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Melitta Caffeo Varianza CSP review

David Ludlow
26 Jun 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
750

Lots of flexibility and excellent coffee make the Melitta Caffeo Varianza CSP an excellent bean-to-cup coffee machine

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If you want proper coffee using beans without any hassle a bean-to-cup machine is ideal. While many aren’t particularly flexible, the Melitta Caffeo Varianza CSP is designed to dispense a wide range of drinks, including automatically frothing milk, with plenty of customisation to help you adjust the drinks to your taste.

As stylish as Melitta’s other machines, the Varianza looks every bit the high-end coffee machine, with its neat and compact body, and chrome-faced outlet. It’s available in silver, stainless steel and glossy black, so you can find the one that suits your kitchen. It’s also quite compact, so you shouldn’t have problems finding a home for it.

Initial setup is easy, following the clear instructions in the manual. It’s just a matter of filling up the bean hopper at the top with fresh beans, inserting the water filter into the 1L reservoir and then hitting the power button one the side.


Making coffee

Melitta has made it easy to make drinks quickly, with dedicated buttons on the front of the machine to pour the most common types of coffee, including espresso, cafe creme cappuccino and latte macchiato. Just tap the one you want and the machine grinds and pours your coffee using its default settings.

So far, so good, and the out-of-the-box settings are pretty good. However, to really get the best results, we recommend making a few settings. First, you can adjust the grind from coarse to fine, using the switch that you access by pulling out the water reservoir. The grind has a massive impact on the final shot of espresso, with a finer grind increasing extraction time and making the coffee taste stronger. It’s worth testing a few settings to get your ideal results.

After that, you can delve into the menus to override the front buttons and change the default options, including the volume of coffee, the strength and even the temperature. Each button also has its own set of recipes, so you can, for example, switch the espresso button so that it pours a ristretto (a strong, low volume espresso); the cafe crema can be switched to pour an americano, which is hot water added to an espresso.

You can also override any of the defaults using the control panel buttons on the front including adjusting the coffee strength and volume. This gives you added flexibility to instantly change the type of drink that you’re making.

A final trick up is that the Varianza can take a second variety of beans. All you have to do is remove the measuring spoon from the top and use it to pour in your alternative beans into the chute; the Varianza will then make your next coffee using the new beans. It’s a great way of having regular beans for everyone while retaining the ability to use something a bit different when you want to.

Once we’d got the Varianza set up the way we wanted, we were deeply impressed with the results. Our shot of espresso was poured at the right rate (around 20s), delivering a rich shot of coffee, topped with a thick, oily crema. We found that it was a little cool, even with the Varianza set to the top temperature, with the espresso coming out at around 58C. It’s not terrible, though, and you can improve things by using the cup warmer on top of the coffee machine and rinsing your cups using the hot water feature. The taste was excellent, with the full and rich flavours of our test beans extracted to perfection. We’ve got to hand it to Melitta, this is as good a shot of espresso as you can get from a manual machine.

Milk drinks

When you want to add milk into the mix, you have to pour your milk into the provided container and then run a hose from this into the side of the outlet. After that, it’s all automatic, with the Varianza steaming, frothing and pouring the milk, and then adding it to espresso. The quality of the milk is fantastic, with our latte arriving with a silky, frothy top to it; you shouldn’t underestimate how difficult this is to get right when you’re doing everything automatically.

Brilliantly, the Varianza also gives you flexibility, letting you dispense just frothed milk. You can either use this to create your own drinks in a more manual way or to top up your latte or cappuccino if your glass isn’t quite full.

Maintenance

Some manual machines can be a pain, with long maintenance cycles, but the Varianza is easy to look after. When you power it on and off, the machine automatically runs a quick rinse, which you can let run into the large drip tray. If you don’t want to empty the tray often, you can stick a mug under the machine instead.

After using the milk hose, the Varianza will prompt you to run a quick cleaning cycle, showing you want to do on its clear LCD. All you have to do is pop the end of the milk hose into the hole in the drip tray and a quick burst of steam and water keeps everything clean.

You’ll also get prompted to run a cleaning routine and to descale the Varianza at regular intervals. Again, the clear LCD and manual will take you through everything, and it’s really a very easy machine to look after. 

It’s worth mentioning that you can also pop the side panel off and remove the brewing unit, letting you clean it (one a month should do the trick), removing spent coffee grounds from inside the machine.

Conclusion

We found the Caffeo Varianza CSP to be a cracking automatic coffee machine. It’s small, easy to use and incredibly flexible, producing some of the best coffee we’ve had from an automatic machine. Its big brother, the Caffeo Barista TS has a lot more recipes and dedicated user profiles, but you’ll need to pay around £400 more for the privilege. At this price, there isn’t a bean-to-cup coffee machine that can touch the Varianza. If this isn’t quite what you’re after, our best coffee machine article will have something suitable for you.

Hardware
Dimensions (HxWxD)405x380x253mm
Maximum mug height135mm
Water capacity1L
Pump pressure15bar
Cup warmer?Yes
Milk frothingYes (automatic)
Number of boilersOne
Coffee typeBeans
Adjustable grindYes
Adjustable strengthYes (five-steps)
Buying information
WarrantyTwo-years RTB
Part CodeF57/0-101

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