The Espressione Café Minuetto is a streamlined stainless-steel espresso maker that accepts both coffee pods and ground coffee. Operating it is pretty straightforward since there is but one dial and no extra buttons. Since this is a manual espresso maker, you will have to experiment with it for a while to discover its quirks. For example, when you turn the dial, the flow of hot water continues to pour through the portafilter until you stop it. With a bit of time-consuming trial and error, you can learn precisely how much water to permit through the portafilter to make espresso to your style.
The steam wand swivels easily and works well, although for safety's sake, you might want to be careful with the bar to the steamer since it gets very hot – it ended up burning the thumb of one of our testers. Our testing showed that this unit does a decent job of steaming milk and of creating foam with a variety of different milks.
You get a generous water reservoir with this two-shot home espresso maker. It also comes with three filters: one for coffee pods, one for a single shot and another for a double. Another useful feature is a handy cup warmer on the top of the machine. In addition, you get a dual-use tool with a tamping surface at one end and a measuring spoon on the other.
While it is handy to have both a measuring spoon and a tamping tool readily available in one unit, our research and experience indicate that most espresso lovers prefer a genuine tamper with a flat handle on the end rather than a spoon. A tool like that lets you press down on the coffee grounds in the portafilter with the level of firmness necessary to achieve the right flavor. It is a bit awkward to try to do this holding a measuring spoon as a handle, however. But it should be noted that nearly all the machines we evaluated came with sub-par tampers. The only one that had a tamper that fit our needs was our top pick.
While your espresso is brewing, the exterior of the Espressione Café Minuetto does not get extremely hot; our tests showed that the temperature of the machine’s exterior reached 93.1 degrees F.
Cleaning is not difficult, which is a plus, but there are a few rather tiny parts of the machine to deal with. One very small cleaning tool comes with a miniscule handle, and it could easily be misplaced. The drip tray is plastic and easy to clean, but the sheer metal areas on the machine's exterior can scratch easily, so you need a gentle touch when cleaning.
Some critics have insisted that this is a noisy machine, but our tests showed it to be slightly below average in noisemaking in comparison to the other products we tested, measuring 70.8 decibels when active.
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The Espressione Café Minuetto makes acceptable espresso, offers decent frothing for milk, presents a good-sized water reservoir and has a cup-warming area on top. You must invest more time than you would with other espresso machines in order to fully master this device since it is a manual cappuccino maker, but once you’ve got a handle on it, consistently strong, rich-tasting coffee drinks are the result.
Contributing Reviewer: Danny Chadwick