Saeco PicoBaristo Review: Second Chances, Anyone?

I admit, when I did my first Saeco PicoBaristo review back in 2018, I was impressed. 

I admit, when I did my first Saeco PicoBaristo review back in 2018, I was impressed. 

Since then, Saeco’s parent company, Philips, has gone in a different direction, giving less attention to its luxury super-automatic espresso machine line in Europe. In the United States, the offerings are all about luxury

Let’s start by taking a look at how the PicoBaristo fits in with the Saeco super-automatic espresso machines in the U.S. At the top-end, you have the Saeco Xelsis, which has a lot of value for less than $2,000.00. 

On the other end of the spectrum is the entry-level model, the Saeco Incanto, which really is the same as the Gaggia Anima Prestige

The Saeco PicoBaristo lands right between the two.

All three Saeco models are very popular with U.S. consumers and sell extremely well. In fact, they have all made the list of Philips’ top 50 best-selling products for healthy routines.

While my SM3061/10 from back in the day has definitely disappeared from the market, the current offering of the PicoBaristo super-automatic espresso machine comes in two color options: Piano Black (HD8927/37) and Stainless Steel (HD8927/47). 

The suggested retail price for the PicoBaristo is $1,499.00, though you can pick one up on Amazon for cheaper. At the time of writing — summer 2021 — it’s available for $1,199.95. It’s extremely classy for its price!

All of these are good reasons to check out Saeco super-automatic espresso machines, specifically the PicoBaristo.

High-quality and performance!

Saeco PicoBaristo

Modern and adjustable.

Well-made

Classy design and look

Nice color options

Relatively small footprint

Easily adjustable

No individual user profiles

Some water in the milk frothing system

Unboxing the Saeco PicoBaristo

Besides making for a nice, attractive centerpiece on any kitchen countertop, the Saeco PicoBaristo does everything that a mid-range super-automatic espresso machine should do. 

Here’s what you get:

  • An intuitive, simple and easy-to-use menu
  • Clearly marked and easy-to-operate soft-touch buttons
  • A ceramic grinder with 10 grinding levels
  • Easily adjustable grinder 
  • A pre-ground coffee option, though it defeats the purpose of owning a bean-to-cup espresso machine in the first place

Of special note is the manufacturer’s claim that you can brew “up to” 5,000 cups without descaling because of AquaClean filter technology. Now, obviously, this is highly dependent on your water quality, cup size, coffee beans used, timely replacement of water filters and personal rinsing and cleaning patterns, to name a few. 

The descaling alert will let you know when to change the filter. It’ll also automatically deactivate each time you change an outdated filter. Well, until you reach approximately eight filters — then you’ll need to descale the machine.

A quick-heat boiler, together with the PicoBaristo’s aluminum and stainless steel body, drastically reduces heating time. That’s definitely a plus for anyone who needs to rush to work or, in current work-from-home times, their “desk,” which I’m sure is far away from any screens streaming Netflix. 

Five strength settings and a memo function will help tailor your morning coffee experience to your liking. All you have to do is show up to push a button and presto, your favorite cup of joe with no waiting. That’s bad news for your local barista, but hey, your favorite one quit when the pandemic began anyway.

If you’re in the market for a mid-range super-automatic espresso machine, you can go ahead and put the Saeco PicoBaristo on your short list.

CategoryEntry
ManufacturerSaeco
NameSaeco PicoBaristo HD8927
TypeSuper-automatic espresso machine
Removable brew groupYes
Casing materialPlastic with stainless steel parts
Milk frothing systemAutomatic
DisplayYes
Mobile appNo
User profilesNo
Water tank capacity60 Oz / 1.8 L
Maximum cup height6.45 In / 16.4 cm
Maximum discharge height6.45 In / 16.4 cm
GrinderCeramic
Bean container capacity8.8 Oz / 250 g
2-bean compartmentsNo
Grinding10
Coffee grounds discard containerYes
CarafeNo
Coffee drinks prepared at the touch of a buttonCoffee, espresso, espresso lungo, Ristretto,
Caffè Crema, Cappuccino, Baby Cappuccino,
flat white, Latte Macchiato, frothed milk, hot water
Adjustable coffee temperatureYes, 3 levels
Milk (foam) temperature adjustableNo
2-cup functionYes, but not with milk drinks
Hot water functionYes
Hot milk functionYes
Obtain milk foam onlyYes
Water filterYes, AquaClean
Weight15.87 lbs / 7.2 kg
Aroma controlYes
Color optionsPiano black (HD8927/37) or stainless steel (HD8927/47)
FinishPlastic with stainless steel parts
Voltage / frequency120v
Dimensions (height x width x depth)16.89 x 8.5 x in / 42.9 x 21.5 x 33 cm

First Things First: Getting Set Up

You’ll need to go through a few initial steps to set up your Saeco PicoBaristo before it’s ready to make coffee. 

The first thing you need to know is that there are two separate power buttons. One is on the back near the socket, where you plug in the power cord. The other is a “standby” button on the front of the machine.

Before you install the AquaClean filter, you need to run fresh water through the machine. You’ll need to do this after installing the AquaClean filter as well. Saeco has a step-by-step video presentation that walks you through this process. It’s really easy to follow.

Note: If you’re using the AquaClean filter, you don’t need to worry about the water hardness setting.

Once you’ve got that initial step out of the way, you can start adding your personal settings to the machine. The first thing I always like to do is brew an espresso. After all, it is an espresso machine!

Brewing Your First Espresso: Step-By-Step

I don’t know about you, but I like my coffee and espresso strong,like the kind they say would put hair on your chest! Even if that’s not you, though, there’s still truth to using the maximum settings to test out a new espresso machine. That way, you have a standard for what a machine can produce from your preferred beans.

Check out the Saeco PicoBaristo super-automatic coffee machine’s grind adjustment.

Here’s what I recommend

First, set the grind level to its finest setting. You can do this within the bean hopper. Just press down on the rotary knob and turn it one click at a time.

Next, set the coffee strength to the maximum level. On the Saeco PicoBaristo, that’s the “five coffee beans” symbol on the display. 

Then, I suggest that you set the water level to the minimum amount, which is an ideal 0.67 ounces on the Saeco PicoBaristo. I’ll admit, Saeco clearly knew what it was doing by making this the minimum. I wish other manufacturers would do the same!

To get to this ideal minimum water level amount, press down the “espresso” button on the front of the machine to activate the memory mode. The machine will start brewing. When you’ve got the right amount in your cup, press “OK.”

Now, taste and see the results! You can tweak the settings from there to suit your tastes.

Saeco PicoBaristio Espresso ready to drink

A quick sidebar: I want to clarify the difference between a “memory function” and a “user profile.” Memory functions come with the Saeco PicoBaristo and are specific to a household but not to an individual. 

User profiles, on the other hand, are not something the PicoBaristo has, though it would be a nice improvement for Saeco to consider. This may not matter to you, but if you have more than one coffee lover under your roof, having individual user profiles would be convenient.

The Saeco PicoBaristo’s software menu includes a few “special drinks,” including a Ristretto. Normally a Ristretto is an espresso that’s a bit smaller because it uses less water, which also makes it stronger. 

With this machine, though, the minimum water amount is still just 0.67 ounces, so it’s really about the same as an espresso. This probably doesn’t matter to most people, but if you’re looking to buy a machine solely because it can make a Ristretto, you should keep that in mind.

In any case, I really liked the espressos from the Saeco PicoBaristo. It brews quickly and doesn’t make too much noise. (If you want a quiet machine, you’ll have to get a top-of-the-line model from Jura. I go into great detail about this in my Jura Coffee Machine: Current Models, Comparisons & Tips piece.) 

Still, the noise level on the PicoBaristo is minimal, and you won’t hear any of the unpleasant higher pitches that you might hear with other models. Overall the PicoBaristo performs well when it comes to noise.

No Such Thing as Too Much … Milk Froth

One thing you’ll love about the Saeco PicoBaristo is the maximum cup height of 6.45 inches. What that means is that it passes an IKEA cup test, which is a standard I use for measurement. On taller cups, you’ll need to remove the coffee dispensing spout, but that won’t affect the overall performance.

Saeco PicoBaristo’s milk carafe.

Another great thing about the Saeco PicoBaristo is the removable milk carafe. That makes it easy to store and brew your milk-based drinks from the same container. Just be sure to clean the carafe thoroughly between fillings. I know we all get lazy at times, but that can be unhygienic.

After you brew a milk-based beverage, the machine will prompt you to perform a quick clean of the carafe nozzle. To do that, place an empty cup below the nozzle and press “OK” to begin the process. Keep in mind that by no means is this a replacement for hand washing, but it’ll suffice for maintenance between drinks.

To set the quantity of milk dispensed into your cup, follow the same process you did with the espresso. However, in this case, you’ll need to press the “Cappuccino” button until the memo function appears. When the desired amount of milk is in your cup, press “OK.” Using the memo function like this allows you to match quantities to your cup sizes and prevent overflow.

One small strike against the machine that you should know about is that sometimes a wee bit of water comes out of the milk frothing system. While it didn’t change the taste of my Latte Macchiato, I wish the issue didn’t exist at all — Saeco should have addressed this issue during the design process.

Wax On, Wax Off: Cleaning a Saeco PicoBaristo

Like with any super-automatic espresso machine, cleaning your Saeco PicoBaristo will ensure you get the most out of your machine over the long haul. To that end, Saeco recommends you clean the brew group on a weekly basis, and I couldn’t agree more.

Cleaning the Brew Group

To clean the brew group: 

  1. Push the “standby” button. 
  2. Power off the machine in the back and unplug it. 
  3. Remove the drip tray and coffee grounds container. 
  4. Rinse these parts thoroughly under running water. 
  5. Open the service door and press the button to remove the brew group. (Note: You can use a long utensil handle to remove excess coffee from the coffee grounds duct.) 
  6. Wipe any excess water or coffee grounds with a cloth. 
  7. Rinse the brew group under running water. 
  8. Set it aside and allow the brew group to air dry before putting it back into the machine. (Note: Saeco advises against using a towel to wipe the brew group dry, as it could potentially leave fibers behind that might damage the machine.)
Saeco PicoBaristo’s coffee machine grounds container.

When you go to reinstall the brew group, first, confirm that the two arrows match on the side of the brew group. All you have to do is push the lever down until it’s against the base of the brew group, though the locking hook also needs to be in an upward position. You’ll hear a click when it’s in place. 

Make sure you don’t press the “push” button when reinserting the brew group, else it won’t go in. Then, replace the drip tray and coffee grounds container.

Removing Excess Coffee Oil From the Brew Group

Saeco recommends that you remove excess coffee oils from the brew group on a monthly basis with Saeco coffee oil remover tablets. 

It’s pretty easy. You place a container below the coffee spout, press the “aroma strength” button until ground coffee appears and then press “OK.” Then, drop a tablet in the ground coffee compartment and press “Cafe Crema” — finally, a reasonable use for the pre-ground coffee feature! 

When the progress bar reaches halfway, switch off the machine from the back and wait 15 minutes for the coffee oil remover tablets to work. After 15 minutes have passed, turn the machine back on from the back and then press the “standby” button. The process will continue automatically. 

Once it completes, use the “coffee strength” button to select “ground coffee” and press “Cafe Crema” to initiate water flowing from the machine. Do this two additional times to thoroughly rinse the machine. My recommendation is to brew yourself a nice cup of espresso — or two — before you get started, so you’ll have something to enjoy while you wait.

Greasing the Brew Group

You’ll need to grease the brew group every month or two, which is also a fairly simple process. 

As you’ve probably guessed already, the first step is powering off and unplugging the machine. Next, remove and clean the brew group like normal and allow it to dry. Then, apply a minimal amount of grease to the shaft and rails. I know this sounds difficult, but there’s nothing to it. 

Saeco even has a great video about maintaining your PicoBaristo that’ll walk you through the steps. The designers have really thought about everything when it comes to cleaning!

Cleaning the Milk Carafe Weekly

When it comes to the milk carafe, you can break it down into several pieces for easy cleaning. Once you’ve taken it apart, simply rinse it under lukewarm water. If you decide to use detergent, make sure it’s mild and gets rinsed out thoroughly.

Cleaning the Milk Circuits Monthly

Saeco sells a milk circuit cleaner that makes cleaning the milk frothing system super easy. All you have to do is add one pouch of the cleaner to the empty milk carafe and fill it up with clean water. Insert the carafe into the machine and set a container under the coffee spouts to catch water. 

Then, press the “menu” button and scroll down to the milk froth option. When you press “OK,” the cleaning cycle will begin. Repeat this process until the carafe is empty. Then, do the same thing again with only clean water to rinse the machine.

I must say, being someone who loves hygienic drink preparation, I’m very impressed with Saeco’s cleaning functions and education about how to use them. Germaphobes, this is definitely the machine for you!

Saeco PicoBaristo vs DeLonghi Dinamica: Which Is Better?

If you’re in the market for a mid-range super-automatic espresso machine, chances are you’re also considering the feature-rich DeLonghi Dinamica. There are a lot of similarities between these machines, and truthfully, you can’t go wrong with either one. I prefer the menu on the Dinamica but also appreciate the build quality of the Saeco PicoBaristo.

Like I mentioned before, Saeco’s parent company, Philips, tends to put a lot of emphasis on its luxury line of super-automatic espresso machines in the U.S. So, American consumers really could go either way. Though for many, it’ll probably boil down to a question of price or availability.

Conclusion on the Saeco PicoBaristo: You Won’t Be Disappointed

At the end of the day, what I always come back to is that you can make great espresso on almost any super-automatic espresso machine, so long as you take the time to learn how to use it.

High-quality and performance.

Saeco PicoBaristo

Modern and adjustable.

Well-made

Classy design and look

Nice color options

Relatively small footprint

Easily adjustable

No individual user profiles

Some water in the milk frothing system

If you don’t have a super-automatic espresso machine in your home at the moment, whether you purchase one from Saeco, Gaggia or DeLonghi isn’t going to matter all that much. Truthfully, having great coffee drinks available at the push of a button is going to blow you away.

Once you have your preferences dialed in, you’ll enjoy great results from whatever machine you buy.

All that to say, my recommendation is that you can buy a PicoBaristo with peace of mind, especially if you find it at a particularly low price. It’s a great machine, and you won’t be disappointed.

In the summer of 2021, the Saeco PicoBaristo is available for $1,199.95 with free Prime shipping, which is already $300 belowthe retail price. Just think, you could have one delivered and set up within three days from this very moment! Latte Macchiatos and a movie this weekend, anyone?

If you happen to have purchased the PicoBaristo, by all means, please join the conversation below. Our user community would love to know your thoughts and opinions. Do you like your PicoBaristo? What do you wish you had known before making your purchase? Do tell! Us coffee lovers want to know. Thanks for reading!

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