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Philips Saeco Xsmall review

Chris Finnamore
12 Dec 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
369
inc VAT

An acceptable beans-to-cup machine, but its espresso can't match up to even an inexpensive manual espresso maker

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The Saeco Xsmall isn't the prettiest coffee machine we've seen. This beans-to-cup model looks more like a mid-90s mini system than something you'd find behind a coffee bar. It even gives you a "demo mode"-style light show when you first turn it on.

he machine is easy to use. A large knob on the front switches between making coffee, steam or hot water, and buttons on the front pour an espresso or a long coffee. As with other beans-to-cup machines we've seen, the twin nozzles on the machine's spout aren't wide enough apart to comfortably fit two cups side by side.

We found we produced the best coffee by using the finest grind. It's not particularly easy to adjust the grind; the control is easily accessible under the lid of the coffee hopper, but you need the supplied tool to change it.

Philips Saeco Xsmall

It's plasticky and strangely retro - not a pretty espresso machine

Either side of the spout are slide-out trays for water and for coffee grounds to dispose of. You can make a large number of espressos before having to empty the coffee grounds hopper, but you'll need to top up the small water tank fairly frequently. We also found that if the tank wasn't fitted properly, the machine wouldn't warn you, but would instead just run the motor dry indefinitely, which we can't imagine is very good for the pump.

Once we had the grind set correctly, the Xsmall produced a reasonable espresso. The crema looked too white rather than the warm caramel we were looking for, but the espresso settled down to a more pleasing colour. The shot had a reasonable flavour, but not enough of the bitterness we were looking for. We measured the shot's temperature as just 47.9 degrees - around 15-20 degrees less than we would expect. This shows that the water wasn't hot enough going through the coffee, so would have struggled to extract enough flavour.

Philips Saeco Xsmall

The cream isn't dark enough for our liking, and the espresso is served at a rather tepid temperature

When getting ready to use the milk frother, we first had to let it flush some excess water through before the steam would start. We had no complaints about the steam wand's performance, however. It produced tightly-packed foam which made a pleasing latte. It takes over three minutes for the machine to cool down to a temperature suitable for coffee after steaming milk, so you'll realistically need to flush the system between steaming milk and making the espresso shot for your latte.

Philips Saeco Xsmall latte

There's nothing wrong with the frothy milk we managed to produce, however

The Xsmall may be ugly, but it's still an acceptable beans-to-cup machine considering its price. However, we weren't that impressed with the flavour of its espresso, and the low temperature of the coffee it produced was a worry. The Gaggia Brera produced significantly better espresso, but is £150 more. If you absolutely have to have the convenience of a beans-to-cup coffee machine, we'd recommend finding the extra cash for a Brera, or putting up with some mess and getting a manual espresso machine.

Details

Dimensions (HxWxD)295x325x420mm
Maximum mug height
Water capacity1L
Pump pressure15 bar
Cup warmer?No
Milk frothingYes (steamer wand)
Number of boilersOne
Coffee typeBeans
Adjustable grindYes
Adjustable strengthNo
BUYING INFORMATION
WarrantyTwo years RTB
Price£369
Detailswww.philips.co.uk
Supplierwww.tesco.com
Part CodeHD8745/18

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