Dreaming of a programmable coffee maker, but don’t want to spend too much?
Philips Saeco makes your dream come true. With its Saeco Incanto coffee machine, you can pull out espresso, cappuccino or latte macchiato with a press of a button.
That’s right. With just a few presses of buttons, you’ll be able to set your coffee drinks to your desired proportions and the machine remembers your preferences well.
Although you have limited options for specialty drinks, you don’t need an array of options just to make any espresso-based drinks available. If you want to learn more, check out this detailed Saeco Incanto review.
The Saeco Incanto Carafe Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Saeco Incanto by Philips Saeco are entry-level superautomatic coffee machines offered at an affordable price. These machines have enough coffee drink options that you can program according to your liking. For this review, we’ll focus on the HD8917/48.
However, just to help you distinguish this model from the rest, the coffee machine that we’ll review here is a newer model with milk carafe. The Saeco Incanto with Panarello steam wand was the Classic model. This model could be the best choice for those who want to take more effort to froth their milk.
Yet, before the HD8917/48, there was an earlier Incanto model, the HD8917/47. The said model was replaced by the Saeco Incanto HD8917/48 with tracking software for the AquaClean filters.
Lastly, there’s also a Saeco Incanto Plus which is more like a newer version of the Classic model with stainless steel front and a cappuccinatore. Again, don’t confuse yourself with all other Incanto models. Our focus here is on the HD8917/48 model or the one with a milk carafe instead of a steam wand.
- Takes only seconds to heat up and has auto rinsing
- Has removable and refillable water reservoir
- Large water tank and bean hopper
- Automatic clean prompt and quick cleaning
- Nice integrated milk carafe and milk frother
- AquaClean filter status so you know when to replace it
- Kind of loud when it starts making your coffee
- Hard to depress the hot water dispensing spout
- Grinder settings are limited to five
- Great to have an attachment for the steam wand
- Good if it has user profiles
- Need to brew 4-5 cups after you change grinder settings
- Cleaning reminders could be annoying, but necessary
Design and Specifications
Saeco has one of the simplest, yet sleekest designs when it comes to superautomatic espresso machines. It has a few multifunction buttons and an LED display. It’s made of a thermoplastic casing that houses high-quality components and technology from Italy. The front panel and the top are made of brushed aluminum, while the drip tray is stainless steel.
Aside from Italy’s best technology wrapped in this beautifully-finished coffee machine, you’ll get 60.9 oz water tank and 8.8 oz bean hopper. The water reservoir is accessible from the top — removable and easy to clean. If you want to prepare a decaf coffee drink, you can use the bypass coffee doser on top.
Like some Saeco superautomatics, it comes with a very reliable ceramic grinder with five grinder settings. Thankfully, Saeco uses ceramic instead of a conical grinder. This grinder guarantees perfect and even grind without that burnt taste.
To extract the best-tasting espresso, you need to exert at least 9 BAR pressure. This Incanto model has 15 BAR pressure pump so the best coffee drink is assured — every time. It has a stainless steel boiler, so you don’t have to wait for long before the machine becomes ready.
This machine has an adjustable coffee dispensing spout with cup clearance of 4.5 to 6 inches. At least, you can fit in different coffee cup sizes. It has a 500 ml milk carafe with an integrated milk frothing system that you can easily pull out and push back to the machine if you’ll prepare milk-based drinks.
At the bottom of the unit is the drip tray which you can pull out in front of it. Simply depress the release button on both sides and pull the drip tray out of the machine. Once you remove the drip tray system, you will also pull out the coffee ground container with 15x waste capacity.
The drip tray has a full indicator that will pop up when the container is full. Likewise, the machine is smart enough to display warning icons when the coffee grounds container is full. Or, when the water reservoir and bean hopper are empty, the machine also displays the corresponding warning icons.
To the right of the machine is a service door where you can remove the brew group for manual cleaning. The advantage of using Saeco superautomatic coffee machines is the removable brew group. You don’t need to spend too much on maintenance (which you’ll do with other brands), because you can easily clean the brew group regularly.
All buttons and controls can be found in front of the machine, except for the main ON/OFF switch. If you notice, there’s an ON button on the front right below the LED screen for waking up the machine if it goes to sleep. The small LED strip displays basic information to make customization easier.
You have six buttons with multiple functions: ESPRESSO (BACK button), ESPRESSO LUNGO, AROMA STRENGTH (OK button), CAPPUCCINO (UP button), LATTE MACCHIATO, and the MENU (DOWN button).
Aside from being the OK button, the AROMA STRENGTH button also gives you the option to activate the bypass coffee doser. When using the GROUND COFFEE bypass doser, you must only put one measure — no more no less.
All of these parts and controls housed in the Saeco Incanto give it a bit of a bulkier body. It has an overall dimension of 16.8 × 8.4 × 12.9 inches. It weighs 7.5 kg, so it’s still manageable to move around. However, it’s recommended to have at least 15 cm free space above, behind, and on the sides of the machine.
Features and Functionalities
After going into the details of this machine, it’s very important to learn more about the highlights of this espresso machine. Before jumping into getting this product, you should know what you can get from your investment and if it’s worth investing in.
Excellent Ceramic Grinder — The fact that you have access to freshly ground coffee is a big plus. With the ceramic grinder, you’ll get consistent coffee grounds, plus it has five different grind settings to experiment on the taste you like. Contrary to conical grinder, ceramic grinder won’t overheat, so you won’t get any burnt taste.
Premium Craftsmanship — Though it only costs less than $1000, it’s crafted with premium materials. It’s made of thermoplastic with a brushed aluminum front panel. All parts seem high-quality without that plasticky feel.
Easy-to-Operate Buttons — All six buttons are very easy to press with proper labeling. Some buttons have a second purpose, which we already mentioned earlier. You can also extract two cups of your favorite espresso or lungo by pressing the dedicated buttons twice.
Memo Function — Even though it doesn’t explicitly display any programmable functions, you can press and hold dedicated drink buttons to activate the MEMO function. This will allow you to program your coffee the way you like it. Press the OK button once your desired volume is reached and the machine will remember it.
For the milk-based coffee beverages, you must install the milk carafe and start to save the amount of milk dispensed first. Then, you can set the amount of coffee you want in your specialty drink. Once you save these settings, the machine will dispense your desired amount of milk and coffee — every time.
Integrated Milk carafe and Milk Frother — This system is good because you don’t need to do this manually or wait for your coffee to brew before frothing the milk. However, if you want to learn the skill of frothing milk and achieving the perfect milk foam, you might need a steam wand.
Warning Icons and Error Code Display — One of the advantages of superautomatics is the warnings and error codes the machine displays when something isn’t right. For Incanto, it has easy-to-understand icons like when the bean hopper is empty or when the drip tray isn’t there, etc. Aside from that, it also displays error codes, which meanings are detailed in the user’s manual.
Fast Heat-up, No Waiting — It comes with heating technology that is super-fast so the machine can quickly reach the optimal brewing temperature. Actually, you can also see options for the coffee temperature. In this way, you can extract your favorite coffee at a favorable temperature.
Removable Brew Group — It’s one of the best features of a Saeco superautomatic espresso machine. You can remove the brew group so you can clean it regularly to achieve the consistency of your coffee. Aside from that, you won’t be spending too much on the maintenance because you can do manual cleaning yourself.
Setup and Operation
Superautomatic espresso machines could be very easy to operate, yet you need to stick with the recommended procedures to make it last. Unlike manual coffee machines, one mistake, or if you don’t follow the standards, the machine could behave erratically.
For the built-in grinder to function well, you must only use espresso beans. Never use oily, caramelized and flavored beans. Furthermore, don’t do anything on the grinder other than roasted espresso beans.
If you don’t have coffee beans, Saeco gives you the option to use pre-ground coffee through the bypass coffee doser. However, you must only put one scoop of coffee in it. This machine comes with a measuring scoop that doubles as a grinder adjustment key.
When using the grinder adjustment knob (to select from five different grind levels), you must only turn one notch at a time. The effect will not be noticed right away, so you must brew at least around 4-5 cups to appreciate the result. Use only the grinder adjustment key (opposite end of the measuring scoop) when adjusting the grinder setting or you’ll damage the grinder.
Pay attention to warning icons and error codes that will be displayed on the LED screen. If there are errors displayed, the operation of the machine will not commence, unless you’ll address the problem right away.
When using the machine for the first time, like any other coffee machine, you have to prime it and the user’s manual has a detailed procedure on how to do it. So, the next thing that you must know is how to navigate the buttons and how you’re going to customize your coffee.
All buttons have self-explanatory labels, but they have double functions, some even have a third function. Pressing the MENU button gives you access to even more settings, including the Coffee temp, Water Hardness, Drinks, AquaClean Filter, Descaling, and so on.
Just be careful not to hit the OK button when you navigate and end up with the START CALC CLEAN unless you intend to descale. Once you start the descaling process by accident, you must finish the process without interruption or you can refer to the user’s manual for the appropriate steps to take.
Brewing Capacity and Process
It’s a superautomatic espresso machine with an integrated grinder. So, what’s left to do? Actually, you don’t have much to do. Perhaps, the initial setup is the only tedious part, otherwise, your favorite coffee is always just a press of a button away.
With Saeco superautomatics, you can have the option to freshly grind your coffee beans or you can use pre-ground coffee. Unfortunately, you don’t get the option to brew coffee from pods or capsules. You can simply press the dedicated button for the coffee you want or press the AROMA STRENGTH button if you want to prepare coffee from pre-ground input.
Upon start-up or wake up, the machine takes a few seconds to heat up. If you need hot water only, you can select it from the MENU, then go to Drinks. The machine reminds you of inserting the hot water dispensing spout in the place of the milk carafe.
On the other hand, if you want to prepare milk-based coffee, you must put the milk carafe in place and pull the milk dispensing spout towards the coffee dispensing spout. If the milk dispensing spout isn’t correctly placed, it won’t give you great milk froth.
Again, the machine is programmable, yet you can also terminate the process earlier than what the machine knows. Simply press the AROMA STRENGTH button (OK button) to stop frothing, steaming, or dispensing water.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Probably, a minor issue of most superautomatics will be on the maintenance. Since almost everything is automated, you must ensure everything works in optimal conditions to achieve consistent output. With Saeco Incanto, there are just tons of things you must do — which might be quite cumbersome.
Every after you make a latte macchiato or cappuccino, the machine will prompt you to clean the milk carafe spout. It also displays the percentage of your AquaClean filter. Once the capacity drops to 0% and the filter icon flashes quickly, you must replace the filter right away.
Without the AquaClean filter, you must descale it when the machine has dispensed around 5,000 cups. But with an AquaClean filter, you don’t need to descale every around three months. Only after 8 filter replacements (which is recommended to be changed every three months), that you must descale the machine.
The machine has a full indicator for the drip tray and warning icon display when the coffee grounds container is full. Unfortunately, with the drip tray and the coffee ground container, you must clean it with the machine turned on. If you won’t the warning icons will still display even if you cleaned them already.
Like most coffee machines, never use scrubbing powder or any harsh cleaning agents. Only use a soft cloth dampened with water and wipe the surface with care.
It’s recommended to clean the brew group weekly for best and consistent performance. You must read complete cleaning and maintenance recommendations so the machine will last for long.
Accessories and Add-ons
You won’t see portafilters or filter baskets in a superautomatic espresso machine. You have the brew group that does magic with your coffee. Instead, fully-automatic espresso machines have other add-on accessories.
First and very important is the milk carafe and milk frother. You can easily slide it to the espresso machine or take it out to store the milk in the fridge.
You have the AquaClean filter, the efficient filter designed to reduce limestone deposits, thereby, getting the best aroma and flavor of your favorite coffee. It also comes with a cleaning brush, grease, and a multifunctional tool.
The tool is a measuring scoop with a grinder adjustment key tip that doubles as a coffee duct cleaning tool. It has separate hot water dispensing spout and opening for hot water dispensing spout. With all these tools, all you need to have is a scoop of your favorite ground coffee or a handful of coffee beans to get started.
Who is this product for? / Should you buy this?
If you’ve seen the Saeco Xelsis, perhaps, you can say that the Incanto has basic functionalities and limited options. Indeed, it has a few options, especially when it comes to the drink options and customization options. But, do you need all those sophisticated options?
If you’re an espresso purist or if you want to have a specific punch on every cup of your espresso, you don’t need to get more. Incanto has enough — with just what you need. If you are living alone or with a family that doesn’t have much variation with coffee preferences, Saeco Incanto is a great kitchen add-on.
Furthermore, it’s kind of cheap compared to other superautomatic coffee machines. With the great and solid construction, plus large reservoirs, Saeco Incanto can serve you and your family a cup of your favorite coffee.
Crafted and engineered to brew perfection every time you want a cup of coffee, Saeco sets a new standard in superautomatics without breaking the bank. You don’t need to spend too much just to get a consistent espresso shot every time you want to wake up and get on with the day.
Even though it’s offered at around half the price of premium superautomatic espresso machines, Saeco sees to it that it’s capable and able. It performs on par and even surpasses the coffee quality of its more expensive competitors. All features — from the beautiful design, simple controls, and the best of Italian technology — you are assured of the best espresso every day.