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Behind its simple exterior lies a sophisticated number of options for tailoring your coffee. Read our review
Iconic for its 1950s design, SMEG has carried the rounded aesthetic from its fridges into this slimline but statement espresso machine. A three-button interface offers start/pause, single cup and double cup options, but the instruction manual helps you unlock a surprisingly extensive selection of extra personalisation features, so don’t throw it away.
Although short, the manual is key to solving early niggles, like how to make one coffee immediately after another. It also guides you through simple regular actions to help keep the machine clean. If you’re after a simple, low-maintenance espresso maker, this isn’t the one. But the quality of espresso it delivers is very high, backed by an efficient milk steam wand.
This machine arrives fully assembled, so the time from unpacking to first espresso took about 15 minutes, once all the extra parts had been rinsed and dried. Its 1-litre water tank is easy to remove for filling, simply slotting back into place. Non-slip feet offer resistance on smooth countertops, essential for when you’re securing its portafilter into place.
Single, double and ESE-pod compatible filters are offered with the machine. All press into the portafilter snugly so you can tap the old coffee grounds out firmly without having to worry about losing the filter. For adding new grinds in, the coffee scoop has a broad tamper on the other end for compacting the grounds, although it’s a plastic affair which feels a bit cheap considering the price you pay for the machine.
Two drip trays allow room for both espresso and standard sized cups. Selecting your desired coffee is simple. The milk steamer is also intuitive to use, offering a useful range of movement that allows you to froth and steam milk to a good head for cappuccinos.
Flushing and wiping any milk steam wand after use is good practice, but if you want to make a second espresso immediately following the first with this gadget, you must open the steamer unit to cool the wand, let any excess escape and wait for the icons to stop flashing.
The quality of the espresso this machine creates is richly flavoured and topped with a good crema; essential if you’re about to invest in an espresso machine around this price-bracket. Depending on your location, it’s useful to be able to program a machine to account for soft or hard water, which is one of the personalisation options available. Water temperature, coffee quantity and automatic shut-off are also adjustable.
What the price affords you is the SMEG name and iconic design. A stainless-steel jug and quality tamper would have made a huge difference in the gadget’s overall value for money; achieving velvety steamed milk is much easier in a jug than a mug.
Smeg ECF01 specifications
Product weight: 4.7kg
Ground capacity: single and double espresso filters plus ESE pod filter
Average pressure: 15 bar
Water capacity: 1 litre
Dimensions: 33cm x 14.9cm x 32.9cm
Material: polished chrome, stainless steel, plastic
This review was last updated in May 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.