Making cafe-quality espresso shots at home has always required high-end hardware. Add in the convenience of automation and you can expect to pay even more. Case in point is the Krups EA9010, which for $2,500 or £1,000 is a both a deluxe super-automatic machine that also boasts the power to pull superb shots of straight espresso. This compact brewer grinds its own beans as well, courtesy of a built-in burr grinder, plus steams and froths milk by itself.
More impressive, the gadget's internal drink library places many cafe standards like lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites a mere button push away. The Krups EA9010 even services itself regularly to keep your maintenance involvement to a minimum. Of course like any coffee appliance, the EA9010 isn't perfect nor is it ideal for everyone. Even if you can stomach its staggeringly steep sticker price, the EA9010 still requires some TLC such as frequently emptying its drip tray and the occasional deep cleaning. Likewise, the machine's vague coffee dose settings and automatic grind sizing are sure to disappoint home baristas used to manual controls.
Compact in stature and without much in the way of glowing lights, protruding parts, or premium materials, if I didn't already know its asking price I doubt I'd guess just how expense the Krups EA9010 really is. There are no fancy bean hoppers, steam wands or portafilter handles sprouting away from the machine. Neither is the product encased in sparkling chrome nor crafted in an artfully modern design, both hallmarks of luxury espresso machines built by Ranchilio and La Marzocco. Even the pint-size De'Longhi Dedica draws the eye to a greater degree with its unique shape and reflective skin.
Indeed the only clue that the EA9010 is something special is a small color LCD touchscreen which sits at the center of its front face. This and perhaps the appliance's stainless-steel cup warmer, a flat vented surface running along the top of the machine, hint at the coffee maker's uncommon abilities.
To the left of the LCD you'll find a round power button, one of the EA9010's three physical controls (counting the touchscreen). The third is a "ground coffee" key which you press to unlock a metal flap in the middle of the cup warmer. Underneath the flap is a funnel for adding pre-ground coffee which channels material to the machine's circular espresso filter below.
What sets this brewer apart from the legion of ordinary drip and budget espresso coffee makers is what's hidden inside its modest frame. Directly behind the cup warmer you'll find a large trapezoidal lid. Flipping it open reveals one of the EA9010's most important attributes, a dedicated burr grinder. Baristas and coffee aficionados alike highly value burr grinders for their uniform grind size and gentle crushing motion compared with the brutal and random chopping action of blade grinders.
More surprises live behind a pair of long doors on the front of the EA9010 which flank the machine's controls and LCD screen. Opening a door on the left side of the machine uncovers a large container that captures spent espresso grounds, commonly called "pucks" due to their flat and circular shape. This bucket is also removable making it a breeze to toss its contents into the trash. Directly above the used coffee container is a drawer for housing bottles of cleaning liquid specially made by Krups (the EA9010 comes with two bottles).
Swiveling the door on the right open provides access to the EA9010's sizable water tank, which tops out at 57 ounces (1.7 L). The reservoir is removable as well and has a detachable lid for easy filling on countertops or inside sinks.
Other nice design touches include a pair of metal coffee nozzles attached to a "height-adjustable handle" along with a bright LED light. So equipped the machine can illuminate beverages during preparation plus accept a variety of cup sizes and heights simply by sliding this handle up and down. Just don't expect to dispense coffee into massive travel mugs, since the maximum nozzle clearance is about 5.25 inches.
To support coffee cups the EA9010 features a small, triangular drip tray that does double duty as a cup rest. This tray feeds into a larger drip tray behind and below it, both of which can be pulled away from the machine. Occupying the farthest corner of the small tray (the triangle point) is a transparent plastic tube which serves as a home and cleaning mechanism for the EA9010's frothing wand.
Being such a fancy machine, the Krups EA9010 requires some setup beyond what you normally see in home coffee-making equipment. After filling up both the water tank and coffee bean hopper I thought I'd be enjoying some premium espresso in short order. Not so since the machine required me to first test my local water supply for hardness.
Using a paper test strip packed in the box, I quickly discovered that my tap's H2O is quite hard, which is common here in Louisville. Thankfully according to Krups the EA9010 is prepared for this situation and after punching in the corresponding values, the brewer was now calibrated to accommodate my custom water hardness levels. A filter cartridge you place inside the water tank (included) is also supposed to help improve water quality.
So many drinks to choose from
One of the Krups EA9010's major selling points is its deep library of java drink options. The LCD displays popular beverage choices on its home screen such as "Espresso," "Coffee," "Cappuccino" and "Cafe Latte." The machine also groups additional drink recipes under "Black Specials," which contains many traditional espresso variations including, "Restretto," "Doppio" and "Lungo." You can also tell the machine to create americanos, standard black coffee or even a "Red Eye" (regular coffee amped up by two more espresso shots).
Underneath the "White Specials" menu you'll find options for whipping up milk-based drinks, including cafe au lait, flat whites, milchkaffee, and plain hot or steamed milk. And if all you'd like is hot water for say a cup of tea, the machine provides a way to do that too. There's even a "Favorites" function which allows users to populate custom profiles with the drinks they enjoy often.