Dream Coffee Machine
If you’re looking for that dream machine that can make you espresso and cappuccino with ease and smells and tastes beautiful, chances are you have already made a mind-set that it’s going to be extremely expensive. Chances are you were right a lot of times.
Coffee machines in all shapes, sizes, and product models are surely expensive. It’s not like you can pick up one from the grocery store when there is an offer during the holiday season. Coffee machines are simple machines that make you their beverages. What makes them so difficult and expensive is the exquisite and complex coffee-making process that we are so used to by now.
The roasting of beans to the right color, proportion, and taste, the fine grinding which determined their taste and aroma, the specialized brewing process which sets every machine apart from the rest, and finally the combination with milk or water to form the lovely coffee version you so long for.
People are so used to a particular taste. They are almost addicted to it. This individual taste drives the coffee market and makes it expensive. People are so fond of their versions of coffee that they swear by it.
Unique Machine: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
Here we present to you a very good, unique but still quite inexpensive product compared to the others you may have seen in the market till now.
There is a wide variety of machines that come in all shapes and sizes for espresso and cappuccino. The prices are a direct proportion to the features and functionality that are built into the products. Some machines are manual and require effort and time, but a lot of users love them as they treat them like a hobby.
Others are fully automated to the point where you just have to press a button, and Voila! Your coffee is ready in a minute or two. Somewhere in the middle come the semi-automated ones like the Mr. Coffee Café Barista that we will be reviewing today. Come on, let’s have a look at this one.
Features of the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
- Semi-automatic machine setup.
- Makes espresso, cappuccino, and latte in one machine.
- 6 beverage programs (4 for milk-based and 2 for espresso).
- Easy, intuitive design with easy one-touch front control panel.
- Can do single and double servings.
- Easy to use an automatic milk frother.
- Pressure pump system with 15-bar pressure capability.
- Detachable units make it easy to operate and clean.
- Detachable units include milk container, water tank, and bottom trays.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista: Design Aspect
Clearly a well-designed machine, with everything in the right place, you do not have to figure out a lot when using this machine. From the aesthetic perspective, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista machine looks modern and sleek in design. Every part is labeled properly, and usage is very intuitive.
This helps when someone new is trying to use the machine, it’s easy to adapt to. The process of using, cleaning, and refilling is easy because all the parts are removable, making it very convenient.
The front of the machine displays clearly marked buttons for Espresso, Cappuccino, and Latte, while there are options available for manual and automatic.
The unit is a one-fit-all, where even the milk container fits inside the unit, thereby saving floor space. This removable milk unit is easily removable so that you can store it in the refrigerator when it is not in use. The frother dial on the milk container is clearly labeled and easy to understand. It will tell you how much froth will go into each drink.
A spoon is included in the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista unit that can also be used to pressure press the coffee grounds into its portafilter, which comes in two size options: single shot and double shot.
The two drip trays take care of all drips, minor spills, and leakages from the unit and effectively collect them. The water container is placed at the backside of the unit and, as expected, is easily removable for refilling and cleaning purposes.
Brewing Capability of Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
As the machine is automatic, the process of making an espresso shot or espresso drink is relatively fast. It is wonderful to see how quick and efficient the machine is, and there is no human intervention required. One of the coolest parts about this machine is the fact that you just need to use a button to make any beverages. That is for the espresso part.
When it comes to milk-based beverages like Cappuccino or Latte, the process is slightly different. In this case, the machine will use the milk container to froth the milk and placed it in a cup. When the espresso shot is ready, it is mixed with the froth.
However, the taste of milk-based beverages appears to be weak or diluted. The reason behind this can be the fact that you can only choose coffee and milk when using this machine.
The quantity of water used in the espresso shot is controlled entirely by the machine, and the user cannot do anything about it. If the water content is more, the result will feel diluted with more water.
The base in which the coffee grounds are placed, the tamper, is made out of plastic. A metal tamper would have been ideal as the coffee grounds must be pressed with quite some pressure.
Here, the pressure is limited; else, the tamper may break. And when the pressure is not correct when the water flows through the coffee grounds, it flows unevenly through it, thereby some amount of the coffee grounds may not be used up and remains under-extracted.
The resulting weak flavor is easily noticeable, which may not be acceptable to some. Several users have even reported that the machine can clog up even after having 15-bars of pressure in place if a fine grind of the espresso is used.
What to Do About the Weak Taste
The workaround, in this case, is to use a darker roast. While the manufacturer nor we can re-engineer the product for you, you will have to adapt to it, and the darker roast will ensure just that by being easier to extract the flavor, aroma, and taste.
The same happens with the single and double shot modes on the machine. It is up to the user to ensure the right amount of grounds are placed in the tamper, as from the machine’s perspective, it will only pour double the amount of water into the tamper.
Imagine your plight and the coffee that results if you select a double shot yet somehow fill fewer grounds than necessary. The machine is also anyways prone to diluting the taste if the grounds are not fully utilized. Also, the first thing you must replace is the plastic tamper. You cannot really use it well with the plastic one without the fear of cracking it.
Tampers are made to be filled properly with the coffee ground and ensuring the grounds are packed firmly into place with all the force you can manage. So lookout for a replacement tamper that’s made of stainless steel. It will last you a lifetime and also ensure that the coffee taste becomes more consistent.
Milk Frothing and Overall Taste Variations
Also, you cannot froth the milk yourself or have at least some amount of control over the process. The inability to customize any settings for the brewing modes leaves the machine too limited in functionality and too little space for any experimentation.
Overall, there is no consistency in taste, flavor, and quality between drinks. All of them can vary significantly, which can be frustrating at times. But at this price point, everything is a trade-off. You essentially get what you pay for, and if the output is acceptable, this is the machine that’s made for you.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista: Cleaning and Maintenance
Now, this is not a fully automated machine, like the top-of-the-line expensive ones that do the cleaning automatically as well. These machines need some time and effort to clean. In fact, you need to clean it after every use. The thorough cleaning process will require you to run the machine in a couple of cleaning cycles to completely clean out its internal mechanisms.
If you are making an espresso, your life will be a little easy during cleaning. The first thing you need to do is to discard the espresso grounds after you remove the portafilter from the machine. As expected, the portafilter and its filter need to be thoroughly cleaned in water. Then attach the portafilter back to the machine and run the same espresso cycle again.
If you use milk and have prepared a milk-based beverage, you will ideally need to clean the milk container too. If you are in the habit of storing milk in the container and leaving it in the fridge, you do not have to clean it. However, if you use the milk container for only a single use, you will need to wash it and clean it to ensure there is no milk residue.
Milk residue can smell bad later on, and chances are it will also spoil your next batch of any milk-based beverage. To clean the container, move the froth dial to the Clean position and press and hold the Latter / Clean button.
The machine will start, do the cleaning, and shut off. After this is done, clean the container, dispose of all contents, and wash it thoroughly. To ensure more cleanliness, you can dispose of the water in the machine and fill it up the next time you want to make coffee. This will ensure the water is not sitting around for too long.
Value for Money
An absolute value for money, it retails for 250 to 300 USD depending on the deals you get. It’s certainly not the best, but in this price range, it clearly performs outstandingly well. The one-touch operations will make your cappuccinos and lattes very easily and relatively faster.
The semi-automatic operation works wonderfully well, and we are truly impressed. The quality and build of the machine are also good for the price you are paying.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista: Pros
- Good sleek and modern design. Looks great in the kitchen.
- Easy to use and intuitive. Anyone can learn to use it in minutes.
- Unbeatable price tag, probably the lowest for a semi-automatic machine.
- Single and double shot options are a nice feature.
- Produces acceptably good espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes.
- A large water tank ensures you do not have to refill frequently.
- The milk container can be kept in a fridge for easy storage.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista: Cons
- Too much effort to clean, that too after every use.
- Inconsistent performance and taste can be frustrating.
- A plastic portafilter/ tamper is unthinkable for a machine. It won’t last a long time. A replacement steel tamper is essential.
- There is hardly any control over the milk preparation, steaming, and frothing process.
- Needs a few cleaning cycles to be clean
- Either buy only ground beans or buy a bean grinder separately to have any real use and benefit of this machine.
- Leaves little room for any experimentation with coffee.
- The machine has a good build, but not one that will last a long time.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista: Overall View on the Machine
Overall this Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista machine leaves a lot to be desired and therefore is not recommended unless you want to really buy it. Even the inconsistency of taste, flavor, and brew can be frustrating for a lot of common people. The basic idea of having a coffee machine is to get consistently good coffee at home. And if you have to compromise on that basic factor, it’s not worth the effort. You might as well stick to buying your coffee.
With that being said, the product is good enough for people who can adapt to it. Don’t expect it to last a very long time like others due to its build quality and plastic components. This product is exceptionally good for people who are new to the world of coffee brewing and are just learning the ropes. So it’s a good machine to start with and use for a few years before they can upgrade to a much better one.