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An amazing machine and a technological marvel. It suffers a bit where maintenance and care are concerned, but everything else is rock solid.
Recommended for: Anyone who can afford it, except for coffee purists, who will be annoyed with the machine’s lack of a proper frothing wand and limited grind settings.
Table of Contents
- 1 An Overview of the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti HD8967/47
- 2 Surprisingly Easy to Use, but Stubbornly Difficult to Clean
- 3 Pros & Cons of the Saeco GranBaristo Avanti Coffee Maker
- 4 Saeco GranBaristo Avanti Reviews Conclusion
An Overview of the Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti HD8967/47
Are you a technophile? Is your house filled with all the latest cutting-edge gizmos and gadgets? Have you been aching to get your hands on an espresso machine from the future?
If you answered yes to those questions, then you’re going to be thrilled as you read our Saeco GranBaristo Avanti review. This machine feels like it just came through a time portal from the future.
It combines bleeding edge tech with solid performance and reliability and durable construction to give you a taste of what the future of specialty coffee will be, today!
There’s a lot to love about this machine, but be warned: It’s not perfect, and some of its shortcomings will be deal breakers for certain groups of people. Don’t worry though, we’ll cover everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly, in the sections that follow, so you’ll have all the information you need at your fingertips to make an informed purchasing decision.
Form Factor, Footprint & Aesthetic
The first thing you’ll notice about the Saeco GranBaristo Avanti is that it actually does look like it’s from a few years into the future. It’s got a certain finish and refinement, with its two-tone stainless steel chassis, rounded corners, and chrome highlights, making it appear more like a PC with advanced coffee functions than an espresso maker.
As you take in the sight of the machine, it slowly dawns on you that despite being an attractive appliance, it’s also built to last. All that metal makes it much more durable than machines built with cheap ABS plastic, and it gives the Avanti an air of longevity, while its coffee spouts and high tech control panel reveal its purpose.
It boasts a fairly thin design, with dimensions of 8.1” x 18.1” x 14.2”, so even if you’ve only got limited countertop space to work with, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find this machine a permanent home, although if you do have to move it, it’s weight (28.7 pounds) won’t make doing so too difficult.
This is always a big deal for us because we’re power drinkers, and the bigger the water tank, the better, as far as we’re concerned because it means having to spend less time refilling it.
Here, the Saeco Avanti underwhelms slightly, with a 57-ounce capacity. That’s not terrible, but we’ve seen better.
At that size, it can keep pace with one power coffee drinker, or a small household with 2-3 casual coffee drinkers, but if you live in a larger household where everybody wants several hot cups of their favorite specialty brew in the morning, then you’re going to have to refill the water tank more often than you’d prefer to.
The tank is top-loading, easy to access, and when you buy the unit, you’ll get a f
ilter with it (installation instructions are in the user manual).
We’re on the fence about the filter. On the one hand, using one will cut down on the amount of maintenance you have to perform, which is a good thing. On the other, filters are expensive. If you opt to use one, plan on spending about twenty-five bucks a month for as long as you own the machine.
When you combine that cost with the price of the Avanti espresso machine, to begin with, that’s a lot of money, and there are other things you can do to limit the amount of descaling, like using distilled water, or water that’s been filtered by some other means.
At the end of the day, whether you opt to go with the filter or not is going to come down to what works best for you and your lifestyle. It’s quick and convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost.
Pro Tip: Unfortunately, as technologically advanced as the Avanti is, you have to go into the control panel and tell it that you’ve installed the filter. There’s no “auto detect” for it. If you forget, then the machine will tell you to descale when you don’t need to!
Wow, is there ever a lot of stuff to talk about where the grinder is concerned! We love almost everything about the way Saeco implemented this feature, but there’s one significant drawback, and we’ll bring that to your attention first.
The grinder only has five grind settings.
The industry average is six, so this is decidedly sub-standard, and a bit of a disappointment, given the price you’ll pay to get your hands on one of these machines.
It’s important because small changes in the grind of your coffee can have dramatic flavor impacts. If you have a machine with 12-18 grind settings, you can really zero in on your preferred flavor preferences, and that’s just not possible here.
It’s fine for most users, but coffee purists will be turned off by the lack of options here.
On the plus side though, the Avanti coffee maker uses a conical, ceramic burr grinder, which is attached to a 9.5-ounce top loading bean hopper.
Size-wise, the hopper is well paired with the water tank, and perhaps even a bit on the large size. For us, that’s not a problem, because we like our coffee strong, but if you prefer yours on the milder side, then you may find that you have to refill the water tank slightly more often than the bean bin.
As to the bean hopper, it is beautifully implemented and gives you flexibility that most other machines can’t match. The hopper itself is removable and dishwasher safe, and when you get your machine, you get two bean bins.
That allows you to experiment with different brands and roasts, swapping one bin out for the other between each shot you pull, which is fantastic. We love this feature, and we’re pretty sure you will too!
The other two things to note before we leave this section are as follows:
So, all in all, one medium-sized, and one small gripe about the way this feature was implemented, and we loved everything else.
Pro Tip: This isn’t something that’s particular to the Avanti, but holds true for most super automatic machines. They don’t “do well” with oily beans.
If you try using a Dark Roast, you’ll wind up clogging the grinder and brew unit and have to clean it a lot more frequently, and may even burn out the grinder’s motor. For best results, find and stick with a nice Medium Roast you enjoy!
The Boiler System
We’ll just get this out of the way right up front. Given the price of this machine, the Saeco GranBaristo Avanti HD8967 should have come with two boilers, which would allow you to simultaneously steam milk and brew coffee. Sadly, it only has one.
The one boiler it does have is equipped with Thermoblock technology, so it heats and switches from one task to the other fairly quickly, and it puts its bleeding edge to technology to good use to further cut down your wait time, but we’ll cover that part in a later section.
For now, the important thing to know about the machine is that it only has one boiler, but it’s a very good one, made of aluminum and lined with stainless steel, and you won’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for your drink.
Telescoping Coffee Spigot
The most interesting aspect of the way this feature is implemented on the Avanti is that you can pull the dual coffee spouts off to give you more room for a jumbo-sized coffee mug, up to 6” in height. We love this because again, we’re power drinkers, and we use ginormous cups. If you do too, then this will be a big selling point for you!
A Few Words About Espresso
Before we get to the brew unit and control system, we should take a moment to highlight the difference between how drip brew coffee is made and how espresso is made. Those differences are especially important on this machine, for reasons that will become clear in just a moment.
You’ve probably got a drip-brew coffee maker in your home right now. Most people do. It relies on gravity to move the coffee from the grounds chamber and into the pot below for your consumption.
Espresso is made using pressure, not gravity, and pressure is measured in bars, with one bar being equal to atmospheric pressure at sea level.
It takes at least nine bars of pressure to make a great espresso, and the Avanti’s pump is rated for a maximum pressure of fifteen bars, which means that it’s got plenty of power to make world-class espresso for you, every time you pull a shot, but it gets even better.
Thanks to the high-tech components inside the Avanti, it’s also got a variable pressure control feature. Depending on the kind of coffee, you’re making; you can order the machine to change the brewing pressure, selecting from among three settings.
If you’re making an Americano, for example, you can choose the lowest pressure setting, and the output you get will taste very much like the coffee you’re currently getting from your drip-brew machine.
This is great, especially for people who are new to the world of specialty coffee, because it means you can have the best of both worlds.
Let’s face it, some mornings, all you want is a hot cup of Joe. You don’t necessarily want a specialty drink every time, and this machine allows you to have whichever one you prefer at any given moment. That’s fantastic.
The Brew Unit and Control System
This is the heart and soul of every espresso machine, and there’s a lot to talk about here in our Saeco Granbaristo Avanti review, owing to its high-tech nature.
We’ll start with the brew group, because that’s fairly straightforward. The Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti espresso maker’s brew group is removable and can be accessed from the front panel.
The entire front face of the machine swings open on stainless steel hinges, and this is how you access the dregs box, drip tray, and brew unit.
You’ll want to remove it about once a week and give it a thorough cleaning to keep your machine running at peak efficiency, and don’t worry – the Avanti will tell you any time it needs some or other maintenance task performed.
As to the control system, this is where the Avanti really shines, and just about all the Avanti Espresso Machine reviews you’ll read on line have nothing but good things to say about the model on this front.
The main control panel uses push buttons and a touch screen TFT (Thin Film Transistor) that shows you your drink and control options in a series of logically organized, neatly laid out menus. Among other things, from these menus you can:
Program a wide-range of drink settings, including:
And of course, access all eighteen of the pre-programmed drinks the machine offers, which include:
This, however, is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, because the Avanti has something that no other espresso machine we’ve reviewed to this point has: Its own app.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Saeco GranBaristo Avanti HD8969 has its own app, and you can sync your phone to the machine to control it.
Now, you may be wondering why you’d want or need an espresso machine app, but here’s where it gets really cool. As impressive as it is to have eighteen different drinks at your fingertips from the machine’s control panel when you install the app and create your account, you’ll have access to Saeco’s online database of drinks, which expands your selection dramatically.
Even better, if you find a drink you like, you can customize it to taste from your phone, save it to your favorites for recall later, and order it to be sent to your espresso machine.
Imagine that you wake up one morning and decide you’ve got a craving for a Flat White. You pick up your phone, find the drink, customize it to taste, and press the button. By the time you get downstairs (assuming you set a cup beneath the coffee spouts the night before), it’s ready and waiting for you!
If that wasn’t enough though, there’s even more! The Avanti offers the ability to create up to six different user profiles so that everyone can save their preferred settings for each drink.
We love this feature, but observe that it would be even better if the machine had a bigger water tank and bean hopper.
User profiles are custom made for large households or office settings where you’ve got a lot of heavy coffee drinkers, and this machine just isn’t quite up to that. If you live in a household with multiple coffee drinkers, you’ll appreciate the profiles, but be annoyed at how often you have to refill the reservoir and bean hopper.
Despite this flaw in its implementation though, we have to say, we love it. Honestly, we wish every superautomatic on the market would embrace the idea of user profiles – it’s extremely convenient, even for people who live alone, because if you have regular visitors, you can make them a profile too!
The Milk Frothing System
Broadly speaking, there are two ways companies can implement an espresso machine’s milk frothing system: Steam Wand and Auto-Frother.
The coffee purists of the world prefer the steam wand, because it allows a high degree of control over the temperature of the milk, and the quality and quantity of the froth produced.
It is, however, pretty intimidating for new users, and in fairness, it does take time, practice and patience to learn to use it well. You can rely on the fact that your first 3-4 milk based drinks won’t come out quite the way you’d planned or hoped. If you stick with it though, you’ll master it, and you’ll have a fancy Barista skill you can impress your friends with.
Sadly, at least where the purists are concerned, the Avanti doesn’t come with a steam wand. Saeco has opted for the auto-frother approach. The machine comes with a dishwasher-safe plastic carafe that plugs into the unit where the hot water spout is (remove that spout and plug the carafe in in its place).
Newbies and people who prefer convenience love the milk frothing feature, and we found that even at factory default settings, the foam was quite acceptable. Even better, you can make at least some adjustments to the amount of foam and froth you get from the drink customization menu.
This obviously isn’t the same kind or degree of control that a steam wand would give you, but it’s a solid middle ground that most of the market will find acceptable.
We do have one grip where the milk frothing system is concerned, however, and that is the fact that Saeco didn’t build any sort of auto rinse or cleaning cycle into their machine. If you want the milk frother cleaned (and you will, on a very regular basis), then you’re going to have to do it by hand.
We’ll have more to say about this on the section about cleaning, but for now, suffice it to say that it’s really annoying and probably our least favorite aspect of the model.
Cup Warming Tray
This will be a short section because the Avanti doesn’t have a cup warming tray, and honestly, there’s no place to add one.
In this case, however, you probably won’t miss it. If you set the boiler temp to its highest setting, the output is hotter than most other espresso machines produce, and the majority of American coffee drinkers will find it quite acceptable.
If for some reason it’s still not quite hot enough for you, your only real option is to pre-heat your cup by filling it with water and popping it in the microwave for a couple of minutes before making your drink. Given the price of the machine, that’s hardly an optimal solution, but it gets the job done.
Surprisingly Easy to Use, but Stubbornly Difficult to Clean
We’ve already talked at some length about the control system, and how easy it is to use and navigate, so we won’t rehash that here. Suffice it to say that it’ll take you less time to master than your smartphone, and once you’ve gotten familiar with the navigation system, you’ll be enjoying one-touch convenience and coffee shop quality drinks from the comfort of home.
Where the machine loses points from us in terms of ease of use though, is maintenance. This machine is a beast in that regard, and only has very limited automated maintenance routines, which means that you’re going to be doing a lot of it by hand.
A lot of other Saeco Granbaristo Avanti espresso maker reviews you’ll read online make this same point. It’s widely seen as one of the biggest weaknesses the model has.
Almost half the space in the manual is dedicated to the various things you’ll have to do in order to keep this machine at peak operating efficiency. They’ve got the tasks broken down into daily, weekly, and monthly chores, and although the machine will helpfully remind you when something needs to be done, that’s about all it will do. The actual cleaning is on you.
Perhaps the biggest shortcoming in this department comes from the auto-frother. Saeco really needs to borrow from Delonghi in this department and copy their ideas, because Delonghi makes machines that are virtually self-cleaning, including the milk frother.
Here, you’ve got to periodically disassemble the entire system (it comes apart in six pieces), clean each piece by hand, let it dry and then reassemble for your next use. It’s annoying, especially given the fact that we know there are automated ways of handling this.
This, more than anything is what leaves you with the feeling that the Avanti is something of a work in progress. For all its high-tech wonder and glory, it just feels unfinished. More work can and should be done here, and when it is, the Avanti will be a near-perfect machine.
Right now though, if you want a taste of the future, you’ve got to live with certain shortcomings, which means attending to a lot of the machine’s maintenance requirements by hand, and that could be a deal breaker for some people.
Pros & Cons of the Saeco GranBaristo Avanti Coffee Maker
As you can see, the Avanti machine has a lot to offer. The things we like best about the design include:
There were some things we found to be lacking though. Many of these were minor, but some were fairly significant. Our minor grips include things like:
The major gripes include:
For us, none of these shortcomings are deal breakers, but they almost certainly will be for a percentage of prospective buyers, and that’s unfortunate, because all of these problems are easily solved for, and in our view, given the price of the Avanti, they should have already been solved for.
Saeco GranBaristo Avanti Reviews Conclusion
And that concludes our Saeco Granbaristo Avanti review. On the whole, we like the machine. It’s a great, reliable product that delivers consistently high-quality coffee with cutting edge convenience.
It’s too expensive to be for everyone, but if you’ve got the money, you’re not a hardcore purist who insists on maximum control, and you don’t live in a large household filled with power coffee drinkers, then you’re going to love the machine, and we highly recommend it.