Like countless millions of others, I enjoy a hot cup of coffee. However, I have always resisted joining the masses who desire the very best tasting coffee. Recently I was sent the KitchenAid Artisan semi-automatic espresso machine to test; would I be converted?
It is frequently written that up to 80% of taste is born from its smell, which probably goes a long way to explain Espresso’s incredible popularity. The aroma generated from fresh coffee is adored around the world and many fans of the beverage will swear that a cup of espresso is the only way to appreciate the finest coffee.
There’s no doubt that coffee is in the running for one of the top two spots for the world’s favourite hot beverage. It is so popular that it has spawned an industry that, in 2021, was estimated to be worth well north of $450bn. The best coffee is also somewhat addictive, and many people cannot start the day without a cup of their favourite blend. However, that’s not me, as historically, I am what you would consider being a now and again, run-of-the-mill, coffee from a jar kind of chap.
That changed somewhat when a rather beautiful looking silver coloured KitchenAid Artisan semi-automatic Artisan espresso machine turned up at my door.
Before I get into the meat of what the KitchenAid Machine is capable of, I will lay my cards on the table and admit that before trying a homemade espresso, I would’ve given scant thought to investing in a machine. Having given up all alcohol many years ago, aside from natural semi-highs produced from activities such as meditation and hiking, there’s little in my life to give me the instant boost I often need. I was keen to discover if an espresso machine would be the answer?
Regular readers will know that we’re fans of KitchenAid products, as we appreciate the excellent quality and great looking designs that come out of the factory. The company is renowned for this, and it is no different with their Semi-automatic Espresso Machine, which is a lovely looking, well-built product.
The New Artisan Semi-automatic Espresso Machine
The Artisan Espresso machine is one of two newly launched products by KitchenAid; the other being the Artisan Coffee Grinder which I will get onto a little later in this feature. It is obvious that a huge amount of thought has gone into the design of the Artisan Espresso machine to ensure that it’s suitable for both hardcore coffee fans and less-experienced drinkers like myself.
One of the first things to note about the machine is that it delivers consistent, high-quality drinks every time, and all from the comfort of your own home. It can do this thanks to dual smart temperature sensors that maintain the optimum brewing temperature throughout. It also has a pre-infusion system and a 15-bar Italian pump that adds a steady, slow stream of water to the ground coffee, producing a perfectly sized shot with the always essential light creamy-coloured top and in double-quick time.
The machine allows you to make a wide range of Espresso-based drinks including some I’d heard of and others that were completely new to me. Apparently, in addition to the various sizes of standard Espresso, it can also produce Macchiato, Flat White, Cappuccino, Americano, Cafe Mocha, Latte and Affogato?
The machine sent to me for testing was in a colour scheme called Stainless Steel (middle of the image below). However, for those who enjoy matching the colours of their existing KitchenAid products, the machine is also available in the brand’s iconic Candy Apple red, Almond Cream and cast iron black.
Artisan Espresso Machine technical specifications
• Wattage: 1470 W
• Voltage: 220 – 240 V
• Pressure: 15 Bar Pump
• Removable water tank capacity: 1.4 L
• Material body: Metal housing
• Product dimensions: 28.6 (H) x 33.4 (W) x 16.2 (D) cm
• Net weight: 5.55 kg
• Cord length: 99.06 cm
The New KitchenAid Artisan Coffee Grinder
Joining the Artisan Espresso machine is the Artisan Coffee Grinder, which I didn’t feel the need to test as I was already armed with more than a few tubs of Intenso coffee powder from Illy. Sadly, they had been sitting unappreciated in the kitchen cupboard for god-knows how long, but the good news was they were still in date!
The coffee grinder is said to create exceptional grinding precision at home. It has commercial-grade stainless-steel burrs, which are said to deliver a superior grind directly into 58mm or 54mm portafilters that produces uniformly-sized grounds for optimal flavour extraction. The grinder offers 70 settings that range from fine to French Press for Espresso and utilises automatic smart dosing technology that is self-adjusting to deliver the required consistency, volume and number of cups or shots.
Those who don’t like mess will be pleased to know that the grinder has anti-static technology. And it is available in the same colours as the Espresso machine and an additional colour, charcoal grey.
Artisan Coffee Grinder technical specifications
• Wattage: 150 W
• Voltage: 220 – 240 V
• Material body: Plastic housing
• Material hoppers: Plastic
• Product dimensions: 38.1 (H) x 12.7 (W) x 20.95 (D) cm
• Net weight: 2.94 kg
• Cord Length: 99 cm
Using the Artisan Semi-automatic Espresso Machine
As I mentioned previously, the new Artisan Espresso machine is beautifully designed and, like other products from KitchenAid, will automatically generate admiring glances from visitors seeing it in your home. It feels like a quality, high-end machine, which is due in no small part to it weighing a tad over 5.5kgs.
First things first, this machine is easy to use, which was a blessing for a newbie like me. At the rear of the machine is the on-off button, and the energy conscious among you will be pleased to know that the manufacturer has implemented a sleep mode if you inadvertently forget to switch it off.
On the front of the machine are four buttons. The first button allows you to select either Espresso, hot water or steam, and you’ll know which one you’ve selected as a light will illuminate under the graphic icon. The second button allows you to choose the size of the shot, and the other two buttons are for descaling (cleaning) and for starting and stopping the machine. While on the subject of cleaning, I should mention that all the removal parts are easy to clean using standard hot tap water.
The machine has a 360-degree wand which is used for steaming milk. I did give this a couple of tries but being a man who enjoys peace and quiet, I used this function infrequently as it was somewhat noisy, and being a little lazy, I more often than not opted for standard milk from the fridge in my creations, yes, I know this is sacrilege!
However, hot milk was simply a bonus, as it was the pure Espresso making capability that I was most eager to explore, which proved to be very straightforward and satisfying.
I placed the Illy coffee into the portafilter (saucepan shaped piece), pressed it down with the hammer-like tool (the tamper), clipped it into the machine and pressed button one. Around thirty seconds later, I was looking at a lovely looking cup of Espresso with a creamy beige-coloured head.
The final proof was how it tasted and whether it would give me a noticeable boost in my brain. Obviously, the quality of the coffee powder used would be the determining factor, but as I was using Illy, I was expecting positive results.
The good news is that after drinking my creation, I did feel more energised a couple of minutes later and felt a slight adrenaline rush; however, to be fair, this might be due to a placebo effect.
The most important thing is the Espresso, coupled with a drop of milk and a small spoon of brown sugar looked and tasted great, and drinking it made me feel good, and this wasn’t purely through taste, it was also the sense of achievement.
The KitchenAid Espresso machine is not a budget buy, there are many cheaper, plastic alternatives available, (what I think of as throwaways), and of course, machines that are far pricier. What you are getting from KitchenAid is a machine that is quality through and through, backed up by a 5-year-warranty that will undoubtedly make you feel like a first class Barista. The machine is made to last and I can assure you, you’ll feel rather special every time you use it.
The beautiful looks aside, KitchenAid’s Artisan Semi-automatic Espresso Machine more than lived up to my expectations, and if I could use it, anyone can! It always achieved the desired result and should become one of my best friends in the kitchen from now!
The new KitchenAid Artisan Semi-automatic Espresso Machine comes is priced at £449.00, and the Artisan Coffee Grinder is priced at £199.00. Both products and accessories are available via www.kitchenaid.co.uk.
Click here to read why KitchenAid has chosen Beetroot as its colour of the year for 2022.