Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Saeco Syntia Focus Espresso Machine Review

The Saeco Syntia Focus espresso machine is the most impressive kitchen appliance I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. I never thought I would actually be reviewing any kind of coffee maker because while I frequently drink espresso in Italy (as in multiple times a day) I rarely drink coffee at all in the US. So no regular coffee maker fits the bill for me. It's either an Italian espresso machine and a top quality Italian brand of coffee (illy is my preference) or why bother? 

First a little story. When I was in Italy this past October I ended up in Parma a little too early for an appointment with my guide, so I went to get an espresso with my driver, Gianni. He told me he had an espresso machine at home that he and his wife use every day, and proudly that it came from Saeco, a company headquartered near Bologna, his home town. Saeco first launched a completely automatic espresso machine for home use in 1985 and purchased the iconic Italian brand Gaggia in 1999, and then in turn was purchased by electronics giant Philips in 2009. 

I have not tested other espresso machines, but I can tell you what I consider the top 10 advantages of the Saeco Syntia Focus. 

1. Small. The machine take up less counter space than a traditional coffee machine and grinder.
2. Flexible. Each cup is brewed exactly as you like (espresso or "long" American style) or hot water.
3. Easy. Actually it's super easy to use, no fancy settings or complicated programming options.
4. Economical. Because you only make what you want, not a whole pot. 
5. Versatile. A small second reservoir allows you to add another kind of ground coffee (like decaf). 
6. Fresh. It uses a ceramic grinder to grind each cup to order.
7. Quick. Start up takes less than a minute and a half out of stand by mode.
8. High quality. It produces great cups of coffee including espresso with real crema.
9. Sleek. This is a stylish machine you enjoy having on display on your counter.
10. Foam. It features a steamer for quickly frothing and heating milk. 

The negatives for this machine would be if you prefer super oily dark roasts, those beans can clog the grinder over time. Or if you are a real control freak and want a less automated machine. And it's pricey. I've seen it on sale with free shipping for as low as $699 but the list price is $999.

So is the Saeco Syntia Focus right for you? If you want to enjoy espresso and cappuccino at home, in addition to regular American style cups of coffee, it just might be worth the splurge. And you know, this is the season for splurges.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me for review purposes. I was not paid to write this or any other post.