Espresso

Mr Coffee Pump Espresso & Cappuccino Maker Review

At $40, the Mr. Coffee ECMP50 isn't much of a steal because of inadequate performance.

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Introduction

The (AKA the Mr Coffee Espresso & Cappuchino Maker is a low-cost espresso machine that has rather poor performance and is difficult to use.

Design Overview

The Mr. Coffee ECMP50 looks and feels cheaply constructed from light plastic.

Front

Front Photo

Sides

Sides Photo

Controls

Controls 1 Photo
Controls 2 Photo

Water Reservoir

Water Reservoir Photo

In the Box

In The Box Photo

Performance Overview

Lackluster performance overall, with weak espresso and poor foam.

Espresso Speed

The is a rather slow brewer: we were able to make a single shot of espresso in 52 seconds, and a double in 67. That is the time from when we start tamping the beans to when the last drop of espresso hits the cup. Part of the reason for this is that it outputs less water than most, so it takes longer to brew More on how we test the brewing process.

Espresso Quality

We were not impressed with the quality of the espresso that we made in our tests, which came out rather pale and with poor creama. Good crema has small bubbles that persist, but the crema on top of the shots produced by this machine had large bubbles and dissipated quickly.

We don't test the taste of the shots in our tests, but we do look at the strength by measuring the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) of the brew. This is one of the main indicators of strength: the higher the TDS, the stronger the drink. We measure the strength of both a single and a double shot, and we found that both were rather weak, with a TDS range of 3% to 3.4%. That means that this machine can produce only weak shots, which won't make fans of strong espresso happy. More on how we test the brewing process.

Espresso Shot Photo

A shot brewed by the ECMP50

Espresso Quantity

This machine has a manual quantity control; the water keeps flowing until you turn it off. That means that it can brew anything from a single shot of just under a fluid ounce up to a triple shot. The filter only holds enough coffee for a double shot, so you won't be able to get more out of it than that. More on how we test the brewing process.

Milk & Foam

The performance of the at foaming milk was disappointing; we were only able to produce milk with large bubbles that quickly burst, leading to foam that dissipated after just a couple of minutes. This is perhaps why Mr Coffee markets this as a cappuccino maker rather than a latte maker, as cappuchinos use this larger foam.

Foam Photo

A latte macchiato brewed by the ECMP50

Brewing Process

The brewing process itself is fairly standard on this machine, but the controls are poorly designed. In order to start brewing, you have to press the brew button, wait for the ready light to stop blinking (to indicate the correct temperature) and then twist the control knob. This control knob goes in two directions (to brew and to steam), and if you twist it the wrong way, the lights start blinking and you have to start again. It's a frustrating process that was poorly thought through. There is also a lot of waiting, as the ssytem takes some time to heat up, especially when switching to steam after brewing, as the boiler has to heat up again.

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Step 1
Brewing Process Step 1 Photo

When the system is ready and heated up, press the brew button to start. The brew light will turn green and blink. When it stops blinking, the system is ready, so you turn the control dial.

Step 2

The espresso then starts flowing. Once you have enough, turn the control dial back to the neutral position.

Step 3

If you want to steam some milk as well, press the steam button and wait until the light stops blinking (this often takes some time). When it is ready, you can rotate the control dial to start the flow of steam.

Cleaning & Maintenance

Cleaning & Maintenance Photo

The requires some maintenance, with the water reservoir needing refilling every day or two, and the drip tray requiring emptying regularly. The drip tray is located under the drip grid that the cups sit on.

The filters are also awkward to clean. The usual way to do this is to take the portafilter with the filter in it and bang it on the edge of a trash bin, with the effect that the puck of coffee grounds falls out into the trash and you can then wipe the filter clean. Instead, on this machine, the filter is only loosely fitted into the portafilter, and it had an annoying habit of falling out, even with the retaining clip held in place. We then had to retrieve the filter from the trash.

Customization

There are no customization features on this espresso maker.

Comparison Overview

Neither of these machines inspired us, but if you are on a limited budget, we would recommend that you get the Capresso. It produces better espresso and does a better job of foaming milk. Alternatively, keep saving up until you can afford to buy a better espresso maker that will make a better brew and last longer.

Comparison Overview

The illy Y1 is the better option for espresso, producing a better quality of brew with better crema and strength. The only area where the is the winner is in milk & foam, because the Y1 can't steam milk.

Comparison Overview

The illy X7.1 is the superior performer in most of our tests, producing better espresso and slightly better foamed milk. The only area where the has an advantage is in flexibility, because the illy has one fixed size of shot, while the can produce bigger or smaller shots as required.

Conclusion

Priced at about $40, the looks like a bargain. It costs about the same as a cheap drip coffee maker. But its a false economy, because this device produces poor espresso and milk with big bubbled foam that disappears faster than ice cream on a hot day. Unless you are on an incredibly tight budget, you would be better off saving up and buying a better espresso maker.

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