Smeg Coffee Maker Review: Fancy Drip Machine Or More?
Coffee lovers are discerning. It’s all about brew quality, right?
But let’s be honest. We may pass up a super-turbinado-espresso-maxo-supremo-whatever coffee machine that solves quadratic equations while brewing you mediocre pour over. But that doesn’t mean we don’t secretly want the thrill of a sleek machine.
If you’ve seen the Smeg drip coffee machine with its chic retro style, you may be seriously tempted. But is the brew worth the price?
As a fan of classic coffee machines, I’ve researched this drip brewer to see if it’s more than just a pretty face. In this Smeg coffee maker review, I’ll let you know if this ’50s-inspired beauty is worth considering.
Smeg is a seasoned Italian appliance brand whose inventory spans seemingly everything from washing machines to kitchen appliances. That includes drip coffee makers of course.
A Smeg machine is known for its design. Smeg domestic appliances are all beauties. These pretty machines come in more or less the same colors like light blue, pastel green, fire engine red, black, or cream.
Smeg products are generally made to match, so if kitchen style is important to you, you can pair your coffee maker with other Smeg appliances for a magazine-worthy kitchen look.
Smeg appliances do have some substance behind the style. Their products are generally well-made out and high quality. Though beauty is often their standout feature.
As for the Smeg drip coffee maker, you can trust it is well-made. An Italian brand can’t afford to make crappy coffee!
Smeg Coffee Maker Review
Okay. All coffee makers are a thing of beauty, but the Smeg really IS a beaut. A 1950s-inspired, powder-coated stainless steel class act.
- Chic retro style design
- Auto start, auto shut off, keep warm functions
- 10-cup brewer
- Hand wash only
- Loud beeping
You can’t ignore the Smeg drip coffee maker with its chic retro style design. Inspired by 1950s-era electronics and colors, this cute little coffee machine is perfect for the coffee addict who wants simple drip coffee and a brewer that looks nice on the counter.
Smeg Drip Coffee Features
The Smeg coffee machine is pretty simple with only a few buttons and functions, but it does have some added features for convenience.
The keep warm function does just that, keeping the carafe warm with a built-in warming plate. And for those who hate burnt coffee, the keep warm function lasts 60 minutes before the automatic shut off feature kicks in.
(Unless you get the older model, which has a 20 minute auto shut off timer.)
That’s just long enough to keep your coffee warm until you’re ready for a refill. No burnt coffee flavor, no leaving your machine on for hours.
This drip coffee machine also offers an auto start feature. The programmable clock lets you set your brew time up to 24 hours ahead of time so you can wake up to fresh, hot coffee.
If you don’t want a full carafe of 10 cups (about 50 ounces), you can opt for the 4-cup brew cycle.
This Smeg machine also senses your water quality and will beep when it’s time to descale. (Descaling removes mineral buildup from hard water.)
Depending on the water hardness in your area, that can mean frequent descaling, which just requires holding down the far left and right buttons for about a minute.
The best feature is the choice in ‘aroma intensity,’ allowing you to optimize the brew to your taste (see below).
Although not quite a “feature,” the Smeg drip coffee maker also comes with a reusable coffee filter. You don’t have to create more waste — or waste your own hard-earned money using paper filters.
Just give your permanent filter a rinse (and occasionally a full clean), and fill ‘er back up with coffee grounds.
Ease of Use
The Smeg drip coffee maker is the perfect home coffee machine. It’s as easy to use as a Mr. Coffee, or whatever drip coffee machine you grew up with.
This drip coffee maker is pretty much one touch only. One touch of the button to brew, power on and off, and to set the timer (okay, you have to press a few more buttons to set the hour/minute from there).
You will have to get up and turn the machine back on if you want the carafe to stay hot longer than the 60 minutes set by the keep warm function. But that’s a pretty long time for most and it’s nice to know you can’t accidentally leave it on and burning for hours thanks to the automatic shut off feature.
You may also have to work a bit to fill the water tank, which is located at the back of the machine and has a pretty narrow opening. It’s annoying, but at least it’s not confusing.
Still, brewing coffee is simple on the Smeg. Just load the grounds in the filter, close the lid, and press the brew button — which even has a carafe on it, so you can’t get confused.
Some don’t love features like descaling, but it’s so simple to do, it’s hard to consider this a difficult machine. Comparing this drip coffee maker to a semi-automatic espresso machine, the Smeg coffee maker is still a pretty darn simple way to make coffee.
This is obviously where the Smeg drip coffee machine really shines. Literally. Because it’s shiny.
The powder coated stainless steel body comes in 5 colors that match the rounded shapes of the retro ’50s design. Its unusual shape, smooth curves, and clean, simple design makes it look like a Faberge egg that got a Grease-themed makeover.
Available in pastel blue, mint green, bright red, black and cream, you’ll have all the good clean fun of a soda shop … with a much more sophisticated drink.
It’s not a giant coffee maker, measuring about 9.6 x 10 inches and just over a foot tall. Yet you get a full 10-cup pot in each brew cycle (unless you opt for the 4-cup pot).
The user panel is efficient in design, with just a few easy-to-use buttons and programs. The LED display shows the digital clock/timer and has a handy little backlight for those really early mornings.
Taste & Coffee Aroma
The coffee quality is not amazing for the price, but the flavor is ultimately pretty darn good.
Smeg coffee’s aroma is better. The aroma intensity selection function lets you choose a more delicate or intense aroma, based on your preferences.
While the overall quality is ceilinged at a very good (but not world-changing) cup of coffee, the aroma option significantly improves the flavor. That’s a nice feature in an otherwise pretty simple brewer.
The primary maintenance for your Smeg coffee machine is washing and descaling, both of which are fairly simple.
Other than the occasional wipe-down of the exterior and hot plate (when it’s off, of course), you really only need to clean the carafe, water reservoir, and grounds basket — by hand. This is pretty straightforward though.
There’s no auto clean function, but you can clean it by running a water and vinegar solution through the brewing cycle like you would with any classic coffee maker.
As for descaling, the process is incredibly simple, as we said. The only potential issue is frequent descaling (and the accompanying beeping prompting you do so) if the water hardness in your area is bad.
It’s a simple machine to take care of.
Value For Money
With a drip coffee maker this cute, I’d love to tell you it’s well worth the money.
But frankly, you’re mostly paying for a pretty face that just happens to make good tasting coffee.
The Smeg coffee maker is like every other drip coffee maker out there. It can brew coffee, simply and fairly well. That’s it.
This would be fine with a much cheaper machine, but since this Smeg coffee machine costs so much, it’s just not worth it. Sure, it’s well-made with good materials and isn’t likely to break down or stop working due to shoddy programming. But unless you have extra money to blow on a very pretty drip coffee machine, you should probably consider other options.
If you want a simple coffee maker that brews delicious coffee, and nothing else, try the KRUPS Simply Brew. It’s a fraction of the price but still makes good coffee in similar volumes (5 or 10 cups).
Or if you want something way fancier that still costs less than a Smeg coffee machine, there’s always the Ninja CM401 specialty coffee maker. It has multiple size options, a milk frother, and can brew concentrated coffee to pour over ice.
DCF101 VS DCFO2 Model Upgrade
The Smeg drip coffee machine got an upgrade within the last few years. The newer model (DCF02) has pretty much replaced the original (DCF01).
The new version looks just like the original, with the smooth curves and egg-like shape of the retro design and ’50s-inspired colors. The LED screen is the same, too. But it has some improvements based on common complaints about the DCF01.
First of all, the keep warm function now keeps coffee hot for a full hour, while the old model will auto shut off after 20 minutes. It keeps the programmable timer to start brewing when you need it.
For those who hated the beeping, the newer model lets you turn the alarm sounds off, making it easier to ignore. The lid is also easier to open and the timer on the LED screen can now be displayed on a 12 or 24-hour clock.
Keep this upgrade in mind if you check other buying guides and reviews. Some may have been written before the DCF02 launched.
The Smeg Coffee Maker Is For You If…
You Want A Multi-Cup Brewer
The Smeg coffee maker makes a 10-cup pot, which is sizable.
Note: With coffee machines, a ‘cup’ usually means 5 ounces, not 8.
Although this isn’t a highfalutin programmable coffee maker with 10 size options that brews hot or iced, it does give you two size options: a full pot or roughly half (4 cups), which is the size of a large coffee mug.
You Just Want A Simple Coffee Machine
Like I said, this is not one of those fancy-shmancy new machines with 15 programmable options, a programmable app that teaches you recipes, or a steam wand so you can make cafe-au-laits.
It’s just a good old drip coffee machine. It will brew coffee in two sizes and keep that coffee hot for a while. Just like the drip coffee makers you probably grew up with.
If you just want a plain coffee maker that happens to be cute — here you go.
The Smeg Coffee Maker Is NOT For You If…
You’re Short On Cash
Smeg coffee makers are simple, but they’re hardly the cheapest option out there.
Sure, they make some good coffee, but the quality of the brew is probably not proportional to the price. You’re definitely paying for the retro chic design and high quality materials.
There are equally good coffee machines for half the price, maybe even less.
You Want More Features
If you don’t want a simple drip coffee machine, i.e., you want better coffee options than just filter coffee in two volume choices, the regular Smeg is not for you.
The New Smeg Automatic Coffee Maker
The latest release from Smeg is its fully automatic coffee machine.
It skips the cutesy retro design and opts for a sleek, modern look and increased functionality.
The newest addition to Smeg products is a fully automated espresso machine. It can make espresso, Americanos, and drip. With a built-in stainless steel burr grinder, bean hopper, and automatic dosing, the new Smeg handles the whole process from bean to brew.
It heats up in seconds, and boasts a 19-bar pump, pre-sets, and LED display. Its main faults are a lack of pre-infusion and milk steaming.
It’s been well-received so far and enjoyed for its fairly high-quality brews. Though like the regular Smeg drip maker, it’s overpriced. You can get a better espresso machine — with PID control — for less.
The Final Verdict: Is The Smeg Drip Coffee Maker Worth It?
If this Smeg coffee maker review is going to be honest, no. The Smeg drip coffee machine is probably not worth it.
You can get the same or better coffee with other coffee brewers, for half the price or less.
Unless you want your coffee machine to look — and cost — like a work of art, skip the Smeg drip coffee machine and opt for the simple KRUPS or fancier Ninja CM401.