Sunbeam mini barista
Received as a gift in Dec 2018, started leaking 7 months later, rang retail outlet it was bought from they no help , as I have no receipt but my husband purchased on zip pay so there is a record of purchase, still no good.
Reliability could be better, but worth a shot!
Firstly, my apologies for succumbing to temptation and titling this review with an awful pun!
Nevertheless, this is a neat little machine which has the capability of producing some really great coffee, especially for one at such a low price point.
Unfortunately it's let down by rather poor build quality, as a result of which, as a family, we have now owned 5 of them - mine having been replaced under warranty twice, and my brother's once.
Nevertheless, I was so impressed with the coffee, that I had my portafilter sent away to Pullman Espresso Accessories in South Australia to have the bottom removed, which is not the sort of thing one would normally do for a machine of this price. They did a mighty fine job, and watching the coffee extract from my custom-modified bottomless portafilter adds to the coffee experience. It also allows you to fine-tune your grinding/tamping/distribution techniques, as you can actually see when you're getting a good pour or a messy one, which is something that's completely hidden from view when using a standard portafilter! [see photo below]
The portafilter is 58mm, but it's not E-61 compatible, so you have to use the Sunbeam baskets that come with it. You get a single-cup basket and a 2-cup basket, and both are double-walled. This isn't ideal if you want to get the most out of your coffee, but fortunately Sunbeam does offer single-walled baskets as accessories and they are reasonably priced, so naturally we purchased those and use them all the time.
The machine heats up very quickly and is ready to make coffee in about a minute. But if you like your coffee hot you may be disappointed, as the temperature of the coffee in the cup can really only be described as warm. You could compensate for this by overheating your milk a bit, but of course that can lead to poor flavour.
The portafilter is made of lightweight aluminium rather than brass, and this is no doubt a contributing factor to the low temperature. The aluminium doesn't retain heat effectively, so it's never any more than slightly warm to the touch - normally, a brass portafilter would be very hot. I've been compensating for this (but only somewhat) by heating up the portafilter by pouring very hot or even boiling water through it, then drying it, just prior to dosing the ground coffee directly into it.
An issue we had with one Mini Barista was that the 'Auto Shot Volumetric Control' did not work properly. Given that this is one of the machine's main selling points (extracting a perfect 30ml or 60ml shot of coffee each time, regardless of coffee blend or grind) we felt it was fairly important that it should get this right, but one of our machines was stopping the pour after about 40 seconds regardless of the amount extracted at that point, generally resulting in at least 10ml or more coffee than it should have been. The shot volume is programmable, however the programming didn't seem to make any difference with this particular unit.
So we were also slightly disappointed with the outcome of a phone call to Sunbeam's customer service department with regard to this issue, to be told that if it was extracting anywhere close to 10ml or so within the programmed limits, it was within spec. In fact, we were told that as long as the coffee tastes alright, we shouldn't be concerned!
Now I suppose that's a fair thing to say in the context of coffee making in general; however there's no getting around the fact that Auto Shot Volumetric Control is marketed and being the Mini Barista's main feature - it's right there on the box! And given that the other Mini Barista was generally extracting within +/- 4ml of its programmed volume, we decided to exchange the 'faulty' machine under warranty anyway, and fortunately the replacement machine is better.
The other two issues we experienced were leakage (water all over the bench) and a faulty rotary switch which meant it often started to dispense more coffee when I was returning it to the off position, which must have been a microprocessor error.
Fortunately these machines come with a 12-month replacement warranty and obtaining an instant warranty replacement should be as easy as taking it back to wherever you bought it, or so we were assured by Sunbeam. And in my case (I bought mine from Myer) I had no trouble with this.
But in my brother's case (he bought his from Bing Lee) for some reason they insisted on sending his off to a Sunbeam repair centre for assessment first where, surprise surprise, it was assessed as being faulty, after which he was given a replacement. Ahem it's not meant to work that way, Bing Lee!
For the record, this was the unit with the Auto Shot Volumetric Control issue, and the repair centre assessed it as having a faulty power board - which they said was unavailable as a spare part. I can't help feeling that the unavailability of spare parts calls into question just how repairable these machines may be after the 12-month replacement warranty expires. Being a sub-$300 appliance (I got mine on special for $215.20) I wonder if Sunbeam regards them as being disposable rather than repairable?
Milk frothing results are good, and a little practice should yield reasonably consistently smooth, creamy milk with tiny micro bubbles. Personally, I favour using Norco Jersey milk, but results are generally good with most types of milk, including UHT, whether full fat or skim.
We've tried many different coffee blends in our Mini Baristas, and have had the best results with (in no particular order) Gabriel, Neoma, and various blends from two local coffee roasters.
Also worth noting is that some of Aldi's beans (roasted in Melbourne) aren't too bad for the price, though the quality seems to be a bit variable; and beans from Coles (also roasted in Melbourne) produced consistently poor results - in my opinion, undrinkable! Though my brother was slightly less unimpressed, if I may put it that way.
In case you're wondering, we both use Breville Smart Grinders (BCG800 & BCG820) as well as a Commandante hand grinder.
I mention the above because the quality of the beans, your grinder, and other factors such as your tamping method and your coffee distribution technique (we favour the Weiss Distribution Technique - look it up) will all affect the quality of your results, irrespective of the coffee machine you use.
But don't be put off if you're a coffee newbie and any of that sounds at all confusing - this is a great-value little machine, whether you're starting off on your coffee journey, or are more experienced! It's easy to use, easy to descale, and takes up very little space on the bench.
If you experience any problems with it at all (as we have) just get it swapped over at the point of purchase for a brand new one within 12 months - don't let them try to send it off for repair! All the issues we encountered occurred fairly early within the warranty period, and so far, our latest replacement machines are performing well.
As long as you get a good one, this is a very capable little machine. And by the way, I was coming from using a Saeco Via Venezia for 15 years, a machine that costs twice as much, and the Mini Barista's results are easily as good, or better.
Was amazing for the first year
This coffee machine was absolutely amazing the first year but not even 2 months after my warranty expired it has stopped working. I am surprised these expensive machines only have 12 months warranty with the manufacturer.
My neighbours also stopped working but luckily just before her warranty expired, so was able to get another machine.
I would give this machine a 5/5 but due to the fact I know of 2 machines that have died (one not even a year in and the other just over a year in) I have given 3 stars.
Purchased in June 2018 for $196.00.
Great machine at a reasonable price
This wasn't my first home espresso machine, but it is the first one I really like. My first one cost 5 times the price I paid for my Mini Barista and the coffee wasn't half as good. There are no bells and whistles to complicate this machine, just turn the dial (select one or two cups) and get a consistent coffee every time. I like cappuccino and the major downside to this machine is that you can't run the coffee through and use the wand to froth at the same time, but I had already decided to buy a separate milk frother and so far this has been a good decision - no more messing around trying to get a good froth on the milk, which was my Achilles heel making a cappuccino. The crema is thick and rich, the temperature is adequate (there is no adjustment which some might find a negative) and the taste is very good. This is a well designed machine, even down to the water holder which is a generous 2 liters and easy to refill without removing it. I've had it for a couple of months now, and I'm very happy with my choice.
As a coffee addict, this is my first "proper" coffee machine, though I have a capsule machine which I use in the office. Prior to this Sunbeam I used a plunger (French press) most often. Given what I paid (about $200 online), it is well worth it. The coffee is good, and I prefer it over the plunger. I use the milk function about once a day, the coffee making function much more. However, my first one malfunctioned after 6 months, it started leaking water. No worries, Bing Lee & Sunbeam replaced it without problem. Hopefully the replacement one (now about a year old) will last longer ...
My goodness, Sunbeam you have outdone yourselves!
I bought this machine nearly 2 months ago now and I could not be happier!
Coming from a capsule (pod) machine I am very impressed with the Mini Barista's design and streamlined finish. It is just so easy to use. The quality of the coffee in my opinion is excellent with lovely Crema production for a smaller machine.
The steam wand...what can I say....it is fantastic!! It has not taken me very long at all to get the milk to my desired preference consistently. This is mostly thanks to the included instructions which are super easy to follow and understand.
I love the integrated handle inside the water tank, makes it so easy to refill it as I primarily use the tap. The idea of storing the accessories behind the catch tank is ingenious, they are then always at hand when needed.
My wife has been favouring coffee sachets and water from the kettle, but since getting this great little machine she has converted to real coffee (I never thought I would see the day).
In summing up, for the price point you can not find a better machine. Period. Combining it's ease of use, functionality and easy clean design this machine is an absolute stunner. I absolutely recommend it for those looking for a cheaper alternative to the big bulky machines. Well done Sunbeam for creating such a brilliant little gem.
Wish I'd found this machine years ago
I bought a mini barista just this morning from The Good Guys in Midland W.A. for $240. I was very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the long black it made for me. Wonderful crema. I bought the new machine because my previous machine, a Sunbeam Cafe Espresso II about 5 or 6 years old, suddenly gave up the ghost and I needed my coffee hit. I only drink long black and I carefully followed the instructions in the manual to produce my first amazing cup of coffee. I never use the wand for milk but it was good to have it for hot water to make the long black. The previous machine only produced steam not hot water. My only beef is that my daughter likes her espresso from a demitasse and the dual output spreads too wide for the diameter of the tiny cup making it necessary to make two cups simultaneously. In the previous machine the two outputs were directed downwards so that both landed inside the demitasse diameter. The flavour of the espresso (and the long black) is a great improvement on the old machine. With the old one I used to raise the temperature in the microwave but I don't need to with this one. So far I have only had one long black and two espressos but they were all great.
Purchased in July 2019 for $240.00.
Very satisfied with the coffee machine, simple to use and makes better coffee than most cafes. I love this machine, it was cheap, easy to use and clean. Hasn’t missed a beat.
I purchased this machine a few weeks ago. I had done my research and looked at lots of reviews and different products.
I’m really happy with this machine. It’s fabulous value for money, I purchased it on sale for $200, which is extremely cheap for a decent coffee machine. Full price is about $300 which I still think is pretty good value.
It’s very easy to use, easy to clean and makes a great coffee! Milk steamer is very good too... I like extra hot coffee and heat the milk to at least 75 degrees with no problem!
Should have bought one earlier.
I purchased this machine around two months ago and am very pleased with it. Coffee tastes very good indeed. Just remember to heat up the mug(s) with hot water, otherwise the coffee is not as hot as you may like it.
Great home espresso
Good easy to use machine,
Frothing is amazing wand works to a impressive standard.
Coffee creme is pretty impressive,
Pressure/heat seems pretty good.
However faults I have found are that on cold days/morning the main switch doesn't work that well. It doesn't select double/single/frother at times you have to try 3-4 times to get the thing started.
Even though this happens I still love the machine, makes decent coffee for the money.
Purchased in December 2018.
Looking forward to making coffee
I am quite happy with my Mini-Barista except that the coffee group handle is very tight and difficult to turn. I note that another reviewer with the same problem was encouraged to try the double filter basket which was easier to turn but for me both baskets give the same result, with a fair bit of strength and twisting required, especially to get it off. Not what I expected as it's a new machine.
Purchased in May 2019 for $220.00.
Great tasting coffee but poor quality micro foam
I totally agree with some of the reviews about this machine. It is great and compact. I use the Sunbeam MultiGrinder II to grind the coffee beans and get a great tasting coffee from the machine. For a long time, I had a problem with the group handle fitting properly into the group head. I used the 1 cup basket and it kept getting stuck. Eventually, I contacted Sunbeam and they suggested I use the 2 cup basket as I might have been putting too much coffee in. Problem solved with 2 cup basket and now it turns in the slot nice and smoothly.
The other problem, like other people have commented, is the quality of the micro foam I am getting. I've struggled to get consistency on this since I purchased the machine. I've also watched countless youtube videos (including Sunbeam), read websites and changed my steaming technique several times -I've certainly practised a lot! I aim for a latte style coffee, and there have been times when I think I've cracked it because the micro foam is even and smooth all the way down to the bottom of the cup. I generally know if I am going to get a good quality if the volume of milk during steaming starts to increase in the jug, which is what it should do.
Recently, I thought I'd got it right for good. I used the simple technique form the Sunbeam video and it seemed to work. I then moved from Hobart to Melbourne in April and, oddly, since then I've never got a decent micro foam on every occasion I've use it. I have tried all types and brands of milk but to no avail. If the machine was always like this I would accept it. Otherwise it is great. But it is frustrating because I've got good micro foam in the past. Any further advice though would help. Thanks!!
A decent machine no major problems so far
I am not some crazy coffee conosseur/snob (lol) like some people here, all power to them. I am just an average ordinary consumer. After comparing prices and models extensively I decided to purchase the Sunbeam Mini Barista. I like its compact size, it can fit anywhere if you don't have much room. One of the main reasons why I bough it. Very simple to operate even for dummies like me. The part that you put in the group head with your coffee was initially very hard to put in and twist and hard to take off as well, but its ok now after few weeks of use it seems to have loosened up. Machine comes with all the accessories. Nice. Would have preferred metal tamp, not plastic though. A free tamp mat would have been nice. Coffee tastes good, no complaints, good crema is there on top. Water reservoir easy to fill and big sized, no need to refill water all the time. Nice and sleek design with modern curves. Yes its mostly plastic but so are the thousand dollar machines. But for the life of me can't get the milk foam to work very well, just end up with hot milk not much foam, watched so many youtube videos including sunbeams video, tried so many techniques, maybe the steam wand is just no good or i'm hopeless i don't know. I would recommend this if you are on a budget, I see no point spending 3-4 times more on others as they do the same thing. Overall happy with purchase. Great little machine. I hope it lasts. Sunbeam, why is the steam wand giving me grief and not foaming well, I need the foam! And how often should you descale pls. And can you make and put up a video on simple cleaning and maintenance, that would be good.
Great machine minus the faulty steam wand..
I am about to return my Sunbeam Mini Barister back to the store twice now seems to be a fault with the water pump, disbursing water through the steam wand while the coffee is getting disbursed through the filter.
Good enough for a home machine
I use professional espresso machines at work and I can clearly notice the difference in quality. A great feature is the measured shots of espresso, which takes the guess work out of the perfect shot for a beginner. However, the lack of power in the steam wand tends to make my milk watery and can ruin the flavour of the final product. Better than instant coffee, but a great espresso coffee will only come from a professional machine.
Purchased in December 2017.
Brought the product and it came completely broke. Some off the coffee machine was scrached and has dents in it. Plugges it in and it didn't work. Absoloutley Useless. :( sad
Purchased in August 2018 at Argos for $75.00.
Fantastic machine! As a barista this machine is a great for at home! Makes a great coffee and milk. Heats up quick and reasonably quiet. But have nothing bad to say. Highly recommended!
Cheap and affordable coofe machine
I bought this machine from Good guys Casula on sale for $160.
We have been using this machine for the last 3 month and been great.
Nosie level and viberation are slightly high and could be improved
This is a great machine,it got a great coffee making score from Choice magazine. I have had it now for 6 months 2 -3 perfect coffees a day, and then it stopped working , I got straight on to Sunbeam ,they replaced it on the spot !
So great work to them! A very happy customer
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