The £299 Aldi Espresso Machine – How Bad Could It Be?

Diving straight into it, today was all about one very unusual gadget – the £299 espresso machine from Aldi. A cheap supermarket known for surprisingly good products, but this machine had to be put to the test.

Aldi, the budget-friendly supermarket many rave about, especially for its wine, recently launched a super automatic coffee machine. Equipped with a built-in grinder and a portafilter, it seems comparable to much pricier machines like the Sage Barista Express or De’Longhi’s La Specialista. However, unlike De’Longhi’s pressurized portafilter, Aldi’s machine features a regular one with proper holes, even boasting a fancy handle with a rubberized bottom for tamping. Fancy, right? Well, let’s see.

First impressions weren’t great. The design felt slightly off, with the badge not entirely level and a drip tray that seemed like an afterthought. But hey, looks aren’t everything. The real question is, can it brew a decent espresso?

After firing it up and getting it hot, it was time to put the machine to the test. With a little over 17 grams of coffee in the portafilter, the first attempt yielded a very fast shot – too fast. The result was a generous but unsatisfactory portion of espresso. Clearly, the volumetrics were off.

Adjusting the grind to a finer setting and attempting again, things didn’t improve much. The shot was slow this time, and the pressure gauge hit 16 bars – way too high. High pressure compressed the coffee cake too much, leading to a poor flow and over-extraction. The machine simply couldn’t handle the finer grind required for good espresso.

The process was frustrating. The grinder was unwieldy, making it difficult to get the right amount of coffee without spilling. Each attempt was met with disappointment – from overly compressed coffee cakes to excessively high pressures, nothing seemed to work with this machine.

Even when going coarser with the grind, the result was a 34 to 35 second shot that still looked terrible. Despite attempts to tweak the settings, the espresso remained undrinkable.

One mildly redeeming feature was the steam wand, which seemed to have adequate pressure. However, with a single-holed tip and clunky controls, it did nothing to save the experience. The machine’s overall design flaws, from the noisy cup tray to the plasticky tamper, made using it a chore.

Ultimately, the Aldi espresso machine couldn’t produce good espresso. The pump pressure system was flawed, making it impossible to achieve a normal flow rate without spiking pressures and ruining the shot. It was frustrating, poorly designed, and a waste of £299. Even the hopes pinned on its fancy portafilter and built-in grinder were dashed.

For the price, there are far better options available. Investing in a Sage machine or even a simple mocha pot would yield better results. The Aldi machine stands as a testament to why cheap isn’t always better.

In the end, this £299 Aldi espresso machine is a letdown. Designed poorly and incapable of making good espresso, it’s not worth the investment. Save your money and opt for a more reliable alternative if you’re serious about your coffee.