The Philips 3200 Series Super-Automatic Espresso Machine – A Step Back Is Progress

I've noticed for some time that the manufacturers of super-automatic espresso machines are saying goodbye to overly comprehensive product designs. Whereas in recent years designs couldn’t have been complex and high-tech enough, the latest generation of super-automatics are reverting to a simple level of usability and functionality.

Philips Latte Go 3200 Main

I’ve noticed for some time that the manufacturers of super-automatic espresso machines are saying goodbye to overly comprehensive product designs. Whereas in recent years designs couldn’t have been complex and high-tech enough, the latest generation of super-automatics are reverting to a simple level of usability and functionality.

I’d say that the Philips 3200 Series super-automatic machine, as a typical exemplar of this simpler generation, will prove popular with older people in particular. At the Berlin Consumer Electronics Show (IFA) 2019, I’d already mused out loud about the 50-plus generation being a cash-laden target group with plenty of marketing potential.

Unfortunately, this video is only available in German.

Other age groups will certainly be very satisfied with this super-automatic machine though too. After all, who objects to being able to operate their kitchen appliances without a degree in IT and engineering?

High-Quality Simplicity

Philips 3200 Series LatteGo

Thought-through simplicity and decent coffee.

Highly intuitive operation

Good espresso and milk foam

High-quality manufacture

Compact

In all respects loud

Milk foam quite dense

Yet simplicity always entails compromises. In the case of the Philips, you’ll find you have to make these in rather unexpected places.

Overview – No Frills, No Fuss

After having been repeatedly confronted with the plastic stench of appliances lately, the Philips EP3246/70 is certainly pleasantly out of the ordinary in this regard. You barely notice a whiff of anything when unpacking it and even during the first hours of operation there’s no ‘new car smell’.

CategoryDetails
ManufacturerPhilips
Name3200 Series LatteGo
TypeSuper-automatic espresso machine
GrinderCeramic flat burr grinder
Grind settings12
Pre-set drinks5
Individual beverage profilesNo
Water tank size 60 oz
Bean container size 10 oz
Controls/display Touch buttons
Adjustable coffee strengthYes (3)
Adjustable temperatureYes (3)
Adjustable fill level Yes (3)
Water filterYes
Milk frothing systemIntegrated
Double cup functionYes (black coffee only)
Casing material Plastic
Weight 17.6 lb
Dimensions9.7 x 14.6 x 17 in

This could be because the stainless-steel look fitted plastic not only appears to be of high quality, but surprisingly also is of high quality. The main components are just as impressive as well.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo overview

With a ceramic flat burr grinder adjustable to 12 grind settings, the Philips 3200 Series is extraordinary – at least in this price category.

The current leader in this category, the DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM 350.55.B, “only” has a stainless-steel conical burr grinder (a typical brand attribute).

I don’t want to reignite the fight between flat burr and ceramic versus steel – but image wise, the ceramic flat burr grinder has an advantage and is a feature of much more expensive machines.

Although the Philips 3200 Series doesn’t include the “LatteGo” accessory, it does belong to the same category as the Philips 5000 Series “LatteGo” in terms of its milk frothing system. This system was touted as hot shit at IFA 2018 – which is kind of true.

That’s because the automatic system doesn’t use any (actual) tubes and consists of only two easy-to-clean parts. The controls and menu navigation are also easy: there’s no display, only touch buttons, which, depending on the function, are supplemented with a three-step illuminated scale icon.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo milk tank

I think having such clear statements on the front panel are a good thing, provided that the main functions aren’t found wanting. That’s certainly not the case here. You can select from five pre-set coffee options:

  1. Espresso,
  2. Cappuccino,
  3. Black Coffee,
  4. Latte Macchiato and
  5. Americano

and are able to adjust all their important aspects using the corresponding three-step scale icons.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo front

Need anything else? Not really. If you remove the LatteGo system, you can even draw hot water (with some difficulty) and don’t have to worry about anything more at all.

Sounds like a complete range of appliances, doesn’t it? I think so too. For that reason, the current price tag on Amazon of approx. US$750 is totally reasonable. The DeLonghi test winner delivers even more in terms of price-performance ratio, in my opinion. But that doesn’t mean the Philips 3200 Series is any worse either.

The Philips 3200 and 2200 Series – Important Differences

In the Philips 3200 review video, I already mentioned that this manufacturer is once again playing a confusing game of bullshit bingo and offering you super-automatic machines with very similar model numbers but very different price tags.

As always, the devil is in the detail – and the stupid digits contained in the product names. Our model is called the Philips 3200 Series. Many people would like a comparison with the 2200 Series. But there are also differences within in the 3200 Series range itself. Sigh.

After combing through all sub-variants and color variations, there are three models that, in my opinion, can be compared with our machine:

Because I can’t be bothered with long explanations, let’s take a look at this comparison in table form.

 Philips 3200 SeriesPhilips 2200 Series
ColorBlack/silverBrushed black
Main materialPlasticPlastic
ControlsTouch buttonsTouch buttons
GrinderCeramic flat burr Ceramic flat burr
Grind settings1212
Specialty coffees52
Adjustable coffee strength3-step setting3-step setting
Adjustable reference amount3-step setting3-step setting
Adjustable milk foam quantity3-step settingNo
Water tank capacity60 oz60 oz
Milk frothing methodLatteGo systemSteam wand
Weight 17.6 lb16.5 lb
Dimensions9.7 x 4.6 x 17 in9.7 x 4.6 x 17 in

The leap from the 2200 to the 3200 Series is likewise based on minor details only – one specialty coffee more or less is not exactly a real selling point. The difference between the automatic milk frothing system and the steam wand is the only one that makes sense to me.

Setting Up the Philips 3200 Series: Grind Settings, Quantity and Temperature

It would be absurd if you had to consult the operating instructions for a simple device like the Philips 3200 Series. You basically don’t need them at all.

You adjust the grind settings (like almost always) via a wheel located inside the bean container – but only when the machine is operating. As always for espresso, I used the finest grind setting possible.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo grind setting

After that, adjustment is a breeze. For an espresso, you first select the corresponding beverage button and can then customize the reference amount and temperature by adjusting the three-step scales at each of the corresponding touch buttons. If you want a cappuccino or latte, you can also triple the amount of milk.

It’s somewhat stupid that you can individualize the default setting of each drink at its highest level, but not at its lowest.

That said, the minimum setting for espresso is not very generous, instead suspiciously grazing the 25 milliliter mark almost exactly, an amount I consider optimum.

Philips 3200 series lattego espresso

As you’ll be used to from me by now, I chose the maximum coffee strength (3 out of 3), the minimum amount of water (1 out of 3) and the highest possible temperature for my espresso.

Brewing and Operation – Loud Grinder

Ceramic flat burr grinders enjoy a premium reputation because they’re often quieter than their conical burr stainless-steel rivals. I really can’t vouch for this in the case of the Philips 3200 Series however.

That’s because this grinder is noticeably loud and even easily outdoes some of its conical burr brothers. The same is also true for the milk frothing system, which makes more noise than would be expected with this setup. Why that is, I unfortunately don’t know.

The espresso brewing process occurs at a reasonable noise level, but is slightly too fast for my taste. This often points to the puck density being too low or similar shortcomings in the mechanized processing of the ground coffee. Having said that, this brew is nicely even and fleck free.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo cappuccino

On a side note, latte glasses up to 5.9 inches in height fit below the spout and even very small espresso cups can be placed beneath, within a reasonable distance of the coffee outlet.

Espresso and Milk Foam – Wrong Way Round, But Good

I chose Happy Coffee ROBUSTA Organic Beans (website in German only) for this super-automatic espresso machine review. That may seem unusual, because I normally gravitate to light roasts and less towards bold, pure Robustas.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo espresso preparation

Now and then though, it’s time to shake things up and the Robusta bean is becoming increasingly important in view of climate change anyway. You can find out why in my post on the similarities and differences between Arabica and Robusta coffee.

What’s more, Robusta always guarantees a decent crema, which the espresso from the Philips 3200 Series is also able to offer. The crema in this case is certainly not as dark and flecked as would be typical for Robusta roasts (in portafilters), but its uniform and highly stable nature still speaks in favor of super-automatic machines.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo espresso with crema

The milk foam on the “cappuccino” is a little too dense and too hot for me personally. But I know you and am aware you attach great importance to a high milk temperature. The espresso too is a very good temperature and a full-bodied, lively affair, as you would expect from a perfectly roasted Robusta.

I write “Cappuccino” in quotation marks because the Philips 3200 Series not only puts this coffee together the wrong way round, but also makes it look like a latte. Usually, the espresso is added to the cup first, then the milk. Philips does it the other way around for some reason.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo milk foam preparation

This isn’t the end of the world, but does cause confusion – not just for me, but also for those leaving comments below my Philips 3200 Series YouTube video.

Apart from the quite dense quality of the milk foam, this super-automatic espresso machine delivers more than drinkable espresso and milk foam results. I’d have liked it if you could somehow tweak the consistency of the froth. This is easily possible with the DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM 350.55.B.

Unfortunately, this video is only available in German.

Cleaning

With its 2-part milk frothing system, the Philips 3200 Series scores positively in terms of cleaning, but is otherwise on par with other good competitor products.

What should be able to be removed, can be removed – from the brew group to the milk container.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo clean milk container

It’s also great that the main things such as the water tank, coffee grounds container and brew group can all be removed from the front or side. You therefore never have to fumble around at the back of the machine.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo water tank Philips 3200 series LatteGo drip tray

Overall, I gave the Philips machine a high score for cleaning. It really does make things easy. The machine also includes a water filter, reducing the need for automatic descaling procedures.

Philips 3200 Series Review Summary – Simply Easy, Simply Good

The Philips 3200 Series super-automatic espresso machine did not leave me gushing enthusiasm like the DeLonghi Dinamica ECAM 350.55.B did. But I think that’s also difficult to do. It’s hard to find a better price-performance ratio in this price category.

High-Quality Simplicity

Philips 3200 Series LatteGo

Thought-through simplicity and decent coffee.

Highly intuitive operation

Good espresso and milk foam

High-quality manufacture

Compact

In all respects loud

Milk foam quite dense

This Philips model places less emphasis on high-quality functionality and more on high-quality simplicity – and succeeds quite well at it. If you’re looking for a super-automatic that’s designed for everyday use and which does the job without a lot of fuss, you’ll certainly be satisfied with this machine.

We needn’t debate the annoying level of noise: it’s pretty average when compared to all the other models in the super-automatic espresso machine review. But if you know about it beforehand, you can decide how important this factor really is for you at home.

Philips 3200 series LatteGo Arne checks if the cappuccino is ready

The Philips 3200 Series has also successfully accomplished something else: I was feeling pretty fed up with the brand after the Philips LatteGo’s mixed verdicts and the disastrous appearance at IFA 2019, but this sensible super-automatic machine has won me back somewhat. That’s something too, I guess.

As always, this post thrives on your comments, opinions and questions. And as usual, the entire comments section is ready and waiting for your thoughts.

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