Saeco Xelsis Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Review

Maybe it's because our visit to IFA 2017 (the Berlin home appliances show) was such a mixed experience, but I wasn't expecting such a clamor from you guys for a review of the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine.

Saeco Xelsis Testbericht

Maybe it’s because our visit to IFA 2017 (the Berlin home appliances show) was such a mixed experience, but I wasn’t expecting such a clamor from you guys for a review of the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine.

To be honest, I noticed at the show that the only thing that’s really new to this line from Saeco is the touch screen with its endlessly tweakable options and settings.

While we didn’t get the chance to test the machine at IFA, I’ve made sure to put it through its paces and a taste test the results stat. And I have to say, I’m a fan of the new Xelsis series. Not because of its settings but because of it’s fab coffee.

Great new product from the IFA show!

Saeco Xelsis

Great new product from the IFA show!

Premium looks and beautiful workmanship

Compact size

Attractive design

Good operating noise levels

Loads of settings Grinder with 12 levels

Incredibly easy to use

Quick cleaning of the milk wand while the drink is still below it

Click here for all of our other super-automatic espresso machine reviews.

Not in the mood for reading? Then watch us poke, prod and leave no button unpressed in our Saeco Xelsis video review. As I point out in the video, I’ve once again added some updated insights in this review. So going the reading route is definitely worth your while.

Unfortunately, the video is only available in German.

But hang on a minute, you say, I’ve heard of the Saeco Xelsis before. And you’d be right. The series has been around for a good while. We just haven’t been able to get our hands on it. But it turns out that the latest machines in the 2017 line with the SM product code are in a class of their own anyway.

The Two Versions of the Saeco Xelsis Super-Automatic Espresso Machine at a Glance

Saeco has a nasty habit of launching a new product onto the market in a slew of variations. Cue widespread consumer confusion. Which is exactly what happened with the Saeco PicoBaristo.

From a technical standpoint, the differences are usually fairly minor. The price increments, however, can be considerably more major. The Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine with the SM product code is available in three versions in Germany and two (SM7684 and SM7685) in the U.S.

See for yourself how they differ (or don’t) in the product comparison:

Saeco Xelsis modelSM 7684/40SM 7685/00
Size in mm (W x H x D)283 x 393 x 489283 x 393 x 489
CaseTitaniumStainless steel
WeightAbout 26 poundsAbout 26 pounds
Water filterAquaClean filterAquaClean filter
Removable brewing group
DisplayTouch screenTouch screen
Coffee Equalizer
Preset drinks1515
User profiles88
Coffee strength settings5 levels5 levels
Water and milk volume settings
Grinder settings12 levels12 levels
Temperature settings3 levels3 levels
Adjustable spout height75-148 mm75-148 mm
Milk systemCappuccinatoreCappuccinatore
Milk system cleaningHygieSteamHygieSteam
Water tank1.7 liters1.7 liters
Bean hopper450 g450 g
Double servings

To get even more specs on these three models, check out the Philips-Saeco comparison page. It’s still potayto, potahto.

The main difference between models is materials. So what we’re really talking about here is looks. At IFA, we found that edge-to-edge stainless steel really is a silver lining – aesthetically, at least. The SM 7685/00 is seriously slick.

Another new feature is of course the “coffee concierge”. Accessed via the touch screen display, it was heavily touted at IFA. On top of that, the more expensive model, the SM 7685/00, also has a couple of extra settings. Otherwise, it’s identical to the SM 7684/04.

As differences between versions go, those seemed pretty piddling to us. Plus, we’re mainly interested in what comes out of the spout. So we went with the bottom-of-the-range Saeco Xelsis model for our review.

We tested the SM 7580 – the most basic model – which isn’t available in the U.S. But there’s no need to feel cheated out of our views on the “coffee concierge.” This isn’t a special feature that somehow produces better coffee. It’s just a more convenient way of programming the machine.

Saeco Xelsis SM 7580/00 Super-Automatic Espresso Maker: Key Takeaways

Whether you choose plastic or stainless steel, the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso makers ooze quality. With their slim design, they’re a graceful addition to a countertop even in small kitchens. We know of other monster contraptions that do a whole lot less and still require their own kitchen annex.

Best of all, the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso maker serves up absolutely mouthwatering coffee. From espresso to latte macchiato. If you ask me, this is down to the high-quality ceramic burr grinder with a total of 12 calibrations.

Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine adjust grinder level

Five or six grind levels are about standard. Here, the ability to get your grind ultra-fine translates into better extraction, which in turn means more flavor in your cup. With temperature, milk and/or water volume admittedly also playing their part.

As the saying goes, you can’t make a silk purse from a pig’s ear. And super-automatic espresso machines are no different. So you can really tell when a machine is built on quality from the start.

And it’s not just the grinder that embodies the Saeco Xelsis’ more is more philosophy. There are no less than 15 preset coffee specialities.

Fortunately simplicity triumphs when it comes to ease of operation. You don’t even need a working knowledge of coffee makers to program the Saeco Xelsis. Just save your faves in one of the (numerous) user profiles and the whole family is happy.

Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine Display

Which raises the question: What could the Coffee Equalizer possibly do to improve on things? Basically, instead of pressing buttons, you’re tapping the touch screen, which definitely makes navigating settings easier. That’s about it.

Oh, and one other thing: The Coffee Equalizer allows you to select the order in which coffee and milk froth are dispensed as well adjusting the quantity of foam. And they have LED lighting. Oooh!

Bottom line: The Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine is an unqualified success. Just look at my roundup of pros and cons.

Saeco Xelsis Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Pros

  • Premium looks and beautiful workmanship
  • Compact size
  • Attractive design
  • Good operating noise levels
  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Loads of settings
  • Grinder with 12 levels
  • Removable brewing group
  • User profiles
  • Easy to clean
  • Very yummy coffee even with basic settings

Saeco Xelsis Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Cons

  • Quick cleaning of the milk wand while the drink is still below it
  • Currently, a bit on the expensive side

The Saeco Xelsis Super-Automatic Espresso Machine in Action

The new Xelsis series’ product designers definitely put on their thinking caps to cleverly resolve common super-automatic coffee maker problems in unobtrusive and uncomplicated ways.

The first evidence of this in the bean hopper. With a 450-gram capacity, it’s seriously roomy. That makes it very tempting to load it up with a huge stock of beans. Big no-no. Because you don’t want them sitting around and losing their aroma. Hence the rubber aroma seal, which locks the hopper pretty tight. Better yet – don’t fill it up.

Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine Drip Tray

In the video, I run through the various drinks settings at a bit of a gallop. Which is a good sign. It means there’s almost no setting you can’t instantly locate, adjust and intuitively grasp.

One thing proved a complete mystery to me though – the “taste” setting. After all, we had already tweaked coffee strength, drink volume and temperature via other settings. After a lot of back and forth (and hardly any change in taste), I came to the conclusion that …

… I just don’t know. Maybe you can use this setting to start a pre-infusion, maybe you can let the machine know what kind of roast is in the bean compartment. No idea! If you know what the story is, please share.

All in all, the machine is pleasantly quiet, even though it definitely makes more noise than the Siemens EQ6, for instance, which gets my thumbs up. By the way, that machine has also been upgraded. The review is coming soon.

The Xelsis ceramic grinder’s 12 fineness levels can easily be adjusted via a knob on the bean hopper. For great results from the first cup, I recommend level 2 of 12. But feel free to experiment and find what works for you.

Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine Coffee Powder Slot Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine Bean Compartment Cover

Espresso and Lungo from the Saeco Xelsis Super-Automatic Espresso Machine

If you look back at many of my old super-automatic espresso machine reviews, the acid test is almost always an espresso. To justifiably loud protest from many of you. Not everyone wants to start the day with an espresso from a super-automatic machine. Some just want an “ordinary” coffee.

For me, “ordinary” means pour-over coffee. But if you want a lungo or caffè crema from a super-automatic machine, I’m totally with you. After all, you’ve spent enough on the machine and want to use all of its facets.

So from now on I’ll play nice and not only test the espresso, but also the lungo from the unit I review. And in both cases, the Saeco Xelsis SM7685/00 super-automatic espresso machine is a real treat.

Espresso

Espresso from the Xelsis is top-notch in terms of temperature, crema and taste. Above all, the excellent temperature and truly unique flavor profile really stand out. There’s no bitterness at all. Instead the chosen blend’s subtle notes really come to the fore.

Which means the reverse is probably also true. Dump mass-produced beans into the machine and you’ll know all about it. After all, a lousy flavor profile is usually well camouflaged by bitter compounds. But add an especially delicate extraction process to the equation, and there’s no more hiding from reality.

Lungo

My preference for pour-over java isn’t just an ultra-cool coffee blogger thing. Usually, a super-automatic espresso machine is a jack-of-all-trades that squeezes the life out of any roast’s body, unlike a good manual brew.

Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine Lungo

In short, what you get from a super-automatic coffee maker is generally a highly compact flavor punch. Forget about subtlety or a fuller mouth feel. This is a topic that I will be covering in more detail soon.

The good news is that the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine isn’t guilty of this. Once again, the super-automatic machine delivers stellar crema and I was particularly surprised at the coffee’s incredible body on the palate. It’s well rounded, viscous, delectably oily and multi-dimensional. Simply awesome.

The Saeco Xelsis Super-Automatic Espresso Machine's Milk Froth

It’s probably a safe bet to say that for many of you, frothed milk at the touch of a button is the number-one reason you want to buy a super-automatic espresso machine. The Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso maker doesn’t disappoint in that department either.

Which is a genuine step-up for this brand. As highlighted repeatedly in many other reviews, Saeco units fall short in one way or another when it comes to milk froth.

The Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machine can’t quite shake off its former reputation – in at least one respect:

Basically, the foam is nice and dense and is whipped up without too much racket. At 65 degrees Celsius, a finished latte macchiato is the perfect drinking temperature – for me, at least.

The Saeco Xelsis super-automatic coffee maker delivers a quick burst of steam to clean the milk wand after each use. We’re absolutely in favor of that. But here’s the catch: This burst of steam is produced the moment the drink is ready. So the dregs land in your cup.

Just imagine a barista cleaning the steam wand on a portafilter machine directly over the milk jug full of frothed milk. Weird, right?

Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine Milk Container

Cleaning

Talking about steam cleaning… the new Xelsis series has a neat solution at the ready – HygieSteam technology. It blasts steam through the entire milk system on command. All you have to do is to clip the hose into its holder on the side and press the appropriate button on the menu. Pretty impressive.

The rest of the cleaning process, ensures you have no excuses on this score. That’s because, as already mentioned, the product developers behind the Xelsis SM7685/00 and its super-automatic coffee machine stablemates have done their best to make it as easy as possible for you.

The dreg drawer, drip tray and water tank can be removed from the front, so you don’t even have to move the machine to a work area.

Only the brewing group is accessed from the side as usual. By the way, if you ever need spares, this is the same model integrated into just about all the Saeco machines.

Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine Water Tank Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine Brewing Unit

Appropriate descaling programs are, of course, part of the package. As with most machines at the upper end of price range, you can – and if located in a big city should – set descaling intervals manually.

You’ll find water hardness test strips in the box that tell you what the mineral content of your water is so you can choose the ideal interval. It’s in your own interest to always (!) reduce this interval even further.

My Final Word on the Saeco Xelsis Super-Automatic Espresso Machine

In my opinion, what sets the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machines apart isn’t what the product presentation makes a song and dance about. Sure, a touch screen with equalizer settings is hot stuff if you like your gimmicks.

Great new product from the IFA show!

Saeco Xelsis

Great new product from the IFA show!

Premium looks and beautiful workmanship

Compact size

Attractive design

Good operating noise levels

Loads of settings Grinder with 12 levels

Incredibly easy to use

Quick cleaning of the milk wand while the drink is still below it

But remember, these are ultimately the same settings that Saeco has rolled out in a similar form a thousand times before. So why is the Saeco Xelsis SM7685/00 super-automatic espresso machine a great product update? Because it makes awesome coffee. Plain and simple. Irrespective of how much you fiddle with profiles and settings – or don’t.

Plus, there’s the wow factor – it is supremely stylish. The quality and workmanship are terrific. And it delivers the goods where it really counts for a coffee maker:

  • Finely graduated grinder calibrations that produce really delicate grounds
  • Great temperature
  • Great extraction
  • Great taste

Whether you choose to have all this performance wrapped up in a titanium or stainless steel case depends on what you find more attractive. Both are lookers.

Saeco Xelsis Super Automatic Espresso Machine Arne with Latte Macchiato

Sometimes the Saeco Xelsis super-automatic coffee maker’s functions miss the mark. Like that steam burst thing. But the truth is that the perfect-in-every-way super-automatic espressso machine has yet to be invented.

That said, the Saeco hasn’t exactly reinvented the wheel with the new Saeco Xelsis super-automatic espresso machines. Which is why I think that a price tag of roughly $2,000 is a bit steep. As we all know, it doesn’t take long for the price of new products to drop. Holding out is sure to pay off.

I definitely recommend either getting yourself the titanium Saeco Xelsis SM7684/04 super-automatic espresso machine or the stainless-steel Saeco Xelsis SM7685/00 deluxe version.

How else can I help? Is there another product you’d like reviewed? Did I miss anything? Please leave a comment. You can also check out all our other super-automatic espresso machine reviews.

I look forward to your comment

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