SMEG Espresso Machine Review: Worth the Price?

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

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In today's SMEG Espresso Machine review, I'll be continuing my exploration of the Italian manufacturer's coffee equipment. Thus far, the results have been mixed. Still, what's been most apparent during my reviews of the company's fully automatic coffee machine and coffee grinder is that you're paying a premium for the SMEG label.

In today’s SMEG Espresso Machine review, I’ll be continuing my exploration of the Italian manufacturer’s coffee equipment. Thus far, the results have been mixed. Still, what’s been most apparent during my reviews of the company’s fully automatic coffee machine and coffee grinder is that you’re paying a premium for the SMEG label.

Priced at $529.95, the SMEG Espresso Machine doesn’t appear to be bucking the trend. However, I approached the thing with an open mind during my testing.

So, is this compact and stylish semi-automatic espresso maker worth the investment? Can it compete with pint-sized favorites from my guide to the best home espresso machines? All will be revealed in my SMEG Espresso Machine review!

Pretty but overpriced

SMEG Espresso Machine

There are better options

Slim and compact

Beautiful design

Easy to use

Easy to clean

Really overpriced

Limited customization options

Limited accessories

SMEG Espresso Machine Review Overview

It’s no secret that SMEG produces stunning, retro-themed kitchen appliances. It’s also common knowledge that the Italian manufacturer doesn’t hold back when it comes to the asking prices for its offerings.

And if you’ve read any of my other SMEG reviews, you’ll know that I always question whether there’s a little more emphasis on style than there is on performance.

Still, as I unboxed the SMEG Espresso Coffee Machine I couldn’t help but admire its sleek, streamlined design and sculpted, 1950s-style aesthetic. Once the SMEG machine was sitting on my counter, I understood why so many folks go gaga over the Italian manufacturer’s stuff – it definitely made the rest of my kitchen appliances look tired and boring.

SMEG Espresso Machine Overview Parts

With that said, I was a little disappointed by the amount of plastic used in the machine’s construction. Sure, the SMEG espresso maker has been designed as a slim, lightweight appliance that’ll fit seamlessly into any kitchen. However, I expected a little more stainless steel.

Let’s just say the SMEG Espresso Machine feels a little too lightweight, especially for the price.

What quickly became apparent during my SMEG Espresso Maker review was that this is a simple, straightforward machine. There are no bells and whistles involved and it’s been designed with ease of use in mind.

That’s all very well if you aren’t interested in going all the way down the espresso preparation rabbit hole. However, if you want a machine that’ll allow you to customize parameters and tweak settings, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

SMEG Espresso Machine Features

Now that you have a first impression of what we’re dealing with, let’s continue my SMEG Espresso Machine review by taking a closer look at its most notable features. 

Size and Design

SMEG Espresso Machine Pulling Espresso Shot

I don’t feel like I need to keep going on about how pretty this machine is. After all, you know what to expect from anything sporting the SMEG logo. However, I will circle back to how neat and compact the SMEG Espresso Machine is.

At 13 inches (33 centimeters) tall, 6 inches (15 centimeters) wide and weighing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms), this beauty is much less bulky than many of its competitors. That means it’ll be ideal for those with smaller kitchens.

With that said, you’ll have to have enough space for a burr coffee grinder, although you can get great results from a manual coffee grinder capable of grinding finely enough.

Incidentally, I should make special mention of the 34-ounce (1-liter) water tank, which sits at the rear of the machine. The reservoir is transparent, so you can keep an eye on the water level. Plus, it’s removable for easy filling. Best of all, the water tank lid fits seamlessly into the machine’s housing, maintaining the SMEG’s sleek silhouette.

Colors

As is the case with most of the manufacturer’s offerings, the SMEG Espresso Machine is available in a variety of colors. Ultimately, you’ll have no problems finding a color that’ll fit with your kitchen decor. I bought the red version because it’s my favorite color. Here are the other options you can choose from:

At the time of writing, the price was the same for each color. However, that can change depending on demand and popularity.

User Interface

SMEG Espresso Machine User Interface

Remember earlier in this SMEG Espresso Machine review when I mentioned the lack of bells and whistles? I wasn’t kidding, folks. The SMEG’s user interface comprises three buttons – one for single shots, one for doubles and one for activating the steam function.

There’s a little more to it; you can use the buttons to adjust espresso volume and temperature. However, that’s where the customization options end.

Aside from the buttons, there’s a cool lever for activating the steam wand. However, you aren’t able to vary the steaming pressure like you can on a machine with a steam wand dial. Rather, it’s a case of full pressure or nothing.

Thermoblock Heating

The SMEG Espresso Machine is equipped with a thermoblock heating system, which ensures fast start times and precise temperature control.

I will say that I was very impressed by how quickly the SMEG was ready to go once I’d hit the power button. The button lights flashed as the machine came up to temperature, but only for a few seconds. And once the blinking stopped, I was able to start pulling shots right away.

Oh, and I should mention that the factory-set temperature was perfectly fine for my taste. Still, you are able to choose from three temperature settings.

Cup Warmer

The majority of the top of the SMEG Espresso Machine is occupied by a textured metal cup warmer.

Seeing as the machine is so slim, you’ll only have enough space for one or two espresso cups. Still, the cup warmer actually gets nice and toasty very quickly, which is a huge bonus. After all, drinking espresso from pre-warmed cups is the only way to go!

Milk Frother

Using the SMEG Espresso Machine milk frother

It’s clear that the SMEG Espresso Machine was designed as a beginner-friendly, no-nonsense device. I guess that’s why the manufacturer included a pannarello milk frother, rather than a commercial-style steam wand.

Sure, the milk frother has plenty of power, but there’s just no way you’re going to get anything other than super bubbly milk foam. I guess that’d be fine for a cappuccino, but flat white aficionados will be left feeling disappointed.

The pannarello wand isn’t mounted on a ball joint either, so it’s kind of awkward to use.

I also want to express my disappointment at the absence of a milk pitcher. Come on SMEG – at least you could have included one as part of the package. Especially given how much folks are paying for this thing!

Portafilter

SMEG Espresso Machine Portafilter
SMEG Espresso Machine Getting Ready

The 51mm portafilter included with the SMEG Espresso Machine is nothing to write home about. Still, it does feel pretty solid and the plastic handle is good and sturdy.

Seeing as this is an entry-level espresso maker, the portafilter uses pressurized baskets. Unlike a commercial-style basket, this style features double-wall construction, with just one hole underneath.

Without getting too technical, that means you won’t have to be as precise with your grind size and dose; pressurized baskets “iron out” inconsistency in puck preparation.

While that’ll make it easy for you to start pulling shots, you’re never going to be able to produce the quality of espresso you’d get from single-wall baskets. The sweetness, depth and complexity present in true espresso will be noticeably absent.

The SMEG comes with three filter baskets – one for single shots, one for double espresso and one for Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) pods. In my opinion, the less said about the last option, the better.

Tamping

The SMEG Espresso Machine tamper and coffee scoop.

Although the Italians don’t include a milk pitcher with the machine, at least they throw in an espresso tamper. That said, the plastic tamper/coffee scoop thing is barely worth having.

So, if you end up purchasing the SMEG Espresso Machine, do yourself a favor and invest in a decent stainless steel tamper. Trust me, it won’t cost much and it’ll make your espresso experience a million times better!

Cup Height

SMEG Espresso Machine Cup Height

Seeing as this isn’t a super-automatic espresso machine, you can’t move the dispensing spouts up and down. So, with the drip tray installed, you don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to brewing into larger cups.

However, you can easily remove the drip tray if you want to brew directly into a taller travel mug. That’s pretty normal – you can do the same thing with DeLonghi espresso machines, for example.

That said, the SMEG design team has done something awesome: they’ve added a plastic insert so that when the drip tray is removed your cup will be on a level surface.

Seriously, I get so frustrated by Breville espresso machines when I remove the drip tray. There’s always a little plastic nodule under there that makes my travel mug wobble around. So, thank you SMEG!

The SMEG Espresso Machine in Use

The SMEG Espresso Machine next to the SMEG coffee grinder.

As I already mentioned, setting up this espresso machine is a piece of cake. Of course, you’ll want to thoroughly rinse all removable parts first. But once that’s done, it’s simply a case of filling the water tank and pressing the power button.

Once the machine is up to temperature, you’re ready to start pulling shots.

Thanks to those pressurized filter baskets, dialing in your grind size won’t be a chore. In fact, I was able to quickly achieve decent results using the SMEG grinder.

The manufacturer recommends using one scoop of freshly ground coffee for the single basket and doubling up for the larger size. Still, volumetric dosing just isn’t the way to go. I found that each scoop was roughly equivalent to around 7 grams of coffee. However, the sweet spot for the double basket is 12 grams of ground coffee.

SMEG Espresso Machine Espresso

In other words, do yourself a favor and invest in a coffee scale for consistent dosing!

Although you can adjust the dispensing volume, I got great results by using the double filter basket and pressing the single shot button. I ended up with just over 1 ounce (30 milliliters) of coffee, with an extraction time of around 20 seconds.

While the espresso was lacking in the sweetness and complexity department, I was pleasantly surprised by its body and mouthfeel. Plus, the SMEG’s pressurized baskets made sure there was plenty of crema in evidence. Overall, the espresso I made was most enjoyable.

So, in terms of performance, the SMEG coffee machine was better than expected.

The most annoying thing I experienced was the way the machine moved around when I was using it. SMEG makes a big deal about the non-slip feet, but I found them to be completely ineffective. In practice, I had to hold on to the machine with one hand as I removed the portafilter so as to stop the thing from skidding off my countertop.

SMEG Espresso Machine Cleaning

Keeping the SMEG Espresso Coffee Machine in tip top condition is a breeze, but you’ll have to stay on top of things. So, make sure to rinse the filter baskets under hot water on a daily basis, as well as removable parts like the drip tray and water tank.

I’d also recommend removing the shower screen and giving it the once over at the end of each week’s use.

As for the milk frother, it’ll need to be taken apart and cleaned once a week. Otherwise, things will get pretty nasty in there.

The SMEG will let you know when it’s time to descale via flashing button lights. I won’t bore you with the details here, suffice to say the user manual walks you through all the necessary steps.

SMEG Espresso Machine Specifications

SMEG Espresso Machine
Manufacturer

SMEG

Model number

ECF01

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Plastic with stainless steel parts

Color options

Black, Cream, Pastel Blue, Pastel Green, Pastel Pink, Red

Milk frother

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Portafilter size

51 mm

Tamping

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

33.8 fl oz / 1.0 l

Number of boilers

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

Maximum cup height

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

Grinder

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

Specialty drinks

0

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1300 W

Weight

10.0 lb / 4.5 kg

Dimensions

13.0 x 6.0 x 12.0 in
33.0 x 15.2 x 30.5 cm

Warranty

2 years

Notes

Included Accessories: User Manual, 3 x filter baskets, coffee scoop/tamper

Current price on Amazon

$502.59

All specifications

SMEG vs Other Espresso Machines

My SMEG Espresso Machine review wouldn’t be complete without seeing how the thing measures up to the competition. So, let’s take a quick look at a couple of other compact coffee machines, both of which are worth considering.

SMEG Espresso Machine vs Breville Bambino Plus

Sage The Bambino Plus Latte Macchiato

Costing $499.95, the Breville Bambino Plus is in the same ballpark as the subject of today’s review, price-wise.

However, the Breville outperforms the SMEG in just about every way. Another compact, entry-level espresso machine, the Bambino Plus has a lot more to offer, including automatic pre-infusion, a 54mm portafilter with both single- and double-wall baskets and PID temperature control.

Even better, the Breville is equipped with an awesome automatic milk frother. You’re able to adjust the milk texture, and I was blown away at how well it performs.

Ultimately, the Breville Bambino Plus is a more sophisticated machine that’ll make much better espresso drinks.

See Also: Breville Bambino Plus Review 2024

SMEG Espresso Machine vs DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe

DeLonghi EC685 BK Espressomaschine Uebersicht Tamper

To be honest, the DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe is very similar to the SMEG Espresso Machine in terms of features and performance. It’s also very compact and easy to use.

If anything, the pannarello steam wand is slightly more advanced, but it’s going to produce similar results.

The thing is, the DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe will set you back just $237.28. In my opinion, that’s a perfectly reasonable asking price for an espresso maker like this. I also feel like it puts the SMEG’s asking price in stark perspective.

In other words, the SMEG is at least a couple of hundred bucks too expensive for what it can do.

See Also: DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe Review 2024

SMEG vs Other Espresso Machines Comparison Chart

SMEG Espresso MachineBreville Bambino PlusDeLonghi Dedica EC685
Manufacturer

SMEG

Breville

De’Longhi

Model number

ECF01

BES500BSS1BUS1

EC685

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Hybrid espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Plastic with stainless steel parts

Stainless steel with plastic parts

Plastic with stainless steel parts

Color options

Black, Cream, Pastel Blue, Pastel Green, Pastel Pink, Red

Brushed Stainless Steel

Black, Metallic, Red, White

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

51 mm

54 mm

51 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

33.8 fl oz / 1.0 l

64.2 fl oz / 1.9 l

37.2 fl oz / 1.1 l

Number of boilers

1

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

4.5 in / 11.4 cm

4.8 in / 12.2 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

0

1

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

No

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1300 W

1560 W

1300 W

Weight

10.0 lb / 4.5 kg

3.1 lb / 1.4 kg

9.3 lb / 4.2 kg

Dimensions

13.0 x 6.0 x 12.0 in
33.0 x 15.2 x 30.5 cm

12.2 x 7.7 x 12.6 in
31.0 x 19.6 x 32.0 cm

12.0 x 13.0 x 5.9 in
30.5 x 33.0 x 15.0 cm

Warranty

2 years

2 years

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User Manual, 3 x filter baskets, coffee scoop/tamper

Included Accessories: Tamper, Dosing tool, Stainless steel milk jug, filter baskets, Cleaning supplies, User manual.

Included Accessories: Tamper / coffee scoop, 3 x filter baskets, Instruction booklet. Optional water filter not included.

Current price on Amazon

$502.59

$499.95

$237.28

SMEG Espresso MachineBreville Bambino PlusDeLonghi Dedica EC685
Manufacturer

SMEG

Breville

De’Longhi

Model number

ECF01

BES500BSS1BUS1

EC685

Product category

Manual espresso machine

Hybrid espresso machine

Manual espresso machine

Housing material

Plastic with stainless steel parts

Stainless steel with plastic parts

Plastic with stainless steel parts

Color options

Black, Cream, Pastel Blue, Pastel Green, Pastel Pink, Red

Brushed Stainless Steel

Black, Metallic, Red, White

Milk frother

Steam wand

Steam wand

Steam wand

User interface

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

Buttons and dials

App

User profiles

Memo function only

Memo function only

Memo function only

Portafilter size

51 mm

54 mm

51 mm

Tamping

Manual

Manual

Manual

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

33.8 fl oz / 1.0 l

64.2 fl oz / 1.9 l

37.2 fl oz / 1.1 l

Number of boilers

1

1

1

Pump pressure

15 bar

15 bar

15 bar

Maximum cup height

5.0 in / 12.7 cm

4.5 in / 11.4 cm

4.8 in / 12.2 cm

Grinder

N/A

N/A

N/A

Grind adjustment levels

N/A

N/A

N/A

Bean hopper capacity

N/A

N/A

N/A

Specialty drinks

0

1

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Adjustable milk foam temperature

2-cup function

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

Yes (non-milk drinks only)

No

Hot water function

Hot milk function

Milk foam only option

Water filter

Power consumption

1300 W

1560 W

1300 W

Weight

10.0 lb / 4.5 kg

3.1 lb / 1.4 kg

9.3 lb / 4.2 kg

Dimensions

13.0 x 6.0 x 12.0 in
33.0 x 15.2 x 30.5 cm

12.2 x 7.7 x 12.6 in
31.0 x 19.6 x 32.0 cm

12.0 x 13.0 x 5.9 in
30.5 x 33.0 x 15.0 cm

Warranty

2 years

2 years

1 year

Notes

Included Accessories: User Manual, 3 x filter baskets, coffee scoop/tamper

Included Accessories: Tamper, Dosing tool, Stainless steel milk jug, filter baskets, Cleaning supplies, User manual.

Included Accessories: Tamper / coffee scoop, 3 x filter baskets, Instruction booklet. Optional water filter not included.

Current price on Amazon

$502.59

$499.95

$237.28

Verdict: SMEG Espresso Machine Review

Pretty but overpriced

SMEG Espresso Machine

There are better options

Slim and compact

Beautiful design

Easy to use

Easy to clean

Really overpriced

Limited customization options

Limited accessories

If I felt like the SMEG’s price more adequately reflected its features and performance, I’d be more likely to recommend this espresso machine as an entry-level star. I mean, the machine is quick to heat, easy to use and makes perfectly fine espresso. It’s pretty darn consistent, too.

However, for $529.95, I’d expect a whole heck of a lot more. And as we’ve seen, you can get a whole lot more for even less money.

Sure, the SMEG Espresso Coffee Machine looks gorgeous, and if you’re a fan of the brand you might not be able to resist its retro stylings.

Still, aspiring home baristas looking for a reasonably priced espresso machine will do a lot better looking elsewhere.

Have I been too harsh in my SMEG Espresso Machine review? Is this thing worth the investment in your opinion? Let me know what you think in the comments section!

Your coffee expert
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Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

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