SCG Expert Review: Saeco Incanto Plus
The Saeco Incanto Plus is a Seattle Coffee Gear Exclusive version of the basic Incanto machine. While we like all of Saeco's superauto range, we offer the Incanto Plus exclusively because we believe in the upgrades it offers. Read on to find out why!
A Solid Platform
So what makes this machine tick? The Incanto Plus is a sub $1,000 superauto, which puts it on the lower end of the pricing spectrum. In many cases, this may mean you're sacrificing shot quality for value. While the Incanto may not be the best shot you can get, it's surprisingly solid at this price point. The internals feature a stainless steel-lined aluminum boiler with a thermoblock design. The machine is a little slow to heat up when compared to pricier models, and does not feature an auto on, so you will want to remember to heat it up first thing in the morning. Otherwise, the recovery time is pretty reasonable, especially in this price range, and the shots taste good, especially good when compared against other lower cost espresso options.
This strong brew performance carries over to milk steaming as well. While you won't be pouring any latte art with this machine, it does a perfectly fine job of texturing milk that is tasty in a latte or cappuccino. Given that this is one of the hardest things for superautomatics to perfect, it's very impressive that the Incanto does such an admirable job. What's more, the Incanto produces very hot drinks, something all superautos tend to struggle with. The base Incanto does require a bit of human work with its panarello steam wand, but the Plus includes a free Cappucinatore attachment. This attachment provides automatic steaming and texturing of the sort on higher end machines. It's one of the things that makes the Incanto Plus so... Well, plus!
The controls on the Incanto do leave a little bit to be desired. This is, unfortunately, one of the common casualties of lower priced machines. While a vibrant touchscreen with slick dials and sliders would feel better to use, the Incanto's no-frills buttons make sense. Unfortunately, this machine doesn't offer the degree of drink customization of something like a Miele. That said, it's easy to get to options like a cappucino, latte, or simple espresso shot. One thing that is mildly frustrating is that the icons on the screen aren't always clear. This can lead to a need to check the manual to figure out what the machine is asking you to do.
One area where the Incanto shines, however, is in it's ease of cleaning. The entire machine can be disassembled and cleaned with ease. The drip tray has a simple indicator to indicate when it's full, and the screen will alert you to empty the grounds. On top of all of this, the brew unit is plastic, easily removable, and easy to rinse and clean. Most of the parts and accessories are dishwasher safe as well. Finally, with Saeco's AquaClean filters (sold separately), you'll be able to avoid regular descaling. A huge bonus for an already easy to maintain machine.
Build Quality and Case Design
One thing the base Incanto is, is very plastic. This isn't a terrible thing, but the black plastic case does leave something to be desired. The Incanto Plus, however, features a stainless steel face that looks great on a countertop. This is the same face found on the more expensive Incanto Carafe.
The fact that the beans and water are top-loading comes with some pros, as well as definite cons. the top loading hopper and tank make for easy, quick refills, but also could create issues when it's placed under kitchen cabinets. The doors on top of the machine need several inches of additional clearance above the 14 inch body to be able to open fully. While the machine is light enough to pull out for refills, this can be a pain. Aside from these issues, the footprint of the machine is a satisfying 9 inches wide and 18 inches deep, meaning it will slot in nicely in most kitchens.
We know it may seem obvious that we like an SCG exclusive machine, but it's because we like it that we offer it exclusively, not the other way around. While this machine may not stand up to a comparison with a multi-thousand dollar competitor, it is one of the best superautos in its price range. It's no-frills design is mitigated by solid, consistent performance, easy maintenance, and some sweet upgrades from the base Incanto. Check it out here.