Product Type: Kitchenaid coffee machines
Newest Review: ... months use. What appear to be the normal faults with these machines then developed on mine, these being a :- leaking steam boiler, faulty... more
Kitchen Aid Espresso machine
Kitchenaid Artisan Coffee Maker - Cream
Member Name: dbank
Kitchenaid Artisan Coffee Maker - Cream
Date: 06/10/07, updated on 11/09/10 (3013 review reads)
Advantages: Great Coffee, easy to use, looks nice!
Disadvantages: Steam boiler gasket prone to failure.
As I had been impressed with two Kitchen Aid products (a blender and a coffee grinder) I thought I would try their coffee machine, (John Lewis, £499, Jan 2007)
£500 for a domestic coffee machine seems madness, as there appeared to be quite capable ones for £100, but it was the cheapest model I could find with two boilers, which seemed like a good idea.
In practice it works brilliantly, plenty of pump pressure for extraction, and plenty of steam for the milk even when making several cups at once and the resulting coffee taste great.
It looks good and is a pleasure to use. I've used several other cheapo domestic machines, which were utter frustration, not the best way to start your day.
Now the bad news...
Machine Number One
1) After a couple of months an allen bold fell out of the "brew head", not a disaster I screwed it back in, and checked the others some of which were loose, but it does rather imply a sloppy build in the first place.
2) After 6 months both gauges misted up, so I took the lid off the top, and had a look inside. It seemed a bit damp but I let it dry out and seemed okay.
3) After 9 months the button on the steam pump failed, I took the machine apart, and discovered the back of the switch had become detached, it just clipped back into place and worked fine.
I suspect the button had been "vigorously" pressed by teenage children, but it looks like a weak point.(i.e. maybe, the travel of the button isn't limited enough to stop you pushing the back off the switch assembly).Either way it hasn't happened again so it could of been incorrectly assembled in the first place.
4) As I had it apart, and the gauges had missed up again, I thought I would see if I could spot any leaks. I discovered there was a leak from the base of the steam boiler. I checked the allen bolts but the were tight.
So I sent it back to Kitchen Aid, and it was replaced with a brand new machine, no haggling
Machine Number Two
9 months later...Same problem, leak from the bottom of the steam boiler, so I sent it back to Kitchen Aid, and the replaced it with a brand new one.. again zero haggling.
Machine Number Three
10 months later, the same problem with a leak at the bottom of the boiler, this time I couldn't face sending it off yet again, so I dismantled the boiler and replaced the gasket with one from a car thermostat, £2 from local car parts shop.
Several months on the third machine is working fine and no leaks, so I suspect the whole saga was down to faulty design of the gasket.
What else is bad..!
1) Gages are a unnecessary, turn it on, wait 10 minutes and use it
2) Drip tray has a pointless level indicator, which falls out when you empty it.
3) Plastic steam wand tip, feels cheap, but cools quickly for cleaning.
4) Supplied Jug and tamper are junk.
Top tips with this unit
1) Descale the machine every 3-6 months, or if you notice steam pressure isn't a good as it should be.
2) Clean the filter on the brew head (remove screw) I left it for 10 months and was alarmed at the solidified coffee blocking the filter.
3) Keep the water tank correctly positioned, otherwise it will piddle on your work top.
4) Metal cup tray surround rattles, as it rests on top of the screws that hold the lid on, either bend it slightly or put a pea of bluetak between each leg (doesn't show)
5) I clean the steam wand every couple of weeks by sticking the end in a mug of water with some detergent overnight. Then brush / scrape the softened milk off in the morning (nice job). Make sure the valve (knob) is closed otherwise the water/detergent can get sucked up into the boiler. Flush some water through before using.
And the good news?
I still love the machine, it makes great coffee and now I've sorted it out its a pleasure to use. I was also impressed with Kitchen Aid's replacement policy they did the decent thing overtime.
Would I recommend this unit to a friend? Yes if they were willing to replace the gasket in the boiler when it fails, oh and keep the receipt as they might need to use the two year warrantee.
Summary: If your mechanically minded, buy one and watch out for the steamed up gauges = replace gasket.
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