Buying an espresso machine often requires serious investment and comes with an expectation of some level of barista skills. This might be off-putting for those who are just getting into the world of espresso and don’t have a massive budget.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista promises to deliver satisfactory espresso drinks, is easy to operate, and makes cappuccinos and lattes even for those who have no barista skills. And the purchase still won’t set you back more than $200.
What kind of performance and taste can you expect from this budget-friendly espresso maker? How easy is it to operate and who is this espresso machine best suited for? Today, we are going to zoom in on this coffee maker so you know whether it matches your needs before you buy one.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista In A Nutshell
First of all, what is Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista? It is an espresso machine, of course, but the specifications don’t stop there. This is a hybrid coffee machine or a mix between a manual and a super-automatic machine. It is manual because you still have to pull the shots yourself but also super-automatic because it can make lattes and cappuccinos at the touch of a button.
One of the key characteristics of this coffee machine is an easy and user-friendly operation that allows you to brew a single or double shot of espresso as well as cappuccinos. This means Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is an ideal entry-level espresso machine for those who want to drink espresso-based drinks but don’t want to go through the process of learning how to perform every step of the process.
The ease of use and affordability comes with a low of downfalls. Some of them include a lack of control over the brewing and milk frothing, inconsistency of the espresso shots as well as shortcomings in performance. We’ll talk more about all of those further along in our review.
Which Type Of Espresso Machine Is For You?
You might be looking for an espresso machine but the classification doesn’t stop there. There are many different types of machines that can make your morning cup of joe. Before choosing an espresso machine, it is important to clarify which type would suit your needs and preferences. What are the main differences between them and how do they influence the resulting cup?
Manual Espresso Machine
Using the manual (also called Piston) machine is the original way of brewing espressos. They require you to manually pump the lever in order to extract the shot. This is a type of brewing that was popularized by traditional Italian espresso machines and even though they are not that common anymore, many coffee enthusiasts prefer them over the automatic versions.
Apart from a more classic and unique look, many people prefer manual machines because they give you complete control over the brewing process. With a manual machine, you get to grind the beans, tamp them as well as operate the lever. This is not only a rewarding process but also results in a superior taste. And if not, you’ve only got yourself to blame.
Others, on the other hand, argue that this process is exhausting and the extra work doesn’t produce noticeable results to make it worthwhile. If you prefer speed and convenience over manual control, look into automatic machines instead.
Automatic Machines: Fully, Semi, Or Super?
The main difference between the automatic and the manual machines is that the automatic ones remove the responsibility of manually pulling the shot from the barista. This enhances convenience but also limits control over the brewing process. The fully-automatic machines pull the shot for you, all you have to do is press a button.
The semi-automatic machines allow for some control and you still have to decide when to stop pulling the shot. These are our favorite machines that provide a balance between the manual and automatic options.
The super-automatic machines go beyond the fully automatic process and are usually designed to do most of the work for you. They grind the beans, tamp them, and often feature a milk reservoir from which they steam the milk too, all at the touch of a button. They remove all the labor from the process but also limit your control and customization, which can be negative rather than positive, especially with cheaper machines.
What About Commercial Espresso Machines?
The commercial coffee machines are mostly used in coffee shops and are designed to cope with a high demand for quality espressos. They are usually bigger and sturdier, made out of high-quality materials, and can operate smoothly and quickly for long periods.
They are more complex in structure, made of many parts, can be more complicated to operate and more difficult to fix. These machines are most commonly automatic or super-automatic and designed to do the majority of the work for you. They are also more expensive and can cost thousands of dollars to purchase.
The non-commercial espresso machines are more compact, easier to operate, made out of lesser quality materials, and designed to fit in any kitchen. While they are not made to cope with hours back-to-back espressos, they are powerful enough to make the daily coffee for you, your family, and even your guests.
The range of non-commercial machines varies and your choice will depend on your preferences and abilities. Non-commercial machines can be manual, semi-automatic, and even super-automatic so you can choose according to how much control you want to have. While you can easily get a machine under $200, as your demands for the quality increase, a non-commercial machine can also cost you up to $900.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Review
Did the promise of affordability and ease of use spark your interest in Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista machine? Before you buy one, we want to give you a complete review of all the key features but also the shortcomings of this espresso maker.
Performance: Enough To Suit A Beginner
While Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is a coffee machine that could satisfy an espresso-beginner, the performance is where the price is reflected and you cannot expect that it will produce coffee to match the taste of the espresso you get from your favorite cafe.
One of the main shortcomings of this coffee machine is the inconsistency of the espressos. And consistency is one of the most desirable aspects of making a good coffee. The inconsistent brewing temperature of the machine causes that some of the resulting shots are under-extracted while some of the other ones are over-extracted and it is not something that you can influence.
In terms of technical specifications, Mr. Coffee Cafe uses 15 bars of pressure when extracting the shots which should be sufficient in theory, however, many coffee drinkers report that with the recommended settings, the espresso comes out weak and the machine is prone to clogging when using a fine grind.
While the machine can cope with the low demand for coffee, it is almost impossible to get a good coffee out of it when using lightly roasted coffee beans, which limits your brewing options to dark roasts and less interesting flavors.
The ease of use is one of the most attractive selling points of the machine. Featuring a one-touch control panel with three straightforward buttons: ESPRESSO, CAPPUCCINO, and LATTE make it easy to brew your favorite coffee even for a complete beginner.
You can control the strength of your brew by pressing the button next to your beverage of choice. Pressing the button once makes a single shot, pressing the button twice makes a double espresso-based drink, and holding the button activates the bonus feature. This one, however, is preset and cannot be changed.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista can brew an espresso and steam milk automatically from a milk reservoir with just a press of a few buttons and doesn’t require any intervention. This is ideal for those who find coffee making intimidating. Using these simple buttons is easy to understand, fast, and simple to learn.
The functions come with downsides too though. While the programs are user-friendly and straightforward, the presets cannot be customized or changed in any way, not even for the different sizes of your cup. You also cannot just get hot water from it either, which means you need to use a kettle when making a long black.
All the sustainably-minded people will be glad to find out that the machine has an automatic shut-off function that comes on after a few minutes of inactivity.
Milk Frothing: Don’t Expect Latte Art
Since it is a semi-automatic coffee machine, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista also features an automatic milk frother that allows you to make milky espresso-based drinks without any expertise in the milk-steaming field.
When it comes to the froth it produces, it can be considered average. Mr. Coffee Cafe produces thick frothy foam but the overall satisfaction comes from the milk you use as well. Similar to the inconsistency of the espresso shots, the milk foam is inconsistent too.
While it might be good enough for those who just want a milky latte, the automatic milk frother limits your ability to influence the steaming process. That’s why you shouldn’t expect silky microfoam or making latte art. For those, you would need a powerful steam wand that comes with commercial and more high-end espresso machines.
It comes with a removable milk reservoir that can be stored in the fridge with the leftover milk but it still needs to be cleaned every few days. The milk frothing process is quite noisy, so you should keep that in mind in case noise is a determining factor for you.
Another missing detail is that the reservoir doesn’t have any volume measurements, which means you need to measure the milk separately before pouring it in, which adds a little more hassle to the process.
Materials And Quality: Matches The Price Tag
The exterior of the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso comes in plastic rather than the metal casing. You can also choose from different color finishes which add elegance to the design. Even though the materials are not the highest quality, the coffee machine seems sturdy, but it receives mixed feedback about its durability. The size is compact enough to fit any kitchen and the color variations make it easy to match with your style too.
The important detail is that Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista espresso machine comes with a plastic tamper which is not good enough, not even for an entry-level brewing. Therefore, we recommend upgrading to a better stainless steel tamper as soon as possible to enhance the extraction and consistency of your shots.
Cleaning And Maintenance: Not So Bad, Not So Good
The water reservoir of the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista espresso machine is removable, so it can be topped up and cleaned with ease and without the need of moving the machine too much. As mentioned, the milk reservoir is removable too but it is not that easy to clean.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista machine will require standard cleaning procedures and the portafilter needs to be disassembled and cleaned every 90 days, together with the unit descaled every 40 to 80 brew cycles.
The machine also features an automatic clean up function that runs for 30 seconds and will run and turn off automatically, which adds to the ease of the cleaning process. Also bear in mind that the drip tray that comes with Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is small, which means it needs to be emptied and cleaned more often, which can be annoying when making a higher volume of coffee.
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Is NOT For You If…
You Want Consistent Espressos
One of the main downfalls made clear in our Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista review is that this espresso machine, unfortunately, makes inconsistent espressos. The problem stems from the inconsistent brewing temperature of this espresso maker. Because of that, the single shot or a double shot, however easy to use, will often be under-extracted or over-extracted and what’s worse, there’s not much you can do to influence this result.
While this espresso maker could be good enough for those who are just starting with espressos, Mr. Coffee Cafe barista will be disappointing for those with more refined taste. And if you like to enjoy different flavors of single-origin coffees too, forget about this experience. Since medium roasts are less dry and less stable, getting a good coffee of your medium roasted Costa Rican coffee is an impossible task with Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista.
You Want More Control Over The Brewing
One of the other frustrations that come with this espresso machine is that you cannot froth the milk yourself or manually adjust the settings. As your interest in coffee grows, your skills develop, and with Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista, there will be a moment when you will question whether you might be able to do some parts of the process better than your espresso maker.
While not being able to steam the milk yourself, you also cannot customize the settings on any of the brewing modes, which leaves little room for experimentation and makes it impossible to adjust the brewing according to your taste.
You Want To Steam Milk Yourself
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista machine isn’t for you if you want to control the steaming process of your milk. While sometimes the frothed milk comes out better, sometimes it is not so great. It is, again, inconsistent and you are unable to influence the result. If you want more control over your frothed milk, purchase a machine with a manual steam wand that will allow you to create silky microfoam or even a Rosetta on top of your flat white.
If your expectations aren’t that high and you use full-cream milk for your lattes, the froth might be good enough for you but if you’re used to silky flat whites with microfoam and keen on developing your steaming skills, get an espresso machine with a steam wand that will allow you have more control over your milk.
How To Get The Best Shot Out Of Mr. Coffee Cafe Machine?
Even though the control over the brewing with Mr. Coffee Cafe is limited, some external factors influence the resulting taste of your espresso. Using dark roast coffee helps the extraction to happen more readily as well as not having to be ground so finely to get the full flavor.
While the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista machine is a great budget option for beginners, it is not a machine for everyone. If our review made clear that it might not be the best fit for you, we have some alternative options ready that will bring you your desired caffeine hit in the morning.
Similar Budget, More Control
If you still want to keep the purchase low-budget but you are interested in a better espresso and don’t mind putting more work into the brewing process, we would recommend DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso Machine which is still under $200.
This DeLonghi manual espresso machine is built of sturdy metal and quality materials. Two separate thermostats monitor the temperature of both the brewing process as well as the steaming system and include a water reservoir that can hold 1 liter. These features make sure that you have enough water in the morning for the whole family and your coffee is much more consistent than from Mr. Coffee Cafe machine.
The machine produces robust espressos as well as is consistent in steaming frothy milk. It is fully manual, so if you’re making a cappuccino, you would need to use the steam wand as well as pull the double shot yourself. The additional effort comes with the reward of a better coffee and we think it’s worth it.
Better Coffee, Upgraded Skills
If you have a higher budget for your new coffee machine and want to get serious about making good coffee at home, the Breville The Barista Express Espresso Machine is one of our best picks. It is a semi-automatic machine but it’s reasonably easy to use making it a good option for a beginner as well as a professional.
This machine from Breville includes a built-in stainless steel conical burr grinder, 1/2 pound sealed bean hopper, 54 mm tamper, steaming wand, and a frothing pitcher. This package will bring you excellent coffee and is highly recommended by many consumers. Similarly to our previous suggestion, you get to control the steaming process yourself.
While the price is significantly higher than that of Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista, it is still more affordable than most of the semi-automatic machines and the resulting taste is so much better that it makes the additional cost worth it.
Same Convenience, Better Taste
If you are still after the convenience of a super-automatic machine, and willing to spend more money for a better-tasting coffee, Gaggia Anima Prestige Automatic Coffee Machine might be for you. It’s a high-end but compact espresso machine that gives you great coffee but still remains easy to use.
Similarly to our Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista, it includes a milk reservoir that will take care of the steaming process by itself. Additionally, with Gaggia Anima, you don’t even have to worry about pulling the shots since this part of the process is fully automatic too. Just sit back, press a button, and watch the machine do the magic.
Its notable features include Rapid Steam technology, one-touch auto frothing, a sleek LCD, ceramic burr grinder, pre-infusion feature, and descaling cycle. It’s highly customizable with programmable brewing options and produces great results.
Is It Worth A Shot?
Whether Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista espresso machine is for you or not depends largely on your expectations, skill level, and taste preferences. We still think that it is a great entry-level machine that is a good fit for beginners looking to buy their first machine and don’t want to go through the process of learning how to do every step manually.
One of the biggest advantages of this coffee machine is its ease of use. The operation is simple and user-friendly, making even the complete beginner able to make a cappuccino or a latte at the touch of a button.
Some of its major drawbacks are the inconsistency of the espressos where no single shot tastes the same, as well as the inconsistency in the resulting frothed milk.
And one of the frustrating aspects of using this coffee machine is that you can’t do much to control the process and improve the taste. And while this is something that a beginner might not even notice, it is bound to disappoint a coffee-brewing pro.
So what’s the verdict of our review? If you’re looking for an entry-level espresso machine that won’t break the bank and will do most of the barista work for you, Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista might be the perfect fit.
If your skills and your taste are more advanced, look for alternatives that will give you better and more consistent results.