The Melitta Caffeo CI: A Fully Automatic Coffee Maker With Long-Term Appeal?

Note: At the time of writing, the Melitta Caffeo CI isn’t available for purchase in the United States.

Note: At the time of writing, the Melitta Caffeo CI isn’t available for purchase in the United States.

I don’t know if it was just because of 2020, but suddenly, I got the idea to also revisit older models in the fully automatic coffee machine reviews, along with the latest models. After all, we all had a change of perspective during that dreadful year.

Still, some things never change: although many fully automatic coffee machine models have reached biblical maturity, that doesn’t change its popularity, functionality or coffee quality. Espresso is always espresso, and Cappuccino is always Cappuccino.

As long as it’s fun to use and easy to clean, a coffee machine from 2021 is hardly any different from a 2010 model. However, while the machine from 2021 demands a new price, the old rubbish is getting cheaper and cheaper.

That’s precisely why I’m gradually updating all the reviews of fully automatic coffee machines that you can still buy and are (perhaps) even more worthwhile than before.

In the case of the £500 Melitta Caffeo CI fully automatic coffee machine, I was actually surprised to learn that it’s been around since 2011. The machine seems unexpectedly modern, despite limited coffee specialities and a somewhat outdated mode of operation.

The following video is in German, but keep reading. I’ll tell you everything there is to know about how the Melitta Caffeo CI performed in this review.

Melitta fully automatic coffee machines somehow always manage to pull this off, even if they have limited innovation value and are surprisingly rarely renewed. In this new review, we’ll find out whether this is because of brand image, the manufacturer’s ‘laziness’ or simply features that just make sense.

We’ll also look into how the price has changed since the first edition — and what this means for my general rating. For quite some time, the Melitta Caffeo CI in Silver was our ‘office fully automatic coffee machine,’ so I can also give you a few long-term impressions.

If you like things a little more modern, I recommend you take a look at the updated Melitta CI Touch review or the ‘new’ Melitta Latte Select.

Very good for offices and families

Melitta Caffeo CI

It’s very good value for your money and well-thought-out functionality.

Two bean chambers

Relatively fast

Easy to clean

Milk container included

Strange default settings

Melitta Caffeo CI: Variants Worth a Price Comparison

The older a series gets, the harder it is to track which machines are readily available and whether you can buy them from reputable sources. I also start to wonder what the difference between version A and version B might be.

CategoryEntry
Manufacturer Melitta
NameCaffeo Cl
TypeSuper-Automatic Espresso Machines
Removable brew groupYes
Casing MaterialStainless steel
Milk frothing systemAutomatic (Cappuccinatore)
DisplayYes
User profilesYes (4 profiles)
Water tank capacity60.1 Oz
Maximum discharge height5.5 In
GrinderStainless steel cone grinder
Bean container capacity2x 0.3 lb
Two bean compartmentsYes
Grinding3 levels
Coffee grounds trayYes
Coffee drinks prepared at the touch of a buttonEspresso, Café Crème, Cappuccino und Latte Macchiato
Adjustable coffee temperatureYes (3 levels)
Milk (foam) temperature adjustableNo
2-cup functionYes
Hot water functionYes
Hot milk functionYes
Obtain milk foam onlyYes
Water filterYes
Weight20.5 lbs
Dimensions (height x width x depth)18.6 x 10.0 x 13.8 In

The Melitta Caffeo CI makes it easy on us for a change. It comes in Silver or Black. If it says ‘Special Edition’, it’s only the external milk container that’s different. For example, the ‘Special Edition’ E970-306 comes with a thermal container instead of a plastic milk carafe.

Both the manufacturer’s shop and Amazon sell the two (official) variants:

  • Melitta Caffeo CI E970-103 in Black — Discontinued version
  • Melitta Caffeo CI E970-101 in Silver — Reviewed version

Availability on Amazon is usually a point of reference for me, even if that doesn’t mean much in the case of the Melitta Caffeo CI.

As I previously mentioned, both editions are functionally identical, so it hardly makes a difference which version you buy. That’s why you might as well consider the following machines — the most notable difference between the two being the E970-205 is a ‘Special Edition’ with a stainless steel milk container:

  • Melitta Caffeo CI E970-205 in Grey-Black 
  • Melitta Caffeo CI E970-102 in White 

Sure, a thermal milk container is a fine thing, but I can overlook it since I prefer hanging the milk tube directly in a bag or a quick-to-clean container anyway.

Much more important (as always) is the price comparison. At the time of this review, the discontinued version in Black is available on Amazon for under £500, while the same automatic coffee machine in Silver costs around £603.

At the time of the original review, the Melitta Caffeo CI was on sale for well over £700. So, the price drop isn’t as significant as for Siemens fully automatic coffee machines, but it’s still a convincing argument for value.

Melitta Caffeo CI vs CI Touch

The question of whether you should prefer the older Melitta Caffeo CI to the more modern Melitta CI Touch fully automatic coffee maker is a little harder to answer. The ‘Touch’ variant, which is basically just a new name, offers a few important updates for preparation, but the ‘old’ Caffeo CI doesn’t do a bad job, either!

Ideal Settings for the Melitta Caffeo CI

If you use stale or just plain bad coffee beans, even the best settings are useless. You have to put something good in at the top to get something good out at the bottom!

These are the settings I use for my favourite coffee with the Melitta Caffeo CI:

  • Grinder at the lowest setting (1 of 3) — Note: Please only adjust when the grinder is running!
  • Espresso set to 30 millilitres (1 fluid ounce), coffee strength to the highest level — Note: It takes 1 to 2 drinks until the new setting provides the proper results.

Special Features of a High-Quality Coffee Machine: Overview

The sense or nonsense of having two bean chambers — without separate grinders — is debatable. That said, the Melitta Caffeo CI uses 135-gram (4.75-ounce) bean chambers, which are small enough to prevent you from using too many beans at once.

The Melitta Caffeo CI fully automatic coffee machine’s double bean hopper.

I will say that the machine definitely tries to grind your beans completely in an effort to make switching between different coffees as clean as possible. Nevertheless, in everyday life, you’ll need to prepare an ‘intermediate coffee’ to remove all traces of previous bean residue.

This may increase your espresso bean consumption, but it makes it easier for you to try out new roasts or to offer each coffee drinker in your household their ideal individual coffee.

Let’s take a look at what makes the Melitta Caffeo CI a solid and, above all, comparatively inexpensive fully automatic coffee maker:

  • Simple operation via buttons, rotary dial, small display
  • Cappuccinatore with milk container (plastic)
  • Fairly quiet stainless steel conical burr grinder with three settings
  • Relatively quick preparation with ‘One Touch’ function
  • Double bean chamber
  • 4 user profiles
  • 3 brewing temperatures 
  • 4 coffee strength levels
  • Filling capacity from 30 – 220 millilitres (1 – 7.4 fluid ounces)
  • Water filter included

The manufacturer sets the maximum daily draw as 10 to 15 cups per day. This isn’t bad for a household edition, which is why I’ll always recommend the Melitta Caffeo CI as a device for small offices or families.

Admittedly, the ‘only’ coffee specialities included are espresso, Café Crème, Cappuccino and Latte Macchiato. However, if we’re being honest, those are the reasons to buy a bean-to-cup coffee machine in the first place. Most of us try a special new drink once, then forget all about it.

Meanwhile, even if the silver on the housing looks like stainless steel, we’re talking about plastic. When you unpack it, there’s still a somewhat dominant factory odour, but you can quickly get rid of it by thoroughly cleaning the machine before its first use.

Adjusting the Melitta Caffeo CI (Correctly): Weird Ideas From the Factory

While I have never trusted factory settings, I’m always a fan if they make even half sense. However, with the Melitta Caffeo CI, they don’t — no matter what the manufacturer says.

On the bright side, the coffee machine practically explains itself, so you can, theoretically, leave the manual in the box.

Espresso & Coffee Quantity

Melitta thinks that 50 millilitres (1.7 fluid ounces) for a single espresso is a good idea. For me, this fill volume is called ‘coffee’ (or a double shot). Unfortunately, the Melitta Caffeo CI suffers from the notorious ‘minimum quantity disease’, only allowing a minimum of 30 millilitres (1 fluid ounce) fill volume. Precisely 25 millilitres (0.85 fluid ounces) would be optimal for a ‘calibration’ espresso.

However, you do have the option of working around this little problem. If you adjust the grinder to the finest setting and the coffee strength to the highest setting, you increase the resistance in the coffee puck. This makes it harder for the water to get through the ground coffee. I’ve also noticed that a 30-millilitre (1-fluid-ounce) fill level consistently produces around 26 millilitres (0.87 fluid ounces) in the cup.

The Melitta Caffeo CI’s extraction method means the extra millilitre is barely noticeable with most beans.

Incidentally, the manufacturer’s recommendation for a Café Crème is 120 millilitres (4 fluid ounces), which most of us will consider a cute sip rather than a decent coffee to wake up. So, it’s definitely worth doubling up here.

The Melitta Caffeo CI’s Grinder

Three grind levels are a joke compared to other machines in the automatic coffee maker reviews. However, Melitta is known in every machine category for really separating these grind stages from each other.

Besides, we prefer to use the finest level anyway — which this automatic coffee maker also manages without stuttering.

The first thing you should do is set this level on the dial at the back of the Melitta Caffeo CI. Don’t forget to make the change with the grinder running!

The Melitta LatteSelect automatic coffee maker.

Considering that we are dealing with a conical burr made of stainless steel, the grinder is fairly quiet. Producing well over 60 decibels, the current Melitta Latte Select is quieter, but the Melitta Caffeo CI isn’t terribly annoying. It definitely doesn’t pass the sleeping baby test, but it roars much less than some older DeLonghi coffee machines.

User Profiles

Four user profiles are now standard — even in lower mid-range machines. This makes a fully automatic coffee maker suitable for both the office and the family kitchen. The Melitta Caffeo CI also comes with a really successful memory function that gives every user a wide range of options for selecting a favourite coffee.

For example, when making a Latte Macchiato, there are several variables that can be adjusted:

  • The amount of milk
  • The amount of foam
  • The coffee strength
  • The amount of coffee
  • The temperature
The Melitta Caffeo CI fully automatic coffee maker profiles.

Since everyone has different preferences, you should take full advantage of this function. The display always shows you which profile is currently selected, preventing confusion. That is precisely what we want to avoid.

The question of temperature, in particular, has often led to discussions — even in our office. I always drink all ‘coffee specialities’ with slightly cooler milk foam than the majority of my colleagues.

Espresso & Coffee: Promises Kept

When it comes to a fully automatic coffee machine from Melitta, I always measure the quality of the drinks by the company’s motto: does the machine make coffee a pleasure or not? It does.

The Melitta Caffeo CI fully automatic coffee machine and Arne with all the drinks.

With its limited grind levels and general technology, this fully automatic coffee machine demonstrates a very ‘classic’ understanding of coffee and, as a result, works best with chocolatey roasts in a more Italian style.

In the first review, I used an espresso with a Robusta content of 50 percent, which provided a decent crema with the appropriate strength and density.

This time, I used a 100% Arabica from Brazil, which produced an espresso with an assertive chocolatey profile.

The Melitta Caffeo CI fully automatic coffee machine -- espresso ready.

The other dessert notes fell somewhat by the wayside, but this, in turn, enhances the nice kick that an espresso or coffee from the Melitta Caffeo CI gives you.

For an ‘old’ automatic coffee maker at this price, the Melitta Caffeo CI makes a surprisingly good black coffee. Although a slightly watery impression remains, the overall body is still convincing.

Nevertheless, I always say that you can achieve fuller-tasting results with an Americano: take a standard espresso, add extra hot water, enjoy more aroma!

Creating Milk Foam: Surprisingly Great

Gallery ImageGallery ImageGallery Image

Using a cappuccinatore system that you can’t adjust further is always a gamble because you never know whether you’ll end up liking your Latte Macchiato. The thing is many tube variants produce somewhat bubbly foam, sometimes with questionable stability.

With Melitta, you don’t have to worry about that. The foam quality is surprisingly great — and comes out of the spout with unusual speed.

The homogeneous, creamy milk enriches the coffee perfectly. You can also prepare two Cappuccinos or Lattes at the same time without affecting the overall speed or quality.

Cleaning the Melitta Caffeo CI

The only happy coffee machine is a clean coffee machine. Melitta has always been concerned about this, which may also have something to do with it being a family brand.

All the appropriate components can be cleaned either automatically, using the cleaning programme or in the dishwasher. Plus, the brew group can be quickly removed and rinsed. Melitta calls this ‘easy cleaning’ — basically, I call it the same thing.

Brewing Unit

The brewing unit should look familiar to anyone who has ever taken apart an (older) automatic coffee machine from Siemens, Bosch or Miele. As different as the brands may appear on the surface, they are all related and quite similar at the heart of their machines.

On the plus side, this also makes it easier to buy cheap spare parts or to stock up on cleaning aids — the pool of suppliers is correspondingly large.

In any case, you can simply remove the brew group, rinse it under running water and then let it air dry. It’s best to do this after every day of use, especially if more than two people regularly use the machine. Then let it air dry.

Milk Hose & Nozzle

A milk hose is a little more complicated to clean than a steam nozzle, but Melitta has thought of this, too. With the Melitta Caffeo CI, you can ‘connect’ the hose to the drip tray and rinse it with a steam jet. The Siemens EQ.6 is built the same.

The Melitta caffeo CI fully automatic coffee maker coffee outlet drain.

Be aware, however, that the rather small drip tray fills up quite quickly, and the automatic coffee maker accordingly ‘goes on strike’ more often. Nevertheless, this function is a hygienic intermediate step to basic cleaning.

At the end of the day, it’s imperative to dismantle and clean the nozzle, as milk residue becomes a health hazard even more quickly than coffee grounds. You can disassemble the nozzle and the drainage valve very easily and clean them thoroughly.

As I said, I bypass the milk container and hang the hose directly into the milk carton. Whether you follow my advice is up to you, but I find that it’s more hygenic, and there’s one less part to clean at the end of the day.

If you use the milk container, it should also be cleaned daily. That’s true whether it’s made of plastic or thermo-silver.

Water Tank & Drip Tray

As a general rule of thumb: quickly removable water tanks are not only easy to fill, they are also easy to clean. The Melitta Caffeo CI has a tank with a practical handle that you can remove via the left side. Keep this in mind when you are scouting out a location for your coffee machine.

I recommend never leaving standing water in the tank — and certainly not when you’re going on holiday, for example. That’s why I clean it in between each refill and more thoroughly — with subsequent air drying — at the end of the day.

The drip and collection trays can be removed as a whole from the front. Since these parts are comparatively small, they have to be emptied more often. Some people find this annoying, but it doesn’t bother me too much.

Whenever you switch the machine on or off, an automatic rinsing programme kicks in. So, you may want to place a container underneath to collect water when the drip tray is removed.

Cleaning Programmes & Descaling

Apart from the ‘forced rinses’ when switching on and off (which you should never bypass), the Melitta Caffeo CI will ask you after every use whether to start a rinse.

Here, too, you should say yes, but you do have the option of placing a larger container under the spout to reduce the amount of water in the drip tray.

Even if you use the included Pro Aqua water filter, this doesn’t mean that you never have to descale the Melitta Caffeo CI. The intervals between descaling are longer, and the coffee tastes better with the filter, in most cases — but that’s all.

I know you hate this cleaning step. It also takes a comparatively long time with the Melitta model. Still, it’s often the case that descaling solves a lot of problems. 

When the Melitta Caffeo CI Has Problems

After browsing through internet forums and reading your comments at the end of my review, the Melitta Caffeo CI sounds to me like a device highly prone to malfunctions.

The beans don’t slip, the brewing group jams, coffee runs into the drip tray, etc.

I can reassure you that most of these problems are due to a misinterpretation of the display indications or a somewhat incorrect handling of the machine. However, I also know from experience that you have to be a little more careful when cleaning, as the Melitta Caffeo CI is less forgiving of sloppy work than other machines. Whether this is good or bad is a matter of opinion.

 The Melitta Caffeo CI fully automatic coffee machine with all the drinks.

A frequent issue revolves around ‘system error 8’. This one is the easiest to solve: the brew group is not seated correctly. If something snaps in here incorrectly or not at all, the automatic coffee maker simply can’t get going because all the central preparation steps take place in this crucial component.

That’s why you must always follow a clear protocol when removing and inserting the coffee group:

  1. Always switch off the coffee machine at the main switch. This sends the brewing unit to the removable standby position.
  2. Press the red switch and push the lever upwards.
  3. Remove the brewing unit, rinse it and leave to dry.
  4. Put it back in the holder using the same steps.
  5. Close the lid, replace all the other machine components and restart the coffee machine.

If this doesn’t help, Melitta recommends pressing the on/off button and the ‘My Coffee’button at the same time. This is something like a soft reset for all the mechanical parts.

If that doesn’t work either, I would call the hotline because, at this point, something is really wrong.

While we’re on the subject, the trick with the main switch is also the solution for the equally common ‘brewing unit cannot be removed’ problem: without a standby position, there’s no removal. Never try to force it, though, as that will definitely break the coffee machine!

Similarly, there are a few other problems.

Water running into the drip tray? Normal. Coffee running into a drip tray? Not normal. This is practically always a sign that the brew group is no longer working correctly. For example, it is no longer pressing the ground coffee perfectly and performing the brewing process properly.

In addition to the obligatory cleaning step, you should check whether the hinges and rails are still properly lubricated.

A tube of special lubricant is always included, with which you should treat the moving metal parts at regular intervals. This lubricant must be purchased and used regularly (depending on the coverings).

Many people forget to lubricate — I often do, too. However, if the various brew group positions can no longer work and engage with millimetre precision, coffee will run into places it has no business.

Personally, I’m not very good with my hands and would only disassemble my coffee machine as far as it’s possible to do within the terms of the warranty. Anything else would be a job for a professional.

I only mention this because some of the most infamous Melitta difficulties arise when you install a new drainage valve yourself or fiddle around too far inside the machine.

Notes From the Long-Term Test

We have long since moved into a new office, seen a myriad of new coffee machines and fully automatic machines and developed a completely different set of coffee needs. Nevertheless, I don’t want to withhold from you what the Melitta Caffeo CI has achieved in a six-month test with three daily users and about 400 beverage draws:

  1. We didn’t experience any of the oft-described challenges or faults. The fully automatic coffee machine in Silver purred like a kitten. However, we did establish a fairly rigorous cleaning regimen.
  2. The user profiles are worthwhile. One colleague made an Americano with an extra espresso and a blob of milk foam. The other has drawn something similar to a Caffè Latte with less foam but lots of milk — and loves the espresso with 50 millilitres.
  3. The extraction is fast — for a home machine.
  4. The more milk foam is drawn, the more apparent it becomes that hanging the hose directly in a milk carton is better than using the milk container. You’ll save an enormous amount of washing up and effort.
  5. Even users who otherwise ‘only’ have a coffee machine can handle the Melitta Caffeo CI straight away.

Continuous use has proven that it isn’t at all necessary or worthwhile for small businesses and companies to necessarily buy an expensive fully automatic coffee machine with a B2B setup.

My Conclusion on the Melitta Caffeo CI Fully Automatic Coffee Machine: It Held Up Well!

It’s a stroke of bad luck that I reviewed the Melitta Caffeo CI fully automatic coffee machine after I had just written the update on Siemens bean-to-cup coffee machines.

Very good for offices and families

Melitta Caffeo CI

It’s very good value for your money and well-thought-out functionality.

Two bean chambers

Relatively fast

Easy to clean

Milk container included

Strange default settings

However, there’s still no doubt that the Siemens models are the quietest representatives in the fully automatic coffee machine reviews, and as a result, continue to be winners in this category. What’s more, its price-performance ratio becomes more favourable every day that Siemens ignores its vending machine division.

Although I once hailed the Melitta Caffeo CI as the best fully automatic coffee machine for families, I’ve become a little more sober in this assessment — especially since the price is still not quite a ultrasnapper.

That said, I do still think the Melitta Caffeo CI is a solid and functional investment for family kitchens at £500. It makes very nice coffee, fine milk foam and is easy to use. Plus, having two bean chambers is a nice detail that brings variety to your choice of coffee beans. All in all, it’s great value for your money.

So, why my disillusionment?

With the Melitta Latte Select or the practically identical Melitta CI Touch, you get more modern functions and improvements in preparation. During the first review, we let the Melitta Caffeo CI ‘get away with’ things simply because we did not know any better at the time.

Still, if we approach the review verdict with the same positive ignorance, what I say for practically every manufacturer’s model line also applies to this Melitta fully automatic coffee machine: it’s not necessary to always own the latest machine. 

If you give older models a chance, you’ll find great bargains. Besides, the core principle rarely changes: you pay more for sexy control panels and chic surfaces.

So, keep commenting and sharing your experiences with us. Perhaps there will soon be a third version of the Melitta Caffeo CI review?

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