A stunning semi-automatic, capable of keeping pace with even the most rabid coffee drinkers. This machine is your passport to specialty coffee Nirvana.
Recommended for: Power drinkers, large households, busy offices, and coffee purists who insist on maximum control over the drink making process.
Table of Contents
- 1 An Overview of the QuickMill Alexia EVO
- 2 Surprisingly Easy to Use and Clean
- 3 Pros & Cons of the Quick Mill Alexia Espresso Machine
- 4 Quick Mill Alexia EVO Review Conclusion
An Overview of the QuickMill Alexia EVO
Are you a coffee purist, or do you think you might be? Are you interested in burnishing your Barista skills and taking control of every aspect of the art of crafting your favorite specialty drinks?
If you are, and you’re in the market for a machine that will give you all the tools you need to create every specialty drink you can imagine, then you’re going to love our in-depth Quick Mill Alexia EVO Review.
This machine does it all, or rather, it gives you the tools to do it all. It’s incredibly capable and robust, and with proper care, will last you a lifetime. Even better, it’s an incredibly versatile machine, small enough for home use, yet rugged enough to stand up to commercial use if you work in a busy office with lots of coffee fanatics.
Having said that, it’s important to note that this is a semi-automatic machine, not a super automatic. As such, it’s ultimately only as good as the person operating it. It takes a certain amount of skill and finesse to use a machine like this, but if you’re willing to learn, you can dazzle your friends and family with a wide range of exceptional coffee creations.
We’ll cover everything this fantastic machine can do, and the things it’s just not designed to do so you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision.
Form Factor, Footprint & Aesthetic
The first thing you’ll notice about the Quick Mill Alexia EVO espresso machine is how beautiful it is.
Quick Mill is known for making machines that are more like works of art that produce high quality of espresso, as opposed to being espresso machines first. That might sound silly, but it’s true. One look at the Alexia will convince you that you’re looking at a machine that was crafted, rather than built.
It’s one of Quick Mill’s smaller units, measuring 9.5” x 17.5” x 15.5,” but don’t let its relatively small size fool you. It’s constructed of solid stainless steel (inside and out) and weighs 38 pounds.
All that to say that while you probably won’t have much difficulty finding a permanent home for it unless you have a tiny kitchen and almost no counter space, it weighs enough that moving it isn’t something you’ll want to do on a regular basis.
Our Quick Mill Alexia EVO review would not be complete if we didn’t call particular attention to the impressive size of the unit’s water reservoir. As power drinkers, we consume vast quantities of coffee every day, and in our book, there’s no such thing as a reservoir that’s too big.
On most machines designed for home use, you’re lucky if you get 60-ounces of capacity. The Alexia EVO gives you 101.4 ounces…three full liters. That’s beyond impressive, and it’s big enough to keep pace with you, no matter how much coffee you drink.
It also makes the Alexia a good fit for large households with several coffee drinkers, or even a busy office environment, although if you’re buying a machine for office use in mind, you may want to consider some of Quick Mill’s larger machines that give you the option of running a dedicated water line.
One thing to note here is that the top-loading reservoir does not have a filter. So, you’re going to either have to resign yourself to periodic descaling, or use distilled water, or water that’s been filtered from some other source (for example, if you have a water filter installed at your kitchen sink).
We love it.
As a semi-automatic machine, the Alexia EVO does not give you a “beans to brew” experience. There’s no built-in grinder to be had.
On the other hand, this can be seen as an advantage for a couple of reasons. First, because it gives you the freedom and flexibility to buy exactly the grinder you want, rather than having to settle for whatever manufacturer decides to give you.
Since this is a fairly pricey, mid-range espresso maker, you’re not going to want to skimp on the grinder, so here are some tips to keep in mind when selecting yours:
Blade vs Burr
Grinders come in two basic configurations: Bladed and Burr. Of the two, burr grinders are superior. Blade grinders are incredibly inexpensive, but they don’t grind the beans, as much as smash them into tiny pieces.
Unfortunately, this results in grounds of highly inconsistent quality, which can negatively impact the flavor of whatever drink you’re making. It still comes out better than using pre-ground coffee, but it’s a far cry from optimal.
Stainless vs Ceramic Burrs
Where burr grinders are concerned, again, you’ve got two basic choices. Stainless steel grinders tend to be cheaper, but have the drawback that they can sometimes overheat. Overheated grinders equal burnt grounds, which will utterly ruin the flavor of your drink. Ceramic is the way to go.
The other advantage you’ll find is that the grinders integrated on super automatics don’t play well with oily beans. If you’re buying a standalone grinder, then you open up a broader range of roasts you can use, which is always a good thing.
Note: Strongly consider getting a manual grinder. Not only does it fit in well with the old-school aesthetic of the Alexia, but it gives you even more control. Sure, it takes a little longer, but if you wanted speed, you’d probably be looking at a super automatic anyway!
The QuickMill Alexia EVO uses a single, rapid heating, insulated copper boiler. Of interest is the fact that the designers have gone to great lengths to build in mechanical safeguards so that the boiler doesn’t risk overheating.
For instance, if the boiler fails to fill up with water, it’ll shut off automatically. When your water tank is low, you’ll get an alert to do something about it, and on the front panel, you’ll find a power switch with three positions.
The off position is self-explanatory, as is the full power position, but it also comes with a partial power position that allows you to fill the boiler without activating its heating elements. It’s little finishing touches like these that really make the model shine.
Note that the Quick Mill Alexia PID is on the front, allowing you to precisely control the boiler temperature without having to open the machine up, like you do on many of the other models made by Quick Mill.
Also, note that the interior of the machine is constructed of stainless steel, so there’s no chance of rust. This beast was designed with longevity in mind! All the components are made of top-end materials, with copper and stainless steel taking the place of inferior production materials, and it shows.
Telescoping Coffee Spigot
This will be a short section because as a semi-automatic, the coffee spouts are on the underside of the portafilter. As such, there’s no way to adjust them.
This is a good place to note the extras that you get with the machine though: When you make your purchase, you’ll get two portafilters – one for single, and one for double shots. You’ll also get a coffee scoop for filling them, which has a plastic tamper on one end.
While it’s good that one was included, you’re probably going to want to invest in a good, all metal tamper. Even so, that’s enough to get you started.
Also included are water hardness testing strips and a backflush disc, which we’ll talk more about later on.
The Brew Unit and Control System
This is the heart and soul of the unit, and the Alexia espresso machine utilizes the legendary E-61 brew group, which coffee purists love. It’s a quite forgiving brew group, allowing for even novice Baristas to produce espresso of consistently high quality.
As far as the control system goes, there are no fancy electronics or computer controls here. Everything is decidedly old school. There are a few knobs, some red and green indicator lights for power and steam, a switch to throw when you want steam, and that’s about it. (The one piece of electronics you’ll find here is a fairly recent addition, in the form of the PID).
Even if you’re not especially mechanically inclined, you can just look at the machine and pretty quickly work out how to use it, but if you run into something that stumps you, the short user manual is exceptional and concise, providing detailed, hard-hitting information that will have you up and running in no time.
Before we get into the pump, we should say a few words about espresso in general. If you’re brand new to the world of specialty coffee drinks, you’ll want to read this. If not, skip to the next section.
Pump & Pressure Gauge
There’s also a gauge on the front face of the unit that measures the pressure the pump is operating at. Espresso machines use pressure for brewing, and pressure is measured in bars, where one bar is equal to atmospheric pressure at sea level.
While it takes at least nine bars of pressure to make a good espresso, the Alexia’s pump is rated for a maximum of sixteen bars. You can adjust the pressure the pump is operating at via a control knob, so if you start getting sub-optimal results, this is the first place to look.
It’s also quite handy if you want to start experimenting with extractions done at different pressure levels to see if you can find a magical combination that really hits your flavor sweet spot.
The Milk Frothing System
If the Alexia has one area of weakness, milk frothing is probably it. It does an adequate, but not an outstanding job here, making it more of an espresso machine with some milk capabilities.
The problem is that the steam wand, while fully articulated and quite long, is very slow to heat. You’ll find that you’ll have to spend quite a lot of time producing the froth you want.
Once you get it, it’s of high quality, but getting it might take more time than you’re willing to spend, so if you tend to prefer milk-based drinks over straight shots, this is something you’ll want to keep in mind.
It’s not a bad feature; it’s just that compared to the rest of the machine, which is excellent, it’s only average.
Pro Tip: if you’re new to the world of specialty coffee drinks, the presence of the steam wand might be a bit intimidating. Don’t be daunted by it! It’s true that it takes practice to learn to use the wand well, and you can pretty much count on the fact that your first few milk-based drinks won’t be spectacular successes, but if you keep at it, you’ll have the wand mastered in no time!
Cup Warming Tray
The Alexia EVO has a small but serviceable cup warming tray, although you may find that you don’t need to use it.
If you max out the boiler temperature, the coffee you produce should be plenty hot, but you can lose a surprising amount of heat when you dispense into a cold cup, and if you’re not quite satisfied with the temperature of your final creation, give the cup warming tray a chance to work its magic. It makes a bigger difference than you might think!
Surprisingly Easy to Use and Clean
Because this unit doesn’t have any advanced electronics or computer controls, there are no menus to navigate. It’s just a matter of learning which buttons do what, and there aren’t that many of them, to begin with, so learning the basic operation of the machine is a snap.
Plus, maintenance is super easy too. Although the only thing to note about it is that while super automatics tend to use their fancy control systems to automate rinses and such, any maintenance you need to do on the Alexia, you’ll be doing by hand too. That just comes with the territory.
Again though, semi-automatics tend to be self-selecting machines. People buy them because they’re looking for maximum control, which by definition means a hands-on experience. If you’re looking for automation, you won’t even be considering a semi-automatic.
Here's where we need to mention the backflushing disc again.
Backflushing is to semi-automatic what a weekly cleaning of the brew group is to super automatics, and it’s something you’ll want to do on at least a weekly basis. It involves filling the disc with a mild cleanser and flushing it through the brew group by activating the pump.
A summary of your routine maintenance tasks then, would be:
Note that there’s no dregs box, because the grounds are in your portafilter, which you empty after each shot.
Pros & Cons of the Quick Mill Alexia Espresso Machine
Most Alexia reviews in other corners of the web give this model high marks, and justifiably so. It only narrowly missed getting a perfect five-star rating from us. The main reason we didn’t give it perfect marks is that it’s a fairly tightly targeted machine.
The massive size of its water tank makes it overkill for smaller households and casual coffee drinkers.
It’s a good, but not an optimal fit for office use, because it lacks a dedicated water line like some of Quick Mill’s larger models, and of course, it’s a decidedly “hands on” machine, meaning that while newbies can certainly use it, many will be intimidated away, preferring something with more automation.
All that to say, unless you’re a coffee purist and a power drinker, no matter how good the machine is, it just might not be the best fit for you.
That’s about the only negative we can think of though. For the right user, it’s pretty close to perfect.
Quick Mill Alexia EVO Review Conclusion
And that wraps up our Quick Mill Alexia EVO review. Mentally start checking off these boxes:
The more of these statements that apply to you, the more you’re going to like this machine. If you can’t mentally check at least two of the five off, then this probably isn’t the machine you want.