January 2, 2021 – Cuisinart model EM-15 is NOT a conventional coffee maker, but a dedicated capsule-based espresso machine that could not be simpler to use and enjoy perfectly created one-button espresso for today’s cost of $200 from Amazon.
•• NOTICE: As an Amazon Associate I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases when you click an Amazon link in a MrGadget.com article. Your cost will be identical without using my link. I appreciate your support of my efforts through purchases using my article links. THANK YOU ••
** WHAT’S IN THE BOX **
- Cuisinart model EM-15 espresso machine with 19 BAR pressure
- Removable water reservoir • Detachable power cord
- Instruction manual including recipes, with warranty • *NOT in the box – espresso capsule starter set (MORE later)
This dedicated espresso machine is designed to deliver high-quality espresso in home or small office. The unit may use any Nespresso®-compatible Original Line capsules. Its compact dimensions of about 6” wide x 13” deep x 10” high makes it ideally suited for use where space is difficult to come by.
Espresso is served in smaller portions than a standard cup of coffee. BOTH are coffee drinks. The difference?
A cup of coffee starts at about six ounces. An espresso “shot” has about 1.4-oz of liquid for a single and 3.2-oz for a double shot.
A very simplified explanation is this – Espresso drinks are created under high pressure through coffee from fine to medium fine grind. The expression of pressure, expressed in “BAR” is an abbreviation from the Greek “baros,” that means weight. One BAR is one atmosphere of pressure, or 14.7 pounds of pressure per square inch, expressed as psi. 19 BAR = 279 psi. Lots of pressure.
Crema, the foamy goodness atop the brew, is a desirable outcome.
Coffee snobs have their own language!
Most consumers, myself included, have not been schooled in espresso-speak or espresso history, and you might not be interested either, except to say that many of us have learned to enjoy espresso from a local coffee house, which is why you may be reading this in the first place.
Instead of having to deal with prep, it really is all in the capsule. That is the beauty, the simplicity of the product.
On the other hand, users are locked in to the system of pre-configured and pre-loaded capsules. HOWEVER, aftermarket reusable and refillable capsules are available allowing users to purchase pre-ground espresso or to grind one’s own beans, then load the capsules for use and reuse in this machine. More on this later.
You are encouraged to look for more information online about the wonderful world of ESPRESSO.
** THE SETUP **
Easy enough. Instructions call for cycling one hot water shot through the machine as a rinse cycle before enjoying the first cup of espresso. This is accomplished by plugging in the removable power cord, removing the reservoir and putting enough water in it to for this first shot. I filled it up. Powering on the machine illuminates the LCD display to show PREHEATING. When preheating is complete, the display will show READY, PLEASE SELECT. With a mug in place, and without a capsule placed in its slot, press the cup symbol and wait until the cycle is completed. And now, it is ready for action, time for the first cup of espresso. Here is the User Manual.
BE PREPARED. Unless you are already knowledgeable, stocked and ready to proceed, purchase one or more varieties of espresso capsules in search of favorites. Where? In retail stores and online. Good selections are available through this Amazon link. That’s where I bought my Nespresso®-compatible Original Line capsules, starting at about $7. Be sure the listing shows “Originalline” or “Original Line.”
Here are a few tips I have picked up along my journey. Dark roast is a flavor profile, as is medium or blonde, as just three examples. The amount of caffeine, the “jolt,” is greatest in light roast, a counterintuitive piece of information. There is less caffeine in a shot of espresso than in a regular cup of coffee. A setting of single or double shot of espresso is a choice of a less or more intense flavor profile. The only way to find what YOU like is to try many brands and varieties. Capsules are also available that deliver teas as well as espresso in this machine, though the amount of liquid is limited to less than a traditional full cup because this device is a dedicated espresso machine, not a combination of both espresso and traditional six-ounce cup.
** PUT TO THE TEST **
I had never given a thought to espresso vs. coffee until a couple of years ago during an extended visit with friends who have a dedicated espresso machine. They decided upon their preference for espresso over coffee many years ago. I tried espresso and liked it. Throughout my stay, I pushed the buttons on their $500 Italian machine and became accustomed to the intense flavor from multiple double-shots of primarily dark roast coffee.
The $500 machine requires fresh beans to be placed in the top and then ground for each shot. The water reservoir must be filled and after use there is considerable after care. “Pucks” of spent coffee are ejected into a receptacle. An automatic cleaning cycle requires emptying of a large tray of spent water and a cup must be placed below twin nozzles to receive a burst of cleaning cycle water. It’s a lot of work.
Their machine also features a built-in steamer/frother, an added step many espresso lovers enjoy. Steaming and frothing instructions are included in this Cuisinart Espresso Machine’s included instruction book, though the operation must be performed outside of the capabilities within this device.
Back at home base, I returned to my nearly daily drink of freshly made coffee from daily ground beans. And then, in recent weeks, I decided to move up to a dedicated espresso machine. The more modest cost of this $200 device seemed a good entry into my at-home espresso journey. I also visited three popular national brands of coffee bars to sample their espresso offerings for comparison.
Three varieties and brands of espresso capsules were purchased in readiness for putting this product to the test.
Primed and ready, and armed with my recent coffee shop experience, it was time to load a capsule and try out this machine. The water reservoir was filled with fresh, cold, filtered water. The power button pressed, ready signal on, cleansing cycle completed with cup in place. Next, capsule loaded, double shot selected, and show time!
Delivering a nice crema, I tasted the double-shot samples straight, then some with added heavy cream and others with milk steamed, and then frothed according to instructions in the included instruction manual.
Each spent capsule is ejected into the used-capsule container located behind and a part of the cup/drip tray. The tray is capable of holding 12 spent capsules. It is perfectly normal for water to also be found in the used capsule tray after use. This is NOT a defect!
The unit is not without maintenance needs, though the procedure is simplified, and well explained in the documentation. What is needed? Beyond simple hand washing of removable parts, the procedure is called “descaling.” The need for descaling results from mineral deposits that may exist in the customer’s water supply. Mineral deposits here and in similar devices can coat heating elements, diminishing the elements’ ability to do the job. Fortunately, the LCD display will read DESCALE when this is required.
** FINAL THOUGHTS **
Consumers interested in enjoying espresso at home will find Cuisinart Espresso Machine model EM-15 an easy to use entry to the category. What could be easier than dropping in a capsule, pressing a button and sipping freshly created espresso?
Individual taste will guide the user to whether this device will yield satisfactory results. As for this user, the experience has been quite satisfying.
In addition to ready-made capsule choices, there are a variety of refillable, reusable compatible capsules from which to choose from Amazon. My preference is for stainless steel products, avoiding plastics where possible. With reusable capsules, discover and grind favorite beans to make your espresso. Need a grinder? Have a look at this. Or buy finely pre-ground beans for espresso. How’s that for versatility!
Users already predisposed to making the upgrade jump to on-board steaming and frothing will be pleased to learn that an upgraded Cuisinart model, EM-25, at just $100 more, is available immediately at Amazon.
And now, excuse me while I enjoy another espresso from my Cuisinart EM-15.
** WARRANTY **
Covered by the manufacturer’s TWO YEAR parts and labor warranty.