Sitting between the expensive Saeco Xelsis and the cheap Saeco Incanto is the Saeco Picobaristo. It has most of the premium features of the Xelsis with a price slightly above the Incanto. How can such a capable espresso machine have a price that low?
It offers essential features only — no added sophistication. This machine is the easiest to operate, easy to maintain, and quick to brew your desired coffee for the day.
If you’re excited as we are, then our Saeco PicoBaristo review will surely give you more insight, probably everything you need to know about the machine.
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What is Saeco PicoBaristo?
It’s a mid-priced superautomatic espresso machine from Philips Saeco. Made with the best craftsmanship in Italy, this espresso and latte machine allows you to make a perfect coffee drink — every time. You don’t do manual grinding, measuring, and tamping because the machine does it all for you.
What’s more interesting, you can also use your pre-ground coffee in this machine. It has 11 customizable drink options, no user profiles, though. But, why worry about user profiles when you can get consistent and great-tasting coffee from this well-priced superautomatic coffee machine?
- Extracted coffee or milk-based drinks are hot enough
- Nice milk foam and automatic frothing and steaming
- Integrated ceramic grinder for fresher and tastier coffee
- Has just enough grinding settings of 10 grind levels
- Offers 11 programmable coffee and milk-based drink options
- Compact body with the front and top made of brushed aluminum
- Nice digital readout coupled with easy to use programmable buttons
- Doesn’t have cumbersome maintenance
- Some water will fall into your cup before steaming begins
- Can save preferred settings, but no profiles to assign it to
- Need to insert the hot water dispensing spout if you need hot water
- Remove the milk carafe if you need to remove the drip tray system
- No cup warmer, you can only heat cups by running hot water
- Unusual shape of the bean hopper, kind of difficult to funnel beans in
Design and Specifications
The first thing you’ll notice in this coffee machine is it’s compact. Period. There are not many protrusions and excess parts. What we mean by this is that, instead of a separate container, the milk carafe can be easily latched in front of the machine.
Compare the placement of the milk container between Saeco Xelsis and PicoBaristo. If you have seen both, you will agree with us that this model has a more compact design than the more sophisticated Xelsis.
Of course, not only that, it’s made of plastic to the sides, but the front and top are made of brushed stainless steel. With well-finished metal surfaces, you can easily wipe the stain and mess away. The milk carafe, too, has a bit of brushed stainless on the handle.
Without further ado, let’s get directly into the control panel of the machine. It comes with five programmable buttons for common coffee drinks — espresso, espresso lungo, café crema, cappuccino, and latte macchiato. In addition, it has the AROMA STRENGTH button, MENU button, and the STANDBY button.
To make the operation simpler, the ESCAPE (or BACK) button, OK button, UP and DOWN buttons have their respective buttons. So, the buttons dedicated to the coffee drinks can be used to access further customization. With the design of the controls and buttons, it’s very intuitive, plus the LED screen makes it even better to navigate.
On top of the machine, you have the water reservoir which has 1.8L water capacity. In the opposite are the 9.3 oz bean hopper, the ceramic grinder, and the bypass doser. The grinder has up to 10 different grinding levels, which you can dial through a dedicated grinding knob.
One of the nice features of this machine is the bypass doser, where you can use pre-ground coffee instead of waiting for the machine to grind for you. However, if you want milk-based drinks, you might want to let the machine prepare it, by having to manually operate for the milk froth.
Just like most Saeco superautomatics, the coffee dispensing spout is adjustable and this particular machine can accommodate various cups up to 6.4 inches. The same manner of the drip tray and the coffee grounds container.
Some find it cumbersome to remove the drip tray and the coffee grounds container. You must remove the milk carafe and you pull most of the lower part of the machine. You’ll do this every time the machine wants the drip tray cleaned or the coffee puck container empty.
Another good thing about superautomatic machines is that you’ll be reminded about some things to do to keep the machine operational. It gives you warning icons and error codes so you can properly put the peripherals in place and do some recommended procedures.
Although it has a compact design, it takes noticeable space on your table or kitchen countertop. It has an overall body dimension of 16.8 × 8.4 × 12.9 inches. You also don’t want to put this under low-ceiling cabinets because you need to refill water and beans on top. The whole unit weighs around 22.1 lbs, not that heavy if you are yet to decide on its permanent place on your countertop.
Features and Functionalities
Since you’ve read the specifications above, for sure, you already have an idea of what this coffee machine can offer. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles. But, it has everything you need to enjoy freshly brewed café-quality coffee beverages every time you want it.
Stainless Casing — The front and top housing of the machine is made of brushed aluminum. The drip tray cover is made of metal, as well. So, it’s easy to clean and it’ll not ruin the looks of the machine.
Easy to Use and Programmable LCD Screen — Buttons are properly labeled and the displays on the LCD screen are easy-to-understand. With these two, it’s very easy to operate this machine. Steps for maintenance and other recommended tasks are also well-laid out.
Customizable Coffee Drinks — You have nine different coffee drink options, plus hot water and milk froth for a total of 11 options. Out of these drinks, you have five programmable buttons for different coffee drinks. Simply press and hold the button to reach the MEMO function which allows the machine to remember your preferred volume of your drink.
Single-Button Operation — Factory settings for popular coffee drinks and milk-based beverages passed our expectations. If you want an espresso, simply press the dedicated button and in a few minutes, you’ll have a freshly brewed espresso.
If you need to adjust the strength and the amount of espresso (or other milk-based coffee), simply access the MEMO function by pressing and holding the button you want to customize. Press OK to stop at your desired amount. The machine will save it and every time you press that button, it’ll dispense just the amount of coffee you want.
Reliable Ceramic Grinder — Precision and consistency of your ground coffee is guaranteed with the integrated ceramic grinder onboard. You’ll extract the natural taste and aroma of every coffee bean you put into the bean hopper. No burnt taste and no overheating, just perfect espresso in a cup.
Quick Heat Boiler — No long waits nor complaints about cold coffee. It only takes an average of 2.5 minutes from waking up the machine to enjoying your favorite coffee. Not much time to spare and you’re not wasting time because you can just press a button and it’ll prepare everything for you.
This espresso machine also comes with a standby-time setting, which you can set. Saeco’s patented AquaClean filter is included, which allows you to prepare up to 5,000 cups before it requires descaling. You know that descaling is such a tedious process and Saeco is worth commendable for giving us more time before we need to descale.
Setup and Operation
It’s not a complicated machine that’s hard to learn nor an easy one that you’ll easily get bored of. This machine strikes a perfect balance between functionality and performance. You can take advantage of the preset settings or act like a barista by adding some personal touch to your coffee.
Operating fully automated coffee machines doesn’t take too much thinking. Especially with the PicoBaristo, you can easily understand how the machine operates at first use. If you got the operation right the first time, you’ll get everything right, eventually.
Just like any other coffee machine, place the unit on a flat surface away from heat-generating appliances and faucet. Plug it into the power outlet with the same rating as what’s specified in the user’s manual.
Although there’s an ON button in front, the main ON/OFF switch is at the back. The ON button in front is designed to wake up the machine after it goes to sleep. A good feature of Saeco machines is that you can set when you want the machine to go into sleep mode — an energy-saving benefit.
You should prime the machine if you’ll use it for the first time — a necessity to awaken the magical system from slumber. The machine will just run water through the system and rinse it. A complete guide for the installation of other recommended procedures can be found in the user’s manual and the installation guide.
While you can see a few coffee options via their dedicated buttons, you can still get more options through the MENU/SPECIAL DRINKS button. You can prepare Ristretto, Espresso Double, Baby Cappuccino, Flat White, Milk Froth, and Hot Water.
Other settings you can access through the MENU button are the Language, Display Contrast, Coffee Temperature, Stand-by time, Water Hardness, AquaClean filter, and Descaling. With the LCD screen display and navigational buttons, navigating through different settings is very swift.
For the five different coffee buttons, you can program the volume of your coffee through the MEMO function. With this function, the machine will remember the settings you have with your coffee. For milk-based coffee beverages, you must ensure the milk carafe in place and set the volume of the milk first.
Do you want to get hot water for your hot chocolate? No problem. Simply remove the milk carafe and replace it with the hot water dispensing spout. Go to MENU, then DRINKS, then to hot water.
When getting hot water and milk, you must manually stop the machine to your desired amount by pressing the OK button. Special drinks, hot water, and milk can’t be programmed. Some people find it tedious to remove the milk carafe and replace the dispensing spout for hot water.
Brewing Capacity and Process
Superautomatic espresso machines are designed to make the life of every coffee lover easy. However, the biggest caveat of these fully automated machines is the quality of the coffee. With Saeco PicoBaristo, you don’t just get your coffee fast, you’ll also get a satisfying coffee cup after cup.
If you’ve used any Saeco superautomatics, the process is almost the same.
Ensure enough water in the water reservoir and your favorite coffee beans to grind. No oily beans or caramelized beans, please. You can use the bypass doser for pre-ground coffee if you want to prepare flavored or decaf drinks.
If you’ll use the bypass doser, use the AROMA STRENGTH to navigate to the GROUND COFFEE option. You can only make a drink one cup at a time.
On the other hand, if you want the machine to do the grinding for you, you can prepare coffee with a press of a button or you can access more special drinks from the MENU/SPECIAL DRINKS button.
For milk-based coffee, you must ensure that the milk carafe with milk frother is in place. The machine will remind you of that, so you won’t forget. Pull the milk dispensing spout towards the coffee dispensing spout. (If not positioned properly, no milk will come out or the milk froth isn’t great.)
Cleaning and Maintenance
After each use of the milk carafe, it’ll make an automatic cleaning of the milk carafe and the whole system. A quick jet of hygienic steam will run through the system for around 10 seconds. So, when prompted, just follow the easy procedures.
One of the selling points of this machine is that it has a very detailed cleaning process. Plus, with the AquaClean filter, you don’t need to go into mandatory descaling every couple of months. The machine is also smart enough to remind you when to do the necessary cleaning and maintenance.
The brew group can also be removed through the service door and you can manually clean it. For best and consistent results, it’s recommended to clean it weekly. This saves you money for the cleaning and you’ll get great-tasting coffee, every time.
To ensure a safe and sure cleaning process, you should check the user’s manual. Superautomatics need maintenance, which standard protocol you must follow strictly to achieve the best results.
Accessories and Add-ons
Every coffee machine usually comes with additional accessories and peripherals, so you can use it right after purchase. The same is true with the PicoBaristo.
One of the best add-ons is the AquaClean filter that lets you minimize the limescale deposits of the machine, thereby retaining the natural taste of your water for an excellent espresso. If you want hot water, you can simply insert the hot water dispensing spout.
It includes a water hardness test strip so you can test the hardness of the water you’ll use to prepare your coffee. You can set the machine to the hardness of your water so it knows when to demand descaling.
You’ll also get a cleaning brush, measuring scoop, and the grease tube with an application tip and cap. While it’s good to explore some options available in the market, it’s better to stick to recommended accessories, especially the ones it comes with.
Who is this product for? / Should you buy this product?
If you’re eyeing for superautomatic coffee machines, you might want to make coffee instantly, but still, get café-quality in every cup of coffee. Well, as you know, Saeco offers a lot of different options for superautomatic espresso machines.
It has the entry-level Incanto, the more expensive GranBaristo, Xelsis, and the most sophisticated GranBaristo Avanti.
So, why did we mention all the other models? It’s because the PicoBaristo has the best bang for the buck — not too expensive, yet has features many people love. Of course, we know that it’s limited as it doesn’t have profile options.
It’s simply deciding between getting user profiles or getting more programmable coffee options. If you want to spend more to get the luxury of both, then, the PicoBaristo is not for you. But, if you are living alone or if you have a partner with different coffee preferences, then getting a coffee machine that gives you more drink options is a wise choice.
Another good thing about Saeco superautomatic espresso machines, not just the PicoBaristo, is the bypass doser which you can use pre-ground coffee. If you are in a hurry without any more minute to spend waiting for the machine to grind your coffee beans, this is a great alternative. With PicoBaristo, you have this and more at a price almost every coffee lover out there can afford.
Don’t spoil yourself with different coffee drinks every day. But, if you want to, the Saeco PicoBaristo is more capable of doing so, than more expensive alternatives. It has the ceramic grinder, automatic milk frothing system, plus highly customizable coffee options — pretty much everything you need in a superautomatic coffee machine.
After reading our in-depth Saeco PicoBaristo review, you might have learned that it has more pros than cons. Everything this superautomatic espresso machine has is just what every purist and coffee drinker out there needs. No waste of money for other unnecessary sophisticated add-ons and options.
Again, superautomatics generally kind of serve well those who have busy schedules, and if you’re looking for one, we highly recommend the Saeco PicoBaristo espresso machine. However, if you like the auto-on function of other brands, you won’t see it in Saeco superautomatics. But, the good news, it’s quick to heat up and you’ll have your favorite cup of coffee before you even know it.