In a Nutshell:

The Smeg 50 is a well-made, well-designed manual espresso maker.
Recommended For: It’s pricey but worth it if you’re serious about both style and great espresso. Recommended for anyone who can afford it.

Brew Quality
Reservoir Size
Customization options
Ease of Use

Overall Rating



  • Superb Design
  • European design quality
  • Great Kitchen Addition


  • Pricey
  • Plastic Tamper
Smeg Espresso Maker

Recommended For:  It’s pricey but worth it if you’re serious about both style and great espresso. Recommended for anyone who can afford it.

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10/03/2023 03:10 am GMT

Do you love great espresso? Would you like to have the ability to enjoy one from the comfort of your own home, any time, day or night? If you answered yes to both of the questions above, then you’re going to like what you read in this—our Smeg espresso machine review.

Front of black Smeg Espresso Maker

If you’re not familiar with the Smeg brand, know that they’re a well-respected Italian manufacturer. 

Their machines are a bit on the pricey side, but they offer categorically beautiful designs that are easy to use and reliable. Even better, the company has been in the business since 1948, so they’ve got decades of practical experience under their belts.

In the sections that follow, we’ll take a closer look at the Smeg ECF01 espresso machine, detailing everything it gets right and not pulling punches when it comes to describing where this model comes up short. If your interest is piqued, read on!

An Overview of the Smeg Retro Style Espresso Coffee Machine

First impressions matter and the Smeg espresso coffee machine ECF01 makes a very good one. It sports a delightfully retro design that we love, and we think most of our readers will too. Even better, it’s offered in a good selection of colors. If you decide you want one, you can order yours in black, cream, pastel green, pastel blue, pink, or red.

We’re not completely sold on the pink Smeg espresso machine, but we know there are people out there who will absolutely fall in love with that one in particular. The bottom line, though, is that whatever your kitchen décor scheme might be, one of Smeg’s fantastic espresso machines will be a perfect fit.

If you’re looking for more options, we should point out here that Smeg has partnered with the legendary Italian fashion design company Dolce & Gabbana, and if you like, you can pick up a Smeg Dolce Gabbana espresso machine to add a splash of unexpected color to your kitchen.  

This particular model doesn’t have a Dolce & Gabbana variant, but there are a number of them out there. You can find out more about the Smeg Dolce & Gabbana espresso machine line right here.

A cu[ of coffee in front of a Black Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine

Striking good looks and a fun, retro design will only get you so far, though. Let’s take a closer look at the capabilities of the machine to see what it really has to offer.

Form Factor, Footprint, & Aesthetic

We consider this to be a fairly strong component of our Smeg espresso machine review. The Smeg 50’s retro-style espresso coffee machine is delightfully compact, with a footprint that measures 5.87″ D x 12.99″ W x 11.93″ H. We especially like the height of the unit because it’s short enough that it will fit comfortably on most countertops underneath existing cabinetry.

In addition to that, the Smeg manual espresso machine only weighs eleven pounds, so if you need to move it around, you’re not going to struggle to do so. That is in no small part because most of the machine is crafted from plastic, although any component that comes into contact with water is fashioned from stainless steel.

Black Smeg Espresso Coffee Maker with a 3d SMEG logo

Ultimately, whether you consider this to be a good thing or bad will depend on exactly what you’re looking for.

On the one hand, it’s possible to find machines with comparable capabilities for about the same money that is made entirely from stainless steel. They’ll tend to have an industrial appearance and lack this model’s sleek, stylish appearance, but that’s not going to matter to some people.

On the other hand, if styling matters to you and you’re a fan of retro design, you’re going to absolutely love it.

Reservoir Size of the Smeg ECF01 Espresso Coffee Machine

This is another quite strong component of our Smeg espresso machine review. The stainless steel reservoir is adequately sized at one liter (33.8 ounces).  

Black Smeg Espresso and Cappuccino Maker with a cup of coffee under its spout

Given that you’ll only be making either one or two cups of coffee at a time, this capacity should be fine for most people, but note that if you have a large, busy household with several coffee drinkers, you may find yourself having to refill the water tank more often than you’d prefer. Again, though, that will only be an issue for a handful of potential users.

The Boiler System of the Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine

The Smeg espresso coffee maker utilizes a fast-heating Thermoblock to help ensure that you have a minimum amount of waiting to get your morning espresso fix. While there’s no formal industry standard where this is concerned, that configuration is common enough to call it an informal standard. It’s exactly what we’d expect to find in a machine of this caliber.

Black Smeg Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Note, however, that this unit only has a single boiler, so the same one is used both for pulling shots of espresso and for steaming milk.  If you want milk with your drink and you do that part first, you’ll need to bring the temperature of the boiler down slightly so as not to burn your coffee. 

This doesn’t take long, but it is something to be mindful of.

A Few Words About the Control System

This is another strong component of our Smeg espresso machine review. The control system of the machine is entirely analog, consisting of just a handful of buttons on the front face of the unit. The buttons are well laid out and clearly labeled, so you should have no difficulty, whatsoever, working out the basic functionalities.

Smeg Retro Espresso Maker cream color left side with cup

Even better, if there are any questions, the manual explains each function in clear, simple language with diagrams as appropriate. All that to say that it will only take you a matter of minutes to go from unboxing to having the unit ready for first use. Kudos to Smeg for that!

The Milk Frothing System

Where milk frothing is concerned, there are two options manufacturers can gravitate to—either an auto-frother or a steam wand. Auto frothers are typically found on fully automatic machines or super automatic. It should come as no surprise, then, that this one boasts a steam wand.

Cream Smeg Retro Espresso Maker

The steam wand takes a bit of practice to use well, but if you want to be your own barista, it’s well worth taking the time to learn to use it well. To help that along, we’ve included some resources at the end of this piece you can use to gain skills and impress your friends and family.

The Smeg Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is Delightfully Easy to Use and Easy to Clean

As with any coffee machine, regular cleanup is a must,  with a focus on the removable drip tray and the filter basket, along with less frequent descaling. This unit, though, handles descaling better than most we’ve seen in that it comes with a helpful alarm.  

The unit is self-monitoring, and it’ll let you know when it needs descaling. That’s superb, and honestly, we wish it was a standard feature on all coffee makers. Again, kudos to Smeg!

Smeg Espresso and Cappuccino Maker Extras

Front of a pastel green Smeg Retro Espresso Coffee Machine

If you decide you’ve got to have one of these, it will come with everything you need to start using it straight away, including a tamper to tamp down your coffee grounds and three different inserts for your filter basket—one for a single shot, one for a double shot, and a third for soft pods.

This phrase has apparently been the cause of some confusion among prospective buyers. No, this unit does not and cannot use single-use pods like a Keurig or similar device. Soft pods look like round teabags, except you can buy them filled with a wide range of coffee.  

Note, too, that this unit doesn’t come with a built-in grinder, so if you want to buy whole beans, you’ll either need to invest in a separate grinder or buy pre-ground.

Our only real complaint here is with the tamper. The plastic feels a bit cheap to us, and honestly, it won’t last as long in any case, so sooner or later, you’ll probably have to replace it. If you want something better and more substantial, buy a 51mm metal tamper and you’ll be good to go.

Pros & Cons of Smeg ECF01 Espresso Coffee Machine

Front of a Pink Smeg Ecf01 Espresso Coffee Machine

In our view, the Smeg retro espresso maker is a superbly designed product that will look great in your kitchen and serve you well. The only two complaints we have about it are as follows:

First, it’s pricey. You pay a premium not only for the retro styling but also for the European design, and if you’re on a budget, you may find yourself gravitating more toward an all-stainless steel model that does most of what this unit offers. Totally understandable.

Second, and this is more of a nit than anything, but that plastic tamper really bugs us. Given the cost of the unit, we were expecting more here. It’s not a big enough issue to prompt someone not to buy, but it is something we felt we should mention.

Smeg Espresso Machine Review Conclusion

Even with the two negatives we pointed out above, we kind of love the Smeg retro espresso coffee machine. If you’re even a passing fan of retro design, we’re pretty sure you will too. This one gets a solid recommendation from us.

Other Options to Consider

If you’ve reached the end and have decided that the Smeg espresso maker just isn’t right for you, here are a couple of other options to consider:

De'Longhi EC9355M La Specialista Prestigio Espresso Machine

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10/03/2023 12:22 am GMT

This is a substantially larger machine than the one we just reviewed. It has an onboard bean hopper and built-in grinder and is made entirely of stainless steel. It also costs a good bit more than the machine we just talked about, but if your vision for your kitchen is closer to what you’d find at your local coffee shop, this one belongs on your short list of options to consider.  

Mr. Coffee One Touch CoffeeHouse+ Espresso, Cappuccino, and Latte Maker

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10/03/2023 01:29 am GMT

This model is for those who are looking for increased convenience. This is a one-touch machine with an auto frother rather than a steam wand. It’s also less expensive than the model we just talked about, so if you’re on a budget, this one could be perfect for you.

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Reference & Resources