A couple of weeks ago I was excited to receive this Syntia Focus Espresso Machine from Philips Saeco to try out. I have to admit, I was kinda nervous when it arrived. Excited, but apprehensive. I’ve never been a fancy coffee barista chick. I add chocolate to coffee, along with some milk and call it day. So this was a bit intimidating in comparison to my “push and go” single brew coffee system, but I pulled it out of the box, set it on the counter, and gave a nod to what I had to look forward to the next morning.
Here’s a tip: When you receive a new appliance that requires more than plugging it in and pushing “Start,” it may be a good idea to read the instructions while you’re awake and not in need of caffeine.
Operating anything other than a “Start” button in those pre-caffeinated hours of the morn, well … let’s just say I was in a bit of a pickle. I needed the caffeine to function in order to read the instructions, but I needed to be able to function in order to get the caffeine. I woke up all ready to bare the barista within and brew a fine cup of espresso for me and my mate, but I’d become so used to the one button brew cup system that I have that I’d forgotten what it’s like to make a real cup of coffee.
Now don’t get me wrong, what I call the “push and go” single brew coffee systems are mighty convenient. They are. But while this Syntia Focus Espresso Machine from Philips Saeco is a tad more involved (only a tad) what you get in return for the extra effort, is very much worth it in my book. From the very first brew, I enjoyed a quality espresso that easily rivals that from my favorite coffee shop.
The Syntia Focus Espresso Machine can brew either whole bean or ground coffee. Pretty cool. So over the following days my husband and I tested different whole bean roasts, and one ground coffee. I also enjoyed using the milk frothing/steamer thingy, even creating a frothy design early on. It’s abstract. I call it Wide Awake.
Yep. I need practice. Maybe there are classes for foam art?
After a few days we quickly settled into our favorite roasts and combinations, and have enjoyed using the machine every day since. Now it seems as simple to use as those “press and go” systems, and it really has cut down on trips to our favorite local barista.
A few pros and cons:
The cons first:
- The price. It isn’t cheap. But I did some math. When compared to what would normally be spent on regular trips to the local coffee shop (gas + purchase costs), the Syntia Focus Espresso Machine would pay for itself over time. And if you’re a true coffee connoisseur, you know how much the perfect espresso is worth.
- As I mentioned before, at first this system requires more attention than the popular one cup brew machines. But once you learn the ins and outs, it becomes second nature (even in a pre-caffeinated state of mind).
- Perfect whole bean-to-cup brew. The machine grinds, then automatically brews whole bean coffee. I was honestly surprised at the quality achieved from the very first cup. I’ve managed to recreate my favorite mocha latte (recipe shared below) that I usually pay about $5 for at the local coffee shop. It may even be better than theirs! And I don’t even have to change out of my pajamas to get it.
- It’s compact. With all this machine does, you’d think it would be much bigger.
- Simple signals. The machine indicates with basic icons when something is needed. You’re not left wondering what’s going on.
- Easy maintenance. Simple parts that require a quick rinse from time to time.
So far my favorite beverage that we’ve created is the Mocha Latte. (Recipe is below.) Now I’m looking to try some new beverage combinations. Do you have a favorite coffee beverage to share? Please do!
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (dark cocoa powder is excellent for this recipe)
- 2 teaspoons sugar (adjust to preference)
- 4 ounces espresso or strong coffee (a medium roast is nice)
- ½ cup milk, frothed (regular, low fat, or skim; adjust amount to preference)
- Combine cocoa powder and sugar in bottom of coffee cup.
- Brew espresso directly into cup. Stir to combine with cocoa/sugar combination.
- Steam/froth milk, gently stir into espresso. Enjoy!
- Please note: Adjust sweetness, milk/cream amounts, and strength of coffee to personal preference.
(Philips Saeco provided me with a Syntia Focus Espresso Machine. All opinions are my own.)