Philips Carina 1200 Review 2022: Nothing To Write Home About

After working as a professional barista for many years, Arne Preuss founded Coffeeness.

I've been taking a closer look at a few inexpensive bean to cup coffee makers lately. Hence my Philips Carina 1200 review. In my super automatic espresso machine guide 2022, there are a ton of stylish coffee makers that excel in producing top-notch espresso. But it’s hard to beat the value of any Philips fully automatic machine.

Philips 1200 Carina Review

I’ve been taking a closer look at a few inexpensive bean to cup coffee makers lately. Hence my Philips Carina 1200 review. In my super automatic espresso machine guide 2022, there are a ton of stylish coffee makers that excel in producing top-notch espresso. But it’s hard to beat the value of any Philips fully automatic machine.

The Philips Carina 1200 is really no exception, but I want to know if it can deliver the goods. With that in mind, let’s dive in and see what this entry-level automatic coffee maker can do!

Philips Carina 1200

Affordable and dependable!

Durable ceramic grinder

Budget friendly

Compact design

Intuitive user interface

Too much plastic

No specialty drinks options

Philips Carina 1200 Review Overview

As budget friendly as this coffee machine might be at $499.00I can’t give it any points for design in my Philips Carina 1200 review. The Carina is wrapped in plastic as far as the eye can see! Sure, this machine does have a few impressive features. However, you may not be able to spot them under all that black plastic housing.

In general, stylish designs and appearances don’t seem to be a strong suit for Philips. While machines from Jura and Miele have continued to get more sleek and minimalistic over the years, Philips doesn’t appear to have caught on yet. They’ve continued to pump out plastic machines rather than using durable materials, like stainless steel or aluminum.

Looks aside, durability is really the primary concern here. Even if you love the look and feel of plastic under your fingertips, it still shortens the lifespan of your espresso machine. 

However, if there’s one design feature I can appreciate about the Carina 1200, it’s how compact it is. You probably won’t have much trouble fitting this machine under a cabinet or onto a counter with limited space. There’s no water reservoir jutting out on the side. Plus, the drip tray manages to have enough space for espresso cups without being awkward. 

Still, the design of the Carina 1200 is my least favorite part about this machine. There are plenty of features that make it a great value for its price, but they’re all sitting underneath that plastic shell. 

Philips Carina 1200 Features

Alright, alright  – no more complaining about the Carina’s plastic construction. Let’s get into the meat of my Philips Carina 1200 review by talking about this espresso machine’s most important features. 

User Interface

The Carina’s control panel is almost completely identical to the user interface on the Philips 2200 series. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. While the user interface isn’t as sleek as an LED screen, you can’t deny how easy it is to use. In fact, I’m already forgetting about digital touchscreens just looking at it! 

There’s not as much to adjust as some super automatics, but the settings you can tinker with are straightforward. Along with clear symbols on each button, there are also labels for each picture. I might be in the minority here, but I don’t mind the labels at all. It saves me the trouble of pulling out the user manual because I can’t decipher what two coffee beans are supposed to represent. 

Speaking of settings, let’s talk about what you can do with the Philips Carina. There are four buttons for espresso, long coffee, steam and hot water. Tiny LED lights on the espresso and coffee buttons differentiate between one shot and two. 

On the side, you’ve got buttons for setting up how much coffee goes in your cup. There are only three levels to pick from, but if you change your mind mid-brew, you’ve got a stop button. I guess that’s kind of like the Carina’s version of an emergency brake! 

While the user interface does feel limited, there are more advanced features hidden in the deeper menu. Sounds ominous, right? Despite my name for it, the deeper menu is just the settings you can program while the machine isn’t in use. These include things like temperature and sound effects.

That’s about all there is to this user interface  – minus the buttons for cleaning and descaling. Don’t worry, I’ll have more to say about descaling this machine later in my Philip Carina 1200 review.

Ceramic Grinder

This might come as a surprise, but beneath all that plastic, the Carina is hiding a diamond in the rough  – its ceramic burr grinder. If that just sounds like coffee jargon, allow me to enlighten you. 

Compared to blade grinders, burr grinders are almost always superior. They can grind your beans into a uniform size, allowing for more control and consistency. Case in point  – there are 12 grind setting adjustments on this machine. You’ll have plenty of room to experiment or fine-tune your espresso. 

The fact that this burr grinder is 100 percent ceramic is just icing on top of the espresso-flavored cake. Not only do ceramic grinders tend to be more durable, they’re also much quieter in operation. Who wants to wake up the entire family whenever you go to use the espresso maker? 

If it sounds like I’m giving Philips a lot of credit for its ceramic burr grinder, it’s because I am. Ceramic burr grinders are common in high end espresso machines, but they’re not frequently seen in this price range. 

Now, the grinder may be the star of the show, but I don’t want to completely skip over the bean hopper. Accessible through the top of the machine, the bean hopper has a 10 ounce (283 gram) capacity. It’s also got a see-through lid, so you can watch the grinder turn whole coffee beans into finely ground dust. 

Pre Ground Coffee Bypass

The Pre Ground Coffee Bypass of the Philips 1200 Carina.

I know I just spent several paragraphs talking up that ceramic grinder. Still, if you’re like a lot of coffee drinkers, you may not always be in the mood for caffeinated whole beans. I mean, maybe you’ve had a long day and just want to relax with a big cup of decaf coffee

Fortunately, the Carina’s pre ground coffee bypass chute has got you covered. As much as I love freshly ground beans, the option for using pre decaf ground coffee is always a plus. Anyway, the chute is located right next to the bean hopper, so you won’t be able to miss it. 

Just make sure you avoid adding whole beans into the bypass chute, or you may find yourself in the market for a new super automatic sooner than you’d like. 

Milk System

Arne Frothing Milk with the Philips 1200 Carina.

No surprise here, the Carina features a manual pannarello steam wand. Manual steam wands might scare off some folks, but they’re really not that hard to use. As long you’re armed with a good stainless steel milk pitcher, whipping up some lovely milk foam shouldn’t be a problem. 

Unfortunately, Philips doesn’t include a good milk pitcher (or any milk pitcher at all) with this machine. 

Complaints about the missing milk jug aside, I can appreciate how easy the steam wand is to clean. It’s made of two removable parts that you can take apart whenever you want to wash it. A steam wand that doesn’t disassemble into a million pieces is always a win in my book. 

Aroma Extract System

A well Extracted Espresso from the Philips 1200 Automatic Espresso Machine.

Did you think I was going to skip over the Aroma Extract system? Think again! This feature might sound fancy, but its purpose is fairly simple. Essentially, it regulates the water temperature and flow rate during espresso preparation. 

The result is going to be more consistent espresso with a better extraction. You can’t really complain about that! 

You’ll usually find some version of this system on most high end espresso machines, especially super automatics. Philips has just slapped a fancier name on this feature. 

However, what I do like about the Aroma Extract system is that it’s the default setting. You don’t have to pull out the user manual to program it. Instead, you’ll be reaping the benefits of great extraction from the moment you pull your first shot. 

Aroma Strength Settings

While you may not be able to tinker with the Aroma Extract system, you can fine-tune the aroma strength settings to fit your preference. On the front panel, you’ll notice a large button with a coffee bean symbol  – this controls the strength of your brew. Don’t ask me why Philips decided to leave the label off this button. Still, I suppose it’s intuitive enough without one. 

The aroma strength settings are part of the My Coffee Choice settings. However with only three settings to pick from, I’d argue there isn’t a ton of choice here. As you’d expect, these settings relate to light, medium and strong coffee. 

Besides grinder and volume adjustments, this is pretty much the only other way to customize your coffee on the Philips Carina 1200. 

Water Reservoir

Philips 1200 Carina Compact Water Tank.

As compact as this machine is, the water reservoir still has a decent capacity of 61 ounces (1.8 liters). However, the most interesting thing about this water tank has got to be its design. I’m used to water tanks shoved into the back or even jutting out of the side. However, Philips has taken a more inventive approach. 

The water reservoir is actually accessible from the front of the machine. It fits right behind the spout like a puzzle piece and slides out with a quick pull. I know I’ve taken plenty of potshots at the Carina’s plastic design, but this may just be my favorite part of the machine’s appearance. 

The water tank’s nifty positioning definitely saves space, making this machine feel a little more compact than it really is. 

AquaClean Filter

If you’d rather drink cold espresso than ever descale your super automatic again, the Carina’s AquaClean filter is here to make your life easier. 

Using an AquaClean filter eliminates the need for frequent descaling. In fact, the manufacturer promises up to 5,000 coffees between each cycle. I’m not sure what 5,000 coffees work out to be in months or years, but it sounds like I’ll be going gray before I have to descale the Carina. 

That said, I’m more than a little skeptical. Considering most machines require descaling after 200 to 300 cups, I have a hard time believing the manufacturer. I can’t say for sure, but I’d suspect that you’re still going to need to descale well before the 5,000 mark. 

Now, there is another important caveat to mention about the AquaClean filter. Philips talks up this water filter like it’s an essential feature, but you’ve got to read the fine print. The Carina is only compatible with AquaClean filters. There’s no actual filter included with your purchase of the coffee machine. This is odd, considering they’ve even added a button for programming your AquaClean filter. 

Something tells me that the Philips design team are the kind of people who promise you a PB&J and then leave out the jelly. 

The missing filter is a bit of a letdown, but considering how budget friendly this machine already is, it’s hard to complain about shelling out a few extra bucks. 

Removable Brew Group

The Philips 1200 Carina has a Removable Brew Group.

Here’s something else that stood out during my  Philips Carina 1200 review – the removable brew group. Super automatics always feature internal brew groups, but only a portion of them are removable. 

Jura’s fixed brewing unit is all very well, but I’ve got a preference for the removable kind. Some espresso drinkers might favor non-removable brew groups because there’s no manual maintenance involved. Instead, it’s up to the machine to decide when it requires a cleaning cycle.

I can respect the hands-off approach, but I also think there’s something to be said for seeing a freshly cleaned unit with your own eyes. 

As long as you can remember to keep up with regular maintenance, you’ve got a real shot to extend the lifespan of your super automatic. Before anyone grumbles about cleaning, I’ll remind you that brew groups don’t take a lot of elbow grease to keep them spick and span. I’ll go into specifics later on in my Philips Carina 1200 review. 

Spout Height

With a spout height ranging from 3 to 5.5 inches (7.5 to 14.5 centimeters), I doubt you’ll have any trouble brewing into that big travel mug. As you will have guessed, the dispensing spout is adjustable. You only need to push it up or down to change the height. Easy-peasy  – that’s all there is to it! 

Specialty Coffees

If you’ve read my thoughts on the user interface earlier in this Philips Carina 1200 review, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s not very versatile for specialty drinks. You’ve still got all the right tools for making a cappuccino or latte macchiato, but they take more than the press of a button to create. Essentially, the Carina isn’t giving you any shortcuts. 

There are no specialty options at all on the user interface unless you’re counting espresso shots and long coffee as “specialty.” Most people wouldn’t  – myself included. 

If fancy drinks are a big priority, you may want to consider upgrading to a machine like the Philips 3200 LatteGo. The user interface is just as intuitive, and there’s one touch operation for specialty drinks. Of course, you’ll shell out an extra 300 bucks, so that convenience doesn’t come cheap. 

Memo Function

The Philips Carina might not be able to make you a mocha on demand, but it will remember your coffee preferences. This really just includes coffee volume and brew strength. Still, if you’re a picky coffee connoisseur, I’m sure it’ll come in handy.  

The only downside to a memo function is that it becomes redundant if your super automatic is serving the whole family. Even if you save your preferences, the Carina 1200 is going to forget them as soon as the next family member plugs theirs in. Talk about selective memory! 

Anyway, like I said, there aren’t that many preferences you can program in to begin with. 

How to Use the Philips Carina 1200 Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

The Philips 1200 Carina with a Freshly Brewed Espresso.

I’ve done my fair share of yapping about features in this Philips Carina 1200 review, so let’s talk about how to use the thing. 

As always, you’ll start by filling up your bean hopper and water reservoir. From there, it’s just a matter of turning the machine on and setting your preferences. 

You’ll want to select between espresso and long coffee, but also pick your preferences for brew strength and volume. To change strength or volume, you only need to press the button again. There’s even convenient LED lights to signal what setting you’re currently at. 

You’ll see a start button on the right side of the machine and no matter what function you want, the machine isn’t going to begin until you’ve pressed it. 

To operate the steam wand, you’ll  – no shocker here  – need to press the steam button. Make sure you’ve positioned your wand in the milk jug beforehand, and it should only take a few seconds for steaming to begin. Once your milk has reached the desired temperature, just press the start button again. It also doubles as your stop button for both milk froth and espresso. 

That’s about all there is to operating the Philips Carina 1200. Even if some of the controls feel limited, there’s hardly any learning curve. Unless you’re trying to mess with the deeper menu, I doubt you’ll have to even bring out the user manual. 

Philips Carina 1200 Coffee Machine Cleaning

Time to get your hands dirty! Well, not really. You might get your hands wet rinsing out the brew group or the drip tray, but that’s about it. You will need to do some maintenance to keep your Carina happy, but nothing out of the ordinary for espresso machines. If you do take the plunge and purchase an AquaClean filter, descaling is almost a non-issue. 

As for manual cleaning, I’d recommend wiping off removable components with a damp washcloth on a regular basis. You don’t need to clean the brew group after every use, but it’s worth rinsing it off at least once a week. Oh, and let it air dry fully before putting it back in place.

You should always steer clear of the dishwasher. That said, if anything gets particularly dirty, a mild cleaner should be fine. The water tank slides out, and the bean hopper has a hinged lid that you can access from the top of the machine. 

You also shouldn’t overlook taking care of the machine’s exterior. Since it’s black plastic, you may not always spot stains. However, I wouldn’t neglect washing it off with a cloth. That’s really the extent of cleaning the Carina. All in all, I’d say this machine is incredibly low-maintenance for a super automatic. 

Philips Carina 1200 Coffee Maker Specifications

 Philips Carina 1200
NameCarina EP1220/04
Housing materialPlastic
Colors/designs availableBlack
Removable brew groupYes
Milk foam systemPanarello steam wand
User interfaceButtons, lights
User profilesNo
Water tank capacity60.9 oz / 1.8 l
Number of boilers1
Maximum spout height5.5 in / 14.0 cm
Minimum spout height3.0 in / 7.6 cm
GrinderCeramic flat burr grinder
Number of grind adjustment settings12
Number of bean containers1
Bean container capacity10.0 oz / 283.5 g
Ground coffee bypassYes
Pot functionNo
Specialty drinks 2
Adjustable coffee strengthYes
Adjustable coffee temperatureYes
Adjustable milk foam temperatureN/A
2-cup functionYes
Hot water functionYes
Hot milk functionN/A
Water filter cartridgeYes
Weight18.0 lb / 8.2 kg
Dimensions (H x W x D)14.5 x 9.5 x 17.0 in x / 37.0 x 24.1 x 43.2 cm
Extras/miscellaneousInstruction manual, coffee scoop, water hardness test strip, grease tube
Current price on Amazon$499.00

Philips Carina 1200 vs Other Super Automatics

I know I’ve been mentioning other super automatics throughout my Philips Carina 1200 review, but I’m not done yet! Let’s look at how the Carina measures up to its biggest competitors. 

Philips Carina 1200 vs LatteGo 3200

I’ve already done a little bit of talking about the Philips LatteGo 3200, but here are my on-the-record thoughts about this one. Besides the dramatic price increase to $799.00, the most notable addition to the 3200 is an automatic milk system.

From looking at its control panel, you’ll notice that the LatteGo offers a couple more options for specialty drinks. Plus, you won’t have to manually froth milk. However, customizations for your coffee and grind size are the same. So, you’re really paying for the convenience of one-touch specialty drinks. 

See Also: Philips LatteGo 3200 Hands on Review 2022

Philips Carina 1200 vs Gaggia Brera

As a big fan of the Gaggia Brera, I might be a little biased when I say it comes out on top here. Even as far as price goes, the Brera is just as affordable at $491.52

It is bulkier than the Carina, but that stainless steel housing is a sight for sore eyes! One thing I will note is that the Brera has limited grinder settings. While the Carina coffee machine has 12 settings, the Brera only has five. I also think the Gaggia’s user interface isn’t as intuitive, but it boasts similar customization options to the Carina. 

See Also: Gaggia Brera Review 2022

Philips Carina 1200 vs DeLonghi ESAM 3300

For $789.00, the DeLonghi ESAM 3300 is quite a bit more expensive, but it does come with an extra grind setting. The DeLonghi ESAM 3300 is meant to be a no-frills machine, so you aren’t getting a lot more control over your espresso than you would with the Carina. 

With that said, I think the ESAM 3300 is a much more stylish machine. I know looks aren’t everything, but the sleek stainless steel look of DeLonghi’s machine is going to sit prettier on your counter. Still, if budget is your main priority, I’m not sure the ESAM 3300 is going to be worth the price increase. 2022

See Also: DeLonghi ESAM 3300 Hands on Review 2022

Philips Carina 1200 vs Other Super Automatics Comparison Chart

 Philips Carina 1200Phillips 3200 LatteGoGaggia BreraDelonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
ManufacturerPhilips PhilipsGaggiaDeLonghi
NameCarina EP1220/043200 Series LatteGo EP3241/54BreraMagnifica ESAM3300
Housing materialPlasticPlastic / stainless steelStainless steel / plasticPlastic
Colors/designs availableBlackBlackBlack, silverSilver, black
Removable brew groupYesYesYesYes
Milk foam systemPanarello steam wandLatteGo automatic milk systemPanarello steam wandManual steam wand
User interfaceButtons, lightsButtons, lightsButtons, lights, dialDials, buttons, lights
User profilesNoNoNoNo
Water tank capacity60.9 oz / 1.8 l60.9 oz / 1.8 l40.0 oz / 1.2 l60.0 oz / 1.8 l
Number of boilers1112
Maximum spout height5.5 in / 14.0 cm5.7 in / 14.5 cm4.5 in / 11.4 cm4.3 in / 11.0 cm
Minimum spout height3.0 in / 7.6 cm3.3 in / 8.5 cm3.1 in / 7.9 cm3.1 in / 7.9 cm
GrinderCeramic flat burr grinderCeramic flat burr grinderCeramic flat burr grinderStainless steel conical burr grinder
Number of grind adjustment settings1212513
Number of bean containers1111
Bean container capacity10.0 oz / 283.5 g 8.8 oz / 250.0 g8.8 oz / 249.5 g 8.8 oz / 249.5 g
Ground coffee bypassYesYesYesYes
Pot functionNoNoNoNo
Specialty drinks 2532
Adjustable coffee strengthYesYesYesYes
Adjustable coffee temperatureYesYesNoNo
Adjustable milk foam temperatureN/ANoN/AN/A
2-cup functionYesYesYesYes
Hot water functionYesYesYesYes
Hot milk functionN/AYesN/AN/A
Water filter cartridgeYesYesYesNo
Weight18.0 lb / 8.2 kg17.6 lb / 8.0 kg18.0 lb / 8.2 kg22.0 lb / 10.0 kg
Dimensions (H x W x D)14.5 x 9.5 x 17.0 in x / 37.0 x 24.1 x 43.2 cm14.6 x 9.7 x 17 in / 37.1 x 24.6 x 43.3 cm12.4 x 10.0 x 17.5 in x / 31.5 x 25.4 x 44.5 cm14.1 x 11.2 x 14.7 in / 36.0 x 28.4 x 37.3 cm
Extras/miscellaneousInstruction manual, coffee scoop, water hardness test strip, grease tubeInstruction manual, coffee scoop, water hardness test strip, water filter, grease tubeInstruction manual, brew group lubricant, coffee scoopInstruction manual, water hardness test strip, cleaning brush, descaler, water filter
Current price on Amazon$499.00$796.50$491.52$795.60

Verdict: Philips Carina 1200 Coffee Machine

Philips Carina 1200

Affordable and dependable!

Durable ceramic grinder

Budget friendly

Compact design

Intuitive user interface

Too much plastic

No specialty drinks options

If you’ve jumped straight to the conclusion, I’ll just give you the CliffsNotes. The thing that impressed me most during my Philips Carina 1200 review was the price tag. If you need a super automatic espresso machine on a tight budget, this espresso machine will more than fit the bill. Minus the Gaggia Brera, this is one of the few super automatics you’ll find under $500. 

As far as performance goes, you can still create good espresso with the Carina, but it’ll be nothing to write home about. This machine is good but not great  – which seems to be the unofficial motto of the Philips brand. 

Outside of its burr grinder and budget friendly price, the Carina doesn’t have a ton of exciting features or customization options. It contains a lot of the bare minimum features you’d expect from a super automatic.

Unless you’re set on getting the best deal possible, you may want to look elsewhere for your next super automatic fix. 

Are you the proud owner of a Philips Carina 1200? Do you agree with my assessment of this affordable machine? I’m ready for your comments!

Philips Carina 1200 Review FAQ

The Philips Carina 1200 uses a ceramic flat burr grinder, which is typically quieter than a stainless steel grinder. 

No, the Philips Carina 1200 doesn’t come with any kind of app or smartphone compatibility. 

Yes, since it’s equipped with a manual steam wand, the Philips Carina 1200 is capable of making good lattes. However, you’ll need to put in a bit of work to make creamy milk froth.

The Philips Carina 1200 is manufactured in Romania.

Philips promises up to 20,000 cups of coffee with its durable ceramic grinder.

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