Is beauty only skin deep when it comes to conjuring up perfect coffee at home?

You always know a KitchenAid product by two things – serious good looks and some serious weight issues. When the delivery man handed me my KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine I failed to brace and almost dropped it. 

Staggering into the kitchen, I lowered it slowly to the floor and began to unbox.  It’s a masterpiece of careful packaging, items emerged from their eco-friendly cardboard nests securely wrapped in a silky smooth kind of cloth that had kept everything factory-fresh.

Assembly, once all the parts were extracted, was simple and intuitive, no need for the manual at this stage. I put it up on the counter, hunted out some coffee beans and got ready to brew some Joe.

On the ‘pull’

First you fill the reservoir with water, which can be done in situ, or the tank can be removed using its useful handle and taken to the tap.

Then you fill the 58-mm Commercial-Grade Portafilter. This is the correct name for that thingummy with a handle your local barista locks into the machine for each brew (and then bangs very noisily on a drawer afterwards to empty).

This one is reassuringly solid and heavy with a flat base which makes it easy to fill. The machine comes with four baskets for the portafilter  – two kinds for pre ground coffee and two for your own ground beans.

There are two wall basket sizes. Double wall baskets help give consistent results, ideal for beginners. Single wall baskets give greater control and full-bodied shots.

The machine is customisable for temperature and size of shot,

Brew up

Measure the ground coffee with the included spoon, then tamp down the coffee with the included beautifully tactile and solid tamper; it’s important to get the coffee even and well compacted. Getting this right, along with the right degree of grind, comes with a little trial and error

​​Fast-heating Thermocoil technology takes less than 45 seconds, accompanied by a small thumping sound from the compressor. KitchenAid says ​​that the machine’s “Smart Temperature Sensors “actively communicate with each other throughout the brew process, and heat water up to the ideal brewing temperature in less than 45 seconds”. 

You can place your coffee cup(s) on top of the machine while you’re doing all this. It’s supposed to prewarm them, although I didn’t detect much warmth. Looks cool, though.

The KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine has a low pressure pre-infusion and 15-bar Italian pump. This is apparently good.

Use is simple: one button selects Expresso, Steam or Hot Water, another chooses between single or a double shot, one is for the automatic cleaner and the other is Start/Stop. Simples. So we tamped in our fresh-ground coffee, locked in the portafilter and pressed Start.

Barista wisdom is that coffee should come through in about 20 seconds, any less and your coffee is too coarsely ground, much more and it is too fine and dense.

The portafilter is dual-spouted like the pro machines, so you can have a large single cup of coffee or make two smaller ones side by side. You can use the water/steam wand to add more hot water for a larger drink.

Frothing up

It all worked very well, good ‘crema’ and then followed the fun part, the milk frothing. Select the Cloud symbol (steam, geddit) and go. Direct the wand nozzle under the surface of the milk in the supplied steel pitcher.

It all makes a very satisfying loud sputtering noise and transports you to Italy, or at least Bar Italia. Using full fat milk it froths up beautifully and finishes off your cup of coffee to perfection.

Taste is of course subjective, and there are so many choices of beans available. However using my usual cafetiere beans  I found the coffee from the KitchenAid was far far better. Rich and complex.

Over the following days I found making coffee, whether semi-conscious or badly hungover, became automatic, a simple and pleasing ritual that delivered better and better results as I found my happy place on grind and method.

There’s no denying the machine is expensive, although other makes can cost a lot more, but there’s also no denying the looks, the quality build and the beauty of its German engineering either. And it comes with a 5-year warranty and in a variety of colours including red, cream and plain steel.

For it’s reassuring heft, looks, price and effortless ability to deliver perfect coffee every time, I have to give the Artisan Espresso Machine From KitchenAid ten caffeine-fuelled marks out of ten.

The NEW Artisan Espresso Machine (RRP £449) in Almond Cream, Candy Apple, Cast Iron Black and Stainless Steel, and the Artisan Coffee Grinder (RRP £199) in Almond Cream, Candy Apple, Matte Black and Charcoal Grey are available from