For those who appreciate good coffee – and the satisfaction of making it themselves – the KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine is a great fit. In testing it brewed faultless espresso with the minimum of fuss, and steamed milk equally as easily. Plus, it looks incredibly striking on the worktop. The only real quibble was that unlike many coffee pods machines or other coffee makers, there’s no option to raise the drip tray platform closer to the spouts, resulting in mess when brewing into small espresso cups. Plus, it comes with a price tag that’s several times what a basic espresso machine can cost.
- Easy to use
- Semi-automated features
- Professional-style kit
- Can be messy
While the company is still best known for its stand mixers, its array of small appliances is sure to tempt the non-KitchenAid fan too. One which stands out is this sleek espresso maker, equipped with some automation to take the hassle out of brewing an authentic shot.
It’s by no means the brand’s first foray into the world of coffee. Its pre-programmed Nespresso pod-compatible Artisan machine and stylish but slow manual Espresso Machine launched years ago. Still, arguably, the KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine combines the best of the two: giving it the ability to produce smooth espresso shots with as much, or as little, involvement as you prefer. This makes it both an excellent machine for those looking to be more creative with coffee, as well as those in search of a reliable espresso shot every day.
Design and Features
- Intuitive buttons
- Brews single or double shots
Looks-wise, the Artisan Espresso Machine is everything you’d expect from KitchenAid. It’s stylish, features recognisable branding, is fairly weighty (more than 5kg), and is available in four colours (including the iconic Candy Apple), meaning that it’ll coordinate with other appliances from the range. Function hasn’t been neglected over form though. On top, you’ll find a handy cup warmer, while at the back the water tank is a generous 1.4 litres. This means you’ll probably only have to fill it once a day even if you’re making long coffees for a busy household. A water tank carry handle and the ability to pop the lid off and fill in-situ also make it easier to keep the tank full.
While the principle of brewing espresso is similar to other machines – fill the portafilter basket with ground coffee, tamp it down, and twist into the machine – it’s the small touches that make the KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine easier to use. These include a portafilter with a level base, so it doesn’t rock while on the worktop, a heavy tamper, and a guideline that shows where to insert the portafilter into the machine and where to twist it to so that it locks into place. There are just four buttons: one for toggling between coffee, steam and hot water, selecting one shot or two, descaling and start.
- Consistently good espresso
- Baskets for beginners
- Small cups cause splashes
While its choice of four baskets for the portafilter have the potential to be frustratingly mixed up on bleary-eyed mornings, as I did, if you can learn to tell the difference between them, you should be able to get the most out of this machine. That’s because they come in single and double-walled versions: the two double walls create more consistent results, making them better for beginners, while the single walls brew a more full-bodied shot of espresso and give greater control for those who want it.
I used all four baskets and found the difference to only be very slight: each one brewed shots with a consistent crema into mugs. The distance the coffee travelled from the spout tended to affect the crema more: brewing into espresso cups sometimes produced a good thick layer of crema, other times just a slight ring around the edge. Shots took between 20-30 seconds, and were consistently smooth, aromatic and had a delicious slight sweetness and syrupy mouthfeel.
There’s the ability to adjust the espresso volume should you prefer more or less coffee too.
- Simple to use
- One button purge for steam wand
- Good frothing results
While the steam function on the KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine does a lot of the hard work by selecting the right temperature and pressure, it still needs a quick prime before you begin frothing.
Beyond that, it’s relatively simple to steam milk how you like it: every jug of milk I frothed was as warm, textured and consistent as that made in a milk frothing appliance. It poured easily and, were I skilled enough, would be suitable for creating latte art.
- Basic cleaning needed
- Descale regularly
- Drip tray can fill up fast
Thanks to all its automation, you might spend as almost much time keeping this machine clean as brewing: its removable parts need to be washed by hand and the drip tray emptied fairly often, especially if the steam wand is being primed directly into it rather than a spare cup. Fortunately, there’s an indicator to let you know when it’s full. The steam wand needs a quick dispense with hot water after every milk frothing session.
You’ll need to run the KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine’s descaling programme every so often too. As you can set water hardness from low to high, how often this is will depend on your area.
Should you buy it?
You’re keen to recreate the coffee shop experience of a smooth espresso or creamy latte at home, without the cost and queue.
You prefer the convenience of a fully automated machine – even though the KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine does a lot for you, you might be better off investing in a bean-to-cup maker.
If you’ve ever struggled to use a manual espresso machine, the semi-automated nature of the KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine could just be the thing to tempt you away from a pod machine or a bean-to-cup.
That’s because it’s genuinely effortless to use – after the first few tentative espresso shots, you’ll start to feel more like a barista than a button-pusher. And while it’s pricey, it’s still more affordable than similar machines from dedicated manufacturers, such as the Gaggia Classic and WPM KD-270S, and simpler to get to grips with. That said, if you’re unsure if hands-on coffee making is for you, it may be better to start with a cheaper espresso machine, such as the Breville Bijou.
How we test
Unlike other sites, we test every coffee machine we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Used as our main coffee machine for the review period
Tested for at least a week
We roast our own beans for regular coffee machines, so we can fairly compare each machine; pod machines are tested with a variety of compatible capsules
Depending on capabilities, we test each machine’s ability to make espresso and cappuccino
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The double-walled filters make it easier to get a decent crema, which is handy if you’ve got a cheap grinder or pre-ground beans; the single-wall filters are designed for freshly-ground espresso.
There’s a manual milk frothing wand.