Saeco Xelsis Superautomatic Espresso Machine Review
Sporting a lot more than a new look, the new Xelsis from Saeco is here. We know you're eager to hear how it stacks up against the old Xelsis One Touch. We can say comfortably that these two machines aren't even comparable. Let's start with the first thing you'll probably notice about the new Xelsis, its looks.
If Looks Could Brew
Superautomatic espresso machines have never been the prettiest addition to the kitchen. While manufacturers like Jura and Miele do offer some strong design elements, most of these machines could be described as "coffee boxes". It's not the fault of other machines in the Xelsis' price range really, these devices cram a lot of components into the smallest form fact they can. It's no wonder, then, that aesthetic design takes a back seat to practicality.
With the new Xelsis, Saeco took advantage of modern design tropes to build something truly striking. Regardless of color choice, the smooth angles of the face of this machine look and feel great. The chrome accents and textured buttons add this the machine's appearance in a big way too. This smart beautiful design is enhanced further by little touches like the illuminated water tank and smart logo placement. It all combines with a form factor that impresses.
The smart case design factors into more than just the looks too. Many superautos have tanks that need to be lifted out of the side or top. This is manageable, but low counters can make refilling your water tank a pain. The Xelsis solves this by making the 2-liter water tank pull out from the front of the machine. We love this design touch, and when combined with the ease of removing the grounds bin and drip tray, makes maintenance a breeze.
If we have any complaints about the case, it's that some of the seams can feel a bit... Plasticy. While the case as a whole feels solid and premium, some of the gaps in the plastic don't feel as premium by comparison. This wasn't to noticeable except when handling the machine to move it, however.
The cherry on top is, of course, the touch screen. This screen also serves as your gateway into an incredible degree of drink options.
Brew Like a Pro
One of the key reasons to consider a semi-automatic machine over a superauto is control. You can control things like dose, extraction time, milk steaming, and temp very directly. Superautos usually let you adjust things like strength and temp, but not with the granularity of a sem-auto. The Xelsis bucks this trend by giving you nearly unparalleled control over your drink.
It does all of this with the an interface reminiscent of a smartphone app. Controlling things like temp, strength, and more, are done with clear sliders and buttons. The only problem with this is that for some, it may offer TOO many options. Let's take a look at the basics:
As you can see, strength and volume options are the basics, which most machines offer. Swiping right gives you access to more granular items like flavor, temp, foam, and more. It's a dazzling set of options that can feel intimidating at first. In the end though, with a little bit of experimentation, you'll be able to dial in your perfect drink. What's more, you can save your drinks to a profile so that you'll always be able to get the perfect cappuccino or latte. For those who don't want to customize, the default options still provide delicious drinks too.
Other menu options like cleaning, and more granular machine settings, are easy to access too. The cleaning menu gives you simple, step by step instructions as well. Speaking of cleaning...
Cleaning and maintaining a superauto can sometimes be a hassle, but we found the Xelsis' options to be simple and effective. the machine rinses automatically, and brew head cleaning is as easy as following prompts from the machine. The Xelsis also features Saeco's tried and true AquaClean filtration system. These filters cut down on maintenance like descaling by simply telling you when they need to be changed through the machine's interface. They are a great option that have proven themselves in other Saeco machines, and do so here as well.
The hardest thing to keep clean in a superauto is the milk system. Saeco's attempt at solving this problem in the Xelsis is the Hygiesteam system. This system takes the form of a convenient, round carafe that fits easily in the fridge. A cappuccinotore wand fits through a hole (which can be closed) in the top of the carafe. From there, as you'd expect, milk it pulled up through the wand and tube and into the frother. The system automatically purges itself in the cappuccinotore caddy attached to the side. You can also manually purge the wand from the cleaning menu. It's a great system that is easier to work with than other carafes, which often have plastic points of contact that need to be scrubbed by hand.
Ease of use, looks, and cleaning are all great, but what about performance?
It's All About Performance
The coffee out of the Xelsis is definitely on par with other machines at its price point. It won't blow your mind, but it should please any coffee drinker who's used to superauto espresso. The taste also lets the unique notes of the coffee through better than cheaper models, a great reason to consider an upgrade. All of that said, nothing beats manually dialing in and pulling a shot from a semi-auto or lever driven machine, but the Xelsis tries it's best and matches the performance of its peers. But superautos aren't just about the coffee.
The Xelsis features some of the best milk texturing and flavor of any superauto we've ever seen. This is often the hardest thing to get right on a machine like this. Recreating the delicate process of hand steaming milk is a huge challenge, and the Xelsis really knocks it out of the park here. The microfoam from this machine is even of a high enough quality to pour latte art, not something that can be said about most home superautos.
This machine should be able to keep up with the demands of a family coffee drinkers as well. The Xelsis features a short warm-up time and the ability to pump out several drinks in a row without stopping.
So what's the verdict?
The new Xelsis definitely sets the bar for its price point, and even punches up in ways the previous model did not. While elements of the machine on their own are relatively standard, the full package is an incredible proposition. The HygieSteam system in particular, for it's ease of cleaning and fantastic milk, is a great reason to buy. We definitely recommend at least trying the coffee and milk out of this machine beside others in its price range to see the difference for yourself.
Check out the Xelsis on Seattlecoffeegear.com here!