I know some coffee snobs, and I don’t think I am one of them. I love my coffee, and I’m fastidious about my roast, grind and press, but you won’t find me (yet) roasting my own beans or spending hundreds–thousands–on trendy equipment. But when Saeco calls and begs to send you their $3,000 fully-automatic Bluetooth espresso machine, you say, “Do your worst.”
My personal coffee process is one more of convenience and simplicity than it is of some external measure of “doing it right.” I have a hot-water kettle that keeps water at a regular 195 degrees. This also serves the household for tea, instant soups and all those times you just need hot water. I have a mid-range burr grinder (a Baratza Virtuoso) into which I drop half a cup (I tried measuring with a scale for a while and realized it was turning me into a major douche) of beans I buy from overpriced coffee shops in the city. From there, I just drop the grounds into a stainless press (mostly because my cat is an asshole), stir them up, wait four minutes and enjoy.
I’ve used drip machines and they were fine. I didn’t like the way the coffee sat in the carafe and got stale, though. I hate the idea of pod machines, mostly because I think the coffee they make tastes like crap (those ground beans sitting in plastic for months on end do nothing for flavor). There is also no way I’m going to wait around for a single-cup slow-pour process aside from the fact that I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror were I to become such a coffee snob.
If European coffees are your thing, this machine makes the most precise coffee we’ve tasted.
It came as a surprise, then, to both myself and my co-workers that I agreed to try out Saeco’s GranBaristo Avanti. It’s pitched as a Bluetooth-enabled do-it-all machine with the credentials of a high-end maker. It grinds and measures beans, steams milk, varies strength, and does it all via smartphone apps. I liked the sound of the convenience, and I liked that I could control it via an app. Other expensive machines require some knowledge of a complex process, and this one promised to make all that go away in favor of a couple taps and swipes.
So does it work?
Yes. Yes, it does. It works quite well, actually. Once set up properly, the GranBaristo Avanti is an always-on, seamless, personalized coffee-making-and-drinking experience. I say “once set up properly” because this thing has a lot of moving parts: bean hoppers, milk steamer, water reservoirs, grind wastebins and, of course, a mobile app.
While a bit intimidating, setup is easy. Pieces snap together and the app downloads in moments. The unit comes with two bean hoppers (so you can swap roasts without having to turn things upside down–not that I would know anything about that) and a easily filled water reservoir. Upon startup, the machine goes through a self-cleaning cycle, and you’re good to go.
So how’s the coffee?
It’s good. Really good. If you’re a fan of European-style espresso pulls, this machine will suit you well. Coming from a French press black coffee obsession myself, the machine pushes a great Americano, espresso and similar. In fact, if European coffees are your thing, this machine makes the most precise coffee we’ve tasted. What’s even better, it’ll save your specific preferences in the accompanying app and dial them up the next time you go for some java.
Is it worth it?
Only you can answer that. Like a suit, you can spend as little or as much as you want, and you know what you’ll get for it. There are deals to be had in the world of coffee, and if you’re simple like me, you’ll do it all manually, but there’s not a single machine we can think of that brings it all together like the GranBaristo Avanti. Even better, if you share your home or office with others, the app will save your personal preferences forever.