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Manual machine with tech-assisted touch makes for perfect home coffee

At its most basic it lets a relative novice like me enjoy manual coffee-making without creating a mess or burnt sludge, but my ex-barista wife was also impressed once she adjusted to handing quite a lot of control over to the machine. Sensors in the grinder automatically turn your beans of choice into a single or double basket of grounds, and a satisfying handle lets you tamp it down evenly without getting coffee everywhere. When pulling a shot it calculates the temperature and amount of water for pre-infusion so you don’t have to worry about timing. Starting from a cold machine you get coffee in around a minute.

It will take a few coffees to get it right at first, as you need to tell the machine how coarsly to grind the beans (there’s a lovely printed guide included for beginners), and then turn a dial to set the “dose” level that fills the portafilter to the correct point. But once it tastes good you can just leave it, and the machine adapts the settings for single or double shots.

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There’s a steam wand attached that operates from a separate heating element so you can froth your own milk, but if you don’t want to introduce that extra layer of difficulty the machine can attach to the jug and froth it automatically. It does an acceptable job, but not as silky as you can do yourself with some practice.

Importantly everything can be automated with a menu selection dial, so for example choose “long black” and it will pour hot water and then shots, or choose “latte” and it will do shots and then foam and pour the milk. If you like to add extra water or milk you can teach the machine to do it that way every time.

With cheap beans and auto-frothed milk the result honestly isn’t much better than the one-button machines you find in office buildings, though you still get the tactile pleasure of moving the portafilter around and watching the magic. But with some love an attention you can make some truly excellent cafe-style coffee with this machine, and while you’re experimenting you can’t burn or overfill it no matter how early you’ve had to get up.

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