Can a fully automatic coffee machine with no milk hose, no steam pipe and generally no milk frothing system be called a fully automatic coffee machine at all? Wouldn’t it be better to call it a coffee machine with a built-in grinder and elevated price?
Here’s the thing, though: this ‘coffee machine without many bells and whistles’ does ring true with its coffee and espresso, turning its apparent disadvantages into advantages. Check out the video to see what I mean. Note: Although it’s in German, keep reading, as I’ll give you all the details here, too.
However, this only works if you don’t substitute rubbish supermarket coffee for proper beans. The Melitta Caffeo Solo may look smart, but it’s no magician.
That’s why the Melitta Caffeo Solo is perfect for individuals who live alone or who simply don’t need the luxury of frothed milk.
Still, we have to look at the Solo next to its successor, the Melitta Purista, which is why I believe this Melitta Caffeo Solo review deserves a proper update!
Well, that and Melitta’s promotion of the Purista has caused the Caffeo Solo to be put on clearance pretty much everywhere. It’s a great deal right now! In the UK, you can pick up a Melitta Caffeo Solo E950 for as little as £259.
On the other hand, customers in the United States can purchase the machine off of Amazon UK for the same price of £259 ($357), plus an additional approximate £100 ($138) delivery charge, depending on your location. According to Amazon, delivery takes about 1-2 weeks, though keep in mind that there could be delays. If you choose this option, do note you will need a step-up converter to accomodate for the 240 volts required to operate the machine. A step-up converter will run you $30-50.
Small but mighty.
Melitta Caffeo Solo
Limited to coffee and espresso -- but still good!
Compact, light and intuitive
Good adjustment possibilities
Good coffee and espresso
Good price-performance ratio
Drip tray fills up very quickly
Water tank a little rickety
Table of Contents
The Melitta Caffeo Solo E950-222, E950-103 & Melitta CI Touch: A Comparison of Compact Coffee Machines
Yes, it grinds twice the amount of coffee beans to fill 2 cups, as otherwise, it would make no sense if the coffee grinds-to-water ratio was off -- and it would drag my ratings way down. Just remember: a 2-cup function always means double the amount of coffee grinds. Anything less would be unfair to customers.
Yes, it does, but you can set when this happens. Many of you will want longer standby times so that the machine doesn't automatically initiate rinsing water through the coffee spout too often, and that’s OK. You can do that if you’d like. After all, overambitious cleaning is a good thing!
Loud! Well, at least the Melitta Caffeo Solo seems louder than its successor, the Melitta Purista.
To Melitta’s credit, it has, for the most part, been kind enough not to jumble one’s brain with overly convoluted series numbers. However, when it comes to the Melitta Caffeo Solo, there is a small caveat with the colours.
Namely, when we talk about the Solo E950-222, we mean the version with the black housing. If we are talking about the E950-103, though, that coffee machine has a silver housing.
Melitta itself currently offers a whole battery of special colour editions that will add life to your flat or office:
- Chilli Red (E950-104)
- Organic Silver (E950-111)
- Manchester United (E 950-101)
In case you are unaware: Melitta is big in the football business and is also the ‘official coffee partner’ of Borussia Dortmund.
As far as other models go, in general, it hardly makes sense to compare the Caffeo Solo with the Melitta CI Touch or the Melitta Avanza. I’m not even sure if it makes sense to compare the ‘naked Solo to the Melitta Caffeo Solo & Milk E953-102 that comes with a cappuccinatore.
People have been poking fun at how this fully automatic coffee machine doesn’t have a milk frother on board, and I see why. When it entered the market in 2014, this was a sign of pronounced self-confidence. After all, customers wanted everything in a fully automatic coffee machine — even if they didn’t use it.
Melitta didn’t waver, though, focusing on people who like to drink their coffee and espresso black but also wanted more than just filtered coffee from a basic machine.
The Melitta Caffeo Solo delivered that so favourably from the start that it even undercut my test winner in the entry-level class.
Whereas the DeLonghi Magnifica S ECAM 22.110.B has to make more compromises in terms of preparation and the cup results, the Melitta Caffeo Solo achieves even better coffee thanks to its unflinching focus on the essentials.
Still, we do have to contrast one machine with the Solo — namely because it follows the same design concept.
The Melitta Caffeo Solo vs the Melitta Purista?
The Melitta Purista, the successor of the Solo, is obviously the only coffee machine that warrants a comparison. With the Purista, nothing changed in terms of the focal audience, preparation principles or operating concepts, though it does the following slightly better:
- The minimum water quantity for espresso or coffee is 25 milliliters instead of 30 milliliters (0.85 ounces to 1 ounce).
- The new brewing group is supposed to improve extraction — it does!
- The grinder is definitely quieter than on the Caffeo Solo.
- You can save your ‘favourite coffee’ settings.
- You can brew up to 220 milliliters (7.43 ounces) of coffee.
I did find it a bit odd that the setting page for the brewing temperature is buried in the menu on the Purista, as it’s directly accessible on the Melitta Caffeo Solo.
That said, the Solo’s variations of 87, 90 and 93 degrees Celsius (187, 194 and 199 degrees Fahrenheit) for coffee and espresso are completely ridiculous anyway. This issue has been corrected in the Purista, in my opinion. I find that the Purista’s coffees are even a tad bit hotter and have fuller body.
Price-wise, the Melitta Caffeo Solo is around 100 quid less than the Purista.
All things considered, the premium price for the newer version can be justified by the upgrades in functionality and preparation. Though the cleaning, water tank, pump pressure of 15 bar and such are still the same, the Purista seems more sophisticated overall and more ‘target-group oriented’.
Compact, Slim & Affordable: The Melitta Caffeo Solo at a Glance
|Name||Caffeo Solo |
|Type||Super-Automatic Espresso Machines|
|Removable brew group||Yes|
|Casing Material||Plastic/black stainless steel|
|Water tank capacity||40.5 Oz|
|Maximum discharge height||5.3 In|
|Grinder||cone grinder stainless steel|
|Bean container capacity||0.3 lb|
|Two bean compartments||No|
|Coffee grounds tray||No|
|Coffee drinks prepared at the touch of a button||Yes (Espresso, Crema Coffee)|
|Adjustable coffee temperature||Yes (3 levels)|
|Milk (foam) temperature adjustable||No|
|2-cup function||Yes (Espresso, Crema Coffee)|
|Hot water function||Only for Perfect Milk models|
|Hot milk function||Only for Perfect Milk models|
|Obtain milk foam only||Yes|
|Dimensions (height x width x depth)||12.7 x 7.8 x 17.9 In|
If we check out the Solo without comparing it to other machines, it makes for a rather perfect prototype of a ‘fully automatic coffee maker’ in principle. I say this because it only has a grinder, water tank, brew group and pump. It also has an extremely small footprint. Since you don’t need space to move it around and make frothed milk, it can be tucked away into some of the tiniest spots in your kitchen.
However, you do have to leave room to remove the water tank and need clearance above it to pour in your coffee beans. Even at first glance, this chic little machine shows off its advantages in terms of size.
To make it fit into the confines of a single machine, all of the parts that require filling — the bean hopper, water tank and drip tray — will seem somewhat chunky. There are some who might think of these as too chunky.
The drip tray of this easy-to-rinse appliance fills up extremely quickly, and the 1.2-litre (40-ounce) water tank is also below average-sized.
This does have the ‘disadvantage’ that you have to refill, empty and clean the machine more often. However, as you know, I see this as an absolute advantage. Check out what I say about cleaning and hygiene below.
Although the Solo can only make coffee and espresso, you can easily make all of the necessary settings adjustments. With the Melitta Caffeo Solo, everything comes in threes: three grind settings, three coffee strengths and three temperature settings.
The whole process is shown on a narrow, minimalistic display, and the menu and display leave no room for doubt about the meaning of any symbols. You can adjust the Melitta Caffeo Solo in just a few presses of a button, even if you have never seen a fully automatic coffee machine up close.
In my original review, I said the lack of a milk frothing option was a disadvantage. That’s nonsense, of course, given the customers this machine was designed to serve.
The lack of a milk frothing system is the purpose of this automatic coffee machine and a reason why you get unusually high-quality housing materials — with the exception of a slightly dodgy water tank — and a high level of functionality for a price your billfold will appreciate.
On top of that, the Melitta Caffeo Solo uses the same high-quality technology in the brew group, without any added costs, that you will find in older and posher versions of Melitta fully automatic coffee machines.
However, its successor, the Purista, shows that a ‘dedicated’ brew group is a better choice for the ultra-compact class of coffee machines. In this case, the Solo is reaching a bit, which, in turn, produces somewhat of an inferior coffee.
I did find it somewhat annoying to have to constantly empty, fill and clean the machine, even if it’s only designed for one person — max two — to use. If you drink a lot of coffee, you may be miffed by this as well.
The Melitta Caffeo Solo: It's Not Just the User Manual That's Easy
One great thing about the Melitta Caffeo Solo is that even beginners will have no problem getting great results out of the machine. Whereas other machines have to include a whole encyclopaedia to explain how to use them, the operating instructions for the Solo are user-friendly.
One thing that some people may have to get used to is how there’s no need to make settings adjustments with each use. Once you programme in your desired parameters, the coffee machine will brew coffee and espresso using these exact settings until you change them.
Like I mentioned before, this changed on the Melitta Purista with the ‘favourite coffee’ option — most likely the result of Melitta rightly receiving numerous complaints that the Solo lacked this important function. Perhaps it was most obvious when households grew, or maybe when guests came to town. After all, no one wants a domestic dispute to brew up over coffee!
The Grinder & Grind Settings Adjustments
Melitta made a design choice about the placement of the lever to adjust the coarseness of the grinder on the Solo that’s a bit cumbersome. Instead of making the adjustment within the bean compartment itself, you have to remove the service panel to find it next to the brew group.
Having the grind adjustment lever situated behind the service panel definitely detracts from the idea of being so small and compact that the machine can be placed anywhere. However, keep in mind that you only have to set the grinder to the finest setting once and most likely will never mess with it again.
As one would expect, the stainless steel cone grinder on the Melitta Caffeo Solo has been set on too coarse of a setting at the factory. Still, my experience testing many Melitta fully automatic coffee machines has shown me that this factory setting continues to have value.
If you purchased the Melitta Avanza, on the other hand, the factory presets could theoretically save you from having to fiddle with the settings. This isn’t the case with the Solo, which needs to be adjusted.
While the factory presets are sometimes helpful, you will definitely notice a difference in the results if you set the grinder to its finest setting. Besides, coffee and espresso come out with a fuller body from beans that have been better extracted.
That brings me to my next point. In my opinion, the Solo is quite loud, but not unbearably so. Melitta admits in the product data that this grinder is definitely not ‘whisper quiet’. Yet another reason why it’s ideal for people who live alone!
The Knobs & Buttons
Straightforward buttons and a rotary dial make it easy to adjust with little effort on the Melitta Caffeo Solo.
The left-hand knob regulates the amount of coffee brewed, ranging from between 30 milliliters and 220 milliliters (1 ounce and 7.43 ounces), while the right-hand knob is the power switch. In between, there are buttons for single-cup brewing, double-cup brewing and to set the strength of coffee to be brewed.
That’s it. Wonderfully simple, isn’t it?
To make sure everything is clear, the display uses bean symbols and scales that even complete beginners could understand. Even though the size of the display is fine for most, some of you might want to fetch your readers first thing in the morning.
The Scope of Delivery, Spout Height & Bean Hopper
Apart from the test strip for water hardness, the Melitta Caffeo Solo coffee maker doesn’t come with any spectacular accessories. So, if you want to use a water filter to reduce limescale buildup, I recommend you order one separately.
Melitta’s own water filter is called “Pro Aqua” and comes from Claris. The price per cartridge will set you back 10-14 quid, though it’s less costly to indulge in the three-pack. Each cartridge lasts about three months based on average metropolitan limescale levels.
The spout height is fairly standard at a maximum of 13.5 centimetres (5.31 inches). No need to worry, though, practically all of your cups will fit under the coffee nozzles without a problem.
By the way, I love the fact that the Melitta Caffeo Solo does not include a ground coffee compartment, directly eliminating a ‘laziness trigger’, as well as a source of dirt. The Solo is a true bean-to-cup coffee machine, not a pre-ground shortcut maker that has lost all flavor.
I also like the fact that the coffee machine can only hold 125 grams (4.4 ounces) of coffee beans at a time.
Having to refill the hopper forces you to use fresh beans whenever possible, which will enrich your mornings with a greater coffee aroma. This works especially well with low-acid roasts and strong flavors like chocolate or caramel. That’s why my personal stock of Brazillian beans always finds its way to the grinder at the moment.
The coffee bean lid is a bit dodgy, very much like the water tank lid I previously mentioned. Here, you can definitely see that costs had to be cut in the manufacturing process to achieve the low price. That said, it’s best to be gentle with these lids when cleaning.
Espresso & Coffee From the Melitta Caffeo Solo: A Better Version of the ‘Coffee Machine’?
Let’s move on to one of the elephants in the room: the question of whether this light version of a fully automatic coffee machine can deliver excellent espresso in your cup? If it doesn’t, this category of machine makes no sense at all.
As we have since discovered, we have little to worry about here. Before you start brewing, though:
- Adjust the grinder to its finest setting. Note that it’s important to do this while the machine is turned on.
- Turn the left dial anticlockwise to 30 milliliters (1 ounce).
- Then use the coffee strength button to increase the strength. Illuminated coffee beans will alert you to the strength of the coffee you are programming in — for espresso, I like to use the strongest setting.
Using these settings, if you find the taste less than sensational, I recommend you recalibrate to brew two espressos of 20-25 milliliters (0.67-0.85 ounces). Doing so will provide you with greater body in the cup and a wee bit more to sip and enjoy as well.
When it comes to black coffee, however, you can’t expect the same results from the Melitta Caffeo Solo as from a full-sized fully automatic espresso machine. Although it’s a decent substitute, it doesn’t come close to the quality of the original. I know what you’re thinking: why not just chase more water through the same coffee puck in the brewing unit? Try as you may, but the result is always too thin. In which case, an Americano would be better.
Generally speaking, an Americano is always a better idea with a fully automatic coffee machine as an extended espresso. However, you would then have to use an external kettle to get your hot water because, understandably, there’s no hot water nozzle on the Solo.
Of course, I also know that these subtle nuances really only matter for me during testing. In everyday life, coffee doesn’t always have to be a full-bodied sensation. It should simply taste good.
Since the Solo is delightfully quality-loving in this respect, I really should stop my grumbling. Just know that the Melitta Purista brews coffee and espresso even better. Even a layman can taste the difference.
So, of course, the question remains as to whether the Melitta Caffeo Solo could replace your classic filter coffee machine? After all, that is Melitta’s claim and the reason the Caffeo Solo exists.
Unfortunately, this way of thinking is misguided, as we must never forget that a fully automatic coffee machine and a filter coffee machine have two completely different preparation principles.
A fully automatic coffee machine cannot make filtered coffee, and a regular coffee machine cannot make espresso. Not only because of the pressure required but also because of ‘incidental’ things like filters. In other words, the Melitta Caffeo Solo and a modern Moccamaster cannot effectively replace one another.
If you want to have a foot in both the filtered coffee and espresso worlds, you can just buy one of each. That’s what some people have commented below this review, at least. I have to say, I do agree with their logic and wouldn’t think of it as over the top to do so.
That said, if you find this cost prohibitive or simply inconvenient, you’ll have to decide which style of coffee you want to wake up to each morning.
Miss the Frothed Milk? A Few Suggestions for Cappuccinos & Latte Macchiatos
The other elephant in the room is the lack of a cappuccinatore for frothing milk. As already mentioned, you could remedy this by purchasing a Melitta Caffeo Solo & Perfect Milk (E957-103) or Caffeo Solo & Perfect Milk (E957-305).
The ‘Perfect’ stands for an automatic cappuccinatore, which has been added for those wanting to froth milk. While, technically, there’s nothing wrong with an addition like this, it does drive the price up and ruin the Melitta Caffeo Solo’s unique niche as a milk-free espresso machine.
If, after buying the Solo, you suddenly realise that you want to have the option of making Cappuccinos, just pick up a free-standing milk frother.
You’ll spare yourself a few quid and bar user error, you will be able to make some sensational foam. It’s also easy to clean, and you can stow it in the cupboard when not in use.
When you pick up the Melitta Caffeo Solo, Purista or similar models, you deliberately set out without the foam. However, if you want to be prepared for guest preferences or to avoid nagging questions from your mum, external appliances are a simple solution at a reasonable price.
If you enjoy Cappuccinos or Latte Macchiatos almost every day, you’re better off with alternatives like the Melitta Caffeo CI or the feature-rich Melitta Caffeo Barista TS Smart anyway.
One caveat, though, is that these machines are no longer in the category of ‘fully automatic coffee machines for individuals’ like the Melitta Caffeo Solo has been designed to serve.
Cleaning the Melitta Caffeo Solo: You’ll Notice That Something Is Missing and Be Glad About It
Unfortunately, I don’t have any viable statistics at hand on whether milk or coffee residue is responsible for the majority of all error messages or filthy coffee machines. Though one nice thing about the Caffeo Solo is that at least we don’t have to worry about rancid milk.
The cleaning programme is just as pared down as the machine itself but also just as intent on doing a proper job of cleaning. A short rinse with water through the coffee spout starts automatically, but you have to activate the longer programme for a thorough rinse. The cleaning cycle can be initiated by pushing the dispense coffee and on/off buttons simultaneously.
However, this rinsing is one reason why the drip tray fills up so quickly. So, no matter how much you want to outsmart the automatic cleaning, you simply have to accept this fact with the Melitta Caffeo Solo. Its smaller size means more frequent emptying of collection containers.
Thankfully, the removable brew group is quick and easy to clean. Just rinse it under running water and then reinsert it.
While Melitta recommends cleaning the brew group once a week, I recommend daily cleanings. It doesn’t take long to rinse it under running water, and doing so will prolong the life of the machine.
I can’t stress this enough: the water tank, drip tray and grounds container really should be cleaned between uses.
When you think about what’s involved, you’ll see that keeping the Melitta Caffeo Solo clean will not be a problem. Besides, by not having a means to froth milk, the steps it takes to clean the machine are minimal.
In terms of durability and performance for the life of the machine, the Melitta Caffeo Solo is a step above the competition — even some of the high-end machines that are out there.
Like I mentioned before, there are ‘special’ cleaning tablets that Melitta sells under the name ‘Perfect Clean’. Still, my opinion on this remains unchanged: as long as the composition is right, you can clean your coffee machine with whatever you like. The same applies to the descaler you want to use.
Alternatives to the Caffeo Solo: Which Other Fully Automatic Coffee Machines Are Cheap and Good?
In this review, I’ve often said that the Melitta Purista, the Caffeo Solo’s higher-priced successor, has fixed what was lacking in the Solo — those things that prevented it from brewing perfect coffee at the touch of a button.
However, in my research for this update, I’ve gotten the feeling that the Purista is probably not quite as popular as I once thought. That and how the cheaper Melitta Caffeo Solo is still being ‘pushed’, even though it’s a discontinued model.
Let’s face it: when it comes down to it,there really aren’t discontinued models in the fully automatic coffee machine world.
So, if you happen to come across a Melitta Caffeo Solo at a good price in a factory outlet, for example, it’s just as good today as when it first launched. Just keep in perspective that the Melitta Purista really does deliver better results. Though I’m sure we’ll be saying similar things about the Purista’ss successor when it hits the market as well.
Otherwise, when I take a look at what’s available on the market in my fully automatic coffee machine test 2022, there aren’t many options available in the entry-level price range. Even if we put the entry-level test winner, the DeLonghi Magnifica ECAM 22.110, up for discussion, then, of course, you get a ‘complete’ machine there, but you have to live with somewhat of lower coffee quality.
A nice discovery in this respect is the Philips EP2224/10 or the EP2200/10, as it’s known in the United States. It’s also extremely trimmed down, makes good espresso and milk foam and has an excellent price that’s on par with its performance. The Philips EP2224/10 sells for around £390 in the United Kingdom, while the Philips EP2200/10 is available for $550 in the United States.
The small Krups EA811K040 (UK) / Krups EA8150 (USA), which I chose as a sparring partner for the Melitta Caffeo Solo during my first review in 2016, is more proof of how many compromises you have to make to design an affordable fully automatic coffee machine that wants to be able to do everything at once. See for yourself in the comparison video: ‘A Comparison of Fully Automatic Coffee Machines — Krups EA8108 or Melitta Caffeo Solo’. Note: This video is in the German language.
The Krups EA811K040 sells for £350 in the United Kingdom, while the Krups EA8150 is available for $699.99 in the United States.
My Conclusion: The Coffee, Price & Focal Group Are Spot On
One thing is clear: if you expect to get a Latte Macchiato or Cappuccino from your machine, the Melitta Caffeo Solo is the wrong choice for you. That said, the Melitta Caffeo Solo has finally closed a gap in the market long been ignored by manufacturers and is gaining more and more momentum.
Small but mighty.
Melitta Caffeo Solo
Limited to coffee and espresso -- but still good!
Compact, light and intuitive
Good adjustment possibilities
Good coffee and espresso
Good price-performance ratio
Drip tray fills up very quickly
Water tank a little rickety
The clear range of functions and components makes it perfect for singles and small households that only require frothed milk once in a blue moon.
Compared to its successor, the Purista, the Melitta Caffeo Solo still has room for improvement, especially when it comes to the quality of coffee brewed. Still, if you look at it on its own, the Melitta Caffeo Solo does almost everything right. It’s easy to clean thanks to its simplicity, easy to descale and sells for an affordable price.
The Melitta Caffeo Solo brews nice coffee and has a functional, space-saving design. Sure, you could, of course, still buy a ‘complete’ machine. However, the question is: do you really want that?
Let’s discuss it some more in the comments below!
FAQ – Melitta Caffeo Solo: Questions from the Coffeeness Community
When I look at the volume of comments that appear under a review, it’s a pretty good indication to me of whether you are really interested in a machine or not.
The Melitta Caffeo Solo, whether in the E950-103 version or otherwise, clearly arouses one’s curiosity. As you can see, it generates a lot of questions. I’ll try to answer the most important ones for everyone.
Actually, yes, it has been discontinued. With the Melitta Purista, there’s already an upgraded version that’s more precise and user-friendly when it comes to coffee and preparation. That said, the Melitta Caffeo Solo still has many fans, which is why it’s still available everywhere. Even Melitta is currently offering a discontinued model — with a cappuccinatore and a few more settings options — in its ‘Passione’ series.
Generally speaking, discontinued models are only obsolete from the viewpoint of the manufacturer. A fully automatic coffee machine will always be a fully automatic machine.
So, now that you’re in the know, you can take advantage of this nugget of truth: such models are often, pointlessly, reduced in price!
No, it’s a supplementary appliance. If you often drink filter coffee, the coffee from the Melitta Caffeo Solo will seem too weak. Some of our community members here put their Solo right next to their classic filter coffee machine to brew espresso. I think that is a great combination! If it were me, I would also buy an inexpensive external milk frother. That would be cheaper than buying a machine with a built-in milk frothing system.
If the brew group is stuck, the first thing you should always do is check that it’s seated properly. To do this, switch off the fully automatic machine at the main switch — not just at the knob.
If you frequently fail to properly insert the brew group, you risk damaging the fasteners that lock it into place. When that happens, you’ll need to buy a replacement part. However, if you have removed them correctly, but the brewing unit still cannot be inserted, that’s when things get a little dodgy.
No need to get your knickers in a twist though, there’s always a solution. According to some of our users, the removable brew group occasionally ticks over for some people. Honestly, that’s a case for customer service — even though Melitta’s customer service isn’t smashingly helpful.
Yes! This is where the disparity of being small becomes apparent for the Melitta Caffeo Solo. The drip tray is tiny, which makes the machine very easy to rinse. That also means you’re gonna have to empty the drip tray often. If you don’t, it overflows, and the water goes everywhere.
While the coffee temperature on the Melitta Caffeo Solo is suitable for my tastes, I know that some of you prefer coffee to be a bit hotter. If that describes you, definitely check out the Purista, which delivers a comparatively higher temperature. However, if you find the machine is producing coffee that seems colder than it should be, send it back. You may have a lemon.
Even without a milk frothing system, you have to make concessions somewhere in the design of a fully automatic machine to make it fit in this price range. The Melitta Caffeo Solo has clearly saved on the materials to produce the water tank and its lid. Overall, the construction is on the rickety side. However, the brew group, the pump pressure of 15 bar and the coffee bean grinder correspond to the high-quality — albeit older — models of Melitta fully automatic coffee machines. At a price point of £259, you really can’t go wrong with the Melitta Caffeo Solo.
What do you think about the Melitta Caffeo Solo? Not bad for the price point, right? Let’s discuss this in the comments!