Cuisinart EM-100 Espresso Maker – Full Review
If you are in the market for a fairly inexpensive espresso maker that works with pods as well as ground espresso, the Cuisinart EM-100 is one to keep in mind. With a handy removable water carafe that holds 53 ounces, plus 15-bar pressure that delivers rich-tasting espresso with a good amount of crema on top, this machine is equipped with a steam wand that lets you steam milk for lattes or make tasty foam for cappuccinos. It also delivers hot water, allowing you to use it to make tea, cocoa, and other beverages.
Like most espresso machines on the market, this one allows you to make either a single or double shot, and as long as the ground coffee beans or espresso pods you are using are fresh, you should find the flavor to be right on target. Keep in mind that water quality matters too, and invest in a water filter for your home if you don’t have one already; this machine does not have one built in.
The Cuisinart EM-100 is a handsome espresso maker with a gleaming stainless steel exterior that looks good in most kitchens. It’s very easy to keep clean, and as long as you keep up with emptying the drip tray, you’ll find that the amount of effort required to clean up after making drinks is negligible.
In reading through Cuisinart EM-100 reviews left by others, I found that there are a few known issues with this machine that are worth knowing about prior to purchase. Some of the complaints are basically about issues that happen due to user error, and as this isn’t a machine that’s designed to do things for you, I’d say it’s fairly normal to have a bit of a learning curve that can be overcome by practice. In light of the performance issues noted by other reviewers and in the hope of keeping you well-informed, I’ve created a list of common problems in the detailed section that follows.
Although this is basically a nice espresso maker that works as advertised, there are a couple of things I myself really don’t like about it, mostly having to do with design and fairly easy to get around with a little bit of finagling. The addition of a cup warmer on top as well as the inexpensive cost make the “cons” seem fairly unimportant when contrasted with the “pros.” Read on to learn more.
A Solid Machine With A Good Looking Design
The Cuisinart EM-100 has the good looks most Cuisinart appliances are known for. It has an attractive stainless steel exterior and a nice streamlined shape. It feels quite heavy for its size, and it seems to be very well-built.
Easy To Use
As I’m someone with plenty of experience at making espresso and espresso-based drinks, I found that this machine was very easy to use. Grind the beans, tamp the puck, and select the appropriate setting, and a short while later, I’m enjoying a wonderful espresso topped with a nice amount of crema. The DVD accompanying the machine is a great touch, particularly for someone who has no experience making espresso. Be sure to watch before setting up the machine and trying it out.
Works With Ground Espresso or Pods
The Cuisinart EM-100 works with pods or ground espresso, and unlike some other espresso machines I’ve tried, it comes with a special filter to use with pods. This is a really nice feature that lets you make the most of pre-filled espresso pods in the event you decide that you want to pay a little more to keep them on hand. They’re more convenient and make less of a mess than ground espresso does, and because this machine is not equipped with a grinder, you might find the convenience of pods is worth the pleasant flavor and the added expense.
I find that this espresso maker can be finicky when using ground espresso; grind it too finely, and you will end up with a mess instead of a shot of espresso. You also need to be careful not to pack the grounds too tightly when tamping. This is mostly a matter of trial and error that you should be able to iron out after making a few practice shots.
Nice Stainless Steel Steam Wand
The stainless steel steam wand is a bit longer than the ones on some other machines I’ve tried, meaning you have to figure out how to position it before you get started with steaming milk. Some reviewers complain that the wand is too long, but the extra length adds a little bit more heat to your milk and might even make prep time a tiny bit shorter. Like the wands on other espresso makers, this one can get sticky, making cleanup a little tough. You can get around this issue by submerging the wand in a cup of hot water for a minute before wiping the exterior.
Stainless Steel Pitcher and Coffee Scoop/Tamping Tool Combo Included
The Cuisinart EM-100 comes with a stainless steel pitcher for heating and frothing milk. It holds just the right amount for a nice-sized latte or two cappuccinos, and it negates the need to find some other kind of container to heat milk in. It would be nice if the unit came with a thermometer too, but you’ll have to buy one separately if you decide you want to use one.
The scoop and tamping combo tool that comes with the machine is OK, but not as nice as a stainless steel espresso tamper. Cleaning pins are also included.
Function Knob With Three Settings
While some basic espresso makers have very little to offer in the way of settings, this one has three settings on the function knob. You can choose between steam, make coffee, and pour hot water. The hot water function is quite a nice touch, as it lets you use the machine for more than simply making espresso drinks.
Warming Tray on Top
The upper warming tray is a nice touch. It serves as a place to keep your special espresso cups, plus it warms them up so that drinks stay hot longer. A narrow rail keeps the cups from accidentally falling off the espresso maker.
Cleanup is simple, no more difficult than cleaning another standard espresso maker. Some reviewers mentioned that the drip tray fills up with nasty water and overflows onto the countertop, which is clearly a matter of user error. If you notice something has overflowed or dripped while you were making your drink, it’s best to detach the drip tray, dump it, and give it a quick rinse before snapping it back into place.
The exterior wipes clean, and the portafilter and filters just need a quick rinse after use.
Common Problems / Issues
As is true of almost all inexpensive espresso makers, the Cuisinart EM-100 sometimes has manufacturing flaws. There are also a few design-related issues that a number of reviewers mention. My personal experience with the Cuisinart EM-100 has been overwhelmingly positive, but I wouldn’t be doing you any favors by omitting this information, so here’s the rundown:
- Water reservoir leaks or is cracked. The water reservoir is made of plastic, and it’s not the best-designed unit I’ve seen. A common problem with the reservoir is that it starts to leak a few months after the machine has been in use, probably due to an issue with the seal between the reservoir and the machine. This is a notorious problem associated with coffee machines that have water filters attached, and the best way to get around it is to pour water into the reservoir while leaving it attached to the machine instead of detaching it and filling it, then popping it back into place. The less you move these parts, the less opportunity they have to fail. Check to be sure that the reservoir is intact before setting the machine up. Some users report that their reservoirs were cracked straight out of the package, and that they had to send them back for replacements.
- Coffee shoots everywhere instead of pouring into the cup. This is a classic sign that your grounds are packed too tightly, and in just about all cases, it is the result of human error. Going with a little coarser grind and avoiding the impulse to tamp too tightly is usually enough to fix it. There are quite a few video tutorials online that show exactly how to make the perfect espresso shot.
- There is no pressure gauge on this machine. This isn’t likely to be a problem for anyone who already has experience with espresso machines. If you’re new to making espresso, be sure that you follow the instructions for releasing all the pressure before taking the machine apart to clean it, or you could end up sustaining fairly serious burns and having coffee grounds shoot all over the kitchen.
Despite these issues, the Cuisinart EM-100 leaves many reviewers completely satisfied, and I myself have had a totally satisfactory experience with it.
“How big is this espresso machine?”
The Cuisinart EM-100 espresso maker has a small footprint that’s just a little larger than an average sheet of paper: 8.2 by 10.9 inches. It is 12.6 inches tall, and it weighs 15.7 pounds, according to the manufacturer.
“Does this come with one metal filter or two?”
There are two metal filters: one for making single shots and one for making double shots.
“Can I make a regular cup of coffee with the espresso maker?”
Yes, you can make a shot or two of espresso and add hot water to make a Long Black or Americano, which many agree tastes much better than a cup of coffee from a standard drip machine.
“How long does the machine take to preheat?”
Preheating takes between one and two minutes depending on the water temperature.
“Does this espresso maker have a water filter?”
There is no water filter. You will find your machine works better (and your espresso tastes best) if you use pre-filtered water instead of plain water from the tap.
“Is this a noisy espresso maker?”
Because of the amount of pressure involved in making espresso, it’s nearly impossible to find a machine that doesn’t make noise. This one is about average, it makes the same kinds of sounds you’d hear from a professional espresso maker in a coffee shop.
What People are Saying
The Cuisinart EM-100 is a good espresso maker for the price. It makes great-tasting espresso, it steams milk perfectly, and it comes with some nice extras including the stainless steel milk pitcher and the selection knob that allows you to just make hot water. As long as you pay close attention to the instructions and give yourself a little time to experiment, you should, have a positive experience with the machine. This being said, manufacturing errors do happen with kitchen appliances and some of the same complaints about this machine are heard about machines that cost quite a bit more. If you are looking for a basic espresso machine at an affordable price, this is one worth considering.
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