Are you in the market for an espresso machine? If you're a coffee lover like me then the Francis! Francis! X5 by Luca Trazzi is the perfect machine for you!
It's sleek lines and modern design certainly make this machine a piece of artwork for your kitchen countertop... and the coffee tastes great too!The X5 comes in a wide variety of colors to suite your decor as well as making you a perfect espresso complete with a rich "crema" to boot!
My first espresso machine was a Krups which i bought a few years back for $99.99. While it did it's job, the milk frother cracked pretty quickly and the coffee was a bit watery... but it was a good "first timers" buy... when the dial at the top finally caved in (after 2 years) I decided I wanted a more professional machine that would also completement my kitchen decor... that's when i met the Francis! Francis! X5. the retail price for once of these machines is + or - $700, if you purchase it directly from their site. You can get the machine cheaper from illy coffee's website as part of a package deal, which asks you to sign up for monthly coffee deliveries worth $50 per month and includes espresso cups from their signature collections.
However, if you're not ready to shell that much on a brand new one, you can purchse these machines on ebay for around $400, depending on the color. These are refurbs and should be in excellent working condition!
Pros and Cons:
The machine is just the right size to fit anywhere on your kitchen counter top without taking as much room as some of the other professional, commercial grade machines out there. The design and choice of colors also makes it easy to purchase one that's just right for you! (I purchased the fire engine red, which compliments my red Kitchen Aid appliances).
It comes with 3 different coffe holder sizes:
one which is for Illy coffee pods
one for single espresso shots (ground coffee)
one for double espresso shots
The milk frother does a great job when making cappuccinos, once you get used to it!
It features a clock on the front which greatly helps with timing your shots and is also a nice touch to the design as a whole.
The "water catcher" on the bottom has a nice stainless steel grill which sparkles and is large enough to accomodate any spills or overflow.
A nice, thick, rich crema is produced when making espressos or cappuccinos and the taste is never "burnt".
Doesn't have too many confusing buttons and switches making it user friendly.
The double espresso addition does seem to let more coffee through on one hole than the other, so I personally recommend using this to make double capuccinos rather than trying to use 2 cups for espresso.
the water tank at the back is a bit hard to reach when refilling and is hard to put back in place once removed. I suggest just pulling it out a bit to refill from a jug, rather than removing it completely.
It is a bit complicated at first since you have to time everything perfectly and you must wait for the machine to cool down before making another espresso after using the milk frother. Make sure to clean the milk frother after every use since the holes get clogged and this in turn greatly reduces the amount of froth you get.
The plate at the top which is meant to heat your cups doesn't really get warm enough unless you leave the machine on for long periods of time (which is not recommended or it will burn out!)... so is much better used as a cup display.
When using the double espresso coffee holder, make sure you put just the right amount or else it will leak from the sides. It takes practice to figure it oput, especially since you can't fit two scoops of coffee but more like 1.5... however, once your eye is trained you'll do it like a robot!
All in all the Francis! Francis! X5 is a pretty nifty machine that delivers great tasting coffee time and again! It may seem a bit complicated at first but after your second try you'll know the machine inside out and will be able to enjoy perfect espressos and cappuccinos time and again! I would give this machine a 4.5 out of 5! which in my book is VERY GOOD!
I personally use Illy Dark Roast coffee and I don't think i will ever go back to what i used before! I used to use Lavazza's dark roast which is less than half the price, but at $13.99 a can Illy coffee is well worth the investment, if you take your coffee seriously! Although it's up to personal taste I strongly recommend using a dark roast, fine grain coffee.
I absolutely LOVE using Illy Pods for the machine! They are individually wrapped which really keeps the coffee fresh until ready to use. Clean-up is also easy and you no longer have to worry about how much coffee you should use.. guarantees a perfect cup each time!