Saeco Minuto Review: A Tale Of Two Coffees
Live in a house where the morning coffee product depends on who makes it down to the kitchen in time? Are you a coffee lover, but your loved one is just about the espresso? Or, are you just sick and tired of having two machines on your counter? The Saeco Minuto Focus may be an excellent choice for you. With a flip of one big, shiny lever the constant battle can finally come to an end. Flip the lever on the front of the Minuto up to brew a cup of coffee, then flip it down to pull a pretty excellent tasting shot or two of espresso.
- Coffee versatility… enjoy either an American style coffee or espresso
- A large water reservoir and dreg bin means you can use the machine a several times over without having to dump or refill containers
- Power saving mode and an automatic cleaning cycle
- 15 bar pump pressure – solid extraction ability
- Slim, compact design great for crowded counters
Versatility On A Budget
If limited counter space forces you to choose between coffee and espresso, you don’t have to anymore. The Minuto will save you the cost of purchasing two separate machines by combining two functionalities into one. At the lowest end of the fully automatic espresso machine category, the Minuto will save ample pocket change for any casual caffeine drinker looking for a small capacity machine.
Detailed Review & Breakdown
- 250 g capacity ceramic bean grinder
- Single stainless steel boiler
- Bypass doser
- Adjustable/removable spout accommodates 7” mugs
- Plastic Housing, stainless steel drip tray
- Coffee/Espresso flip lever with varied pressure
- Programmable interface
- 20-second water recovery for steaming
- 12 brewing cycle dreg bin
What this machine has not many other Saeco brand machines do is a dual purpose design. The Minuto Focus offers the option to brew American style coffee in addition to standard espresso. Like similar starter machines in the super automatic espresso category, the Minuto features a generously sized water reservoir and ceramic grinder with five grind settings.
Once you choose American coffee or espresso, you can use the fully programmable display to program the coffee temperature, coffee strength (five options), and coffee volume. Finding versatility such as this in such a low price machine is a pleasant surprise.
Steaming is relatively quick. Not much time is needed at all to get up to steam temperature so you can steam milk how you like it with the classic steam wand. Yes, steaming is manual with the Minuto, but that’s expected given this machine is at the starter end of the super-automatic spectrum. The Minuto is slim and sleek as well at a mere eight ¼” wide. With its dual purpose design and slim profile, this machine will keep your counter neat and tidy.
Ease Of Use & Reliability
Like all Saeco fully automatics, the Minuto Focus is very easy to use. All options except bean grind size are accessible from the buttons on the front panel. Using the menu options on the LCD screen, personal espresso settings can be saved. Milk steaming is manual, meaning it comes with a steam wand as opposed to a cappuccinatore or milk carafe steamer.
But the fitted wand is a pannarello, which eliminates most of the learning curve in steam wand use. One of the downsides of this machine is that its standby/power saving mode time not adjustable.
At below $600, this machine sits at the lower end of the price spectrum for Saeco’s fully automatic line. For about this price, it’s situated competitively against other machines of similar function, and it stands out for its coffee and espresso dual function. Machines around this price range, like the Minuto, can be made with less expensive parts which don’t last as long as higher quality pieces.
This isn’t necessarily always a deterrent if you’re just an occasional espresso drinker, but you need to go into a purchase like this aware of the trade-off.
Yes, you’re getting a wallop of a machine at such a low price point, but what are you giving up for the savings? You’re mostly sacrificing quality and long-term dependability to get your foot in the door of the fully automatic line.
If you are a high-frequency coffee or espresso drinker (we’re talking multiple cups a day, or more than one drinker in the house), then this machine may not be for you.
We don’t think this machine would serve its purpose for long based on the lower quality parts such as the thermoblock boiler (less reliable than standard boilers), plastic wand, and plastic casing.
These types of parts are chosen by the manufacturer to keep costs down… a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But these parts won’t last after considerable and lengthy demand has been placed upon them. If you don’t plan on drinking coffee or espresso too often, and you’re okay with manually steaming your milk, then this machine should serve you just fine. But if you’re a regular coffee or espresso drinker, then you’re better off spending some more money on quality.
Saeco builds some top-notch fully automatics if you’re willing to pay a few hundred more. The Incanto provides the same versatility as the Minuto with its long coffee function, which is similar to an American style coffee. And the Incanto features some upgrades to stainless steel instead of plastic. The auto shut off on the Incanto is programmable, unlike the Minuto. So you won’t have your machine going into power save mode every ten minutes.
If you’re looking to go with a manufacturer that hasn’t changed ownership hands at least once, take a look at the Gaggia line of fully automatic machines. The Gaggia Brera is mostly the same class of machine as the Minuto, at a similar price point, with the steady build of a one owner company.
You’ll have to give up some roominess in the capacity department though. The Brera can’t hold quite as much water and used coffee as the Minuto. Now if you just want to enjoy an espresso now and then but you don’t want to venture into the world of manual espresso pulling with a semi-automatic just to save money, try the Saeco Vapore.
This is a tiny, easy to use an automatic machine that will suit your needs perfectly if you’re not an everyday espresso type of person. And it’s affordable on a tight budget. Coffee is amazing when drank when your day beings but there are reasons why it is never a good idea to take coffee on an empty stomach.