Ordering a cup of espresso or cappuccino in a coffee shop is a luxury not many can afford. Luckily, Unique Imports, a brand not known to many, offers a cheap but reliable steam espresso and cappuccino maker for avid coffee enthusiasts.
With the growing popularity of single serve coffee makers, the Barista Express comes in a market saturated with expensive brands. Selling at $40, it's one of the cheapest espresso makers available at major online retail stores.
About The Product
At first glance, Unique Imports' Barista Express steam espresso and cappuccino maker looks simple and straightforward. The first thing you'll notice is its throwback design typically similar to the ones you see in a 60's household. You won't see flashy curves and sophisticated buttons. Rather, you'll be greeted by a pretty basic looking machine.
The Barista Express comes in two color schemes, matte black, and stainless steel. It measures in at 13.2 x 8.5 x 10.2 inches and 4.8 pounds. It's small and compact that it won’t take up that much space.
The whole set includes a portafilter, a filter basket, a glass carafe, and its cover. The unit can hold up to 20oz of coffee. More than enough for sharing or when you need it to get through a long shift.
It does not have any physical and digital buttons, just a single knob on the top of the machine. Moreover, it does not have an automatic shutdown feature. Just like the old days, you'll have to manually turn it off using the control dial.
For cappuccino lovers, there's a milk steamer on the left side of the Barista. With 800 watts of rated power, it's perfect for rich cappuccinos and lattes on the go.
Meanwhile for espresso lovers, the Barista Express brews almost two cups per cycle. That's more than the usual cup that most espresso makers can steep. Plus its fast, making a serve of your favorite decoction with little to no effort.
What We Like
So what do you get from the $40 espresso maker? Unique Imports offers a small and compact machine capable of brewing 20 ounces of coffee on-the-go. Its no-frills design is perfect for minimalists who are looking for a not so complicated coffee maker.
It's reasonably easy to operate, just turn up the dial and your good to go. It's also great for making a lot of espresso at a time, especially for desserts or pitchers of drinks. The glass container comes in with standard measuring lines and a handle for easy pouring.
The Barista Express' compact design is perfect for travel. Weighing less than five pounds, the machine is light enough to carry around. Interestingly, Unique Imports also offers a one year warranty on parts and services in case of factory defects.
Amusingly, it comes with everything for the Home Barista. For $40 you get the machine, a glass carafe and cover, a portafilter, and a filter basket. If you've got $9 to spare, there are available upgrade options including a 12oz stainless steel frothing pitcher for $3 and a dual-sided espresso tamper for $6.
What Could Be Better
There's no question that the Barista Express is a great buy, unfortunately, it does have some minor flaws. First of all its a pretty basic espresso maker, so don't expect complicated mixes out of the blue.
Second, It does not have a lot of features, but that's expected from a $40 coffee maker. The standard set also does not have free a tamper nor a free recipe book. It would have been a good compliment to the package, but as we've said, it's as much you can get from a cheap bargain.
Third, the Barista Express does not have a brew pressure gauge. For coffee connoisseurs, the apparatus is the machines' way of showing exactly how much pressure it is applying to your coffee during an extraction. In short, it is very important to have one installed on an espresso maker. It's not entirely a necessity, but having one allows users to experiment with different brewing temperatures.
It’s important to take note that this is a traditional steam espresso maker. Brewing more creative decoctions are possible, but might already be a stretch. Its a no-frills coffee maker intended for people that are on a budget.
Its small and compact design does not take that much of your counter space. It's not exactly the best-looking coffee maker in the world, but it does do its job well. That said, if you know what you’re getting, you’ll fancy using this machine.
If you're not a fan of fancy drinks and just want rich coffee or espresso in the morning without having to mess with too many features or buttons, Unique Imports' Powerful Steam Espresso and Cappuccino Maker may just be right for you.
It's a no-nonsense espresso maker that fits right on the sweet spot. It's fast, cheap, and extremely easy to operate. We highly recommend it.