Saeco Royal Coffee Bar Automatic Espresso Machine, Silver and Graphite
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- Digital display to program the machine in seven different languages, individual temperature adjustment for each coffee setting and the patented Saeco Easy Clean System
- Rapid Steam for no waiting between frothing milk and brewing espresso. (Steam wand also produces hot water)
- Cappuccinator, the built-in automatic frothing device for faster and easier cappuccino making
- 82 ounce removable water tank or the option to plumb the machine to a direct water source
- Aqua Prima water filter; Built in adjustable conical burr grinder; 10 ounce bean hopper capacity
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The Royal Coffee Bar, stylish and sleek in silver and graphite, is sure to be an eye catcher in any kitchen or office. With the simple push button technology the machine will grind, tamp, and dispense espresso/coffee with a rich creamy crema. The digital display makes using the Royal Coffee Bar simple to operature, even for a beginner barista. Preset your individual drinks to the amount you desire, then steam milk with the Cappuccinatore, automatic frothing device and you will have a delicious cappuccino or latte. The Coffee Bar offers the option to plumb the machine to a direct water source, ideal for restaurants and coffee shops. It's state of the art technology includes a digital display allowing you to program the machine in seven different languages, individual temperature adjustment for each coffee setting and the patented Saeco Easy Clean System making it easy to remove the brewing unit for chemical free cleaning. The Royal Coffee Bar is the perfect solution to all your coffee needs in any home or coffee business
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
-Coffee is GREAT. Best cup of coffee I have ever had. With adjustable grind settings, and simply mechanical strength setting it is easy to get the hang of. The strength setting (or how much coffee is ground for the shot) is on the side near the bean grinder. It is a plastic lever that has about 10 different positions. I have had it to about half way, and it is extremely strong at that point. Do not want to try it stronger.
-Included cappuccino attachment is great. This attachment connects to a dedicated port on the left side of the machine. It has an adjustment for how much froth is added (eg. steam to milk ratio). Just put the tube into a container of milk, and your cup underneath. Very simple and easy to use. Activation is done by pressing the cappuccino button, and takes about 4 seconds to start pulling milk through. This is a really great feature that is mostly seen by machines in the $2000-$3000 price range. The $3000 machines usually have the milk container that is integral to the machine, which is slightly more convenient. For the price savings, this is an excellent system.
-Manual hot water and steam are easy to use, with really fast start up time. Manual hot water is turned on by just pressing a button, and hot water comes out to steam nozzle in the front of the machine. Press it again and it stops. Steam is provided by turning a knob on the front to steam, and pressing the hot water button. Steam startup takes about 3-5 seconds (same as the cappuccino attachment). The nozzle is nice and long so it should get to the bottom of some pretty tall mugs. Also the steam wand pivots out from the machine, which is nice.
-Removable brew group is a great thing to have. Coming from a machine with a non-removable unit, this is great. The other machines claim there automatic clean cycle is just as effective. It is not. Upon opening up my old malfunctioning machine, it was disgusting. I couldn't believe I drank coffee from it. This was after running the clean cycle with the cleaning tablets right on schedule. Removable brew group makes it much easier, albeit a bit more manual, to clean. Then you know that the machine is clean and hygienic.
-Plumb able. The most annoying thing is having to fill the water reservoir. This machine you can plumb, via a 3/4" threaded connection on the back (like a garden hose connection). I have not tried it yet, but the feature is a great thing to have.
-Active cup warmer is nice, and keeps your mugs pretty warm. Nothing special here, but saves the hassle of steaming you mug prior. Not that I know anyone that warms there cup first anyways.
-Unit is mounted to a swivel base for easy rotation of the machine to fill the water or beans. This is really innovative, and very convenient.
-The instructions are terrible. This is an Italian made machine, and the instructions read as though they were written by someone in Italy that was not fluent in English. The instructions were good enough to get me going, although I do have prior experience with super-automatics. The biggest problem someone might have getting going is the unit is programmed to be hooked up to the water supply from the start, meaning you will get an error on the machine if you just fill the reservoir and try to use it. You need to get into the menu and change it if you are not going to plumb the machine.
-Warmup time is slow. It can take almost 2 minutes before you can brew. Not horrible, but if you are in a hurry in the morning it could be a hassle.
-No rinse when powering off the machine. I can only assume that with no clean water rinse upon machine power down will lead to coffee buildup in the non-removable parts. Only time will tell on this one. A start-up rinse cycle is offered. Time will tell with this, but I think that they should have included a power off rinse function.
-No cleaning or rinsing cycle reminders. They say to run through the 5 minute long special rinse cycle every 200 cups of coffee. It does not tell us that the machine will remind me when it is due to be rinsed. The manual also says to clean the machine once a month (brew group), but again I don't think there are any reminders for this.
-Plastic housings could be better quality. The plastics seems a bit cheap. The reservoirs and bean container covers are difficult to put on. The bypass doser cover is not attached and doesn't clip into place, so I can imagine this will get lost eventually.
-Overall machine is pretty quiet, with exception to 2 loud clicks whenever you brew. Seems normal as YouTube video's i have seen of this machine all make the same noise.
Espresso Quality: I've had this exact machine for several years. It produces consistent espresso but the level of quality is less than you'd get at a coffee house. I drink a latte made by one of these machines every morning. On occasion, I go to a local coffee house (The Java House in Iowa City, Iowa - which is the best espresso I've ever had anywhere) and there is a stark difference in the body, strength and overall quality. (I'm using the same beans at home that they use at the Java house - bought them there.) I think the difference, aside from that they use a $10K machine with dual boilers, is that they manually tamp. Manual tamping gives you a level of control that you can't get with any superautomatic. On this machine, you can adjust the grind and dosage amount but I've adjusted both extensively and just can't get the full bodied, rich espresso that you get from the coffee house. I know this might not be a fair comparison but I've had a much cheaper manual machine (Saeco Aroma) that came a lot closer than this one did, though it makes quite a mess. Where the quality of espresso is concerned, you trade convenience for a bit of quality when you use a super automatic espresso machine.
Frothing: produces ample steam. Once warmed up, it can start dispensing steam in a few seconds. This is important as you'll have to wait quite a while with a lot of sputtering on less expensive models. I don't *think* there is an attachment included - didn't get one - that aids in frothing but once you learn how to control the steam and how to apply to steam to the milk, it does great. There is an attachment to automatically froth the milk but I left it in the box. Having worked at a coffee house, I'd rather froth my own milk to get the consistency I want.
Reliability: Being a super automatic machine, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with it. I don't have experience with other superauto machines but I can tell you about the following issues:
* Problems with the little microswitch that tells the machine that the dreg drawer (where the spent pucks go) is in place. If the machine thinks the dreg drawer isn't in place, you can't do anything with it. The little tab on the side of the dreg drawer wasn't tripping the microswitch because it wasn't long enough. I simply took a cigarette lighter, melted the edge a bit and pinched it so it extended maybe 2mm. That fixed it. However, a tiny arm that connects to the switch broke. Now I have to wedge a small paint brush handle into the groove to engage the switch. Otherwise, the machine won't do anything - just says dregdrawer missing. I could easily wedge something into the groove semi-permanently but the machine will eventually ask you to empty the dregdrawer. If the switch is permanently engaged, it will think you are never emptying the dregdrawer and it won't do anything.
* It is quick to ask to be "ventilated". This is a bad Italian translation of a request to prime the water supply. Usually, switching to dispensing hot water takes care of it.
* The little handle that adjusts the grind is pretty chintzy. It will come off easily. You then have to remove all of the beans carefully so they don't fall into the innards of the machine, unscrew the bean container and fit it back to a grooved wheel that surrounds the grinder. This is a pain.
* Fit and finish: Plastic body for a $1500 machine?
* Manual: Terrible, vague and written by someone whose first language is not English. There are shipped all over the world and the manual has several sections for different languages but they should hand the manual to someone whose first language is English (and do the same for all of the other languages) and have them proof it, edit for clarity. Par for the course for imported products... not an Italian thing or a Saeco thing but these things are somewhat complex for a kitchen appliance and there should be good clear instructions on how to maintain and use it.
* Menus on digital display: Not very intuitive but easy enough if you have the manual handy.
Bottom line: This is an old model. For $1500, you might want to look at what others are offered. As I said above, if you are serious enough about your coffee to spend this much on a machine to make it, you might want to look at a good semi-automatic with a built in grinder and is made of stainless steel. The caveat to that is that you'll have to deal with a little more mess and will need to learn how to get the grind and tamp right. It isn't terrible either and is consistent and easy. It's been starting off my day for four years now.
Understand the type of coffee you use with these machines. If using oily coffee, you MUST set the grinder to coarser setting; clean the brew group regularly AND lubricate the brew group. Oily coffee pastes and causes stress on moving parts if not cleaned/maintained.
This machine works BEST with true Italian roast coffee as it does not paste and limits maintenance. Descale every 3 months.
The user instructions are, by the 800 help line guy I had to call to get mine going's own description, difficult to follow.
We just ran enough through it to get the automated message to run the de-calcification process on it. Again, the instruction manual is lacking. You must have patience.
Beyond that it is a great product and I do recommend it.
Whole bean grind or pre-ground coffee is unparalleled.
Rich flavor of fresh ground is unbeatable.