The Saeco Xelsis Review: High-End Machine at the Low-End of the Price Spectrum?

Have you noticed that Saeco has gone silent? That’s because the parent company, Philips, has decided to focus its marketing efforts exclusively on super-automatic espresso machines. Now, that's not only good for the brand identity but for us consumers, too.

Saeco Xelsis Testbericht

Have you noticed that Saeco has gone silent? That’s because the parent company, Philips, has decided to focus its marketing efforts exclusively on super-automatic espresso machines. Now, that’s not only good for the brand identity but for us consumers, too.

Not seeing the upside yet? Well, look at this way: if the Saeco flagship brand is slowly phased out, those machine models will suddenly go for a song. You can already snap up the Philips Saeco Xelsis SM7684 for just under $2,000. That’s reason enough for me to put fingers to the keyboard and give this review a new spin.

Before, the question was whether top-of-the-line Saeco models could compete with similar high-end brands, like Siemens or Jura. Now, we’re shifting gears to hunt for the best deals.

As usual, the bane (or boon) of my super-automatic espresso machine reviews is the myriad model variants in this series that all need sizing up in terms of their bargain potential.

Even with the new Philips world order, one thing is still the same: the Saeco Xelsis SM7684 is a premium appliance. Get the machine settings to chime with your coffee beans, and you’ll enjoy truly flavorsome results.

I have done a lot of tasting and tweaking with some fair-trade beans for automatic coffee machines to hammer out the perfect parameters for you.

Get it while you still can.

Saeco Xelsis

An attractive price for top-of-the-line features.

Easy, intuitive operation

Numerous setting options

Pleasantly quiet

Very good espresso and milk froth

Poorly conceived quick cleaning

The Saeco Xelsis Range at a Glance: Playing Features Snakes and Ladders

Over time, there have been several classes of Saeco fully automatic espresso machines. The first in the lineup was the high-quality, mid-range Saeco Incanto, which you can still find on the U.S. market. In Europe, on the other hand, it has since evolved into the Philips 5000 LatteGo, although calling it an “evolution” is much too generous. Almost nothing has changed.

CategoryEntry
ManufacturerPhilips (Saeco)
NameIncanto
TypeSuper-automatic expresso machine
Removable brew groupYes
Casing materialStainless steel
Milk systemAutomatic
DisplayYes
AppNo
User profileYes (1)
Water tank60.9 fl oz
Maximum spout height5.9 in
GrinderCeramic flat burr grinder
Bean hopper8.8 oz
Two bean compartmentsNo
Grinder settings5 levels
Coffee powder chuteYes
Pot functionNo
Coffee drinks at the touch of a buttonEspresso, espresso Lungo, Cappuccino, Latte Macchiato
Adjustable coffee temperatureYes (3 levels)
Adjustable milk (froth) temperatureNo
Two-cup functionYes (no milky drinks)
Hot water functionYes
Hot milk functionYes
Portion of milk onlyYes
Water filterYes
Weight15.8 lb
Dimensions (height x width x depth)16.9 x 8.7 x 13.4 in

Bumping up the specs to another level, the two Saeco PicoBaristo machines are classified as premium models. Although no longer available, the slightly cheaper PicoBaristo HD8924/47 junior model edged the price down by cutting a few drink options and the automatic milk system with a carafe. Instead it had a panarello. The full-package PicoBaristo HD 8927/47 is still available.

By the way, if you’re struggling to decode the cryptic product numbers, just remember the figure before the forward slash refers to the actual model. The bigger the number, the more high-end bells and whistles. Whatever appears after the forward slash is just a color code. 

One more rung up the features ladder, we hit the Saeco Xelsis models. Here, too, there were originally two minimally different models, but now, only one remains:

  1. First released in 2018, the slightly cheaper Saeco Xelsis SM 7684/04 with a Black Titanium front is still around.
  2. Released in 2019, the Saeco Xelsis SM 7685/04 had a seriously slick Stainless Steel case but was discontinued. 
CategoryEntry
Manufacturer Saeco
Name Xelsis
TypeSuper-automatic espresso machine
Removable brew groupYes
Casing materialPlastic/stainless steel design black
Milk frothing systemAutomatic (cappuccinatore)
DisplayTouch screen
AppYes
User profilesYes (6 profiles)
Water tank capacity57.5 oz
Minimum discharge heght3 in
Maximum discharge height5.8 in
GrinderCeramic flat burr grinder
Bean container capacity0.9 lb
Two bean compartmentsNo
Grinder settings12 levels
Coffee powder chuteYes
Pot fuctionNo
Coffee drinks prepared at the touch of a buttonAll coffee and milk specialties
Adjustable coffee temperatureYes (3 levels)
Adjustable milk (froth) temperatureNo
2-cup functionYes
Hot water functionYes
Hot milk functionYes
Milk portion onlyYes
Water filterYes
Weight23.5 lb
Dimensions (height x width x depth)15.4 x 11.1 x 19.2 in

The even more expensive Saeco Xelsis Evo HD8954 has already gone the way of the dinosaurs.

First Impressions and Features: All Finesse and Flair

Saeco knows looks matter and delivers a package that oozes class from all of its glinting stainless steel finishes. From the moment your fingertips brush its surfaces, it’s clear that this is an automatic coffee machine designed for frequent use and many cups.

The touch screen on the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine.

Another eye-catching feature is the Coffee Equalizer, which used to be called the Coffee Concierge. Just as an audio equalizer allows you to adjust the bass, treble, etc., on your tunes, you can do the same with your Cappuccino’s temperature, milk froth and coffee dosage via sliders — no need to revert to the pre-set. Whether you do this via the touch screen on the Saeco Xelsis or LCD/LED displays with buttons on the PicoBaristo and Incanto, it works a treat. 

Usually an automatic coffee machine priced comfortably over the $1,000 mark will boast a fully integrated milk carafe. So, the fact that the Saeco Xelsis has a cappuccinatore is a little left field. For hygiene reasons alone, I like an external milk container. Besides, who can object to a jug of such high quality?

What’s more, this solution means that the Saeco Xelsis fully automatic espresso machine is exceptionally slim for its class and will fit neatly into almost any kitchen. Being able to position the milk carafe where it suits you and remove the water tank from the front makes a big difference to the ease of use for those whose coffee station is in a tight corner.

This beautiful high-end automatic coffee machine literally crushes it in the grinder department with a ceramic, flat-burr mechanism whose 12 levels are capable of producing the fine textures required for coffee and espresso. 

With the coffee dosage, temperature and volume settings to round things out, you’re assured a Latte or Cappuccino delivered into your cup just the way you like it.

The grinder settings on the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine.

Whether you go large on 15 specialty coffees with the Saeco Xelsis or rein things in a bit with the PicoBaristo’s 11 drinks, options abound as the standard at the top end of the Philips fully automatic espresso machine range. More importantly, once you’ve made up your mind, plugging in your selection or customizing it is a cinch. Save your preferences in one of the six user profiles, and the whole family (or office team) is happy.

Since all of this adds up to a pretty great machine, you have to wonder if Philips isn’t throwing out the baby with the bathwater by ditching the Saeco.

It’s all the more surprising because this ad hoc brand allows the manufacturer to hold its own next to the category’s big names in espresso machines, Jura and Siemens. Even in reviewing the Philips coffee maker the second time around, I’m impressed by its exceptional quality.

Setting Up and Operating the Saeco Xelsis Super-Automatic Espresso Machine

In the original video review, I ran through the various drinks settings with a bit of speed. That’s testimony to the fact that there’s almost no setting you can’t instantly locate, easily adjust and intuitively grasp — no need to dig out the manual.

Unfortunately, the following video review is in German only, but keep reading, and I promise you’ll get the full story.

The Saeco Xelsis product designers definitely put on their thinking caps to cleverly resolve common super-automatic espresso machine problems in unobtrusive and uncomplicated ways.

Case in point: the bean hopper. With a 450-gram (16-ounce) capacity, it’s not just seriously roomy but way too big. At least, there’s the rubber aroma seal, which locks the hopper pretty tight. Better yet, don’t fill it up with beans that will just sit around losing their aroma. 

As usual, the ceramic grinder on the Saeco Xelsis can be easily adjusted via a knob on the bean hopper. Although the pump, brew group and machine clearly have no problem handling the very finest grounds, I settled on level two of 12 because that produces the best coffee.

The minute you start calibrating, you’ll notice that the grinder volume is pleasantly low. While it’s nowhere near as quiet as the Siemens EQ.9 level, it’s still pretty impressive.

Arne makes espresso with the Siemens EQ.9 super-automatic espresso machine.

In the initial review, I was scratching my head over the “taste” function. After all, you adjust the coffee strength, drink volume and temperature via other settings. The same goes for the brew sequence. What’s more perplexing is that fiddling with “taste” produces no actual change in flavor.

A smart commenter solved the mystery for us. “Taste” regulates the water’s flow rate. Admittedly, I don’t see the point of that on a super-automatic machine because puck density determines how quickly the water passes through the coffee.

Espresso and Coffee: Subtleties Steal the Show

I’ve come to the conclusion that you can (and should) count on a premium super-automatic espresso machine to deliver premium coffee. 

The Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine making espresso.

Though I don’t have any hard-and-fast figures, having gotten my hands on a number of other “expensive” automatic coffee machine models besides the Saeco Xelsis, I can see a definite correlation between flavor and price.

The Philips coffee maker did a great job of teasing out subtleties in my chosen beans. In addition to the chocolatey and nutty notes, the almond, which often gets lost with other machines, also shines through. The Saeco Xelsis espresso machine also nails the temperature, crema and body.

Of course, the opposite is also true. Expect that every nasty nuance of cheap, industrial beans will also be more pronounced, especially as the espresso doesn’t have any unpleasant bitterness that would otherwise mask an undesirable flavor profile. In that sense, the Saeco Xelsis is a bit of a quality police. I say, give that machine a medal!

While I’m doling out kudos, I have to admit that the “ordinary” coffee from the Saeco Xelsis doesn’t disappoint, either. With its full body and multifaceted flavor profile, it’s anything but a nondescript, watery black brew. Sure, the Philips coffee maker doesn’t quite knock the Jura Z8 off its perch, but it’s definitely closing in on the Swiss espresso machine. 

Another point that came up in the Coffeeness community is that like many other machines, the Saeco Xelsis’ pre-programmed drinks include both coffee and Caffe Crema. However, as the commenter correctly noted, they taste practically the same.

Although the crema that gives Caffe Crema its name makes it a bit more espresso-y than regular coffee, this drink is basically a marketing invention.

Saeco Works Up a Lather Over Milk Froth:

The milk froth was a bit of a sticking point on many cheaper and (even) older Saeco machines. What you got was a rather old-timey — a stiff mass of large sudsy bubbles. Fortunately, Saeco has learned a few tricks since then, and the Xelsis fully automatic espresso machine has benefited.

Although the foam is still very dense, at least it’s also elegant and delicious. At 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius), it’s right in my Goldilocks zone for Lattes and Cappuccinos. Even so, I know that many of you will find it too cold.

One thing that continues to seriously get under my skin, however, is that after delivering milk into your cup, the coffee machine automatically flushes the milk system with steam. While that’s great and gets my thumbs up for hygiene, couldn’t the machine hold off for a second so I can move the cup away first?

I know, it’s not as if the water is dirty. You’re just getting a blast of steam deposited into your drink, but I still object. Am I being too fastidious?

Easy-Breezy Cleaning and Descaling

Automatic steam cleaning is also the modus operandi for other cleaning jobs on the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso. Press the appropriate button, and the HygieSteam technology thoroughly blasts the entire milk circuit. Before doing so, though, don’t forget to anchor the hose in the drip tray using the connector.

The drip tray of the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine.

There’s also no excuse for skimping on cleaning the rest of the Phillips coffee maker. Since the brew group is removable, a combination of cleaning programs and elbow grease ensure that no stray coffee granules or other residue are left to hang around and cause problems.

The coffee grounds container, drip tray and water tank all pull out from the front, so you don’t even have to move the machine to access them. Only the brew group is accessible from the side.

Of course, appropriate descaling programs are part of the package, and as always, you can (and should) adjust the intervals manually, especially in big cities. While the system includes an AquaClean filter, there’s only so much it can do when faced with the incredibly hard water in cities.

If you know your water has high levels of minerals, you can also get yourself prepped and ready by buying the super-automatic espresso machine as part of an Amazon bundle with a bottle of decalcifier.

All in all, this fully automatic espresso machine is as easy to clean as it is to operate. While that’s no longer the exception to the rule in any machine class, it’s still a real pleasure when everything comes together as nicely as it does here.

Verdict: Not So Exceptional Anymore and All the Better for It

It’s become a bit of a recurring theme in the 2021 super-automatic espresso machine reviews that the models apparently facing the axe are the ones that deserve a second look. As is the case with its stablemates, the price of the Saeco Xelsis is down to just under $2,000 and steadily dropping, while its high-quality functionality is as good as ever.

Get it while you still can.

Saeco Xelsis

An attractive price for top-of-the-line features.

Easy, intuitive operation

Numerous setting options

Pleasantly quiet

Very good espresso and milk froth

Poorly conceived quick cleaning

Whether you go for a Saeco model with an LED display or touch screen doesn’t really matter — either way, you’re assured of technology devoted to preparing delectable coffee. Thanks to its finely calibrated settings, this super-automatic espresso machine caters to your every coffee need.

Slick looks — irrespective of how much stainless steel cladding is involved — quality engineering and solid construction add up to a pretty desirable package. No, it’s not the perfect super-automatic espresso machine — remember that annoying burst of steam into your freshly made coffee? Then again, the machine without flaws has yet to be invented or costs an arm and a leg.

You guys have been such diligent commenters, so please keep them coming. Your contributions are a big part of these reviews.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
4 Kommentare
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Table of Contents