When reviewing super automatic espresso machines, I always come back to same basic question about price: You've shelled out X for a machine so what do you get in your cup for that? And considering what the machine does are you getting value for your money?
When reviewing super automatic espresso machines, I always come back to same basic question about price: You’ve shelled out X for a machine so what do you get in your cup for that? And considering what the machine does are you getting value for your money?
Which brings us to the appliance at hand, the Krups EA8250. Since this is one of the cheapest super automatic coffee machines around, we need to expand slightly on my make-or-break question: With a price tag of $550 this could be an incredible bargain… or a plastic hunk of junk with a brew group.
Before we go any further, a quick disclosure. The model we tested is a little older (i.e. no LCD display) than the one currently available in the U.S., which is why you’ll notice that the machine in our pictures looks a little different. But this review should still go a long way to helping you decide whether this is the super automatic espresso maker for you.
To get to the bottom of the value for money question, we first have to decide what benchmarks in terms of of flavor, equipment, grinder, etc. are even applicable to that price. With that mind, I should also admit that my previous review of this machine was very mixed and a lot of people expressed in the comments how disappointed in they were with it. So why have I dusted off the Krups EA8250?
A good starting point is putting the Krups head to head in the value for money ring with the ultimate in cheap and cheerful — the evergreen Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B.
While we’re at it, we might as well also dig deeper into Krups’ EA range and to look for similarities, differences and espresso gold at an ultra-low price.
This is a good place to start because, while DeLonghi is gradually moving away from making entry-level super automatic espresso machines and concentrating on playing in the big leagues with newer models, Krups seems perfectly happy to stick around as the go-to brand for newbies. You gotta love the EA8250 and its pals for being so down to earth. But this isn’t a personality contest. It takes awesome espresso to be this reviewer’s top pick!
There are better alternatives in this price range.
Fits in even the smallest kitchens
Affordable super automatic worthy of the name
Steam wand to make make your own microfroth
Espresso could be better
Table of Contents
Losing Your Grips On Krups: Which Super Automatic Is Which?
Once again, I’m have to start another review update with a looong section on serial numbers, model names and machine variations. Because Krups is anothe manufacturer that loves a good game of “riddle me this” over product names such as EA8250 or EA8298.
What, you can’t tell the difference between coffee machine A and B at first, second or third glance? Well, you’re definitely not alone, especially when it comes to the generalist EA series.
As testimony to just how confusing it gets, the more premium Krups EA89 Quattro Force Digital Full Auto espresso machine which sells for close to $1,000 becomes the Krups EA89 Deluxe One-Touch Super Automatic espresso machine on Amazon. So that infernal product code may be the only thing between you and a mental meltdown. And spare a thought for us in Europe where more options only make for more confusion.
Think You've Got it Sussed? Wait, there's More...
Just in case, you still think you’ve got a handle on all this, there’s the KRUPS EA8298, which costs $50 more than the EA8250 on Amazon.
So what’s the extra bang for your buck? Aside from one extra programmed drink, the main difference is the monster milk container and “one-touch cappucino” that whips up froth on command.
Here, the milk money maths gets more complicated. The Krups EA8250 also has a smaller automatic frothing system in the form of the XS6000 Auto Cappuccino, which comes in the box and is basically a cappuccinatore.
Despite that, the cheaper EA8250 is the more versatile machine. Why? Because although both super automatic espresso makers have steam wands, the way the steamer on the EA8298 connects to the milk module means that it can’t be used as a manual steam wand or to make hot chocolate. Dumb, huh?
EA Series Basics
I think I’ve proved my point about how Krups’ product names are enough to make anyone tear their hair out. But before you throw up your hands and quit reading here are some hard and fast facts. You’ll find these basic components appearing again and again in EA machines:
- Rapid water heating thanks to a thermoblock
- Conical burr grinder
- Two milk frothing options — steam wand and cappuccinatore
- Plastic in “basic” colors like black, white and dark red
- Mostly manual cleaning
- Decent pump pressure of 15 bar
- More traditional knobs and dials than cutting-edge displays
These building blocks are, however, definitely specific to the entry-level machines. Starting climbing the model and price ladder and the styling becomes more modern, the colors more varied and the touch elements more plentiful. Plus, the brew in your cup improves by leaps and bounds:
When I reviewed a model very similar to the Krups EA893D40 Evidence super automatic espresso machine, I liked it a lot. At about $1,000 — significantly more than the entry-level EAs — this is very much a mid-range model. If you ask me, the Evidence is a better conceived machine and way more functional.
Which pretty much sums up the problem with the EA8250. BTW, I’m sticking to product codes, so we can all stay on the same page.
Reviewing the Krups EA8250 — the Yardstick for Cheap Super Automatic Coffee
|Type||Super-Automatic Espresso Machines|
|Removable brew group||No|
|Casing Material||Plastic black|
|Milk frothing system||Manual (milk foam lance)|
|Water tank capacity||57.4 Oz|
|Minimale Auslaufhöhe||2.3 In|
|Maximum discharge height||4.1 In|
|Grinder||cone grinder stainless steel|
|Bean container capacity||0.57 lb|
|Two bean compartments||No|
|Coffee grounds tray||No|
|Coffee drinks prepared at the touch of a button||Espresso, coffee|
|Adjustable coffee temperature||Yes (3 levels)|
|Milk (foam) temperature adjustable||No|
|Hot water function||Yes|
|Hot milk function||Yes|
|Obtain milk foam only||No|
|Dimensions (height x width x depth)||12.2 x 9.4 x 11.4 In|
In order to be worthy of the name super automatic espresso maker, a machine must at least have a built-in coffee grinder, an automated brew group and produce a fairly decent pressure — basically, coffee at the touch of a button. Plus, you should be able to make milk froth one way or another. And, of course, no one complains about a bit of help with the cleaning.
Based on those criteria and the price tag, the Krups EA8250 is the bottom of the super automatic price barrel. Don’t even bother considering anything that costs much less. If it does, it probably belongs in a kid’s play kitchen.
What makes me so sure? The pros and cons of this automatic coffee machine read like the miminum requirements for a passing grade in my super automatic espresso machine reviews. On the plus side, the EA8250 boasts the following features and performance:
- Very compact — the perfect size for tiny kitchens
- Simple operation via LCD display and buttons
- A surprisingly quiet grinder with 3 coarseness levels
- Brew group is up and ready to use in no time
- Variable volumes for making espresso
- Six preprogrammed specialty coffees
- Telescoping coffee spigot to allow for different cup sizes
- Descaling program and easy cleaning
Considering the $550 price tag, you can’t really complain. After all, you get what you pay for: hot espresso-esque coffee at the touch of a button. You even have the DIY or automatic options for frothing your milk.
If you want more, you’re just going to have to raid your bank account.
But take a look at the negatives and you start to understand why the Krups model falls short — especially when compared to its competitor the DeLonghi Magnifica:
- You can’t remove the brew group
- The brew group connects to a ton of staticky plastic — expect a mess
- Workmanship is not very solid
- The stepped grinder isn’t capable of grinding to the degree required for really good espresso
As we’ll see, that last point is the biggest stumbling block.
If You Program It like a Super Automatic and It Makes Coffee like a Super-Automatic...
There are three key factors that determine the flavor and body of super automatic coffee:
- Coffee beans
- Grind texture
If you use lousy coffee beans, don’t blame the Krups machine for dishwater coffee. No super automatic espresso machine in the world can compensate for bum beans.
With grind texture, on the other hand, the ball is very much in the machine’s court. Unfortunately, very few models are able to produce a texture fine enough for portafilter machines.
Getting it just right is that much harder when the conical burr grinder on the Krups EA8250 only has three measly levels to choose from. Of course, other suppliers, such as Melitta, include grinders with a limited number of levels even on their more expensive super automatic espresso machines. Why? Simplicity is best. Or so they say.
For that to work in practice, the grind levels have to vary widely and translate into a significant difference in the cup. Otherwise why even go the trouble of grinding? You might as well use pre-ground beans.
It’s literally a major grind for the cheapo Krups to produce any degree of distinction. I found even the finest setting to be much too coarse. The knock-on effect is that the pressure produced by the pump isn’t met with a suitable amount of resistance from the compacted grounds. As a result, extraction is not optimal. No matter what you do, there’s no getting around the machine’s limitations in this regard.
The last place you can attempt to impose your will is water volume:
A control knob on the front panel allows you to adjust the volume of water in your coffee. Best of all, it starts with the surprisingly small amount of about half a fluid ounce. Some other super automatic espresso machines only start at a full ounce.
Grinder issues aside, the Krups EA8250 is not playing around at being a super automatic espresso maker.
Nothing's Easier to Operate. Except Maybe a Coffee Maker
Before announcing its “new simplicity” approach to the Evidence series, Krups had already pushed this philosophy to its natural conclusion with the EA8250 and iys predecessors. The LCD display together with a couple of knobs and buttons – the thing really is child’s play to operate.
Which not only makes brewing easier for beginners, but also generally makes troubleshooting a breeze. Frantically flashing lights or errors can easily be looked up in the instruction manual. What’s more, the super automatic espresso machine lets you know in no uncertain terms when it’s due for cleaning or descaling.
A truly inexpensive super automatic espresso machine is a celebration of minimalism. And that’s true not only in terms of core components. Above all, unncessary frills get axed, which is inevitably a good thing and makes for leaner, meaner functioning.
Espresso & Milk Froth: Krups Shoots Itself in the Foot
By now, it should be no surprise that the burr grinder sabotages any attempts at perfect coffee. Tweak what you will, the espresso always pours through the machine into the cup too quickly.
It makes for an excessively watery flavor, which you can only partially offset with more grounds or less water. For all that I’ve warmed to the cheap Krups since I last reviewed it, I’m not softening my stance on this one bit.
With it’s two frothing options — the steam wand and add-on cappuccinatore — the Krups EA8250 does better in the milk department.
As frothing solutions go, a steam wand may be tricker to use but it’s less likely to leak or require replacement parts. It opens the door to playing with the consistency of your microfoam and even going totally off-piste to have a bit of fun with hot chocolate or chai. Best of all, the Krups delivers strong performance with high-pressure steam.
And if you just couldn’t be bothered, you can hook up the slightly awkward cappuccinatore. What’s not to like?!
Which is exactly where the slightly more expensive EA8298 falls short. In the rather limited pursuit of cappuccino at the touch of a button, it has sacrificed all those other steam wand options. As I pointed out, the steamer can only be attached to the milk bottle or used for getting hot water.
Admittedly, a lot of people have found the cappuccinatore very disappointing.
I get that. After all, this kind of “afterthought” solution is never the best way of achieving a desired function. In an earlier model, it even had to be purhcased separately.
But to be honest, I think the concept is really promising. Theoretically, anyway. Unless I’m mistaken, Krups is the only one among the many manufacturers of super automatic espresso machines working with this kind of add-on. Which makes it pretty innovative. Now, they just need to work through the kinks to make this a high-quality retrofit.
What Won't Come Out, Won't Come Clean
Whether you’re eyeing a EA8250, EA8298 or even EA98 super automatic espresso machine, Krups brew groups are always fixed and connot be removed.
On newer models, such as the previously mentioned EA893D40 Evidence, the manufacturer touts this as a testimony to how perfectly the brew unit and systems interface. On the entry-level models, it’s just a fact.
And a dirty one, if you ask me.
Because the EA8250 is made almost entirely out of plastic, static electricity is a real problem. Which means that coffee residues don’t just build up in the brew unit, but absolutely everywhere on the machine.
Remember how you can’t remove the brew group? Well, that means you can never give this super automatic espresso machine a thorough clean. Not even the best cleaning tablets will help.
As usual for this class of machine, you have to start the cleaning program manually. There’s no automatic flushing, etc. Which wouldn’t be a problem, if you could remove the brew group and give it as good a rinse as you do the used grounds container and the drip tray.
Am I saying that the Krups super automatic espresso machine is basically just a breeding ground for microorganisms? No, of course not. If you put in the effort it will still be as sparkling as when you unboxed even after making hundred of shots.
I really just want to impress on you that you have to be super diligent about cleaning. All that stuff in the instruction manual? You really have to do it. And regularly. If you get alerts to descale or clean, never just ignore them!
Krups vs. DeLonghi: An Unfair Fight for the Title of Cheapest Super Automatic Espresso Machine
I wouldn’t normally think that there are a whole lot of reasons to compare a DeLonghi and a Krups super automatic espresso machine. But you can’t overlook the Italians’ total dominance.
Look at it another way and this showdown alsmot seems unavaidable: Which machine gets to wear the cheap super automatic espresso machine crown?
The Krups EA8250 because it costs less?
Or the Magnifica ECAM 22.110.B because it brings the most to the table for a slightly higher price tag?
In the end, it comes down to one simple fact: The Italian contender has a conical burr grinder with 13 levels. Just like that it, we have a knock-out winner.
Ok, so you might as well ignore the finest levels. But even then, the fact that the grounds compact so much better in the brew group result in an extraction that is just way richer.
Admittedly, DeLonghi espresso also isn’t a coffee hallelujah. But it’s a whole lot closer to our usual standards.
As far as cleaning, general equipment, milk froth and setting system parameters go, the models are very evenly matched. Both are pretty compact and made largely of plastic.
What at first glance seems a bit like a choice between a rock and a hard place is in fact an easy decision: Once you see the big picture, DeLonghi takes it hands down. Although the question of durability casts something of a shadow on the win.
Strangely enough, that’s not something I’m concerned about with a completely different contender. If you’re willing to go without the milk system, the Melitta Caffeo Solo is a highly compact, quality machine that makes great coffee — and costs even less than the Krups EA8250. It has a few niggles but at about $470, they’re easy to forgive.
The Krups EA82505 – Better than No Super Automatic Espresso Machine
If you a there’s a hole in your life where a super automatic espresso machine should be, don’t skip straight to the high-end options in my super automatic espresso machine reviews.
There are better alternatives in this price range.
Fits in even the smallest kitchens
Affordable super automatic worthy of the name
Steam wand to make make your own microfroth
Espresso could be better
Just because you’ve got a craving for coffee at the touch of a button, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be hovering over the machine every day. It’s something a lot of people forget when deciding what to buy.
Would an introductory model not be a better choice? In which, case the Krups EA8250 is definitely an option. Even if it means turning a blind eye to a few flaws.
After all, not everyone has tons of cash to throw at pimped-out machines. If that’s true of of you, then a good Krups, like the 8205 is a solid choice.
I see it fitting in nicely in co-housing arrangements, where no one wants to fuss over coffee beans or preparation. That’s where small advantages, such as the two-cup function for twin servings or the pleasingly quiet burr grinder come into their own.
It all boils down to how long it takes before you’re fed up with so-so espresso and want to upgrade. The reality is that this is likely to happen much sooner with the EA8250 than with the awesome Krups EA893D40 Evidence.
Despite that, my advice is to dig around in the lower-priced Krups models because there are real bargains to be found. Even if they can’t hold a candle to the likes of the Magnifica. At least, not to my mind.
Think you’re only cheating yourself with cheap? Let’s take it to the comments section and thrash it out.
Krups EA8250 FAQ: You Asked, We Answered
When my opinion is as low as the price, a flood of questions and comments is practically guaranteed. So I’ve summarized the most important points from the comments section here for everyone to catch up on. As always… to be continued!
Considering its bargain basement price, the EA8205 is a definitely for those new to super automatic espresso machines. You could even say it’s try-and-see machine. Some buyers have pointed out that it works best for people who prefer their coffee with milk. And they’re not wrong.
Even if loads of plastic and patchy workmanship always make me think twice, some of you have been using Krups models similar to the EA8250 for more than a decade. Maybe there’s some truth to Krups’ claim that a fixed metal brew unit can better stand the test of time than other more common designs?
Depends on what you mean by “easy”? If you think you’ll barely have to lift a finger, think again. It’s going to require regular use of cleaning tablets, ideally in combination with filtered water. Otherwise you’ll constantly be descaling and flushing. With any brew group that can’t be removed, cleaning is ALWAYS going to be more of a challenge.
Whatever you say about Krups super automatic espresso machines, they’re ready to brew in no time. That’s thanks to how quickly the thermoblock heats things up. Which is great but not that extraordinary. And it’s going to make up for the ho-hum coffee.
Considering some of the extremely negative comments that this article attracted, this question seemed necessary. I’m going to concentrate on expressing this as diplomatically as possible: When the price is this low, you have to be prepared for the absolute minimum in performance. After all, a super automatic espresso machine is more than just a thermoblock, milk system and 15 bar pressure. Much more. Diplomatic enough?