Starbucks, as with most coffee shops will suck your wallet dry. They’re akin to that of a drug dealer. Once they’ve got you hooked you’ll keep going back for more even though you know better. By most accounts this is a horrible analogy and not one that I’d generally endorse, but if you’re a coffee drinker you’re probably in all likelihood nodding your head in agreement. So once you’ve conceded to your addiction, which is to say it’s inevitable, it’s probably best that you find a way to not spend all your money on fulfilling it. Enter the Krups XP5280 Espresso Machine.
The Krups XP5280 is a good-looking machine that is clad in stainless steel. Footprint wise it takes up about a square foot of space on your countertop, which is considerably more than a Mr. Coffee. But with that caveat comes a creamy cup of coffee, and if you so choose, a latte or espresso thanks to the built-in steamer.
At $300 the XP5280 is not the most fancy of coffee makers, but nor is it the cheapest. For someone like me who doesn’t own my own place, I don’t need a machine that taps directly into my home’s water supply, and nor do I need one that grinds the beans on the fly – all of these features results in a machine that takes up more space, costs more, and requires a rather extensive installation. So safe to say the Krups XP5280 is a middle of the road espresso machine.
Lifting the back lid exposes the water tank, as well as the coffee measuring spoon that is included in the package. What isn’t apparent is that the machine also filters the water on the fly, which is said to reduce both chlorine and scale resulting in purer water and ultimately a better tasting cup of coffee. I use RO (reverse osmosis) water, so it’s hard to say how effective its Claris filter system is, but it most certainly isn’t a bad thing.
Operating the Krups XP5280 is a straight forward affair, at least in terms of making a single or double espresso shot. Just turn on the machine, wait about 2 minutes, and presto you’ll have a cup of coffee. Of course you’ll need to scoop the coffee grinds into the filter holder (the handle like receptacle). But since this machine uses the Krups Precise Tamping System, it automatically compresses the coffee grounds, and negates the need for one of those fiddly barista tools. Four glowing buttons flash until the machine’s pressure (15 bar) and heating coil are ready, whereupon they’ll glow steady.
The first button is a power button – no need to explain that one. The following two signify single and double espresso shots, and the fourth button activates the steamer. Pushing the steam button requires a bit more warm up time, but it’s rather negligible in the grand scheme of things.
The steam button pairs with a knob that when turned activates the steamer (duh). Krups includes a nozzle system that negates the need to place the steamer into a cup of milk, but it’s an arduous process that largely won’t be utilized by most consumers, unless they’re hosting a party or running a coffee shop out of their kitchen.
Unlike an old cappuccino machine that I grew up with, the Krups XP5280 easily steam and froths milk to a coffee shop like snobbery, though patience is required as is technique. Nevertheless, those are both things you can harness over time and trial and error. I do suggest that you steam your milk first. This way the coffee can be consumed at its hottest – the produced coffee is never too hot, but rather Goldie Locks just right.
Depending on your water’s hardness, and the frequency you use the Krups Espresso coffee maker you’ll need to clean the machine periodically using a Krups Descaling powder. I’m not sure if white vinegar would suffice, but since its components are a bit more complex than that of Mr. Coffee I suggest sticking with the powder.
When you’re finished with the steaming milk you’ll want to dismantle and soak its pieces, as well as run the steamer sans milk to clear out any build up. I deep cleaned the steamer periodically, but washed it and ran steam through it after each use, which seems to suffice between deep cleans. You’ll also need to empty the tray that captures the excess water – this is indicated by a red plastic tab that floats that when it’s full. Why am I telling you all of this? Cleaning the Krups XP5280 isn’t too time consuming, but it’s a caveat one needs to consider, especially if you tend to run out the door every morning late to work.
So, you’re probably wondering “how does the coffee taste?” Well, first off I should point out that it’s largely dependent on the coffee that you buy. In my opinion it’s worth it to splurge on a decent bag since you’ll be garnering some savings since you’ll be ditching your local coffee shop. And with that, no matter the bean you buy, it will surely be a step up from Starbucks and Coffee Bean. The Krups XP5280 produces a cup of espresso that is on par with a local coffee shop, offering a creamy head. The Auto Tamping system works well and negates some of the guess-work that has long been associated with brewing a shot of espresso (file this under something I truly appreciate deep down). And that all said, once you pair your shot of coffee goodness with a cup of steamed milk and you’ll probably forget all about the sludge you’ve been slurping down every morning.
Of note: I’ve not suffered any issues with the Krups XP5280. However, my housemate (he lives in the dungeon) says on occasion its been a bit finicky to reach temperature and pressure. This can also happen when the water runs out, which should probably be filled daily to ensure you avoid any hiccups, especially if you’re trying to run out the door. I did this once, and it took the Krups XP5280 a few additional minutes to reset.
Ditch Starbucks, recoup your costs and enjoy a better cup of coffee with the Krups XP5280 Espresso Machine.