Smeg Coffee Maker Review 2023: More Style Than Substance?
If you’re interested in the Smeg coffee maker, it’s probably because you love the Smeg aesthetic. With its 1950s retro look – all smooth curves, bright colors, and chrome – this small appliance certainly stays true.
But what about the coffee? Is the quality of the brew on par with the design? Or is this just a cheap coffee maker wrapped in a pretty shell? That’s what this Smeg Coffee Maker Review is here to reveal.
Summary: Smeg Coffee Maker
- Attractive all-metal drip coffee machine with fun retro design and 10-cup glass carafe
- Can adjust coffee strength between “regular” and “intense”
- LED displays allows you to set a brew timer and alerts you to maintenance needs
This coffee machine works great. I love that there is no need for paper filters. Saving lots of waste…Looks very fancy and is extremely eye-catching.– Customer
The Full Smeg Coffee Maker Review
Founded in Italy in 1948, Smeg was originally an enameling and metalworks business. They soon expanded into domestic appliances like stoves and washing machines and gained international recognition for their design when introducing the FAB line of fridges in the 1990s (1). With their iconic rounded edges and friendly retro aesthetic, FAB fridges hold a cult following. But for those who want Smeg style without the huge price tag of a major appliance, the brand has a matching line of small appliances – toasters, mixers, espresso machines, and the Smeg drip coffee maker.
The Smeg drip coffee machine is attractive, but how is the coffee? Is it a good coffee machine, or just a good-looking coffee machine? Let’s dig into the details and find out.
Design – 4.5/5
The design is the obvious selling feature of the Smeg drip coffee maker, so it scores well in this category. It shares the same chic retro-style design as the Nostalgia coffee maker and, of course, other Smeg appliances, with smooth curves, fun colors, and chrome accents. It would look right at home in a 1950s diner.
The Smeg drip coffee machine comes in black, red, pastel mint green, pastel blue, cream, and chrome, so there is one to suit any decor.
Compared with the myriad of identical black-and-chrome drip coffee makers on the market, this Smeg coffee maker stands out from the crowd.
Its all-metal body with powder coat enamel finish is another way it stands out. It would have been easy for Smeg to use a plastic casing on this machine, and it is to their credit that they opted for high-quality materials. This Smeg machine will hold up to daily wear and tear much better than a cheaper plastic coffee maker.
The Smeg drip coffee maker is a 10-cup coffee machine, which is smaller than the more common 12-cup capacity. But it’s still a nice size for a typical home or office, one of the reasons this type of drip brewer is so popular, according to Aurimas Vainauskas, CEO of Coffee Friend (2).
A filter coffee is great for families that drink a lot of coffee. This is because you can brew the whole pot at once. [Many machines] also keep it warm for some time, too.
Usually, when you encounter a 10-cup coffee brewer, it’s because it has a thermal carafe. That is not the case with the Smeg coffee maker, but it’s an option we would love to see in the future.
Though the capacity is lower than most, the overall dimensions of the Smeg coffee machine are pretty large. It measures 9.6 inches wide by 10.1 inches deep by 14.25 inches tall due to the extra space needed for its unusual shape. When considering where it will sit on your kitchen counter, keep this in mind.
Features – 3/5
The Smeg drip coffee maker has many features you'd expect in an automatic drip coffee machine, but not as many as you would hope, given its price. This coffee machine is for design lovers who like coffee, not coffee lovers who appreciate design.
Like most coffee makers, you open up the top to add coffee grounds and water. You'll find a reusable coffee filter made from stainless steel, a nice alternative to needing paper filters. And, of course, you can add a paper filter if you prefer a cleaner brew. The 1.4-liter water reservoir is appropriate for the 10-cup carafe.
Upon lifting the lid, you'll note that the spray head has five holes rather than just one or two. This provides a more even water shower over the coffee, which means better extraction and a more flavorful brew. So here's at least one feature that adds to the improved coffee taste instead of aesthetics or ease of use.
Only a few buttons on the front of the machine provide access to the coffee brewing options.
You can choose your aroma intensity between two default brewing settings, opting for either regular or “intense.”
There is also a button for brewing just 4-cups at a time, which runs a slightly different cycle to brew coffee with maximum flavor in a smaller volume. Another button turns the warming plate on and off.
An LED display has a digital clock and lets you program your coffee to brew on a timer, which is always a welcome feature. There's nothing like waking up to the smell of a freshly brewed coffee pot.
One feature missing from the Smeg coffee machine is an automatic brew pause, which allows you to grab a quick cup before brewing coffee is complete. Its absence is shocking given how standard this function is, even among cheap coffee machines. You can avoid the issue by setting your brew timer such that you're never waiting for a brew cycle to complete, but I still think the brew-pause would be a worthwhile addition.
Coffee Flavor – 3/5
The Smeg coffee machine brews a very standard pot of drip coffee. It's certainly not bad, but don't think that just because you're dropping several hundred dollars on a coffee maker, you're getting a superior brew. That money is going towards build quality, branding, and retro style.
The coffee is smooth with little bitterness, but also little character. Even when I brewed a pot using freshly ground specialty beans, it wasn't substantially better than pre-ground coffee. The nuance you'd get from a well-made pour over isn't there. This is a stylish way to prepare the same coffee as a Mr. Coffee machine, for example.
I will note that the “intense” setting works quite well, producing a noticeably bolder flavored coffee.
Ease of Use – 4/5
Smeg drip coffee machine is straightforward to use. Lift the lid to add ground coffee to the filter and water to the reservoir. A transparent window on the side lets you see how much water you've added. Starting the brew is as simple as hitting a button.
This coffee machine is designed to monitor water hardness and let you know when it requires descaling. While this is a helpful feature regarding the machine's longevity, a typical user complaint is that it is overly sensitive. It often declares the water too hard and requires descaling more frequently than most.
Another issue with the user experience of this coffee maker is its noise. It beeps when you hit a button and beeps again when brewing completes. The beeps are of sufficient volume to be annoying. Lest you think I'm overly picky, so many customers complained about the noise that Smeg released a new model, the DCF02, that allows you to turn the beeping on and off.
After brewing, the hot plate stays on for 20 minutes to keep the pot of coffee hot. Hot plates are notorious for leaving hot coffee tasting burnt and stale, so 20 minutes is an excellent timeframe to prevent this issue (3). However, most coffee makers keep coffee warm for 2 hours, so some users find the 20-minute automatic shut-off feature too short. Again, the new DCF02 model considers customer feedback, upping the keep warm function time to 60 minutes.
Value for Money 2.5/5
I'll be honest, value for money is not why you should buy this coffee machine. If you want delicious coffee, you can get better coffee for the same money (take a look at our list of the best electric drip coffee makers, for example). And if you're looking for good-tasting coffee, you can find that in other popular drip brewers that are far cheaper than the Smeg coffee machine. Though I would be remiss not to mention that the all-metal body of the Smeg does put it a cut above the average cheap coffee machine in terms of durability.
With Smeg products, you're paying for style and the brand name. And there's nothing wrong with that. The style is beautiful and unique. So if aesthetics are your goal, then the Smeg drip coffee machine is an affordable way to add a lovely art piece to your kitchen that also makes a decent cup of coffee.
As I mentioned, Smeg recently released a newer model of this brewer, the DCF02. It looks identical but fixes some common user complaints regarding the original – the hot plate timing, the noisy beeps, and some issues with operating the lid. As a result, many of the original models are available at a discount.
So now is the time to score yourself a bargain.
Things we liked:
- Cool retro style
- Can choose regular or intense brew
- Special mode for brewing small volumes
- Can program to brew on a timer
Things we didn't like:
- Paying a premium for aesthetics
- 20-minute keep warm time is short
- Loud beeping
Don’t Buy the Smeg Coffee Maker If…
- Coffee quality matters more than style: If a perfectly extracted brew is the most crucial thing, opt for an SCA Certified home brewer. Coffee machines with this designation have been recognized by the Specialty Coffee Association for meeting an exceptionally high standard. Read our Technivorm Moccamaster review or the Oxo coffee maker review for two great options.
- You want more customizable options: If you prefer to have more brewing control over your coffee than just “regular” and “intense,” this Breville Precision coffee maker review will interest you. Not only is this brewer SCA Certified, but you can adjust brew temperature, coffee bloom time, flow rate, and more.
- You want the option of single-serve coffee: If you sometimes enjoy just one cup of coffee at a time, consider a dual coffee maker. These provide the option of preparing a single cup or a full carafe. To look at one of our favorites in this style, read this Hamilton Beach 49980a review.
If this review has made anything clear, Smeg coffee makers aren't for everyone.
If you love the Smeg aesthetic and want an affordable way to add that retro charm to your kitchen, go ahead and buy this coffee machine. It looks cool, can add a pop of fun color to your decor, and makes coffee. On the other hand, if drinking great coffee is your priority, we'd suggest spending your money on brewing features rather than style.
- Watson-Smyth, K. (2010, December 10). The Secret History of: The Smeg fridge. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/property/interiors/the-secret-history-of-the-smeg-fridge-2155837.html
- Grant, T. (2020, October 2). Which Type of Home Coffee Machine is Right For You? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/10/which-type-of-home-coffee-machine-is-right-for-you/
- Driftaway Coffee. (2015, February 28). 3 Common Misconceptions About Keeping Coffee Hot. Retrieved from https://driftaway.coffee/hotcoffee/
This is truly the worst coffee machine I have ever owned. I received it as a gift and thus could not say no. Where to begin? First, its huge! Takes up a lot of space yet has a diminutive coffee pot holding just 10 small cups. Second, ironically people tout its design, which looks cool, but frankly sucks! For example, every coffee machine out there has a pot that has a matched top to the bottom so that when you pour your coffee there is a free flowing unobstructed path for the coffee. Not so with the SMEG! They cheaped out and so the cheap plastic lid has a large lip all the way around which, as you may have guessed, interferes with pouring the coffee! Duh! So basically unless you’re careful every time you pour you can spill coffee all over! That, in and of itself, is enough to make me hate this machine as its design fails in its most basic element–pouring coffee! It has less features than a $48 14 cup Cuisinart from Costco….and the Cuisinart works better and takes up less counter space!