If there’s one thing people usually need when they’ve been out celebrating all night (like, for New Year’s), it’s some serious caffeine. When it comes to the perfect espresso or cappuccino, you can’t just depend on any coffee house to get it just right, which is a countertop espresso machine for your own kitchen comes in. When KRUPS sent over their $999 EA84 Falcon Fully-Automated Espresso Machine for me to try out, I was pretty excited to relive my barista days and while I had a few issues, I was pretty impressed with how easy to figure out it is.
Able to make a variety of drinks, including lattes, ristrettos, cappuccinos and Americanos, the machine is a pretty good size, but it’s small enough to sit on a counter. After plugging it in, the EA84 takes you through a series of steps on its touchscreen, including testing the hardness of your tap water and installing the filter. This is all super quick and easy, which is great because you’ll want to get going right away. Though it can steam milk, it doesn’t come with a matching frothing pitcher, which is a slight complaint, but I like my gadgets and their accessories to look like a cohesive unit.
Before you get going, make sure you have whole beans and not pre-ground espresso (here is where I messed up). The gadget doesn’t work with anything pre-ground, which is probably the biggest drawback for me. With a lot of friends in the coffee industry, I tend to have a lot of coffee grounds and I can’t use them with this gadget. Also, make sure to buy standard beans and avoid anything flavored—for some reason, the stainless-steel conical burr grinder can’t handle “oily” beans. I also wish that the bean hopper was removable in some way, because once the beans are in there, they are in there for good. This could be an issue for those who like to switch between different roast styles regularly.
The drinks it makes taste fantastic, with 15 bars of pressure tamping down the espresso so you don’t have to. Since this isn’t like one of those one-touch machines that use little coffee pods, you actually have to some maintenance, but not much. The gadget lets you know when it’s time to do a cleaning cycle and aside from adding some sterilization tabs, you don’t really need to do anything else. You do have to clean the milk steamer between uses, but that's an obvious one.
The 1,450-watt espresso machine also features a removable water tank in the back, which you’ll know to refill thanks to an alert on the touchscreen. A manual knob lets you control the coffee grin size, while the dispenser height can be adjusted to accommodate different mugs and espresso cups.