EFTM Caffeination: Philips Saeco Intelia Coffee Machine Review

The original idea for EFTM Caffeination was to test out the various pod-based espresso machines. But through some miscommunication and fate, we got our hands on the Philips Saeco...

The original idea for EFTM Caffeination was to test out the various pod-based espresso machines. But through some miscommunication and fate, we got our hands on the Philips Saeco Intelia all-in-one espresso machine, so we decided to review it anyway. Is this premium all-in-one worth the money?

Compared to both the Lattissima+ and the Map Coffee Bella machines, the Intelia is a behemoth of a machine. It kind of needs to be though, given it does everything for making a cup of coffee. It grinds the beans, pumps water through the ground beans, froths milk and then cleans itself.

Using the Intelia is simplicity itself, once you’ve set it up. Four buttons around a digital display offer complete control of the machine with multiple functions. Making a coffee is really as simple as pressing one button to grind and brew, and another to froth the milk. The display also notifies you whenever you need to fill the water tank or empty the used coffee container, which is convenient given how easy it is to forget.

But for all its simplicity, the Intelia is littered with design flaws, unnecessary difficulties and ultimately – a disappointing brew. While many are minor frustrations, collectively they make using the espresso machine more hassle than it’s worth.

Take, for example, the water tank. While it discreetly sits in the main body, hidden away, the design of the actual container means that the machine will tell you water has run out when there is literally still enough water for another cup or two of water in the jug.

The milk frother is similarly frustrating. Despite looking like a traditional steam arm, the Intelia actually comes with a long clear tube which connects to the arm. To froth milk, you connect the tube to the steam arm, then place the other end into a container of milk. The machine sucks up the milk, heats and froths it in the steam arm, before pouring it out into a cup. This means that you not only have to dirty another container for milk, but you also have to clean the tube by “frothing” hot water immediately after making a coffee. If you leave it for even 30 minutes, the milk will dry in the tube and become nigh on impossible to clean. The arm itsle fis too far away from the base as well, which means the sputtering of milk tends to make a bit of a mess every time you use it.

Even the self-cleaning mechanism is a frustration – The Intelia pours water through the coffee spout every time the machine powers on or off. This means that the drip tray realistically needs to be emptied and washed every day, which makes the “self cleaning” concept a little bit of a misnomer.

But ultimately, the biggest disappointment was the actual coffee itself. While coffee is a really subjective thing, the first few cups out of the machine were undrinkable. Even after changing the beans, the end result was disappointing – that nice crema you expect on top of an espresso was consistently thin and weak.

At $999, you almost expect the perfect coffee every single time. And even after adjusting all the settings – from the coffee grind to the length of the shot to the beans themselves – the Intelia just didn’t create an exceptional coffee. In all honesty, the coffee from a pod machine was more enjoyable.

Like: The simplicity. It’s easy to use and set up.
Dislike: The design flaws and the quality of coffee.

Price: $999
Web: Philips

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Nick Broughall is the Australian Editor of TechRadar.com, where he gets to indulge his passion for geekery and the lastest technology. He is also the Editor of EFTM.com.au, where he gets to indulge his passion for manliness, from sampling fine liquor to the joys of growing a beard. It's a pretty good life, really.
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