Mr. Coffee ECM160 Steam Espresso Maker
by Ryan Pennington
I received a Mr. Coffee model ECM160 espresso maker as a gift from my sister, and being a coffee lover, it was the best gift I've ever been given (even I know there are better machines out there). One can buy the best espresso maker in the world, but the machine doesn't make the espresso, or froth the milk for you. It takes a while, but you have to get the milk to just the right temperature (150 degrees), then bring the very tip of the steam wand just to the surface of the milk and whip some air into the milk to froth it. An easy mistake is to try to froth the milk too soon, but the milk MUST be at the right temperature to froth properly. With some research, anybody can make a good espresso (or at least better than Starbucks, or any chain house for that matter), and the user manual is far from the best teacher. The manual shows how to use this machine, but not how to make a great shot of espresso. I use my ECM160 every day and so far it is holding up. It is easy to use and will make a good espresso if you use the right coffee, obtain the right tools, experiment to find the correct measurements, etc., and it doesn't take too much space on my counter top.
If anything, it is TOO easy to use, as there is no way to vary the temperature, so the quality of espresso will be inconsistent if you don't use the same coffee and tamp the grounds really tight every time (this machine doesn't even include a plastic tamper).
All of that being said; if I were to buy my own machine, I would spend a little more money and do some research and buy a better machine that has more features and settings. But this is a good machine to use in the meantime.