Smeg has launched its first bean-to-cup machine. The design of the BCC02 - the uninspiring name is the result of brand convention - isn’t entirely in line with the ‘50s-style range that Smeg is most famous for, nor is it completely contemporary.
Instead, its design sits somewhere between the two, with curves that nod to the Smeg retro aesthetic but a brushed aluminium finish that would be at home in any modern kitchen. It comes in four matt-finish colour options: black, white, taupe and red. In short, Smeg has aimed for a characteristic but universally appealing design.
It’s compact for a bean-to-cup machine as well, measuring 33.6 x 18 x 43.3cm. And it should heat up quickly as it has an efficient thermoblock heating system. The 1.4 litre water tank holds enough for six cups of coffee.
It has a pressure of 19 bar, which is more than many home coffee machines but that isn't really important. It's not necessarily better than a 15 bar machine, for example. All it means is that, given the design of the machine and the dissipation of pressure within it, it should deliver the optimum 9 bars at the extraction point.
The machine will dispense espresso, ristretto and americano (as well as hot water). For lattes, cappuccinos and more, there's no automatic milk frothing. You'll need to use the minimalist steam wand on the front of the machine to froth up your own milk in a suitable jug.
Soft-touch controls are set into the top of the machine. For day-to-day use, it's one touch. But you can choose to adjust the grind, strength and the volume of water. There's also a descaling alarm to let you know when it needs a clean, and you can even change the interval between alarms depending on the water hardness in your area.
You'll note that there's no display of any kind, which will suit people who like to keep it simple. However, if that's not you, you might want to have a look at the Gaggia Magenta Plus, which has a full-colour display and, at £589, is over £90 cheaper.
Coffee aficionados who are prepared to put a little more elbow grease into their morning brews are already well served by Smeg. You can read our reviews of its brilliant standalone coffee grinder and its manual espresso maker (which also takes ESE pods). And for more coffee machine options, including other bean-to-cup and espresso machines, have a look at our round-up of the best coffee machines we've tested.