Featuring gorgeous, sleek curves and a brushed stainless steel case the Krups EA286e is definitely one of the best designed coffee makers we've seen. It is a true bean-to-cup system and features an integrated burr grinder, coffee dispensing nozzle and steam frother. And, if you've read any of our other reviews, you'll know this is the magic combo for any coffee maker. It will allow you to make almost any of your coffee shop favourites from rich espressos to creamy cappuccinos.
EA826e A Quick Overview:
Lets start by looking at the basics: how good is the coffee it prepares? Ultimately this is, in part, down to your bean selection and you might need to experiment a little to get a selection which suits your tastes. That said, the EA286e has the ability to create a wonderful espresso thanks to its 15 bar pump. This is agreed by most coffee aficionados as the perfect pressure for extracting the ideal aroma and flavour from coffee beans and for creating a rich, golden crema on espressos (the crema is a dense froth developed as a result of the natural oils in the coffee).
Moving to the top of the machine you'll find the cup warming tray and, behind this, the coffee bean holder. Despite appearing rather small it is, in fact, recessed in the machine and is larger than it appears and can hold up to 275g of beans.
Looking Inside the bean holder there is a stainless steel conical burr grinder. The 'grind' of the coffee plays a big role in the strength, and taste, of the coffee produced; and a burr grinder is the perfect kind of grinder for coffee beans. It crushes the beans to produce uniform sized coffee grounds and releases the coffee's oils. This creates a much smoother and richer flavoured brew. You can also set the size of the grind using a small switch adjacent to the bean holder. There are a total of 3 settings and you can choose from fine, medium and coarse grounds – which should suit all tastes.
The back of the unit is home to the 1.8 litre, removable water tank. It also comes complete with a filter cartridge which cleans impurities such as lead, copper and pesticides from the water. This ultimately creates a much better tasting cup. Fitting the filter is easy and it can be placed inside the water tank and, whilst doing this is optional, we recommend using it.
The used coffee grounds are deposited in a container located in the left hand side of the machine. It can be easily pulled out and emptied for fast clearing.
Another feature we thought was rather nifty is the inclusion of 'in-built' service maintenance instructions. These are stored on a 'card' which can be slid out of the back of the machine and gives you all the basic instructions you need to care for your machine. It even supplies telephone support numbers should you need them.
A Very Interesting Frothing Mechanism…
Built into the side of the device is a dual function, milk frothing wand. It allows you to prepare the milk in two different ways.
The first way is a preparation method you will most probably recognise: the steamer wand is held in the milk and hot steam is pushed through the milk to heat it and simultaneously create a dense foam. To do this you need to hold the tip of the wand in the milk and gently rotate the jug.
The second method is a little more unusual, it provides the exact same result, but is completely hands off. A small container made of (we assume) stainless steel is supplied with the machine and is slightly reminiscent of an old-fashioned milk bottle. Milk is placed in this container and it is fixed to the steaming wand via a clear plastic hose. The tip of the wand is then placed in your coffee cup and hot foamy milk is created directly inside your coffee, rather than creating this separately.
This does have a tendency to spit on the cappuccino setting but this feature as a whole is clearly for convenience and will help you get that 'authentic coffee experience' in a hurry.
How To Use It:
On the front of the machine is a beautiful, high contract LCD screen which allows you to select the type of coffee to make and configure the machine to operate exactly as you want.
Preparing a coffee is relatively simple. A rotating knob directly beneath the LCD display is turned to select one of four coffees the machine can prepare: espresso, espresso strong, coffee and long coffee. Pressing the 'OK' button (in the center of the knob) will confirm your choice and load a second screen indicating pre-heating is in process and show you how much coffee it will prepare. After a few seconds it will automatically make and dispense your coffee. You can use the dial to change the quantity of coffee it prepares and adjust this permanently in the settings if you need to. Also, if it appears as though the machine is going to make too much coffee you can cancel the dispensing process by pressing the OK button again.
The coffee dispensing nozzle is adjustable so you can accommodate most size cups, although most larger mugs won't be able to fit in the space too comfortably – if at all. So you might need to get a set of lattes glasses or cappuccino mugs if you don't have any regular size cups.
We mentioned earlier that the EA286e allowed you to configure a multitude of useful settings to tailor your coffee making experience, well we weren't kidding! Several sub menus can be accessed on the main display by using a combination of the knob and buttons on the front of the unit. This may sound complex but it is really very intuitive and is very similar to the menu systems found on older mobile phones where you are presented with a list of options to choose from and pressed a button to select the respective option.
Without being too mundane and listing the entire spread of settings we have a select choice here which, we believe, would interest the coffee enthusiast:
- The temperature of the coffee. There are 3 settings with '3' being the hottest. This is great for those people, like me, who would much rather enjoy a boiling coffee and not the tepid stuff produced by some machines. Of course, you can always set it to the end of the spectrum if you prefer and get much 'cooler' coffees.
- Auto-on. This feature can set the machine to start the preheating process at a set time – great making sure the coffee maker is ready when you get out of bed in the morning!
- Volume unit. This setting allows you to pre-set the quantity of coffee the machine will produce per cup and will create just the right amount of coffee for the size of cups you own.
Automatic cleaning and descaling programmes
Like any good coffee maker the EA826e features automated cleaning programmes so you can spend more time enjoying great coffee and less time cleaning the machine!
Each of the two cleaning programmes lasts around 20 minutes during which time the machine will take over and automatically clean itself. Each programme is simple to activate and the LCD display provides clear instructions which typically only take 3 steps to activate.
Our Verdict On The Krups EA826e:
The Krups EA826e makes a good coffee and is easy to use thanks to its intuitive control panel. Our only gripe is that we feel Krups could have placed a few more buttons to allow quick access to popular features, like manufacturers such as Melitta have.
Overall it is a very well constructed machine that boasts a lot of functionality in one small device. It even comes with an international 2 year guarantee (at the time of this review) and is clearly aimed at making the process of creating a good cup of coffee at home as simple and as fast as possible.
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