The Mr Coffee Cafe Barista BVMC-ECMP1000 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker Review
If you’re in the market for an espresso machine, you have probably been warned more than once about the looming price point of this new addition to your kitchen. Many people are under the impression that an espresso machine worth anything at all is sure to cost you an arm and a leg, but with the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista, that can change.
With a comparable price point to many quality drip brewers, the Cafe Barista boasts a built-in milk frother and a variety of brew modes. Keep on reading to see if this basic, bargain espresso machine is right for you.
Summary: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
In one simple touch, Mr. Coffee® Café Barista brews espresso… and automatically froths milk into cappuccino and latte selections. You don’t need Barista know-how to create custom coffee drinks like your favorite coffeehouse.– Mr. Coffee
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker Review
This entry-level espresso, cappuccino, and latte maker is a tool with all the basic capabilities for someone just starting out in the world of espresso. Though it can be frustratingly inconsistent, that is part of the tradeoffs that come with a nearly unbeatable price tag. If you imagine high-end espresso makers like a traditional bicycle, think of the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista as your first tricycle.
Brewing Capability – 2.5/5
A common question about espresso machines is “Why are they so expensive?” While espresso machines of all types come at a range of price points, there is some truth to the saying “you get what you pay for.”
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is a solid bargain buy, but naturally exemplifies the validity of the tradeoff between price and quality. Like with all inexpensive espresso machines, you as the barista are going to find yourself sacrificing some of the consistency of your espresso and coffee drinks.
As coffee lovers, we all know that consistency is the key to great coffee, no matter your brew style or recipe. Consistent temperature, volume, grind… all of these factors must work together for a good cup. Unfortunately the Mr. Coffee is not consistent, particularly in brew temperature. The result is some cups will be under-extracted and others will be over-extracted and there isn’t a whole lot the user can do to control that.
Additionally, while the device claims to be able to make 15 bars of pressure, some reviewers and users have reported that the machine can clog when using a fine espresso grind. Naturally, this poses a significant issue given that it is an espresso machine.
While we can’t re-engineer the machine for you, we will recommend that you use a darker roast. The darker beans extract more readily and thus do not need to be ground as finely. (1)
The coffee maker comes with two different size filter baskets, a single shot size and a double. This is important to keep in mind since the single shot and double shot modes only change the volume of water used and it is up to the user to ensure that the amount of grounds matches the selection.
“Make Life Easy” Features – 3.5/5
Though there are real challenges to the brew capacity of the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista, it excels in being user-friendly. With three buttons and simple indicator lights, there isn’t much to learn in order to get started making coffee.
One minor gripe is that each button does three things. A single press of the button brews a single espresso, two presses a double, and a long press (3 seconds) activates a third feature which varies from button to button. It is not particularly challenging to figure out, but it is something to keep in mind.
Perhaps the most convenient feature the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista offers is its one touch (or two touch if you want a two shots in your coffee drinks) programs. With just one or two presses of a button, the machine will steam and froth your milk and then dispense espresso, all without user intervention. Regrettably the programs are preset and cannot be customized to your tastes or glassware size.
The cappuccino and latte programs are only distinguished by the volume of milk dispensed. Users must manually change the milk froth setting.
Like with the Saeco Picobaristo, this machine’s water reservoir can be removed. This is a nice feature because it means the whole unit doesn’t have to be moved around to clean the reservoir.
Milk Frothing – 3/5
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista relies on a peculiar feature: a removable milk reservoir. Now, milk reservoirs aren’t unique to Mr. Coffee, nor even to the budget espresso machine market, but no matter where they are found they offer dubious utility at best. The froth itself ranges from sub-par to adequate, depending on the milk you’re using and your expectations. (2)
Whole milk produces foam that is softer, creamier and thicker than skim milk foam.
Unlike steaming with a wand, the automatic frother doesn’t allow the user to exercise direct, manual control over the froth. Apart from being difficult to monitor during frothing, the milk reservoir does not have any volumetric measurements, so you will need to use a measuring cup to ensure that your quantities are precise. Compounding this difficulty, the way the milk is dispensed and frothed also lacks consistency, largely based on the machine’s recent usage and the type of milk.
Cleaning – 3/5
Unlike some machines, like the Cafe Roma (which we reviewed right here), keeping the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista clean involves a fair bit of work due to the nature of the milk reservoir. The reservoir can be stored in the refrigerator, but still requires cleaning on a regular basis.
Other than the milk reservoir demanding extra attention, the machine has fairly normal cleaning requirements. The water reservoir is removable for easy-access and simply brewing a shot or two through an empty portafilter can go a long way to keeping your machine in good shape. Mr. Coffee recommends that the portafilter be disassembled and cleaned thoroughly every 90 days, and that the unit be descaled every 40 to 80 brew cycles. (3)
Build Quality – 3/5
Let’s face it, Mr. Coffee is not known for their build quality. The exterior is black plastic and depending on which colour you select the front is covered with a thin veneer of brushed or painted metal.
Many users report that brand new units need to have vinegar run through them in order to work properly. While some cleaning of new devices is to be expected this process seems unusually onerous for breaking in a budget espresso machine.
The included plastic tamper is not really cut out for the job and should be replaced sooner rather than later, but this would be true of nearly any espresso machine with a plastic tamper. If you don’t yet have a stainless steel tamper for your coffee station, or are looking to upgrade, check out our review round-up of our favourite espresso tampers.
Do Not Buy The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista If…
You want to be able to consistently pull great espresso – Okay, so this seems like the baseline of coffee brewing, but if you are someone really new to the world of espresso, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista may be sufficient. It can brew decent espresso, just not every time or with every type of roast. If your motivation for having a home espresso machine was to brew as good or better than your nearby chain coffee shop then you’ll need to pick up a better espresso maker like the Breville Barista Express. Or if you’re into cappuccinos, consider some of the top picks in this post instead.
The Gaggia Classic Pro, while significantly more expensive, offers industry-grade consistency and control. Learn more by reading our comprehensive review.
You want to steam your milk by hand – Though some people will consider the automatic milk frother on the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista to be a win for convenience, others want the manual experience of manoeuvring the wand themselves. If that is you, we recommend you take a look at the DeLonghi EC155, a comparable budget espresso machine with a traditional steam wand. Read our full review here.
The Verdict On The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a perfect example of getting what you pay for. Does it make passable espresso? Yes, most of the time. Is it a great espresso maker? The answer is, unequivocally, no.
Ultimately the machine is hampered by its lack of consistency, plastic-laden body, and poorly-designed milk-reservoir. This machine is worth considering for espresso beginners, but certainly will fall short of your expectations if you are looking to step up your cappuccino game.
- Pines, H. (2019, July 14). Roasting For Filter Coffee vs. For Espresso. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/07/roasting-for-filter-coffee-vs-for-espresso/
- Blais, C. (n.d.). The Facts about Milk Foam. Retrieved from https://www.ricardocuisine.com/en/articles/food-chemistry/521-the-facts-about-milk-foam
- Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista: User Manual. Retrieved from https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/C1PWZZl8RgS.pdf