KitchenAid® has been a staple of at-home and professional kitchens since 1919. When a brand can not only exist for more than a century, but still remain an industry leader, the main reasons are usually quality and innovation. KitchenAid® is a prime example of this.
So, when I found out one of my favorite brands was now entering the world of coffee and espresso, I couldn’t wait to try out the products myself.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to spend time with some of KitchenAid®’s latest line of espresso machines, coffee makers, and accessories, and am pleased to say I had an overall positive experience.
Continue reading to check out my reviews of the KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine, Burr Coffee Grinder, Cold Brew Coffee Maker, and Automatic Milk Frother Attachment!
- KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
- KitchenAid® Automatic Milk Frother Attachment
- KitchenAid® Burr Coffee Grinder
- KitchenAid® Cold Brew Coffee Maker
KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
There are two versions of the KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine we carry, and both are functionally identical. The difference between the two is their outward appearance, with one offered in matte black, or matte charcoal grey, and another in brushed stainless steel, empire red, or onyx black “metal” options.
I tested the brushed stainless steel model, and was immediately impressed with its visual appeal. The machine is housed in a plastic body with the appearance of brushed stainless steel, and has true stainless steel accents like a passive cup warmer that runs across the top of the machine. The addition of black components and accessory accents make the machine very nice to look at. I personally love the aesthetic of KitchenAid® products, and this fits right in.
To brew, I used Whole Latte Love Crema Wave Whole Bean Espresso — my current favorite roast — with all of the KitchenAid® products I tested to make sure any potential negative results were not simply because I did not enjoy the flavor of the beans I was using. I’ve made countless delicious coffee and milk-based drinks with Crema Wave, so using it for my tests was the best way to give the KitchenAid® products a fair shake.
With that in mind, I found that the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is capable of making a very good espresso, thanks in part to the higher dosing available with the included 58mm commercial size portafilter.
One of the first things I noticed was how easy the machine was to use. All of the brewing functions and options, such as programmable dosing (“1” for single and “2” for double) and pre-infusion, are located and clearly labeled on the front of the machine. For someone like myself who still is far from an expert barista, the added and clear guidance was a huge help.
It’s also worth mentioning that the advertised fast-heating startup time of 45 seconds held up during my tests; I averaged about 44 seconds during my 10 or so trials. The included dual smart temperature sensors — advertised as a first for a residential espresso machine — were also up to snuff as I never experienced any noticeable temperature fluctuation.
Something I did notice after brewing a few shots, and quickly realized was the norm and not the exception, was how soupy the pucks produced were. The reason this happens is because there is no three-way solenoid to dump excess pressure and water from the portafilter after the espresso is made. This is by no means a deal-breaker and still resulted in a steady supply of tasty espresso, but it is something to keep in mind for those weary of that.
At first I thought I was doing something wrong with my grind size and dosage, but after trying more than 20 different size and dose combinations across all four of the included pressurized and non-pressurized filter baskets I came to the conclusion that this is a characteristic of the machine, not user error.
Another thing to keep in mind is the surprisingly long time it took for the brew spouts to stop dripping immediately after brewing. A few drops here and there is typical, but I clocked the post-brew drip time at more than 15 seconds on multiple occasions.
It’s also worth mentioning that while the steam ready time was relatively quick, there were multiple times where I recorded the total steaming process time at almost two minutes.
As for milk frothing, the base model of the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine comes with a steam wand to allow for the manual creation of milk-based drinks. Steam ready time was less than 30 seconds to indicate full steam temperature, and I made both a latte and cappuccino using cold 1% milk. Both drinks tasted great. There is also a pre-set option to dispense hot water for those interested.
I feel like the power of the wand could have been stronger as the texture of the frothed milk wasn’t as smooth as I typically like it, but this could be chalked up to personal preference. As previously stated, the flavor of the drinks was impressive, and the fact that a machine at the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine’s price range has milk frothing capability makes its inclusion a plus.
For those who purchase the stand-alone Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine, then decide they want to upgrade their milk frothing experience, the KitchenAid® Automatic Milk Frother Attachment is sold separately. For a review of the Automatic Milk Frother Attachment, continue reading.
Overall, I was pleased with the quality of the espresso I made when using the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine. Despite drawbacks like soupy pucks and extended post-brew drip times, the taste of the espresso itself was excellent and really brought out the notes of almond and honey that makes Crema Wave my go-to roast. The quick heat up time, ease of use, and inclusion of milk frothing, either with or without the Automatic Milk Frother Attachment also reinforce why the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine is an excellent option when looking for a expertly crafted semi-automatic machine that won’t break the bank.
KitchenAid® Automatic Milk Frother Attachment
For those who want automatic milk frothing functionality for their KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine, you can pick up the automatic milk frother attachment — available in brushed stainless steel, onyx black, matte black, charcoal grey, and empire red — as a separate purchase whenever you so choose.
Full disclosure, I’m capable of using the steam wand included with the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine. Am I “good” at it? No. But I do know how to use it. That being said, there was a considerable improvement in the consistency of the quality of the lattes I made after getting the hang of using the Automatic Milk Frother Attachment.
There were a few steps to assembling the attachment, but attaching it to the machine was very simple, and it looked great with my Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine. This was another instance where I appreciated the quality and design of the products KitchenAid® produces.
To begin frothing, I just rotated the function knob on the front of the attachment to the froth milk icon (the far right option), selected the steam option and dose amount (“1” for less milk, “2” for more milk) on the espresso machine, made sure my cup was under the portafilter and in place to catch the froth, then pressed “Start.” While frothing, you can also adjust the froth level by rotating the froth level adjustment knob on the top of the attachment. The other main options the attachment offers are for hot milk and hot water, and both options follow a similar step-by-step procedure.
I was pleased by the quality of the frothed milk, and liked the option to adjust the froth level mid-cycle. I didn’t mess with it too much, but can see the draw of being able to fine-tune to a specific preference.
The ability to remove the milk tank and place it in the refrigerator is a nice touch, but does create the potential for a mess. When the milk tank is removed, it leaves the typically submerged milk hose exposed, which can drip milk until it is wiped down. Luckily the hose can be tucked into a convenient clip on the attachment, but the initial process of exposing it while still wet is pretty much unavoidable so be sure to have a towel underneath the attachment when doing this.
It’s recommended that the attachment be cleaned after each use — which I also recommend — but the process did get tedious after a while. The process itself, which is to place a cup under the milk dispenser, insert the exposed milk hose into a cup of clean water, then run another froth cycle to clean all of the lines, is not inherently tedious, but the repetition of completing the process after each use was. This is especially true as I was often just frothing for a single drink for myself.
After using the Automatic Milk Frother Attachment, I can confidently say that it’s nice, if not necessary, to have. The added ability to program the milk amount and texture is very convenient and certainly helped me make more consistent drinks. I can see the attachment being extremely useful for those who consistently make a significant number of drinks at one time, say for when hosting friends and family. But for those with the ability and/or patience to use the steam wand, you can still make all the same delicious milk-based beverages.
KitchenAid® Burr Coffee Grinder
Of all the KitchenAid® products I tested, the Burr Coffee Grinder was my favorite.
Right out of the box, it was apparent that KitchenAid® put ample time and effort into designing this grinder. Available in black matte, matte charcoal grey, empire red, and onyx black, I placed my black matte model on the counter next to the brushed stainless steel Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine I was testing and just had to take a step back and marvel at how well the two looked next to one another.
Using the grinder was very easy, even for someone like myself who is relatively new to operating a standalone grinder. All you do is poor you desired beans into the hopper, use the grind size knob to select your desired grind setting — French Press, Perc (percolator), Drip, or Espresso — then use the dose selection knob on the right side of the grinder to adjust how many cups/shots you want to grind for. Grind time will adjust automatically depending on the cups or shots you program for, thanks to Automatic Smart Dosing Technology. After that, all you have to do is press “Start”, and the grinder will begin. It will also stop automatically after the completion of the grind time you set, which is a very handy feature when it comes to preventing any potential overflow related messes.
As an aside, the movement of the dose selection knob is buttery smooth, while also feeling responsive. This didn’t affect the grind quality in any way, but it's worth noting how satisfying it was to move between settings.
Once I poured in enough Crema Wave beans to fill the 10oz removable top hopper and began a test grind, I was blown away at how silent the grinder was. That grind, and the more than 30 grinds that followed, were consistently quiet to the point that I could grind while my fiancé was still sleeping; something previously unheard of in our house.
There was also no static cling when I tried grinding into the included removable bottom hopper. I don’t personally see myself using it much as I mainly drink espresso and the included portafilter holder has the ability to hold both 54mm and 58mm portafilters. However, for those interested in using the bottom hopper for the other grind settings, I had no issue whatsoever with grounds clinging to the dispensing chute. The portafilter holder can be conveniently stored in the machine by pulling out the grounds catcher tray and inserting it into its holding space when not in use.
I also found the dose amounts produced to be very consistent. Regardless of if I was grinding for any of the included settings, the dose amount and grind time remained the same using the same setting multiple times.
Herein is where I found my only complaint about the grinder. I did the majority of my test grinds for espresso, as I was using it in tandem with the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine. Once I figured out what grinder setting I liked — grind size: 60, cups/shots: 1, grind time: 10.0 — I was able to make delicious espresso.
The issues I ran into was when I wanted a more coarse grind. In my experience, it seemed the more coarse I went, the more bitter the coffee I made was. The few times I ground for drip coffee, the resulting pot of coffee wasn’t as good, but was adequate. When I went all the way over to grind size “1”, which is the most coarse grind size possible, I was not impressed. The French press I made was drinkable, but I did not enjoy the flavor nearly as much.
I will say I also used the same settings when grinding for the KitchenAid® Cold Brew Coffee Maker, and did end up enjoying the results a lot more. See my review of the Cold Brew Coffee Maker below.
It also features metal burrs, which is not a big deal to me, and shouldn’t be for anyone looking for an excellent grinder at an excellent price, but it's worth mentioning to those who are proponents of ceramic burrs.
All in all, I really enjoyed using the Burr Coffee Grinder. From its sleek look and small footprint, to its ability to consistently grind for delicious espresso, I would strongly recommend this grinder to those interested in a standalone grinder at a great price. If you are going to pair this grinder with the Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine, or another espresso machine where you are going to almost exclusively make espresso, this is an excellent option.
KitchenAid® Cold Brew Coffee Maker
My fiancé and I both partake in cold coffee, albeit in different ways. She enjoys making a hot Americano, then pouring that over ice for a delicious drink. I, on the other hand, have made a habit of making my daily double shot of espresso, forgetting about it, then committing myself to drinking the now cold cup of coffee because “we don’t waste things in this house!” Needless to say, I was thrilled to try the KitchenAid® Cold Brew Coffee Maker.
Once again, KitchenAid® has designed a product that really “wowed” me visually. Right out of the box, I placed the 14-cup model I was using on the counter and relished how nice it looked along with all of my other appliances. Also available in a larger 19 cup version, the brushed stainless steel body with black accents fit right and quickly became an excellent addition to my kitchen.
When it came time to test the coffee maker, it didn’t take me long to figure out how to use it. With all of the parts separated and cleaned prior to use, attach the outer lid to the top of the glass brew jar, insert the stainless steel steeper into the opening, then add in coarsely ground coffee and evenly pour cold water over it. I used 9oz of Crema Wave ground using the coarsest setting on the Burr Coffee Grinder, as well as 1L of cold, unfiltered tap water.
After that, press down on the grounds with a spoon to ensure they are submerged in the water, then put on the steeper lid and place in the refrigerator. Let the coffee steep into the cold water in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. After that, remove the steeper lid and lift up the steeper so that it rests at an angle over the opening in order to drain completely. After three or so minutes of draining, flip the angle and drain for another two minutes. Then, remove the steeper, discard the grounds and place the steeper lid on the brew container. After that, you’re ready to enjoy a delicious cold brew!
Despite my previous reservations using the coarse settings on the Burr Coffee Grinder (see above), my fiancé and I really enjoyed the resulting cold brew. I may have already outed myself as someone who isn’t picky about the coffee they drink, but she is very particular about the coffee she enjoys. Right away she let me know she enjoyed the taste and how much smoother and stronger the cold brew concentrate was compared to the pour over iced americanos she has been making for years.
After more than two weeks of constant use, we are both hooked. I’ve switched my midday drink to a glass (or two) of cold coffee consisting of 2oz of coffee concentrate and 6oz of cold water, and I’m pretty sure my fiancé hasn't had her coffee any other way besides a mixture of 2oz of coffee concentrate and 6oz of cold milk with a splash of flavored creamer since I brought the coffee maker home. What’s even cooler is that since the coffee maker can hold up to 28oz of coffee and has a very handy easy-pour tap, we’ve been able to store it in the refrigerator and pour without having to move the coffee maker at all. All in all, one full container of coffee concentrate lasted us roughly six days.
I’m also happy to report that I didn’t run into any issues with the container or the spout leaking. I was expecting at least a little drippage from the pour spout, but there was none after extended time spent on both my countertop and in my refrigerator. It’s worth mentioning that a few customer reviews mention leaking issues after prolonged use, but they appear to be the vast minority.
What Is The Difference Between Cold Brew and Iced Coffee?
The coffee maker can also be used to make tea. I didn’t get a chance to try this, but the product manual states to follow the same steps used for making coffee, except replace the ground coffee with loose-leaf tea leaves and let it steep for four to six hours for green or white tea and eight to 12 hours for black or oolong tea. If it tastes anything like the cold brew coffee, the resulting tea will be excellent.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Cold Brew Coffee Maker. The excellent design and sturdy materials used, as well as the delicious cold brew concentrate produced, make this the coffee maker you didn’t know you needed. If, up to this point, you’ve made due with pouring hot coffee over ice to get your cold coffee, and/or just want another way to cool off during the dog days of summer, I’d strongly consider picking one up. We also offer the larger 38oz capacity Cold Brew Coffee Maker for those who feel the urge to splurge.
There you have it! Overall, I was very pleased with what I saw and tasted while using KitchenAid®’s coffee and espresso products. Very accessible and streamlined processes, combined with a handful of features typically seen on products nearly double the price, make this line of products a fantastic option for those looking for the level of quality and innovation KitchenAid® is known for, at a great price.
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