The popularity of home espresso machines is on the rise in a big way. What’s really great about this trend is that these aren’t just small, cheap automatic versions. Oh no. The models normally associated with catering, coffee bars and skilled baristas are now appearing all over consumer marketplaces.
While this is a fairly recent movement, the Elektra Micro Casa Semiautomatica has been around for some time. And for good reason. It is one of the beautiful and unique heat exchanger machines out there.
This review is going to delve into the key features and performance qualities of the Microcasa to help explain why this is one of the best coffee machines out there.
To start off, the machine is stunning. It looks beautiful and truly will be something to behold within most kitchens. It’s formed of mostly brass, and if you’re trying to put together a unique kitchen, this certainly will sit right at home there. Furthermore, the clear coat finish means the machine is robust and strong.
If you’re concerned about how much space this will take up, then fear not. It’s as light and narrow as a standard home machine, yet has the drink making capacity of a small commercial machine.
Any inconveniences? My only bugbear is the lack of a water tap. This is however only an issue if you’re wanting to make Americanos, and can easily worked around by either using the steam wand to quickly up water, or by cheating and using a kettle.
The Elektra needs about 45 minutes to warm up completely. This might seem extreme for those of you who are only just getting into traditional coffee makers, but when compared to other similar models this is actually quite reasonable. Once the machine is hot, the machine’s boiler cycle maintains a good load of around 120 watts.
The water tank will serve eight to ten shots before needing a refill and I recommend refilling the boiler with distilled water in order to avoid descaling problems.
The Semiautomatica has a steam wand design that doesn’t move in any direction, and the tip can’t easily be screwed off, however this actually provides considerable benefits when using the machine.
Once placed in milk and turned on, there’s no water or milk splashing around, but instead just an instant, perfect whirlpool of milk slowly turning into microfoam.
The froth produced by this machine is perfectly sweet and shiny, and this is one of many areas where the quality of this model shines through. For creating successive cappuccinos, it’s the easiest and best frothing espresso machine I’ve used.
Put simply, the quality of single shots from this model is sublime. The Elektra works great on a variety of different grinds, with the pump able to match whatever the grind level in order to produce a great shot of coffee. I’d still recommend experimenting with the grind level that you put in the machine, but it’s reassuirng to know that this model will be relatively forgiving with you, even if your tamps or grind fineness are a little off. Given that we’re not all baristars and this is for home use, this is a godsend!
The shot body isn’t quite as strong or dense as some other models, so this model definitely suits those of you who prefer lighter espresso blends.
Can the Elektra deliver on consecutive shots? What helps this model is its short recovery time between shots.
With its aforementioned exposed boiler, a lot of heat does escape the machine this way. However, thanks to its tightly tuned pressurestat and regular machine cycles, the boiler temperature is maintained very well throughout use.
What does this mean for your coffee? Well, it means that the Elektra manages to produce consecutive shots of coffee with very little degradation or sourness (caused by cold brewing temperatures) between shots.
Although the Elektra steams well, the time it takes to steam is considerable, especially given the size of the boiler, taking about half a minute for a latte.
The Elektra’s strength lies in the design of its steam wand, making it superb at producing microfroth. The frothing pitcher helps make steaming a smooth process, with the angled exit holes on the wand tip, and its relatively slow steaming time actually lets users (especially novices) ease their way into steaming.
The pressure emitted by the wand does so at such an optimal level that helps stretch the milk at just the right pace while its fixed position stops large bubbles forming in the milk, making the Elektra very novice-friendly.
The slow steaming time is a blessing in another way too. A quick change of temperature in milk when frothed can leave the milk tasting bland and flavorless. However the relatively slow froth time on the Elektra helps the milk taste sweeter. This is very common with traditional machine when compared to super automatics, and makes it the perfect appliance for making cappuccinos and lattes.
Given the obvious comparisons that could be made with commercial machines, Elektra have produced an incredibly easy-to-use coffee maker that needn’t intimidate the most novice of users. Plus, above all, it makes simply incredible coffee.
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