The Saeco X-Small Vapore: Little Espresso Machine That Could
For such a small machine, the Saeco X-Small Vapore (Check on Amazon) packs a mighty punch.
The Saeco X-Small Vapore is the basic of the basic in Saeco’s automatic machine line. It has no LCD screen, no high capacity water tank, no high customization. But what it does have is its functionality… and a very affordable sticker price.
Low Price, Good Value
Yes, the Vapore is an excellent buy for a particular consumer group. This machine is best purchased by those looking for a tool to fulfill the occasional espresso whim or give some relief to hefty morning runs to the local coffee bar.
The Vapore delivers in the most basic way – with a clean, high-quality espresso drink. It’s bare bones… no bells and whistles… and the low price reflects that.
If you are a high-frequency espresso drinker, then this machine is probably not for you. You will be disappointed by the Vapore’s slow hot water recovery and constant refill needs.
Espresso Machine Review & Break Down
Encased in a shell of muted black plastic, this super compact machine can fit snugly in a cozy place in your kitchen ready, hanging out until you’re prepared for it. The plastic is not the most desirable material, but given the low price, the plastic makes sense.
The Vapore features automatic two-size programmable espresso brewing with a manual Pannarello steam wand, which is all controlled with the turn of a big dial on the front. Again… bare bones and straightforward.
You control the dial; the machine controls the status lights. It will notify you via one of these lights if the water needs to be refilled if a reservoir is misaligned if the machine needs to be descaled, and when the water is heating up.
Brewing espresso is as easy as turning the dial and pushing the big coffee button. That’s it.
- LED button interface
- 5 adjustable grind levels
- One programmable user profile
- Adjustable coffee length
- Descaling Notification
- Front access 8 coffee cycle dreg bin
- Front access 33 oz water tank
- 6.5 oz top load bean grinder
Ease Of Use & Reliability
This machine is reliable as long as you don’t overdo it. The Vapore is meant to be an occasional use machine available at an affordable price point for those people who want to get in the home espresso machine game.
The Vapore is incredibly easy to use. In fact, your user manual might just stay in the box for this one. The trade-off is limited versatility. There aren’t a lot of programming options to get confused by, and the pulled espresso product will be pretty consistent every time.
- It’s little! This machine takes up minimal real estate, which is perfect for someone who just wants to enjoy espresso every now and again.
- It is a plain language, straightforward machine. If you’re the person who doesn’t drink espresso every day, you may have no desire to fiddle with a complicated programmable menu screen found on the more expensive super-automatics. Maybe you just want to turn the dial and press a button. With the Vapore, you can.
- Steaming the milk yourself using the pannarello wand means you can make your drink as hot as you like.
- The Vapore is made with a lot of plastic and lower quality parts, which means shorter long-term durability. Caution all you high-frequency drinkers!
- There is no bypass doser for decaf or specialty beans. Bypass doors come standard on most other machines in the super-automatic category.
- There is no cup warmer, so manually steam your milk a little warmer to compensate.
- The espresso spout is not adjustable to accommodate bigger cups.
- The dreg box light will go on after 11 brew cycles, even if you’ve just emptied it!
- Steamed milk is good but not excellent quality.
The X-Small Vapore is the smallest, least expensive super automatic machine that Saeco currently offers. At below $600, this machine is incredibly affordable. Its price reflects the lower cost materials used in the build of this machine.
So, buyer beware, you should not be treating this machine as a high capacity espresso producer. You will be disappointed.
The Vapore is best meant to make espresso here and there, not every day, many times a day. The components will wear out more quickly than a more expensive, higher quality super-automatic machine.
The X-Small Vapore is a competent machine despite its small size. It may take a little longer to get from power on to espresso in your cup, but the drink quality is there. Espresso will taste how espresso should. And steamed milk, although not coffeehouse quality, will still please the occasional espresso drinker’s palate.
Operation of this machine is straightforward and simple, which also means only basic functionality. You won’t be able to fully customize any espresso drink beyond some basic limited options.
But where the machine ends in espresso versatility, it picks up in milk steaming flexibility. The manual steaming feature allows you to steam as much milk as you want at whatever temperature you want. So if your espresso isn’t hot enough for you, your milk indeed can be.
Need Another Option?
If you are one of the many consistent espresso drinkers looking for a more capable machine over the long run, then take a look at the Saeco Incanto. You’ll pay a few hundred more, but you’ll get a larger water tank, dreg bin, and bean hopper. Plus you’ll have much more programmable variability in your espresso drinks, while still having full control over the manual steaming process.
Are you looking instead to go fully manual, where things get a little fun and messy, and save a bit of dough in the process, check out the Gaggia Classic? You’ll pull your shots and steam your milk for about 100 dollars less than the Vapore. It may take a bit of time to get the espresso pulling down pat, but once you have it figured out, you’ll be making fantastic espresso drinks at a tremendous price. And the Gaggia Classic is a high-quality machine with high-grade parts.
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