The initial impressions of the Melitta Caffeo Bistro are very good. It is a well constructed machine made from stainless steel and plastic and weighs a solid 9kg – so once you've got it setup you might not want to move it too often! It represents one of the top-end coffee makers available for the home and provides serious competition to the impressive Krups EA9010.
It can grind beans (to create a the freshest brew possible) and it even has a coffee ground chute so you can enjoy your favourite blends. There is also an integrated steaming wand complete with a whisk head. This combination will allow you to make almost any of your coffee shop favourites with ease, for an authentic taste at home and is a true 'bean-to-cup' device.
A Quick Overview of The Caffeo Bistro
One of the perks of this machine is that it allows you to prepare several different kinds of coffee without having to swap out the beans or clean out the coffee grounds container each time you fancy trying a different blend.
This is thanks to the dual-chambered bean hopper located at the top of the device which can hold two different beans in the machine at the same time. A small lever located in front of the chamber allows you to select which bean to use.
It is worth mentioning that, when changing beans, the beans from the previous cup will still be in the mouth of the grinder and it will take the preparation of a further two cups before the new beans have worked their way into the grinder and are used. This is important to remember if you're switching between decaff and espresso!
The water tank can be easily filled by lifting the flap on the left hand side of the machine and removing it using the foldable handle, or by simply pouring water in the top. The tank can hold up to 1.8 litres of water. This is pretty good size and, depending on the size of your cups, you should be able to get a good few coffees from this before refilling.
To help prevent the build-up of limescale the tank is fitted with a 'Claris' water filter. Melitta recommends this needs replacing every two months and you can set the current month using the blue ring on top of the filter to help you keep track of when to change it. The water hardness can be set on the machine and this will alert you when it needs descaling. This is a simple process, the machine cleans itself on a set cycle after popping one of Melitta's descaling tablets into the machine.
At the rear of the machine is a small lever which allows you to set how finely ground the coffee is. To the left most position is the finest grind with right being the most coarse. This allows you to adjust the intensity of the coffees flavour. The finest grind produces the most intense coffee because more water can permeate the beans, extracting more of the flavour and essence. This is great if, like me, you prefer a stronger coffee.
There is a warming plate on top of the unit. But this is only passive, and is heated as a by-product of the machines operation. Still, it is a nice addition and a handy place to store your cups.
Using The Melitta Caffeo Bistro
The Caffeo Bistro provides is a highly configurable machine, but it does a wonderful job of hiding this and its operation is very simple. Hidden within the display are a number of easily recognisable icons which turn on or flash when the machine needs a little attention. This could be anything from a empty water tank or bean hopper or that the cleaning program is running.
Pressing the power button to the right brings the machine to life and also begins the heat-up phase. You can set the coffee strength by pressing the 'coffee bean' button repeatedly. The strength you select is shown with a corresponding number of coffee bean symbols on the display. This ranges from one to four beans and represents mild to very strong coffee respectively.
You can set the volume of the dispensed coffee using the simple quantity regulator knob to the right of the display. At its left most position it will dispense 30ml, in the middle 125ml and in its far right position it will dispense 220ml. This is a much easier system to use than those provided by some other manufacturers which require you to program in the volume of coffee you want made! You can then set one or two cups under the height-adjustable dispenser and press the 'single' or 'dual-cup' button to prepare your coffee.
Another benefit the Caffeo Bistro offers is the ability to set the temperature of your coffee. The factory default setting is already hot – and this is the medium setting! You can also set either low or high. This is such a great feature because some machines can only kick out lukewarm coffee and it is pointless (in this coffee addicts opinion!) having a good coffee only to rush it because its luke-warm.
Integrated Milk Steamer & Frother
The milk frothing arm is incredibly easy to use and its attached whisking head makes it easy to create a good foam for your cappuccino. When in use, it can be swung out of the machine and lowered to sit directly into a jug of milk – without the need to hold the jug.
To activate the steam (and the frothing mechanism) press the steam button to enable the steam knob. This takes a few moments and during this time the steam button will flash, but turn solid when it is ready for use. Turning the steam knob starts up the whisk and pushes steam through your milk – heating and frothing it at the same time. The variable knob allows you to adjust the rate of steam and gives you more control over how foamy and hot the prepared milk is.
Once you're done the whole whisk assembly can be removed by twisting it anti-clockwise and makes it much easier to clean than if it was permanently attached to the machine, it is also dishwasher safe.
Easy Integrated Cleaning Programme
The last thing I'd like to talk about it the automated cleaning system – which I think is wonderful! While some parts of the machine will need to be removed and cleaned from time to time, on the whole, the Caffeo Bistro does a pretty good job of looking after itself.
The 'integrated cleaning programme' is designed to remove build up and residues from inside the machine – such as coffee oil – which would be difficult to remove by hand. In total the cleaning cycle takes around 15 minutes and only requires you to remove the water filter and coffee grounds container before beginning. The container then needs to be placed under the dispenser to catch the residue cleaned from the machine. The cleaning cycle is great addition that keeps the maintenance of your machine to a minimum and allows you to use it for its intended purpose: to create great coffee!
What We Think About The Melitta Caffeo Bistro
In our opinion the Caffeo Bistro is one of those machines which creates the most authentic coffee you're likely to get outside of coffee shops. It's quality build, ease of use and low maintenance means it is definitely one of our favourites – and pleases the ardent coffee fans in us!
It isn't the cheapest coffee machine out there so you might want to check out the Scultura coffee maker if you're on more of a budget, but if you're after a true bean-to-cup device, and don't mind paying extra, the Caffeo Bistro can sometimes be found discounted here.
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