttons to enter the My Coffee personalised menu, Bean type selection, Up/Down arrows, and Menu/OK. On the left is the main colour LCD panel.
From the main menu panel, you can select a range of variations of the main drink types and these the default values for the top level buttons can be changed if you prefer a non-standard drink. The types on offer are:
Espresso: Espresso (standard), ristretto, lungo, double espresso, double ristretto.
Café crème: Café crème (standard), double café crème, americano, americano extra shot, long black.
Cappuccino: Cappuccino (standard), espresso macchiato, café latte, café au lait.
Latte macchiato: Latte macchiato (standard), latte macchiato extra shot, latte macchiato triple shot, flat white.
Here you can also change the default cup sizes, milk levels and other variables for up to four Users. Pressing the My Coffee button and selecting the User Name will give their own personal brew when then pressing a top-level drink selector button.
In use, the device is very quiet compared to our old bean to cup machine and reasonably quick. A Latte macchiato, for example, takes about ninety seconds after pressing the button. The device insists on self-cleaning after every drink using milk and this can get tiresome as the milk tube has to be disconnected from the jug and into the drip tray each time. Another annoyance for me is the need for an external milk jug. It is a pity no internal container cannot be used, although it does mean the jug can be stored in the fridge when not needed. The jug is plastic but attractive enough. A metal thermos jug is available for about £50 to keep the milk cool for extended periods.
There are a few minor shortfalls. Aside from others listed above and given that this is a hi-tech machine it is a pity that there is no wifi built in. Although it does sound like an unnecessary novelty it would mean that firmware updates could be made OTA – this machine is very much a computer controlled one – and the device could even be controlled by an app or even by Alexa! Also, although it has a clock there is no provision for the device to turn on automatically.
This is a fantastic machine and by far the easiest to use of this type I have tried. The coffees it makes are superb and again the best I have ever had from a domestic machine. I would still baulk at the price but it does make wonderful coffee with a minimum of effort.
Quiet in use
Wide range of drink presets
Custom User profiles
Easy to configure
Easy to operate
Automated cleaning alerts
Colour LCD display
No control app
External Milk container
Tube needs to be swapped over for cleaning
Build quality could be better
Large and awkward drip/waste tray