Melitta have been in the home coffee brewing business since 1908, when the very first filter coffee system was invented. Fast forward over 100 years and today they have a great selection of bean to cup coffee machines to choose from. My Melitta Caffeo Solo Review is a deep look at their entry level series.
Notice how I said series and not coffee machine singular? Well as you probably guessed there are a few different models in the Caffeo Solo range. Fundamentally they are the same, the main difference is the milk frothing part. Basically you have the option of no milk system, and manual steam wand or an automated milk frothing system.
A quick look online and you can see this is a very popular brand and it is easy to see from the online reviews this is a good choice for your first bean to cup machine.
So let me quickly explain the different models in the series, note they also have several different machines within these model types, but then you are just getting into outer casing colour. The machine itself is the same underneath.
Melitta Caffeo Solo (E953-101) : This is the espresso only machine, there is NO steam wand or auto milk frothing on this machine.
Melitta Caffeo Solo & Milk (E953-102) : This is the same as above, but has the addition of a manual steam wand, to allow you make milk based coffees, such as Cappuccino.
Melitta Caffeo Solo & Perfect Milk (E953-103) : This is the same as the Solo, but has a fully automatic milk system.
Great First Bean to Cup Machine
- Integrated burr grinder (three settings)
- Manual Steam Wand (Solo & Milk only) / Automated Milk Frother (Caffeo Solo & Perfect Milk)
- 15 Bar pressure
- 1. 2 litre water tank
- Uses Fresh Coffee Beans
- Brews one or two cups of espresso at the same time
- Adjustable brew output 30ml-220ml
- 125 gram bean hopper capacity
- Dimensions : 20.0cm (W) x 45.5cm (D) x 32.5cm (H)
- Weight : 8.2kg
- Height adjustable nozzle max cup height 135mm
- Automatic cleaning and descaling program
The Melitta Caffeo Solo review in full
So lets get to it, and delve a little deeper and see what you actually get if you invest in one of these machines. I will be reviewing all three coffee machines in one go. The espresso part is the same in each, and when I talk about the milk based drinks I will make it clear which option I am referring to. Don’t worry it won’t be complicated.
These are Melitta’s entry level options (price wise), but they are still suitable for most homes, in fact under the bonnet a lot of the technology is the same as the more expensive Melitta Coffee machines.
This is the exact same process and technology on all three options. So this bit is applicable to all models. It is a simple and easy to use machine for producing an espresso.
Everyone is different and everyone has slightly different preferences when it comes to how they like their coffee to taste. The Melitta Caffeo Solo has you all covered, with its range of customisation options.
Like any good quality bean to cup coffee machine, the Caffeo Solo comes with an integrated stainless steel burr grinder. However unlike other machines you only have 3 options when it comes to deciding how fine or coarse you would like your beans ground. Most machines offer 13-18 different grind settings.
I have always said unless you are a real fussy barista then 18 options is way too many. But I would have liked to have seen more than 3 options. After all this setting has a direct impact on the extraction rate. It basically controls how quickly or slowly the water flows through the ground coffee, and therefore the strength and taste of espresso shot that is produced.
There is no option on the Melitta Solo series to use pre-ground coffee. This is not an issue for me, if you are investing in a bean to cup coffee machine, then you really want to be using fresh coffee beans or whats the point?
The bean hopper holds 125gram of coffee beans, although I always advise to not fill it up, maybe half is enough. You can then keep the rest of the beans sealed in an airtight container to preserve their freshness.
Once you’ve set your grind level (hint : go for the finest setting), you will then need to choose how strong you like your espresso shot?
The Melitta Caffeo Solo has three settings to choose from, this is less again than other bean to cup coffee machines. 3 grind options X 3 strength options means you have 9 possible settings. When you think the Sage Barista Express has a possible 180 different combinations, you can see this is not the most customisable machine.
There is also Melitta’s aroma extraction system, which pre wets the beans with a little water prior to the full extraction.
But that will be enough for a lot of people, and means it is capable of producing a much better cup of coffee than a mug of instant.
The total extraction time seemed a little quick to me, I set the fine grind and strong strength settings Which should result in the longest extraction time. But even with these settings it was only 14 seconds.
If I am being really fussy then it should have been more like 20 seconds. What does this mean, not much to the average coffee drinker, but for more experienced baristas it means the Crema was a little thin and dissipated quite quickly.
There is control over the brewing temperature and you can choose between 87oC / 900C / 93oC
Overall the Melitta Solo is capable of producing a decent cup of coffee that will satisfy the majority of people.
It does fall short when compared to other coffee machines when you look at the customisation options. If you want more control then I suggest you choose a different bean to cup machine from my list of the top ten
This is where the differences start to appear between the models, you need to decide if want this to be a manual or automatic process.
Most people will naturally think automatic is the obvious choice, but it is not that simple. Automatic does offer convenience, but the manually textured milk offers better quality.
With both options you do have to wait for the water temperature to rise before you can produce steam. This is because it only as a single boiler to handle both the brew and the steam. The extraction happens at a lower temp.
This is the steam wand option. This is one I would choose as you have control over the whole texturing process.
If you have not used a steam wand before, then it is a little daunting at first. But this is one is easy to start with and you only have the 1 dial to worry about.
You will need to get a stainless steel jug to do this part, and there is not one supplied. Simply put you need to fill the jug roughly half way up, and then submerge the wand into the milk. Open the valve a little at first to start the warming of the milk. As the temp rises you can then lower the jug so the tip of the wand is just in the milk, and then pen the valve a little more. This will make the foam on the top.
The more you practice the better you will get at this bit, and the more silky and smooth the textured milk you can produce. But even after only a few goes, you will be pretty good.
The wand can also be used for hot water.
For those that don’t fancy mastering the art of milk frothing, then the best option for you will be the “& Perfect Milk” model. This comes with the companies “cappuccinatore” or milk foaming system.
For this you don’t necessarily need a milk jug, instead you can stick the milk tube directly into a bottle of milk. I would suggest you don’t though, I would at least use a separate container for this milk, I just think it’s better the keep it separate.
Whilst this is a lot simpler than doing it yourself, I personally think the quality of foam it makes is not as good as what even a novice barista could achieve.
Milk Drinks verdict
This is dependent on the model you choose, if you don’t mind manually frothing the milk, then the Caffeo Solo & milk is as good as any other machine available.
For those that want fully automated milk frothing, the Caffeo Solo & perfect milk will produce perfeclty decent textured milk. But not as good as a manual process, but this problem is not just with Melitta, most automated systems fall short in this regard.
I am being particularly fussy here, and the vast majority of people will be more than happy with the automated one.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Don’t skip over this step when choosing which machine is best for you. Yeah, it is not as exciting as looking at the technology, and dreaming about the coffees you could be making. But it is a vital part of owning any bean to cup machine.
Get this part wrong, and pick machine that is fiddly and awkward to clean and look after. And I guarantee it doesn’t matter how excellent coffee it produces, you will stop using after a while, because you can’t be bothered with the cleaning.
Firstly on all 3 models you have an automated cleaning and descaling program. This is pretty standard nowadays, and I certainly would never buy one without this.
In addition to the automatic programs, you need to consider how easy is the manual clean? This generally boils down to how easy is it to get to the parts you need to clean. Well the Melitta Caffeo solo is great in this regard.
You can easily remove the brewing unit, water tank and drip tray to give them a good clean, with warm water. In addition to doing this weekly, I would also advise you give it a quick wipe down after each use.
Compared to any other coffee machine in the space, the cleaning is easy.
Melitta Caffeo Solo are a respected manufacturer and have a great build qaulity, so they require little maintenance on your part. Although they don’t supply one, they are compatible with “Claris water filters” and I would strongly urge you to use one to limit limescale build up.
Descaling the Melitta Caffeo Solo should be once every three months and takes roughly 40/45mins on an automatic program.
- Drip tray is also a cup warmer
- Auto off function
- Water hardness settings
- Energy saving mode
- Guarantee : 2 years
- Pre Brewing feature
Frequently asked questions
A few of the regular questions I have been asked or see in the various coffee forums I check.
Is the Melitta Caffeo Solo Value for money?
Yes the Melitta Caffeo Solo is great value for money. While true it may not have all the features of the tp machines, it is only a fraction of the cost. And it produces great espresso.
Can I use mugs?
Yes you can, there is an adjustable height dispenser and the maximum clearance is 135mm. Enough for a super size mug.
You can also adjust the amount of coffee you get up to 220ml, and with the option of brewing two cups at the same time. You can fill a large mug
How Big is the Melitta Caffeo Solo?
Dimensions are 325mm height x 200mm width x 455mm depth, this makes it a fairly compact unit, and should fit easily in most kitchens.
My Final Verdict
The Caffeo Melitta is certainly a great looking coffee machine, and is compact enough to fit on most kitchen worktops.
And for the price this is a great option for anyone looking to get their first bean to cup coffee machine. It is simple to use and you won’t get overwhelmed by a myriad of options, but the settings you do have will allow you to enjoy exceptional espresso and if you choose the “& Milk” option then great cappuccino’s and Lattes.
It is easy to see why this attracts so many great reviews.