Table of Contents
- 1 An Overview of the Saeco Moltio vs Minuto
- 2 Very Easy to Use and Fairly Easy to Clean
- 3 Pros & Cons of Saeco Minuto vs Moltio
- 4 Saeco Moltio vs Minuto Conclusion
Are you new to the world of specialty coffee drinks?
Are you on a budget and looking for a machine that will give you the full experience, but without requiring you to take out a loan to get it, or requiring an advanced degree to figure out how to use it?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you’re going to love this review!
Entry level super-automatic espresso makers can sometimes be hit or miss, and as you might expect, machines in the sub-$1000 range aren’t going to have quite as many features as their more expensive cousins. That does not, however, mean that great machines don’t exist in this price range!
In the sections that follow, we’ll compare the Saeco Moltio vs Minuto super-automatics in detail. As you will see, both machines offer a surprisingly rich feature set, and while it’s true that the two models have several things in common, they’re built with two very different types of users in mind.
Which one is right for you? We’ll help you get to the bottom of that question. Let’s get right to it and see what these great, entry level machines have to offer!
An Overview of the Saeco Moltio vs Minuto
Let’s start by taking a top-level view of both machines, before getting into the specific similarities and differences:
Saeco Moltio vs Minuto
Last update: November 29, 2020 6:19 am
Last update: November 29, 2020 6:19 am
10.1” x 18.5” x 13.8”
11.4” x 19.7” x 18.3”
ABS plastic, Metal Trim
ABS plastic, Metal Trim
Aluminum, Stainless-Steel Lined Single Boiler
Aluminum, Stainless-Steel Lined Single Boiler
Has two! (10.5 ounces each)
No. of Grinder Settings
Yes, Single Scoop
Yes, Single Scoop
Coffee Strength Settings
Five (Very Mild, Mild, Normal, Strong, and Extra Strong)
Five (Very Mild, Mild, Normal, Strong, and Extra Strong)
Milk Frothing System
Auto-Frothing with Carafe
As you can see at a glance, while there are many similarities, in general, the Moltio has more of what most people want in a super-automatic espresso machine, and the Minuto, despite its diminutive-sounding name, is the larger of the two units.
Given that the Moltio is cheaper, it leads one to wonder who would pick the Minuto over it? As you’ll see when we get deeper into machine functionality though, the Minuto does hold tremendous appeal for one particular type of user, but more on that later!
Also, note that the reason the Moltio is the cheaper machine is because the model has been discontinued. While you can still find plenty of them for sale online, these are almost all refurbished machines, offered at a deep discount. When the Moltio was in production, it was the more expensive of the two units.
Form Factor, Footprint, and Aesthetic
Of the two units, the Saeco Minuto Automatic espresso machine is, in our view, the more attractive model. It simply looks more modern, sleek and stylish. Mostly black, with a few metal highlights, it will fit in well with most any home’s décor.
The Moltio has a brushed metal appearance (though both units are made primarily from sturdy ABS plastic) and a vaguely industrial look and feel. While both fit well in most home kitchens, the Minuto just looks like a more modern appliance.
Saeco HD8869/47 Moltio
Saeco HD8775/48 Minuto
Note, however, that both of these units have a significant footprint, 10.1” x 18.5” x 13.8” for the Moltio and 11.4” x 19.7” x 18.3” for the Minuto. So, people with limited counter space or low clearance may have some difficulty finding a permanent home for them, with the Minuto being the more problematic of the two, owing to its top-loading water reservoir.
Even if you find yourself having to move them about, however, both machines weigh less than twenty pounds, thanks to their having just a single boiler and being made mostly of plastic, so re-homing them isn’t difficult, by any means.
The first major point to mention in comparing the Saeco Moltio vs Saeco Minuto is the size and positioning of the water tank. Both fare well in this regard, with the Moltio offering a 64-ounce reservoir, and the Minuto providing only a slightly smaller 60-ounce tank.
Our Saeco Moltio Focus automatic espresso machine review wouldn’t be complete without calling your attention to two distinct differences on this front, both favoring the Moltio.
First, despite being the less expensive machine, the Moltio has a bigger water tank. Secondly, the Moltio’s tank is front loading, where the Minuto’s is top-loading.
That may not be an issue for many, but it will matter to some, especially for people who have limited clearance between their counter-top and the bottom edge of their kitchen cabinetry. A top loading machine might not work in such conditions, requiring you to move it every time you needed to refill the tank.
Both models come with a water filter built into the reservoir. This is an optional feature you can choose to either use or leave out of the equation, and there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides of that equation.
On the one hand, if you opt to use the filtration system, then you’ll almost never have to worry about descaling the machine. The filter simply makes it unnecessary. This, however, comes with the side-effect that you’ll have to periodically buy replacement filters, which will increase your total cost of ownership, and as such, has to be factored into your thinking.
If you opt to go without the filter, it’s going to cost you less in the long run, but you’ll have to descale your machine more often, so your overall maintenance will increase. You can minimize this by using distilled water and get the best of both worlds, but of course, that adds an extra step as well.
Some people love the filters, despite the added cost, while others prefer to do without them. There’s no right answer here. It comes down to what your preferences are.
The second big thing to talk about in our Saeco Minuto vs Moltio comparison review is the integrated grinder, and in this case, both machines are identical. Both utilize a ceramic burr grinder with five grind settings.
We have mixed opinions about this. On the one hand, the presence of a ceramic, rather than a stainless-steel grinder in an entry level machine is a big win. Stainless-steel grinders are cheaper, but also heat up when in use. This can sometimes leave your beans with a burnt aftertaste that ruins the flavor of your coffee.
Being cheaper though, it’s not at all uncommon to find stainless-steel grinders in machines at the lower end of the price range, so we were quite pleased to see ceramic grinders in both of these models. Unfortunately, we do have two quibbles here, one small, and one medium-sized.
Available Grind Settings
Our small complaint is that the grinders on both models only have five grind settings. We rank this as a small complaint because these are low-end machines, designed and built for people on a budget, or who are new to the world of specialty coffees.
To keep costs down, it makes sense to offer a grinder with fewer settings, and for novices, five is enough to provide some customization, without going overboard and pricing the unit out of reach.
On the other hand, purists aren’t going to like this limitation. Getting the right grind is a huge component of the taste of the final output you get from whatever machine you’re using, and everyone’s tastes and preferences are different.
Five settings just aren’t enough to accommodate everyone, and if you’re a novice who turns into a coffee fanatic, you’ll find that you quickly outgrow either of these machines’ capabilities in this department.
Changing Grind Settings
Our larger complaint has to do with changing the grind settings. Many, if not most machines use a simple control dial. Turn the knob, change the setting.
That’s not the case here. To modify the setting (you’ll find the control knob inside the bean hopper compartment), you’ve got to get a special tool (a grinder wrench) and make your adjustments.
If you live alone, or you’re the only person in your house who likes specialty coffee, that’s no big deal, because you’ll only be changing the grind settings when you make different kinds of drinks for yourself, or if you’re experimenting.
A deal breaker? Almost certainly not, but it is something to bear in mind.
Where the bean hoppers are concerned, both models do an excellent job, with the Moltio offering a 10.5-ounce capacity, and the Minuto offering a slightly smaller, but still good 8.8 ounces.
We’re pleased with both of these because, at these sizes, both hoppers are well-paired with their respective water tanks.
What we sometimes see is that a particular model will offer a quite large water reservoir, paired with a low-capacity bean hopper, or vice versa. When that happens, the annoyance factor increases exponentially, because you’re constantly having to stop what you’re doing to refill one, or the other, or both.
That’s not the case with either of these models, and we count it as a big plus! It’s also worth mentioning that the Moltio has something of a “secret weapon” in this area – it offers two hot-swappable bean hoppers!
While this, of course, doesn’t double the capacity, as only one can be used at any given time, it does allow you to store your beans pre-loaded in the reserve hopper, and swap the empty out for a quick change, or, if you’ve got two power drinkers in your home, and you have different bean preferences, you can each have your own, dedicated hopper!
This is a good feature, and not something you often find, even in top end machines, so we were impressed.
Hand in hand with this, because the grinder will have invariably have a small amount of “the other beans” in their teeth when you swap hoppers, the Moltio comes with a “grinder purge” option that allows you to clear out any residual beans from the other hopper before putting the second one into service. Very handy, and a nice touch!
A final note on this topic and this is true of all super-automatics, not just these two models. Don’t use oily beans. If you do, you’ll invariably clog the grinder and make more work for yourself. Stick with a nice Medium Roast you enjoy, and you’ll be fine.
Both models use a single, quick-heating stainless-steel lined boiler. This is not at all uncommon in lower priced machines.
Obviously, a double boiler would be faster and more convenient, but it would also raise the price, which is something the company was working hard to avoid, and honestly, the time delay isn’t bad. You’ll notice a slight delay if you’re making a milk-based coffee drink because the boiler has to adjust its temperature to account for that, but the time it takes to do so is measured in seconds, not minutes.
Note that you can’t precisely control the temperature of either the milk or the coffee. If you customize your drink, you can choose from between “low,” “normal,” and “high” settings.
Given that most Americans prefer their coffee hotter than Europeans, your best bet will probably be to just set it on high and forget about it, although by all means, experiment with this to find the perfect setting for you!
If you don’t want to wait…if you want the ability to simultaneously brew coffee and froth milk, then you’re going to want a system that features a double boiler. There are plenty of these, but you don’t typically find them at the low end of the pricing spectrum, so be prepared to pay a little more for the convenience.
Telescoping Coffee Spigot
Believe it or not, the distance the spigot is from your coffee cup makes a difference in your drink’s flavor and character! In this department, the Moltio edges out the Minuto, and here we begin to see a divergence in the two machines.
Since the Moltio’s spigots move up and down, telescoping through a wide range, it means you can place the spigot lower, which is important when brewing espresso shots.
The Minuto’s spigot moves in and out to accommodate cups of varying diameters, but it doesn’t move up or down. It’s entirely stationary on that axis. As such, it’s designed for making coffee and brewing it into large mugs. As a side benefit, it can also make espresso and other specialty drinks.
While it can make a good espresso, if you compare the two, your taste buds will be happier with the output of the Moltio. This, of course, impacts all of the specialty drinks the Minuto makes which rely on espresso.
They’re not bad – not by any means! It’s just that the spigot height does have some bearing. Someone new to the coffee world won’t notice much difference, but coffee purists aren’t going to be happy with the Minuto for that very reason.
Here, our Saeco Minuto Espresso machine review wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t draw particular attention to one very special, highly unique feature of the model.
Above the coffee spigot, you’ll notice a lever. Up for coffee, down for espresso.
When this lever is pushed up (“Coffee” position), it changes the way the pump pressure, reducing it from nine bars down to about three bars. This is useful when making regular coffee, and thus, ideal for someone new to the world of speciality coffee drinks who will often just want a regular cup of Joe.
Simply push the lever to the coffee position, select coffee, push the button, and enjoy a cup that tastes a lot like what you’re used to from your drip-brew system.
Lower the lever to the “Espresso” setting, the pump ratchets back up to nine bars of pressure, and you get a passingly good espresso out of it. Nice touch, and a great way to bridge the gap between the drip brew and specialty coffee worlds.
A Few Words About Espresso
While we’re on the topic of espresso and bars of pressure, this is a good time to mention the differences in how regular coffee and espressos are made.
If you’re a regular coffee drinker, then you’ve probably got a drip-brew machine at home that makes coffee by the pot. These systems rely on simply gravity, filling the grounds chamber with water, where it soaks the grounds and slowly filters down into the pot.
Super-automatics aren’t like that. They use a pump system, based on pressure, measured in bars. One bar of pressure equals atmospheric pressure at sea level.
It takes at least nine bars of pressure to make a good espresso, and both of these machines have pumps rated at fifteen bars so that you won’t have any trouble on that front!
The Milk Frothing System
This is something the two models handle quite differently. If you’re a novice, you’re probably going to prefer the Moltio. More advanced users will likely gravitate to the Minuto.
The Moltio features an auto-frother. You can remote the hot water spigot, and place a durable plastic milk carafe in its place. Simply pour milk into the container, push the spigot over so that the foam and steamed milk will land in your cup, and push the button.
When you order a milk-based drink, the contents of the carafe are sucked into the boiler, heated, and dispensed as a mix of heated milk and foam. You have some control over the amount of foam you get (via the drink customization control menu), but not much. At the end of the day, you’re limited to the defaults each setting produces. For novice users, this is usually fine, but coffee purists and more advanced users won’t be fond of this feature.
The good news is that when you’re done, you’ll be prompted to run a cleaning cycle, and when that’s finished, you can just pop the carafe, with the unused milk portion, back in the fridge for later.
The Minuto features a frothing wand built onto the machine, located on its left-hand side as you’re facing it. This gives more advanced users a much greater degree of flexibility over the amount and consistency of the froth produced, but it takes some practice to master.
Armed with the frothing wand, a stainless-steel milk pitcher, and the ability to make espresso, a good Barista can make coffee magic happen, and that’s exactly what the Minuto provides.
Novice users, however, may find themselves getting frustrated with their results from the frothing wand, and be a bit intimidated by it in the beginning.
The Brew Unit and Control System
This is the heart and soul of any semi- or super-automatic machine, and as such, we’ll spend a good deal of time in this section for both machines.
The first thing to note about both models is that their brew units are removable. Push a button, and you can pop them out once a week for easy cleaning. That’s handy, but unfortunately, not all machines allow this. In some cases, the brew unit won’t detach, and you’ve got to use special cleaning tablets periodically to attend to that part of the maintenance.
In our view, this is the inferior approach. We’d much rather have the option to take the brew unit out and clean it ourselves. It takes a bit more time, but it saves you from having to buy more cleaning tablets, which reduces your total cost of ownership, and what’s not to like about that?
Where the control systems are concerned, both models use somewhat dated technology here. A combination of a LED display, dials, and push-buttons. We’re fans of the rotary dials and push-buttons, but the simple truth is that it’s hard to design a good menu system that’s easy to navigate if you’re using a LED display.
The latest technology is TFT, which stands for Thin Film Transistor, and it’s like a miniature computer screen right on the front of your coffee maker. This, in our view, is vastly superior, because it simply gives the manufacturer more options, and it’s easier to build an intuitive system around.
Fortunately, in the case of both the Moltio and the Minuto, since you don’t have an overabundance of options, to begin with, the controls aren’t at all difficult to use and master.
Yes, you’ll have to spend at least a little time familiarizing yourself with the customization options. Figuring out how to set the auto-shutoff timer if you want to use that, learning how to customize your drinks, how to access the automatic cleaning features, and the like.
Once you do that though (a process that will take, at most, making 3-4 drinks), you’ve got it. You’ve essentially mastered the system.
You may feel that the limitations of the technology are fighting against you, but there aren’t enough options on either model to say that either has a significant learning curve, so kudos to Phillips for that. It is, on balance, a good use of older tech, and it helped keep costs down.
Here, our Saeco Moltio HD8869/47 review wouldn’t be complete, and we’d be doing our readers a disservice if we didn’t mention the fact that regarding specialty drinks, the Moltio has more to offer. From the console, you can make:
This, compared with the Minuto, which offers:
Again, the Minuto is designed primarily as a “brew by the cup” coffee system that can also make espresso-based drinks, whereas the Moltio is designed with the specialty drinks in mind, first and foremost, so the two models cater to very different users.
Here’s the interesting thing though: the Moltio is geared more towards the pure novice user. With its automated milk frothing system and more one-touch coffee drinks, it’s ideal for those looking for push-button convenience.
While the Minuto doesn’t have any specialty drinks but espresso on offer at the touch of a button, anyone with basic Barista skills can take that, combine it with the milk frothing wand, and make a surprising variety of specialty coffee creations.
Cup Warming Tray
This will be a relatively short section. The Moltio has a passive cup warming tray that heats up courtesy of the boiler unit, and the Minuto does not.
This isn’t a big deal, as both units, on their highest settings, produce coffee hot enough to please American coffee drinkers, but it is important in one respect.
If you’re making milk-based specialty drinks, then your output is going to lose temperature, because milk can’t be steamed at as high a temperature as the coffee is brewed. Because of this, it will tend to lower the overall temperature of your drink, and when dispensed into a cold cup, you’ll see a further reduction in temperature.
Because of this, the addition of the cup warming tray is a nice feature on the Moltio. If you’re mostly interested in coffee or straight espresso, you won’t mind its absence.
On the other hand, if you want a hot milk based drink and you’re using the Minuto, then you’re going to want to fill your cup with hot water first to bring the temperature up, then dump the hot water into the drip tray when you’re ready to make your drink. That’s not a perfect workaround, but it gets the job done.
Very Easy to Use and Fairly Easy to Clean
Neither of these models have an excessive number of features, so although the LED menu system is a bit cumbersome, it’s still easy to master them both.
Cleaning is a mix of automated routines and periodic manual maintenance (removing and washing the brew unit weekly, keeping the dregs box and drip trays empty, the occasional descaling, etc.). None of these tasks are difficult, but if you’ve never owned a super-automatic before, finding the right cleaning rhythm will take a bit of practice.
Even so, you’ll find that you can master either model with ease, including all periodic cleaning functions.
Pros & Cons of Saeco Minuto vs Moltio
At this point in our comparison between the Philips Saeco Minuto Focus espresso coffee maker and its close cousin, the Moltio, we think you’ll agree that there’s a lot to like about both models.
True, they have a somewhat limited set of features. It’s also true that they incorporate some dated (LED) technology. Having said that though, and especially if you’re new to specialty coffee beverages, you’ll find either of these machines to be cost-effective, sturdy and reliable.
They’ve got enough features to get the job done and introduce you to a world of coffee flavors you may not have had the opportunity to experience before.
For the most part, we have no complaints with the way these machines are designed, and any complaint we have can be waved away by saying that if they addressed our issue, it would raise the price of the machine, which would mean it’d be targeting a totally different segment of the market.
In that spirit, we can safely say that we have no significant issues with either model.
Saeco Moltio vs Minuto Conclusion
So in a head to head comparison, Saeco Moltio vs Minuto, which is better?
The answer to that question ultimately comes down to what you’re looking for in a super-automatic espresso maker.
If you’re brand new to the world of specialty coffee drinks, and you want to experiment with it, while still enjoying a great cup of coffee, then the Minuto will probably be your first choice. It gives you the tools to practice your budding Barista skills while preserving the ease and convenience of having a hot cup of Joe any time you want one.
On the other hand, if you’ve already decided that you want to dive headfirst into the world of specialty coffee drinks, and are looking for the coffee house experience from the comfort of home, then the Moltio will get you closer to that, with more one-touch specialty drinks on offer, and the automated milk frothing system.
In our view, because we love specialty coffee, we’d give the nod to the Moltio, but we readily admit that our bias for one-touch specialty drinks is what drives that conclusion. We could totally see the Minuto being the better fit for a diehard coffee drinker with an interest in dabbling in more exotic flavors.
The Bottom Line: Both are excellent machines for the novice. Well-priced, and delivering solid value for the money.
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