Saeco PicoBaristo Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Review

The Saeco PicoBaristo is an interesting new contender in the crowded field of super-automatic espresso machines. Priced around $1,300, this machine from Philips is solidly in the upper middle class of that field. It makes a good impression, and not only because of its looks.

Saeco Picobaristo Review

The Saeco PicoBaristo is an interesting new contender in the crowded field of super-automatic espresso machines. Priced around $1,300, this machine from Philips is solidly in the upper middle class of that field. It makes a good impression, and not only because of its looks.

Even within the Saeco product line, the PicoBaristo represents a kind of “just right” option that would please a coffee-drinking Goldilocks: it’s not too cheap, but also not too expensive. If you’re looking for an expensive model from Saeco, by the way, the Incanto is their entry-level machine, while the GranBaristo Avanti is their top-of-the-line model. We will get more into all of their differences below.

Solid and Premium-Quality

Saeco PicoBaristo

Great small fully automatic coffee machine with lots of stainless steel.

Automatic milk foam

Simple to use

Removable brewing unit

10 coarseness settings on the grinder

Many adjustable settings, including temperature

No seperate user profiles

Some water in the milk frothing system

The Saeco PicoBaristo comes in several varieties. They are all basically identical, though, and the only differences are in their casings and milk systems. In terms of casings, there are three options. You can choose between two plastic options – in either shiny black or a silver color that looks like metal – or you can opt for actual stainless steel. There are also four milk systems to choose from. One model has a cappuccinatore milk frothing system, and three others have a fully automatic system with integrated milk containers.

PicoBaristo: What You Should Know

The compact Saeco PicoBaristo does everything that a mid-range automatic espresso machine can and should be able to do. The PicoBaristo is very intuitive and simple to use, with its touch buttons on the right and left sides of the display. All of the models except one have an automatic milk frothing system, which includes a milk container that latches onto the machine’s front. You can also plug in a small, black hot water spout into the same location if you want to use hot water instead of milk.

Saeco Picobaristo Drink quality

It does well when compared to other automatic espresso machines from Saeco. It’s easier to adjust the grinder, and it has more grinder settings than on other models. Instead of the hexagonal knob that you’ll find on other models, the PicoBaristo has a manual dial with 10 different grind levels. Strangely enough, the more expensive GranBaristo has only five settings.

Saeco Picobaristo adjust Grind coarseness

Even if you use the default settings, the PicoBaristo makes a good espresso or a coffee drink with milk. One small strike against the machine, though, is that a bit too much water sometimes comes out of the milk frothing system. However, it doesn’t really make a noticeable difference when you taste a finished latte macchiato.

You can set and save your most important beverage adjustments, such as how much espresso and how strong you want it. However, the PicoBaristo doesn’t offer different profiles for more than one user. If you want that feature, you will have to upgrade to the GranBaristo, which provides up to six different user profiles.

With the PicoBaristo’s  glossy black or silver facades, it looks good. Its compact body, as well as the front-mounted milk container, can save some space in your kitchen. This automatic latte machine is also very well made. You won’t hear anything ratting around, and nothing looks cheaply constructed. If you’re looking for a mid-range automatic espresso machine, you can go ahead and put the Saeco PicoBaristo on your short list.

Here you can watch a video testing the PicoBaristo (unfortunately only available in German):

Advantages

  • Well made
  • Nice-looking, compact body
  • Classy design
  • Available in plastic or stainless steel
  • Not too loud
  • Automatic milk foam
  • Simple to use
  • Removable brewing unit
  • 10 coarseness settings on the grinder
  • Many adjustable settings, including temperature

Disadvantages

  • No seperate user profiles
  • Some water in the milk frothing system
  • The shiny casing makes dust and specks more visible

Saeco PicoBaristo: Technical Specifications and Differences

PicoBaristo ModelHD8924/01SM3061/10HD8925/01HD8927/01
Dimensions8.7 x 13.4 x 16.9 inches
(221 x 340 x 430 millimeters)
8.7 x 13.4 x 16.9 inches
(221 x 340 x 430 millimeters)
8.7 x 13.4 x 16.9 inches
(221 x 340 x 430 millimeters)
8.7 x 13.4 x 16.9 inches
(221 x 340 x 430 millimeters)
CasingStainless steelPlastic, silver
Plastic, blackStainless steel
WeightAround 15.8 pounds
(7.2 kilograms)
Around 15.8 pounds
(7.2 kilograms)
Around 15.8 pounds
(7.2 kilograms)
Around 15.8 pounds
(7.2 kilograms)
Water FilterAquaClean FilterAquaClean FilterAquaClean FilterAquaClean Filter
Removable Brewing Unit
LCD Display
Pre-Programmed
Beverages
7111111
Profiles You Can Save
1111
Coffee Strength Settings
5 Levels ✔5 Levels ✔5 Levels ✔5 Levels ✔
Water and Milk
Settings
Infinitely
variable ✔ (Cappuccinatore for milk)
Infinitely
variable ✔
Infinitely
variable ✔
Infinitely
variable ✔
Grinder Settings10 Levels10 Levels10 Levels10 Levels
Temperature
Settings
3 Levels3 Levels3 Levels3 Levels
Spout Height6.4 inches
(16.3 centimeters)
6.4 inches
(16.3 centimeters)
6.4 inches
(16.3 centimeters)
6.4 inches
(16.3 centimeters)
Milk Container✘ (Must use external container)✔ (500 milliliter carafe with handle)
✔ (500 milliliter carafe with handle)
✔ (500 milliliter carafe with handle)
Quick-Cleaning Milk System
Water Tank60 ounces
(1.8 liter)
60 ounces
(1.8 liter)
60 ounces
(1.8 liter)
60 ounces
(1.8 liter)
Size of Coffee Bean CompartmentApprox. ½ pound
(250 grams)
Approx. ½ pound
(250 grams)
Approx. ½ pound
(250 grams)
Approx. ½ pound
(250 grams)
Can Make Two Drinks Simultaneously✔ Yes, but not drinks with milk✔ Yes, but not drinks with milk✔ Yes, but not drinks with milk✔ Yes, but not drinks with milk

As you can see, there are actually only two differences between the different models:

  • The color and the material of the casing
  • Whether it has a cappuccinatore (HD8924) or an integrated milk container (the other models)

The reason that the HD8924 has fewer pre-programmed drinks is that it doesn’t include milk drinks. Of course, you can still make them, but you have to make the milk foam separately. However, this makes it less convenient – and also not a fully automatic espresso machine.

The stainless-steel models are presumably heavier than the ones with a plastic body. Unfortunately, Saeco doesn’t include weight data for all models, so I wasn’t able to directly compare their weights.

For this review, I used the SM3061 model, with the plastic silver exterior.

User’s Manuals

Seeing as the models with an integrated milk container are technically identical, I’ll just include links to two manuals. The first one doesn’t have an integrated milk container, and the second one does:

Here you can check the current prices for these models on Amazon:

Espresso

Let’s make an espresso! That is the first thing I do to “inaugurate” every super-automatic espresso machine I review. After all, that’s the most important thing that an espresso machine should be able to do. I start with these settings when testing the espresso:

  • Water level on the minimum setting: Usually that’s 25 milliliters (less than an ounce) – 20 milliliters is even better, but that’s not always possible.
  • Grinder set to the finest level.
  • Coffee strength set to the maximum level. In most cases – as is also with the PicoBaristo – that’s the “five beans” symbol on the display.

I prefer my coffee and espresso strong, however using these “maximum” settings also makes sense when testing an espresso machine because it gives me a really good idea of what the machine can produce from the coffee beans.

Saeco Picobaristo Espresso Review

The PicoBaristo’s default setting for an espresso is 40 milliliters (almost 2 ounces), but that’s too much. Actually, for most super-automatic espresso machines, the default settings are too high.

However, you can easily adjust the espresso amount to your liking and save the settings. Simply hold down the “Espresso” button for a moment, which switches it to “memory” mode. The machine will then start brewing. When it’s brewed enough, press the “OK” button. The PicoBaristo will stop the water and note the amount of water that has gone through, saving that amount in its memory for next time. The minimum amount is 20 milliliters, which is perfect.

I absolutely need to praise the height of the drink spout! It’s more than six inches tall (more than 16 centimeters), so even tall glasses can fit underneath the spout. Saeco also has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, as the spout cover is removable. If you take it off, you will have an additional inch of space.

Saeco Picobaristo Crema

The 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 20 milliliters, 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.

Nevertheless, I really liked the espressos from this machine. It brews quickly and doesn’t make too much noise. If you want a machine that is actually quiet, you will have to get a top-of-the-line model. Still, the noise level on this one is only moderate, and you won’t hear any of the unpleasant higher frequencies that you might with other models. Overall, the Saeco performs solidly in terms of noise.

In the interest of providing a complete review, I should also mention that the machine has a compartment for ground coffee. While this is basically standard for super-automatic espresso machines, I still wouldn’t use it. Generally the results aren’t very great, and there’s really no good reason to even have the compartment. After all, that’s why the manufacturers put grinders into these machines.

Saeco Picobaristo Coffee Taste

Making Milk Foam

The Saeco PicoBaristo with the automatic milk frothing system has a separate milk container that can be docked onto the machine’s front. An advantage of this system is that it doesn’t take up extra space on the side of the machine, which lets it fit closer to a wall or other small kitchen appliances. The curved handle on the milk container also makes it comfortable to use. You’ll still want to keep the side generally accessible, though, so you can remove the brewing unit.

I mentioned earlier that sometimes some water comes out of the machine and drips into the glass. However, this also happens with other automatic espresso machines, and it doesn’t make a noticeable difference in the final drink.

Saeco Picobaristo Milk Container

The machine has a central “combo-spout.” First the milk foam flows out, and then the espresso. The milk foam had a very good consistency. However, the latte macchiato seemed rather hot, so I checked it with a thermometer: It was at 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius).

Saeco Picobaristo Milk Foam

That’s just below the maximum temperature at which a milk frothing system should operate (to avoid the milk overheating and curdling). In other words, it’s just right if you want to drink your coffee as hot as possible. Many people complain that drinks from super-automatic latte machines aren’t hot enough, but that won’t happen with the PicoBaristo. If this temperature is too hot for you, you can also turn it down – that’s why there are three temperature settings.

Saeco Picobaristo Latte

If you don’t want or need to use the milk container, you can alternatively plug a small, black hot water spout into the machine’s water system, which can give you hot water for tea. As always, be careful to not begin making any drinks if you haven’t first plugged in either the water spout or the milk container. Otherwise, you’ll get a surprise shower when the machine starts spraying hot water everywhere.

Saeco Picobaristo Cappuccino

Parts and Cleaning

After you make a drink with milk, you might notice a cool feature that you won’t find on all machines: The PicoBaristo will ask if you want to begin a quick cleaning of the milk frothing system. However, you don’t have to do it right away, and the machine gives you 10 seconds to decide.

The quick-cleaning cycle simply pushes some water through the milk pitcher connection. I think this is very handy, as it’s always good to have a feature that’s hygienic and that doesn’t require a lot of fussing. Comparatively, on many cheaper espresso machines, the cleaning programs often leave out the milk system.

Saeco also recommends that you clean the milk container by hand every day, and I second that suggestion.

You should be especially sure to regularly clean the drip tray, the coffee grounds tray and the brewing unit. I suggest that you clean the drip tray and the coffee grounds tray every day because they are constantly in contact with coffee, water and heat. Without cleaning, this combo is a first-class ticket to mold.

Coffee Ground Catch Tray

However, it is generally enough to simply rinse out the pieces with clean water, and perhaps wipe them with a clean cloth. The manufacturer recommends a weekly cleaning of the brewing unit, as well as a monthly cleaning with special tablets that help remove coffee oils.

Saeco Picobaristo Brewing Unit

Brewing Unit

The brewing unit is easy to remove – simply open the side door and you’ll see it there. Always be sure to turn off the machine beforehand to ensure that you don’t break anything along the way.

Saeco Picobaristo Coffee Puck

As is the case with most espresso machines, you need to use the cleaning program to clean the machine’s insides. The program starts automatically when you turn the PicoBaristo on or off.

This machine also has a decalcification program. The hardness of your water will determine how often you need to run the program, and you can set the water hardness in the machine’s software. Additionally, you can put a water filter into the tank. I definitely recommend doing that so the machine doesn’t get lime deposits as quickly, and so the drinks taste better. Philips claims that, if you’re using a water filter, you will only have to run the decalcification program after every 5,000 drinks.

Saeco Picobaristo Saeco Picobaristo Water Tank

Saeco Picobaristo external Compartment for Ground Coffee

Saeco Picobaristo Experts

Saeco Picobaristo Catch Trays

Saeco Picobaristo Tray under Brewing Unit

Aroma Lid

Saeco’s Entry-Level, Mid-Range and Top-of-the-Line Espresso Machines

The different models of the Saeco PicoBaristo are very similar, but it is also sometimes difficult to notice the differences.

To give you a better idea of the different classes of models, I have included a chart below that outlines the models’ most important features and differences.

I chose just one model from each class to make the comparison easier to read and understand. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t differences within each class.

To learn more about the other two models compared below, please see my reviews of those machines:

Alternativ: Saeco Granbaristo Avanti

Alternativ: Gaggia Anima Prestige (Saeco Incanto)

 Incanto HD8914/01
PicoBaristo HD8927/01GranBaristo HD8977/01 Avanti
DisplayLCDLCDLCD
Water filterAquaClean FilterAquaClean FilterAquaClean Filter
Removable brewing unit
GrinderCeramicCeramicCeramic
Dimensions8.4 in x 13 in x 16.9 in
(215 mm x 330 mm x 429 mm)
8.7 in x 13.4 in x 16.9 in
(221 mm x 340 mm x 430 mm)
8.3 in x 14.1 in x 18.1 in
(210 mm x 360 mm x 460 mm)
Spout height6 inches
(15.2 cm)
6.4 inches
(16.3 cm)
6.5 inches
(16.5 cm)
User profiles116
Coffee strength settings5 Levels5 Levels6 Levels
Temperature settings3 Levels3 Levels3 Levels
Grinder coarseness
settings
5 Levels, with knob10 Levels, with dial5 Levels, with knob
Milk systemCappuccinatoreAutomatic, with integrated milk container
Automatic, with integrated milk container
Quick-cleaning milk system
✘ (but also not needed, as there’s no milk container)
Pre-programmed beverages41118
Case materialStainless steelStainless steelStainless steel
Controllable with app
Price on AmazonIncanto HD8914/01PicoBaristo HD8927/01GranBaristo HD8977/01 Avanti

Summary

The Saeco PicoBaristo made a good impression in our tests. That impression starts with its design and appearance: This super-automatic espresso machine looks classy, and it is very compact for a mid-range machine. In terms of haptic feedback and sounds, everything seems solid and well made.

It is simple to use the machine and – if don’t want to monkey around with the settings – it can still make very good drinks if you use the pre-programmed drinks. However, if you do feel like monkeying around, you’re also in luck, as you can adjust all the important elements of your drink, such as coffee strength, grind coarseness, and water and milk amounts. The only thing you can’t do is save different individual user profiles. You can really only save one “profile,” and you do that by changing the default settings.

Solid and Premium-Quality

Saeco PicoBaristo

Great small fully automatic coffee machine with lots of stainless steel.

Automatic milk foam

Simple to use

Removable brewing unit

10 coarseness settings on the grinder

Many adjustable settings, including temperature

No seperate user profiles

Some water in the milk frothing system

When it comes to the grinder settings, the PicoBaristo even beats its more expensive “cousin,” the GranBaristo Avanti, which is pretty unusual. It has twice as many grinder settings as the GranBaristo Avanti, and it’s easier to set them. Of course, when you’re making an espresso, it is still generally best to use the finest grinder setting that you can.

Cleaning is also a cinch. Anything that isn’t cleaned automatically can be easily cleaned by hand. The automatic quick-clean feature for the milk system is also a nice bonus feature. Nevertheless, it is still best to take apart the container and clean it by hand after every use – it’s always good to be as hygienic as possible, especially with dairy products.

If it sounds like the PicoBaristo’s features might meet your espresso needs, then I can certainly recommend it.

3 Comments

    Overall it is great coffee machine with a few design flaws. One poorly designed and/or produced detail is water container handle. This flimsy part breaks quite often, I have changed two and no improvement with the new one – a bit thicker but as fragile as the previous.

    Reply
    Arne

    Hello Gati,

    thanks for your comment! Greetings Team Coffeeness

    Reply

    Thank you for the wonderful review. Do you know if there is a test menu for this machine… where one might be able to get a product count?

    Reply

I look forward to your comment

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