Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine Review: Beauty Isn’t Everything

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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The last time I reviewed a semi automatic espresso machine from GE, I wasn't impressed. So why am I writing this Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine review? 

The last time I reviewed a semi automatic espresso machine from GE, I wasn’t impressed. So why am I writing this Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine review? 

The Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine is another semi automatic from appliance giant GE, and it looks and feels pretty similar to its older sibling.

Plus, with a $569.99 price tag, it’s also about the same price as the older model. With this context, it’d be understandable if you were suspicious of the Cafe Bellissimo’s quality.

With that said, GE now has a few more years of espresso machine design under its belt, so I’m curious about the Cafe Bellissimo. Let’s begin this Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine review and see if there’s anything special going on.

Beautiful espresso machine

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine

A great deal if it’s on sale

Gorgeous design

Sturdy construction

Professional steam wand

58 mm portafilter

No pre infusion function

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine Review Overview

As I mentioned, the Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine is a semi automatic espresso machine from home appliance manufacturer GE. While GE appliances are commonplace in the homes of many consumers, they’re usually in the form of ovens or washing machines.

That said, GE has invested in high quality coffee gear with the creation of its Café line. This product range features, most notably, the SCA-certified Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker, which I consider to be one of the best smart coffee makers.

GE has also made a couple super automatic espresso machines that I like: the GE Profile Automatic Espresso Machine and the Café Affetto Automatic Espresso Machine.

All this is to say that GE is relatively new to the coffee maker world, but it has already proven itself. So why can’t it do so again, with the Cafe Bellissimo? Keep reading my Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine review, and we’ll find out.

As the name implies, the Cafe Bellissimo is not lacking in the looks department. It’s a sleek, stylish and modern semi automatic espresso machine with gorgeous polished copper accents.

What’s more, the Cafe Bellissimo features a bean hopper and a built-in conical burr grinder with 15 grind adjustments. There’s also a hands-free portafilter cradle so you can grind espresso directly into the 58 mm portafilter.

Other features include a thermoblock heater, a 15 bar pump, a generous 95-ounce (2.8-liter) water reservoir and a commercial-style steam wand. Plus, you can connect the Cafe Bellissimo to GE’s SmartHQ app, which allows you to access smart features like recipe programming and cleaning alerts.

Finally, included accessories include a stainless steel tamper and a stainless steel milk pitcher.

In other words, all you need is filtered water, coffee beans and milk, and you’re ready to pull some shots with the Cafe Bellissimo.

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine Features

Now that you know the basics of this Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine review, let’s break it down further.

Size and Design

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine Size and Design

I’ll give the Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine one thing: its name isn’t misleading. 

This semi automatic espresso machine really is beautiful, with sleek lines and a modern aesthetic. Let’s just say I wouldn’t mind spending the first part of every morning with this machine.

Though the body of the machine is plastic, it doesn’t seem cheap. In fact, you can tell that this is a high quality espresso machine just by looking at it. Besides, the important bits are stainless steel, so you likely don’t have to worry about durability.

That said, the Cafe Bellissimo is a pretty new espresso machine, as is GE’s tenure as a coffee maker manufacturer. Only time will tell how long this gadget will last.

As far as the size of this espresso machine, it’s pretty average for a semi automatic: 16 inches (41 centimeters) tall, with a 13.7-inch (35-centimeter) wide footprint and a depth of 12.7 inches (32 centimeters).

That said, folks with overhanging cabinets may have trouble filling the water reservoir, given that it’s removable by pulling up and out.

In addition to the water reservoir, the prominent design features of the Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine include a UV-resistant bean hopper, portafilter cradle, 58 mm group head, a stainless steel steam wand and a removable drip tray.

What’s more, the top of the Cafe Bellissimo doubles as a cup warmer, with a designated place for the espresso tamper.

Some design-forward espresso machines, like the Ascaso Dream PID, prioritize looks over functionality with round surfaces on the top. Technically you can still warm cups on a rounded top, but it’s not nearly as secure as a flat surface.

Fortunately, the design team over at GE knows the benefits of a preheated cup.

Colors

Like the other products in GE’s Café line, the Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine comes in three colorways: Matte Black, Matte White and Steel Silver. Incidentally, they all have polished copper accents on the center dial, the bottom of the drip tray and the portafilter handle.

However, some buyers have reported that the copper coating on the portafilter is quite thin and tends to scrape off when bumped.

User Interface

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine User Interface

Though the Cafe Bellissimo looks fancy, it really is quite easy to use. This is thanks to an intuitive and clearly labeled user interface.

It’s got four easy-to-read push buttons on the front of the machine: Power, Grind, Single and Double. If you’re groggy from sleep and don’t remember which button you pressed, the Cafe Bellissimo has convenient LED lights that light up or blink when activated.

What’s more, there’s a dial in the center for hot water and steam. You simply turn the dial to the left or right to access those modes. Easy enough.

Finally, the espresso machine has a 20 minute automatic shut-off. I sure do appreciate an energy-saving setting.

Overall, the Cafe Bellissimo’s basic functions are pretty user-friendly.

Still, in order to access some programming or cleaning settings you’ll have to consult the user manual. Even grinding coffee for a double shot requires a bit of sleuthing.

Incidentally, you grind a double shot dose of espresso grounds by quickly double-pressing the Grind button. It makes sense once you know how to do it, but you likely wouldn’t figure this out on your own.

I suppose that’s what user manuals are for. That said, it would be nice if something as basic as grinding coffee for a double shot were easier to figure out.

SmartHQ App

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine App

Perhaps I haven’t mentioned this yet in my Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine review: the Cafe Bellissimo has smart features. In fact, it’s got WiFi connectivity and a corresponding SmartHQ app.

Since this isn’t a super automatic espresso machine, the app won’t do everything for you. After all, you do need to be physically present in the kitchen to press the Grind button and tamp the espresso grounds. In other words, you won’t see any voice controls or automatic brew timers with the Cafe Bellissimo. That said, the SmartHQ app does offer a good bit of programming and recipe personalization.

For starters, you can program the strength of your espresso shots. Oh, and both the grinder dosing time and the water volume are adjustable. What’s more, you can set a recipe for both the Single and Double shot buttons. Not only that, the water volume for the Hot Water button is adjustable too.

For what it’s worth, you can also change these doses and volumes using the machine itself. Simply press and hold the corresponding buttons, and let go when your desired time or volume is reached.

Okay, I’ve saved the best SmartHQ feature for last.

You can adjust your espresso water temperature, all thanks to the PID controller. I’ll explain what that is in a bit, but here’s what it means for you: a generous brewing temperature range of 195-208 degrees Fahrenheit (90.5-98 degrees Celsius).

In other words, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect extraction temperature for your favorite espresso beans.

Incidentally, you can also adjust the water temperature for the Hot Water button with the SmartHQ app. Truthfully, I find that a little less exciting. What can I say? I’m an espresso guy.

Water Reservoir

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine Water Reservoir

This may be unexpected, but the water reservoir is one of my favorite things about the Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine.

It’s got a generous 95-ounce (2.8-liter) capacity, so you know you won’t run out of water on the regular. Unless you’re planning on running a quasi-cafe out of your kitchen, that is. In that case, a prosumer espresso machine would be a better choice.

When you inevitably run out of water, no worries; filling the water tank is a breeze. After all, it’s removable and has a nifty handle to lift it up. Plus, the SMartHQ app will let you know when the water levels are getting low.

Conical Burr Grinder

The Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine comes equipped with a built-in conical burr grinder beneath the 10-ounce (275-gram) capacity bean hopper.

If you’re a flat burr devotee, try not to be too disappointed; conical burrs are pretty standard in super automatic and semi automatic espresso machines. Besides, conical and flat burrs both make for great espresso grinders, so you shouldn’t be too worried.

What’s more, the burrs are stainless steel and have 15 grind size adjustments. In my review of the similar GE Profile espresso machine, I remarked that only 15 settings is quite small, especially considering its high MSRP.

And at the Cafe Bellissimo’s market price of $580, I have to agree. I definitely wouldn’t suggest spending top dollar on an espresso machine with such limited dial-in capabilities. 

That said, the Amazon listing for the Cafe Bellissimo, linked at the top of this Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine review, is significantly marked down at the time of writing.

So, if you can get this machine on sale, I don’t know that I’d complain much about 15 grind settings. An espresso fanatic still wouldn’t be satisfied, but the Cafe Bellissimo has more than enough range for a casual latte lover.

Finally, GE has included an ion generator in the grinder to reduce static. Personally, I think this is a nice touch to prevent a mess in the portafilter.

After all, we coffee drinkers already have enough loose coffee grounds scattered across our kitchen counters. We don’t need our expensive semi-automatic espresso machines to spray coffee everywhere too!

Thermoblock

GE claims that the Cafe Bellissimo can heat up in as little as 80 seconds. Well, how the heck does it do that? Three words: thermoblock heating system.

I know some of you are disappointed that it doesn’t have a full boiler for heating water. But hear me out. Thermoblock heaters are energy efficient, quick and affordable. Since they only heat a small bit of water at a time, rather than a whole boiler-full of water, they can get the water up to temp super fast.

That’s especially true when they’re paired with PID controllers, which the Cafe Bellissimo also has. PID stands for Proportional, Integral (and) Derivative controller. I’m no scientist, so the short definition is that a PID controller enables the thermoblock to heat water to a precise temperature. What’s more, they’re accurate to within one degree.

In other words, your perfectly extracted espresso is all thanks to the thermoblock and PID controller. Well, I suppose the 15 bar pump and conical burr grinder are pretty necessary, too. Oh, and high quality coffee beans, of course.

Steam Wand

Unlike some cheaper home espresso machines, the Cafe Bellissimo comes with a commercial-style steam wand. It seems to do a great job turning cold milk into thick, creamy perfection.

A copper polished knob on the front of the machine serves as the steam wand dial. That said, the dial doesn’t enable you to regulate your steaming power, unlike the dials on commercial espresso machines. Rather, it’s more of an “on” switch than a dial.

Still, the steam wand’s 180 degree range of motion allows you to find the perfect angle to create a whirlpool while steaming. As any good barista knows, a whirlpool is necessary for latte art-worthy milk texture. Conveniently, the Cafe Bellissimo comes with a stainless steel milk pitcher for frothing milk.

Portafilter

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine Portafilter

The Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine comes with a 58 mm stainless steel portafilter, featuring a stylish copper coated handle. It comes with four baskets: both pressurized and non-pressurized baskets for single shots, and the same for double shots.

Seasoned baristas prefer non-pressurized baskets, since they produce a more complex and balanced shot of espresso. That said, they require a bit of tamping technique, so novice baristas may feel more comfortable with the convenience of a pressurized basket.

This versatility is great for newcomers to the home coffee world who are still learning how to pull the perfect shot of espresso but also want room to grow with their machine.

What’s more, the portafilter has a rubber pad on the bottom, which helps stabilize it when tamping against a smooth kitchen counter.

Accessories

Everyone loves a free goodie bag, so I was thrilled to find out that the Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine comes with lots of espresso accessories:

  • Stainless steel tamper (no plastic here!)

  • Brushed stainless steel milk pitcher

  • Portafilter with 2 pressurized and 2 non-pressurized baskets

  • Cleaning kit

Allow me to reiterate my excitement that the included espresso tamper is stainless steel.

If you’re a regular Coffeeness reader, you know that I often gripe about the cheap plastic tampers that come with expensive espresso machines. Fortunately, you won’t hear those complaints today. Thanks GE!

How to Use the Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine

As with any new espresso machine, you’ll want to wash and dry all removable parts before brewing espresso with the Cafe Bellissimo. Then fill it with coffee beans and water before pressing the power button.

I’d suggest waiting at least 10 minutes before pulling a shot, since you want your portafilter and grouphead to be all nice and toasty. Now’s the fun part!

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine How to Use

Insert the portafilter into the cradle, and quickly double-press the Grind button for a double shot. This will dose out the default 13 grams of coffee, though you can change that using the SmartHQ app if you want.

Next, distribute and tamp your espresso, insert the portafilter into the grouphead, and press Double. Soon you’ll have liquid gold pouring out of those stainless steel spouts.

If you want steamed milk, you know the drill: fill a pitcher with milk, turn the water dial to Steam, and froth away.

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine Cleaning

I’ve already got a thorough guide to cleaning and descaling coffee makers, so I’ll save you some repetition. Instead, I’ll tell you how to access the cleaning mode on the Cafe Bellissimo.

It’s pretty simple. Just press and hold the Grind and Double buttons for 3 seconds to activate cleaning mode. Then you can do the whole vinegar or descaling tablet dealio. 

I should mention that the head of the steam wand is removable, so you can soak that in vinegar as well. The included cleaning pin is great for poking any milk solids or limescale buildup out of the steam wand.

Finally, to clean the built-in grinder, turn the hopper all the way past the coarsest setting and then lift it off the machine. Next, pull up the handle on the top burr and twist it to lift it out. Use a brush, included in the cleaning kit, to remove any stuck-on coffee residue from the burrs.

Incidentally, you can also use a handheld vacuum to remove the coffee grounds. That always makes me feel extra pro, and leaves your grinder clean as new. 

By the way, the SmartHQ app will alert you when it’s time to clean the Cafe Bellissimo, so you don’t need to worry that you’ll forget about it.

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine Technical Specifications

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine
Manufacturer

Cafe

Model number

C7CESAS2RS3

Product category

Hybrid espresso machine

Housing material

Stainless steel

Color options

Matte Black, Matte White, Steel Silver

Milk frother

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Portafilter size

58 mm

Tamping

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

94.7 fl oz / 2.8 l

Number of boilers

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

Maximum cup height

3.3 in / 8.4 cm

Grinder

Stainless steel conical burr grinder

Grind adjustment levels

15

Bean hopper capacity

9.9 oz / 280.0 g

Specialty drinks

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1450 W

Weight

24.0 lb / 10.9 kg

Dimensions

16.1 x 13.7 x 12.7 in
40.9 x 34.8 x 32.3 cm

Warranty

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User manual, tamper, milk pitcher, 4 x filter baskets, cleaning supplies, water hardness test strip

Current price on Amazon

$569.99

All specifications

Cafe Bellissimo vs Breville Barista Express

Breville Barista Express Overview

It only makes sense to compare the Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine to the Breville Barista Express.

After all, the Barista Express espresso machine has been a customer favorite for ten years. Newcomer GE isn’t even close to having that amount of experience as an espresso machine manufacturer.

On the surface, these two machines seem pretty similar. Both have built-in conical burr grinders with limited grind settings, thermoblock heaters, PID controllers and automatic dosing. What’s more, they’re both semi automatic espresso machines with some level of adjustability and programming, while still being beginner-friendly espresso makers.

That said, Breville has an extra level of shot customization: an adjustable preinfusion time. Preinfusion can make a big difference on the resulting shot, and Cafe Bellissimo can only offer a slow build-up of pressure. Similar, but not the same. If you’re going for total control over your espresso shot, I would opt for the Breville Barista Express.

Still, the Breville Barista Express is not a smart espresso machine. If you want app controls and maintenance notifications, the Cafe Bellissimo is for you.

See Also: Breville Barista Express Review

Verdict: Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine

Beautiful espresso machine

Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine

A great deal if it’s on sale

Gorgeous design

Sturdy construction

Professional steam wand

58 mm portafilter

No pre infusion function

Now that I’ve reached the end of this initial Cafe Bellissimo Espresso Machine review, I have a few conclusions.

First, I’d recommend only buying this semi automatic espresso machine if it’s on sale. With the limited amount of grind settings it offers, I just don’t think the Cafe Bellissimo is worth its full market price.

But if you can get a good deal, that’s a whole other story. At its current sale price, the Cafe Bellissimo has more than enough customizable features to make it worth the cash.

It’s got smart features, programmable brewing temperature and espresso recipes, a grinder and a formidable steam wand. What else can you ask for in an affordable, beginner-friendly espresso machine?

What do you think of the Cafe Bellissimo? Are you sold on GE coffee makers? Or will you stick with the trusted classics, like Breville? Let’s chat in the comments section!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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