If you’re one of those people who can only start the day with a coffee, then you’ll know the importance of having a high-quality machine that can produce the goods.
With so many different options on the market – whether that’s a Tassimo gadget or an espresso machine – it can be difficult to know which one is best for you. But, personally, we think there’s nothing better than a bean to cup machine.
Its ability to produce fresh, barista-quality coffee at a touch of a button should not be overlooked. And now, Smeg has just added to its small appliance repertoire with its first-ever bean-to-cup coffee maker (£679.95, Smeguk.com).
Of course, it features a built-in grinder that can be adjusted, but it also has a milk-frothing function, which means you can create long drinks, from cappuccinos to flat whites, as well as espressos.
With such impressive features and the promise to deliver a “tailor-made coffee experience” at home, we wanted to see whether it would live up to our expectations.
How we tested
This machine was put through its paces in a large, caffeine-reliant household, with each member having a different drink of choice.
We tested to see whether it could deliver café-quality beverages at home. When making espresso we were looking for a thick crema (the creamy silky froth that sits on top), while flat whites and lattes needed to have perfectly steamed milk. We also wanted it to be easy to use and have a streamlined design that would fit nicely on the kitchen counter.
With all that in mind, here’s what we thought when we gave Smeg’s first-ever bean-to-cup machine a whirl. Spoiler alert: it produced coffee worth getting out of bed for.
Smeg BCC02 bean to cup coffee machine: £679.95, Smeguk.com
- Milk frother? Yes
- Cup warmer? No
- Removable water tank? Yes
- Dimensions: H43.3cm x W18cm x D33.6cm
- Coffee bean capacity: 150g
- Colours: Matte black, matte red, matte taupe and matte white
Design and features
As we were expecting, the design is well thought out – it’s compact, streamlined and fits neatly on a kitchen worktop – and thanks to its rectangular shape, it can be easily slotted into a corner, onto a shelf or even into a cupboard (although we’d doubt you’d want to keep this one hidden away). The flex is quite short, however, which might impact where you position it. There’s a colour for every kitchen decor including black, red, taupe and white – all of which come in a matte finish.
It’s a single hopper machine, meaning it only has the capacity for one set of beans, which might not suit those who also regularly enjoy decaf. But it can create a number of different drinks, from espressos and black coffees to lattes, as well as hot water for tea.
Although the machine looks fairly intuitive, we’d recommend reading the user manual before you dive in – it’ll guide you through the different controls and alarms and how to set the water hardness, as well as how to customise the length of your drink and most importantly, how to froth the milk. Similarly, it provides details on the adjustable grind level, so you can tailor the drink to exactly your taste – this is done using the knob within the coffee bean container.
It also has an automatic rinse function. This happens when the machine is turned on to keep the adjustable coffee dispenser clean – an obvious bonus. As for the steam wand, it’s recommended that you clean this after every use, but this is simple and easy to do, and a cleaning needle is included.
The machine does not come with coffee beans, so we’d recommend taking a look at our review of the best independent coffee brands if you’re new to buying them – our personal favourite is Rave Coffee (from £7, Ravecoffee.co.uk), which offers a subscription service.
The buttons allow you to choose from a ristretto, espresso, long coffee and hot water. But there’s also the choice of light ristretto, light espresso, long coffee and steam within the secondary options – these can be selected after pressing the “change dispensing programme” button, which turns the drink selection buttons to orange.
It takes approximately 20 seconds to get from bean to cup, and the espresso produced is smooth, with a thick crema on top. The ristretto was equally as impressive and was slightly sweeter, with greater intensity. We also liked the option to also have a lighter espresso and ristretto, which tasted less strong.
As for the milk frother, it works well (once you figure out how to change it from hot water to the steam function) and produces silky, frothed milk, although it does require a little bit of practice. Our only slight gripe is that there is no milk jug included, which you do need – considering the £679.95 price of the machine, we were expecting one. We’d recommend investing in one prior to the machine’s arrival – this John Lewis & Partners stainless steel jug (£9.50, Johnlewis.com), for example.
Our flat whites only got better with experience, but for our first the milk was warm within two minutes. We were so impressed with our first attempt that we were even excited to get out of bed the next morning and try again. Hats off to Smeg.
The verdict: Smeg BCC02 bean to cup coffee machine
In comparison to other bean-to-cup machines we’ve used, the Smeg BCC02 certainly performs better and looks smarter too, thanks to its streamlined design and the choice of different colours on offer. When you get to grips with what the different buttons do and the functions available, it really is a high-end piece of kit that can create a range of different drinks.
As you’d expect, it produces smooth coffee at the touch of a button and the steam wand gives you even more flexibility when it comes to the cups you can create. It really does deliver on its promise of a “tailor-made coffee experience” at home.
The price, £679.95, is fairly standard for a bean-to-cup machine, but we do think it’s a shame that a milk jug wasn’t included. This aside, it’s a fantastic gadget that produces top-quality coffee, easily.
Smeg BCC02 bean to cup coffee machine
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