The Mr. Coffee ECM160.jpg

The Mr. Coffee ECM160

In the world of espresso machines you often get what you pay for, no more no less. The Mr. Coffee ECM160 demonstrates that familiar principle well. For an entry level machine it offers good value for its extremely low price.

The unit is small, offering only up to 4 cups before needing a refill. But for many buyers, that’s fine. A couple of shots for each of you in the morning and you’re ready to go off to work anyway.

If you have to wait a few minutes (or even longer) before you can drink one, you won’t have to endure burnt coffee from a hot plate. The thermal carafe that holds your shot will keep the brew nice and toasty for quite some time. Get an early phone call that distracts you? No problem. Return to your brew when you’re ready and enjoy.

Thanks to a stay-cool handle you won’t have any trouble handling the decanter, either. With measuring marks on the glass you can pour exactly what you want (if, for any reason, you wanted to stretch four cups to five smaller ones, for example). The drip free spout makes sure you don’t waste a drop and makes for easy clean up.

The important question is: does the ECM160 make a good espresso? Well, to be sure, no matter what maker you use, ingredients and skill are key. Still, you won’t need any particular skill here. There are no temperature adjustments or other controls to make life complicated. (If you’re the sort who enjoys all those in order to enable maximum control and experimentation, this model is not for you.)

Making a cappuccino or latte with this model is no special challenge, either, using the included milk frother. It’s removable so you have complete flexibility and, again, easy clean up. The removable tip only makes that all the easier.

With some practice, you’ll find that creating an airy foam as it is to make a dense one. It’s always nice to be able to make things just the way you like and the ECM160 is very flexible in that regard.

Thankfully, even at this price point, Mr. Coffee paid attention to design and quality construction. Not only is it a fine looking appliance, it operates quietly. Some home baristas enjoy the sound of a machine that shakes the house. This reviewer prefers a little quiet in the morning, especially before that first cup. Let personal preference sway you here. It doesn’t hurt that the ECM160 is also very stylish.

At this price, not surprisingly, you don’t get a lot of extras. There is no tamper included and smoothing your grounds is really helpful for creating an even brew so you’ll need to buy one separately. (Not necessary if you use pods, of course, but that’s not an option here.) You also don’t get a steaming pitcher, but they’re available separately at equally modest prices.

The Mr. Coffee ECM160 4-Cup Steam Espresso Machine will certainly fool no one into believing it’s a high-end espresso maker. But it is an unpretentious machine and, for the money, does a fine job.