Italian brand Smeg is best-known for its statement appliances, styled in an iconic and eye-catching retro 1950’s design. The ECF01 espresso machine and a coffee pod machine are both counted in the collection, but noticeable in its absence was a bean-to-cup coffee machine. Until now.
Launched this September, the Smeg BCC02 bean-to-cup coffee machine is a contemporary take on the classic, combining a classy brushed metal frontage and drip tray with a matte coloured outer, rather than the usual shine finishes. Eight functions are selectable from its four-button interface and a dial gives you control over the grind-level of the beans.
This bean-to-cup is a breath of fresh air for a few reasons, but predominantly because of its small, compact size. This gadget sits flush against a wall thanks to nifty cord placing and allows space for a full chopping board to sit comfortably in front of it on a standard countertop; practically unheard of.
For lovers of black coffee, Smeg’s BCC01 automatic coffee machine is the perfect choice. But if milky coffee-house classics are your thing, the BCC02 model offers a steam wand that’s adjustable outwards to accommodate your favourite coffee mug.
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Unboxing the Smeg bean-to-cup coffee machine
This was the smallest bean-to-cup machine we’ve ever tested and thanks to its diminutive size, the machine is a lightweight doddle to lift onto the countertop. We attached the power wire before rinsing and filling its water tank.
The bean compartment has a lid that lifts up and off from the top, so is easily accessible to fill under low cupboards. We found a jug more practical for refilling the water tank than removing it each time. The grind coarseness is adjustable by dial from inside the compartment, which offers you personalisation depending on your favourite coffee.
The brushed metal outer repels greasy finger marks which is very practical note considering its aesthetic elegance. Set up was a series of rinses. It’s worth keeping hold of the instruction manual.
Machine features and use
Through its four-button interface, eight functions are selectable across two menus; ristretto, espresso, coffee, hot water, light ristretto, light espresso, long coffee and the steam function. Above that are five alert icons. An alarm lets you know when the water tank is empty in addition to the LED flashing icon.
Another tells you when the bean compartment is empty, when the coffee grounds container needs emptying or the drip tray is full, although that’s easy to see with an indicator. It’s also equipped with a descaling alert for which a cycle should be used.
The machine should be set to the the water hardness of your local area as this can affect the flavour of the coffee it produces. Whereas most coffee machines offer an adjustable drip tray, the espresso outlet itself is height adjustable to accommodate mugs and espresso cups alike by lowering and rising. This means your precious crema is protected from splashing out.
Removing the brew-group of bean-to-cup machines is an occasional but essential cleaning step for helping prolong its life, and can be a daunting task. Smeg’s contained this into one removable section that’s accessed by a door on the side of the machine and rinsible under the tap. It’s possible over long periods of time that the inside may need a thorough soak, but the process was simple during testing.
How did it perform?
This machine is easy to switch on, quick to warm up and importantly, quiet during the grinding and brewing. A small light beneath the outlet illuminates the coffee cup which is a great touch, as it highlights the swirl of silky caramel-coloured crema as espresso is being pulled. The coffee itself, ground on a fine setting, had a good balance of acidity to bold, rich flavour and a good aroma.
With the steam function selected, we frothed whole milk quickly and efficiently. The wand is best used tilted outwards so the milk can be warmed evenly, at an angle and you can control the depth depending on the quantity of froth you want. Its then easy to read just back back over the drip tray. Like with any coffee machine, the milk residue needed to be immediately wiped away. In this sense, it does require a small amount of hands-on contribution. But only a tad.
The Smeg BCC02 bean-to-cup coffee machine ticks all the boxes. It makes great coffee, doesn’t dominate countertop space, offers a good variety of coffees and perhaps surprisingly, is excellent value-for-money for the price. It’s a bean-to-cup coffee machine we want for our own kitchen.
Smeg BCC02 specifications
Product weight: 5kg
Adjustable water hardness: Yes
Pump pressure: 19-bar
Automatic rinse: Yes
Automatic switch-off: Yes
Water capacity: 1.4L
Dimensions: 43.3 x 18 x 33.6cm
Material: Plastic, aluminium (brushed with polished edges), steel steam nozzle
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