SMEG Retro Coffee Maker Review: A Blast From the Past!

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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Taking on this SMEG coffee maker review reminded me of the good old days. Things were so much simpler back then: no smartphones, no internet and coffee makers that just, well … made coffee.

Taking on this SMEG coffee maker review reminded me of the good old days. Things were so much simpler back then: no smartphones, no internet and coffee makers that just, well … made coffee.

Sounds awful, right?! For starters, my guide to the best drip coffee makers would be a lot smaller and less exciting. Plus, there wasn’t any specialty coffee in the 1950s – the best you could hope for was mass-produced, stale coffee that came in a can.

Still, if you’re a fan of old-school aesthetics, the SMEG coffee maker will really float your boat. This dreamy retro style coffee machine has been a real hit on Instagram, so I’ve ordered one to test out.

I wanted to know whether the SMEG coffee maker could deliver great coffee as well as stunning good looks. So, I ordered the SMEG from Amazon and just finished testing it out. A little later I’ll discuss my experiences using the coffee maker that’s got everyone talking.

Best Retro Coffee Maker

SMEG Retro Coffee Maker

Best Retro Coffee Maker

Fashionable 1950s retro look

Thoughtful design

Modern features

Limited adjustable settings

Handle on carafe a little flimsy

SMEG Retro Coffee Maker Overview

Founded in 1948, SMEG is an Italian company that specializes in high-end, retro-themed kitchen appliances. To be honest, I thought the manufacturer just produced beautiful and expensive fridges and stoves. But as it turns out, SMEG has diversified into smaller appliances like toasters, blenders and now, coffee makers, coffee grinders and fully automatic coffee machines.

There’s no denying the SMEG coffee maker is a gorgeous piece of eye candy. Whether or not you’re a devotee of 1950s-style aesthetics, this coffee maker is undeniably beautiful. Featuring mid century curves and a glossy finish, the SMEG oozes retro-futuristic cool, and obvious attention to detail has gone into the coffee maker’s design.

Leave it to the Italians to produce something so stylishly self-conscious and uncompromising.

Best Retro Coffee Maker

SMEG Coffee Maker All Parts.

There’s little doubt the SMEG coffee maker will add some “wow factor” to your kitchen – this thing really makes a statement. That’s why I named the SMEG “best retro coffee maker” in my coffee maker guide for 2024.

What’s surprising, though, is how large the coffee maker is. Standing 17 inches (43 centimeters) tall, the SMEG isn’t what you’d call compact, so it might not be the best choice for small kitchens.

As far as build quality goes, the SMEG drip coffee machine is heavy and durable. The exterior features quite a bit of high-quality stainless steel and the manufacturer’s logo is displayed prominently right on front of the machine.

Unfortunately, that’s where the quality seems to end. Inside, there’s a lot of plastic in evidence, including the showerhead and lid. The carafe is made from glass, but it looks like the manufacturer cut corners with the flimsy plastic handle.

You’d be forgiven for worrying about whether the SMEG coffee maker’s retro design is complemented by 1950s-era technology. Well, fear not – there are plenty of modern touches in evidence.

Front and center is an understated LED digital display. There are also four buttons with reassuringly modern-looking icons, reminding you that the SMEG coffee maker is very much a 21st century appliance.

In this SMEG coffee maker review, I break down the features the machine has to offer. Let’s take a look at those now!

SMEG Retro Coffee Maker Features

Thus far I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how cool the SMEG retro coffee maker looks. Still, the question remains: can this machine produce really tasty coffee, or are we just dealing with a case of style over substance?

After all, the SMEG coffee maker isn’t cheap – you’ll pay upwards of $229.95 on Amazon, depending on which color you choose. Let’s take a closer look at the SMEG’s unique features to get a better idea of what this coffee maker is all about.

Colors

You could never accuse SMEG of limiting your self expression. Here are the colors you can choose from:

  • Black

  • Stainless Steel

  • Cream

  • Pastel Blue

  • Pastel Green

  • Red

  • Pink

As I already mentioned, the SMEG coffee maker’s price depends on which color you choose. To put that in perspective, those of you who simply must have a pink coffee maker might find yourselves paying a whole lot more. Especially given the popularity of the Barbie movie!

Anti-Slip Feet

Clocking in at over 7 pounds (3 kilograms), the SMEG coffee maker is pretty substantial, and I’ve already mentioned its durable stainless steel housing. Still, accidents do happen and the last thing you want is your coffee maker ending up on the floor.

That’s why I always appreciate thoughtful features like anti-slip feet. Knowing my coffee maker is safe and sound just gives me one less thing to worry about. Incidentally, during my review of the SMEG Espresso Machine, I pointed out that the anti-slip feet didn’t work at all. Well, I’m happy to report that the drip coffee maker didn’t budge at all during my testing.

Control Panel

SMEG Coffee Maker User Interface.

The SMEG retro coffee maker’s control panel is a fairly straightforward affair, consisting of an LED digital display and four buttons. There’s also a lever on the side of the machine for setting the time and inputting water hardness settings.

As always, I made sure to evaluate the machine for user friendliness by trying to use the thing without even opening the user manual. You’ll be happy to hear that all went very smoothly indeed. Seriously, the SMEG coffee maker’s control panel is remarkably intuitive and easy to navigate.

Sound Control

Apparently, SMEG received a lot of complaints about how much noise their coffee maker made. I’m not talking about the pleasant gurgling sounds we all associate with coffee makers, either.

The machine would beep and screech like an angry droid, driving many customers to the edge of madness. The manufacturer listened, and the retro coffee maker now features a sound control function to silence the beeping. Silence really is golden.

Program Function

I was going to make a joke about people in the 1950s wishing they could program their coffee maker, but I’m not altogether sure they didn’t have that option. I’ll have to add that to my Google list.

Anyway, what’s important is that the SMEG coffee maker has a super convenient automatic start function. You can program the coffee maker to make coffee at a set time, so it’ll be ready for you as soon as you roll out of bed.

Water Hardness

A really cool feature of this retro coffee maker is the water hardness function. You’re able to set your water hardness from one of three options – hard, medium and soft. I imagine the machine makes subtle changes according to which setting is selected, therefore allowing it to operate with maximum efficiency.

Whatever the case, it’s good to see that the manufacturer cares enough to offer this as a feature.

Water Level Indicator

Adding water to the SMEG Coffee Maker.

The SMEG coffee maker’s 47 ounce (1.4 liter) water reservoir isn’t the biggest around, but you’ll definitely be able to make enough coffee to get the day started.

However, you’ll have to be at least semi-awake as you’re trying to fill the thing – I found that the opening was really small, requiring a steady hand as I was pouring water in.

What I really like is the stylish water level indicator on the side of the machine. It features attractive icons that help you accurately fill the water tank from a minimum of two cups to a maximum level of 10 cups.

Keep Warm Function

If you’ve read any of my other coffee maker reviews, you’ll probably have guessed that I’m not a fan of warmer plates. I’ll take a thermal carafe any day, rather than have to drink coffee that’s been slowly cooked in a glass pot.

Not everyone seems to share my sentiments, though. Apparently, SMEG received countless complaints about its coffee maker’s keep warm function, which used to last for — an entirely reasonable — 20 minutes before shutting off.

The manufacturer has bowed to the pressure, and the SMEG retro coffee maker now keeps a full carafe of coffee warm for up to an hour. Supposedly, anyway – I’ll discuss my experiences with the keep warm function a little later.

Filter Basket

The SMEG coffee maker's reusable mesh filter.

The SMEG coffee machine comes with a nylon mesh reusable filter, which means you don’t have to worry about waking up to the dreaded empty filter box. The main downside to using a reusable mesh filter is that you run the risk of finding sediment in your cup.

Fortunately, you can use #4 paper filters for a cleaner extraction. With that said, I was pretty impressed by the SMEG filter. In fact, I experienced no sediment whatsoever in the carafe or my cup. 

Glass Carafe

SMEG Coffee Maker Glass Carafe.

The SMEG’s elegant 10-cup glass carafe fits with the machine’s overall aesthetic and features a custom-designed lid to minimize spills. During my testing I was actually very pleased with the carafe’s ergonomics and performance. In fact, I don’t remember having to wipe up any splashes or spills.

As I mentioned earlier, though, the carafe’s plastic handle is a little on the flimsy side. Even if it is nice and shiny!

Aroma Setting

The SMEG coffee machine’s aroma settings can be adjusted via the aroma button on the front of the coffee maker. You can choose between Delicate or Intense, which refers to brew strength.

Quite what the machine changes when switching between aroma settings isn’t clear, even though I was paying particular attention to this feature during my hands-on review. Still, I can tell you one thing: the Delicate setting produces a weak, watery brew that’s not worth drinking. Trust me, stick with the Intense setting and you’ll be fine.

Brewing Options

SMEG Coffee Maker Coffee.

The SMEG coffee machine allows you to brew anywhere from two cups to a full 10-cup carafe of coffee. There’s also a 4 Cups button, which allows you to fill the water reservoir, but brew a smaller amount of coffee.

Anti-Drip System

Although I’m not a fan of the keep warm function, at least SMEG has included an anti drip system, which is essentially a valve on the bottom of the filter basket. This reduces the risk of coffee dripping onto the hot plate, which smells awful and is really hard to clean up.

What’s in the SMEG Retro Coffee Machine Box?

Here’s what’s included with the SMEG retro coffee machine:

  • Glass carafe with custom-designed lid

  • Reusable filter

  • Filter basket with anti-drip valve

  • Coffee scoop

  • User manual

How to Use the SMEG 50’s Retro Style Coffee Maker

Making a pot of coffee with the SMEG coffee machine should be a fairly familiar process for most of you. As always, it’s my duty to remind you that you’ll get the best results by using freshly roasted, high-quality coffee beans and grinding them right before you brew.

If you don’t already own a decent burr grinder, check out my coffee grinder guide for some inspiration!

Steps

  1. First, fill the water tank. You’ll have to open the coffee maker’s lid and pour in water using another vessel. This can be fairly awkward, and depending on where your SMEG machine is located, it could be the biggest challenge of your morning.

  2. Put the permanent filter into its holder, then add your freshly ground coffee. Remember, you can use a paper filter if you’d prefer.

  3. Close the coffee maker’s sizable lid, then place the glass carafe onto the warmer plate, making sure its lid aligns perfectly with the anti drip valve.

  4. The SMEG’s default aroma setting is Delicate, but you can select Intense by pressing the aroma button. Now’s the time to press the 4 Cups button if you only want to brew a half-carafe.

  5. To start brewing, press and hold the On/Off button, which will flash for the duration of the brewing process. If you’re brewing a full carafe, the keep warm function will start automatically once the coffee is ready. That said, you can manually turn it off by pressing the On/Off button again.

My Observations

I experimented with different coffee beans and a variety of brewing ratios during my testing. However, what was immediately apparent is the lack of any special features that can elevate the SMEG and convince me that it’s more than just an ordinary coffee maker with a pretty face.

SMEG Coffee Maker Coffee Ready.

After all, there are a growing number of fairly affordable coffee makers that have been certified for home brewing by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). Such machines feature PID temperature controllers, sophisticated shower heads, pre-infusion functions and more.

With all that said, the SMEG coffee maker is capable of brewing pretty darn tasty coffee. I was especially pleased by the results I got using a medium roast Brazilian blend. The coffee was chocolatey, full-bodied and incredibly satisfying, even if it did lack a little complexity.

While the manufacturer recommends using one level scoop of ground coffee per cup, allow me to disagree. I busted out my coffee scale and found that one scoop equals 8 grams of coffee. However, you’re going to want to use around 10 grams of coffee per cup for the best results. Still, everyone has different tastes, so it’s best to experiment until you find your ideal brewing ratio.

My main complaint about the coffee from the SMEG was its temperature. Listen, I’m not crazy about super hot coffee, but I know a lot of you demand tongue-searing temperatures from your machine. And once the carafe had been on the warming plate for 10 minutes, the coffee was even cooler. So, that particular function doesn’t cut the mustard.

Ultimately, I hate to think of you guys having to microwave your coffee right after brewing. But if you like to add cream or non-dairy milk, that’s gonna be your only option for hot coffee from the SMEG drip machine.

SMEG Retro Coffee Machine Cleaning and Descaling

Thanks to the SMEG’s anti drip system, you shouldn’t have to deal with many unwanted splashes and stains. Still, accidents happen and the coffee maker’s exterior can be wiped down with a damp cloth.

You should clean the permanent filter, filter holder and glass carafe after every use. Manufacturers always tell you that it’s cool to put filters and brewing baskets in the dishwasher, but I don’t agree.

Overhead view of the SMEG Coffee Maker with coffee grounds in the filter.

A quick rinse with warm water and perhaps a little mild detergent will do the job nicely and get rid of stray coffee grounds. The same goes for the glass carafe.

The SMEG retro coffee maker will let you know when it’s time to descale the machine. The descaling icon begins to flash repeatedly, and won’t quit until you’ve performed your duty. Not to worry, though – descaling the SMEG is really easy.

Products like Urnex Descaling Solution or Full Circle Descaling Powder will do the job nicely, but you can also use a mix of white vinegar and water.

Press the On/Off and Auto Start buttons simultaneously to start the descaling program. Once it’s finished, don’t forget to perform a couple of brew cycles with clean water to rinse the machine

SMEG Retro Coffee Maker Specifications

SMEG Retro Coffee Maker
Manufacturer

SMEG

Model number

DCF02

Product category

Drip coffee maker

Housing material

Stainless steel

Color options

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

Carafe

Glass

Keep warm function

Yes

Milk frother

User interface

Text display with buttons

App

Removable water reservoir

Water reservoir capacity

47.3 fl oz / 1.4 l

Brew capacity

50 fl oz / 1479 ml

Single cup function

Reusable coffee filter

Coffee pod compatible

Brew styles

1

Pre-infusion

Adjustable coffee temperature

Coffee strength adjustment levels

Hot water function

Water filter

Power consumption

1100 W

Weight

7.0 lb / 3.2 kg

Dimensions

14.0 x 10.0 x 10.0 in
35.6 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm

Warranty

2 years

SCA certified home brewer

Notes

Included Accessories: Instructions manual, coffee scoop

Current price on Amazon

$229.95

All specifications

SMEG Retro Style Coffee Maker vs Other Retro Coffee Makers

As it turns out, the SMEG isn’t the only retro style coffee maker kid on the block. There are quite a few manufacturers trying to appeal to those who want to make their coffee in a time machine. Let’s take a look at a couple of coffee makers that are trying to get in on the action.

SMEG Retro Coffee Maker vs Nostalgia

Nostaliga Coffee Maker Yellow Front

If you’re determined to own a retro style coffee maker, but feel like the SMEG’s price tag isn’t old-fashioned enough, the Nostalgia Coffee Maker is worth checking out.

Costing just $79.99 on Amazon, the Nostalgia is another fully programmable coffee machine with a permanent mesh filter, clock and a backlit LED display. What’s even better is the Nostalgia’s 12 cup capacity, which makes it ideal for coffee-loving families.

See Also: Nostalgia Coffee Maker Review 2024

SMEG Retro Coffee Maker vs Amaste

The Amaste Coffee Maker is an even more affordable retro style coffee maker, although it only has a five cup capacity. That said, it’s a great option for small kitchens and only costs $90.24 on Amazon.

The Amaste retro style coffee maker comes with a permanent filter, hot plate and even offers three brew styles. Plus, you get to choose from exotic-sounding colors like champagne, matcha green and coral red.

Verdict: SMEG 50’s Retro Style Coffee Maker

I totally get the appeal of the SMEG drip coffee machine. It’s an undeniably stylish and beautiful machine and, for fans of its 1950s retro look, the purchase price might seem entirely reasonable.

Still, if you’re looking for a machine that’ll perform to consistently high standards of coffee preparation, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere; there are several drip coffee machines in my coffee maker guide that have been Golden Cup-certified by the SCA to produce excellent coffee to rival that from a Chemex or pour over coffee maker.

The Brim 8-Cup Coffee Maker comes to mind as an excellent machine that’ll set you back way less than the SMEG.

That being said, I’m glad I tested out the SMEG drip coffee machine. It wasn’t the bee’s knees and it didn’t make me flip my lid. But it made decent coffee and I love pretty things!

I hope reading my SMEG coffee maker review has transported you to a time when everything was simpler and all was right with the world. What’s your experience using this retro beauty? I look forward to your comments!

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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