The Melitta Avanza Series 600 is one of the cheapest bean-to-cup machines that can also froth milk automatically, which is impressive given the machine’s relatively small size. Its controls are super-simple and it pours a great shot of espresso. There’s little control over the results for milk frothing, however, and we’d have preferred a standard steam wand – this is really a coffee machine for those who only want steamed milk in their coffee occasionally.
- Simple to use
- Makes great espresso
- Easy to clean
- Milk frothing is basic
- Coffee volume control involves guesswork
- Review Price: £499.99
- Bean-to-cup coffee machine
- 353 x 200 x 455mm
- Automatic milk frothing
- 1.5-litre water reservoir
As good as bean-to-cup machines are for delivering that real coffee experience with the minimum of hassle, size is often a problem. Step forward the Melitta Avanza Series 600, which is a relatively compact bean-to-cup coffee machine with automatic milk frothing.
It’s comparatively well priced given the features, although it has rather basic controls and is far better at making espresso than it is at frothing.
- Compact and neat looking
Size is the Melitta Avanza Series 600’s big advantage. Measuring 353 x 200 x 455mm, it’s no wider than a high-end pod machine, although it does take up most of the depth of a kitchen counter. Although the coffee machine is made of plastic, Melitta has done a good job with it, and its simple looks with the metal accent at the front look pretty good. The bean hopper on top takes 250g of beans, so you can get a regular bag of coffee in there.
The 1.5-litre water reservoir sits next to it and is easy to remove and fill up. This reservoir will take a water filter, although you don’t get one in the box. I recommend installing one, as it will make the coffee taste better and reduce limescale problems. If you don’t have a water filter, you should use the test strip provided to gauge your water hardness and then set the machine accordingly. The water hardness setting determines when the Melitta Avanza Series 600 will prompt you to run the descaling programme.
There’s a milk tube that you have to plug in, which you can attach to a carafe or just dangle into a bottle or carton of milk when you want to use the steam function. And there’s a clip to hold the milk tube out of the way when it’s not in use.
- Very simple controls that give you the basics
As a cheaper bean-to-cup coffee machine, the Melitta Avanza Series 600 has very basic controls. The dial on the left sets the flow volume from 25ml to 220ml, but there are no markings to help you so it’ll take a bit of trial and error to get things right.
You can choose to dispense one or two espressos – either for two people or to serve a double – and there are also three settings for coffee strength. You can’t adjust the water temperature, however, as it’s programmed into the machine.
The grinder controls can be found by opening the side of the coffee machine. Melitta has factory-set the grinder and recommends leaving it alone for the first few cups of coffee. I recommend using a finer grind if the coffee isn’t strong enough and a coarser grind if the coffee is too bitter.
On the right of the machine, there’s a dial that turns on the tap. This usually operates hot water for topping up your drinks but you can also press the steam button, which heats the coffee machine further for steaming milk.
The coffee spout is adjustable and moves between 100mm and 147mm in height, which should allow all but the tallest of latte glasses to fit underneath.
- Neat crema with a fine-tasting coffee
Pouring an espresso, I got just about the right volume and was largely pleased with the appearance of the drink. The crema on top was smooth and oily without too many bubbles, although it was a bit light in patches. It stayed on top for almost 2mins, which is what I’d expect.
Although the Melitta Avanza Series 600 doesn’t let you adjust the water temperature, the espresso came out at a reasonable 68C, which is just about right.
Taste-wise, the first hit delivered the strong body and pronounced acidity of my test beans, but the aftertaste lacked the full subtlety and flavour that a higher-end machine or manual espresso machine could deliver. Even so, given the price of the Melitta Avanza Series 600, the espresso is very good.
- Very little control but good enough for occasional cappuccino drinkers
With the milk steamer, there’s no control over the amount of froth that you get. You just dangle the end of the milk hose into a milk container, heat the machine up to steam mode and turn the tap on. The Melitta Avanza Series 600 dispenses milk quickly and the result was fairly tightly packed, but the end result was more like a flat white than the textured frothy head of the cappuccino I was aiming for.
This is a problem for a machine at this kind of price, as it’s far more expensive to deliver a better milk experience automatically. On balance, I’d prefer a manual steamer wand to get the result that I want, even if this means more effort.
As it stands, the Melitta Avanza Series 600 is just inflexible, so it would suit someone who doesn’t want steamed milk that often. Once you’ve finished with the milk hose, you have to find somewhere to put it without dripping milk everywhere. It’s a shame that this coffee machine doesn’t have the same hose holder built into the drip tray as Melitta’s more expensive machines.
- Straightforward to keep clean but you’ll need the manual for bigger jobs
General day-to-day maintenance is taken care of automatically, with the Melitta Avanza Series 600 rinsing on start-up and shut-down. That helps keep everything clean and maintains the flavour of your drinks.
You still have to take care of some jobs, though. When the drip tray is full, you need to remove this from the machine and empty it. The drip tray also houses a separate container that holds the used coffee pucks. Open the side of the Melitta Avanza Series 600 and you can remove and clean the brew unit. I recommend doing this weekly, to keep everything going smoothly.
You’ll need to refer to the manual for other jobs. After using milk, for example, you should flush the system through by inserting the milk hose into a clean water container. The coffee machine will warn you when it’s time to clean the espresso system or descale the machine, but you’ll definitely need to follow the instructions in the manual, as the simple controls on the front don’t give you any information about what you should do.
Should I buy the Melitta Avanza Series 600?
Given its comparatively low cost and small size, the Melitta Avanza Series 600 does well. It pours an excellent espresso, and most people will be very happy with the results. Automatic milk frothing isn’t quite as good, however, and this machine would suit someone who only has the occasional drink with steamed milk.