At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsIntegral grinderDesign-ledVisible pressure gaugeDetachable hopperConsCan be messyTime-consuming to useInvestment buyOur Verdict
Smeg’s EGF03 Espresso Coffee Machine with Grinder is one for the purists rather than the occasional latte drinker: here, tinkering with grinding and tamping is a pleasure, not a chore. If you’re in search of convenience above all else, this stylish but pricey number isn’t right for you.
For the freshest coffee at home made with a single appliance, many of us turn to an automatic bean-to-cup machine. Meanwhile, those who enjoy the ritual of coffee making are left with two machines on the countertop: a grinder and an espresso maker.
Smeg’s EGF03 Espresso Coffee Machine with Grinder unites the two, allowing you to grind just enough beans, tamp and brew faultless espresso in one beautifully stylish package. Even better, its hopper detaches, so you can swap out beans for a different flavour, without having to work your way through the whole bag.
Design & Build
Whether you’re a fan of Smeg’s instantly recognisable design or not, there’s no denying that this glossy machine, with its lashings of chrome, makes an impact in a kitchen. It’s bursting with details, from a central manometer for measuring pressure while the espresso is brewing, to the gleaming retro-style handle for operating the steam wand.
And while it’s also fairly substantial on the worktop (H44.3 x W33.4 x D43cm) and hefty to move around (more than 12kg), it’s generous where it matters, such as a coffee bean hopper that can accommodate a whole bag and a 2.4-litre water tank that won’t need constant topping up.
Rachel Ogden / Foundry
Inside, it’s just as clever: behind the drip tray, you’ll find storage for its four filters, a cleaning disc and a cleaning brush designed to whisk away grounds from nooks and crannies – meaning that none of these small accessories run the risk of being mislaid.
The controls are, unsurprisingly, just as sleek as the rest: two buttons for the grinding, two buttons for brewing, and a discreet button tucked at the side for turning it on and off (though it does also have an adjustable 10-minute eco mode that’ll switch it off should you forget).
Rachel Ogden / Foundry
Performance & Features
While the initial set-up of the EGF03 Espresso Coffee Machine is a fiddly one, involving setting water hardness and wading through reams of coffee advice in the instructions (fascinating for the coffee connoisseur, less so for the casual drinker), the appliance isn’t that hard to use. Thankfully, there’s a quick start guide included for those who want to bypass the more detailed stuff.
The only stumbling block we found was the portafilter baskets – they’re not easy to tell apart, and while the instructions refer to them as pressurised and non-pressurised one and two cups, the only label on two of them is dual wall one and two cups. If you don’t know, a pressurised (or dual wall) basket is better for beginner brewers: you’ll get a more consistent, drinkable espresso each time, without having to get the grind exactly right.
Rachel Ogden / Foundry
In the end, we guessed that the pressurised ones were those without perforations, but deciding which is which could make creating that first, bleary-eyed espresso of the day something of a challenge.
Once the bean hopper was filled and inserted, it was easy to select a grind size by twisting the hopper. This ranges from medium to superfine, and, as such, could probably serve just as a coffee grinder should you fancy a batch of French press instead. Choosing a medium grind, we opted for the two-cup portion to make a double espresso with the dual wall two-cup filter in the portafilter.
There’s a handy support for the portafilter to sit in so there’s no need to hold it manually, or guess the right position to receive the coffee grounds. However, the two-cup option did tend to dispense slightly too much coffee as we struggled to insert the portafilter into the machine after tamping. Once we’d removed some grounds from the top, it glided into position.
Rachel Ogden / Foundry
The pressure gauge indicates if the coffee is extracting correctly – if so, it stays in the espresso range. We found this to be handy for helping to eliminate any issues with tamping or amounts of coffee in the portafilter. As expected, the double espresso we made had an excellent aromatic crema and slightly sweet notes. It was also a good temperature – not too hot but not lukewarm – although this is a parameter you can adjust. Another feature that’s adjustable is the prebrew, which ranges from short to gradual, depending on the beans you’re using.
The same was true when we switched to a single cup filter: again, there was slightly too much ground coffee dispensed to fit smoothly into the machine, but once adjusted, the single shot made was perfect.
One aspect we did like was the milk frothing. There are two steam intensities: a lower one for when less froth is required (eg caffe latte), with a higher one suitable for cappuccinos. They’re well labelled on the steam handle, as is the option for hot water when you tip it back: ideal for Americanos.
A metal jug has been provided for milk frothing. Our first few attempts resulted in warm milk with some froth and milk frothing up quite quickly and overflowing, although with practice, warm foamy milk was achievable.
Much like the coffee making, you’ll need to spend time keeping this machine ready for action: from daily cleaning, such as the portafilter, steam wand and drip tray, to occasional cleaning, including the hopper, grinder and dispensing unit.
Price & Availability
In the UK, you can buy the Smeg EGF03 in a number of colours, including, black, white, red, cream, pastel blue and pastel green from a number of retailers, including John Lewis and Currys. It’s priced at £849.95 and, at the time of writing, there’s no price advantage from buying from any retailer.
There are fewer places to buy from in the US, but Williams-Sonoma currently has it in all colour options at its MSRP of $899.95. You can also check the Smeg website to find stockists near you.
This is a pricey machine but, when compared to similar appliances, it actually represents very good value. For example, we reviewed and rated highly the Barista Touch Impress (from Breville/ Sage, depending on where you live). Like Smeg’s machine, the Barista Touch Impress has an inbuilt grinder plus manual espresso brewing and milk steaming, but at around $/£1,199, it’s more expensive than the Smeg model.
Of course, you can buy a separate grinder and espresso maker for much less. We’ve reviewed a number of the best espresso machines around, as well as two excellent grinders: the Smeg CGF01 and the Moccamaster KM5 burr grinder.
Should you buy the Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine with Grinder?
Smeg’s EGF03 Espresso Coffee Machine with Grinder has more niche appeal than most. For example, it may not suit someone new to coffee making unless you have a certain amount of patience, and it’s definitely not for those who take pride in a pristine clean worktop – there will be rogue coffee grounds scattered around unless you’re especially skilful. And if you’re on a tight budget, it’s time to start saving.
However, where it’s likely to garner fans is in the elegant blend of hands-on grinding coupled with precision brewing: simultaneously providing the satisfaction of an authentic Italian espresso with the knowledge that you hand-crafted it yourself. It’s ideal for those who entertain, or enjoy spending time perfecting the art of a good coffee: a no-compromise antidote to the fast-paced, fully automated world around us.
Not the right machine for you? Have a look at our round-up of the best coffee machines we’ve tested. For a quicker caffeine fix, check out our top-reviewed pod coffee makers instead.