Melitta may not be the first brand that you think of when it comes to coffee machines but they actually invented the first filter coffee machine a little over 100 years ago.
They have been making coffee machines ever since so hopefully they know a thing or two about producing a decent cup of coffee.
We would classify the Melitta SOLO and perfect milk as a semi-automatic bean to cup coffee machine because if you want to convert your espresso to a cappuccino then there is a short process that you need to go through in order to add the milk.
It’s hardly a hassle but it is slightly different to Melitta’s top of the range Barista TS SMART which is fully automatic.
As far as bean to cup coffee machines go, the SOLO and perfect milk is right down at the budget end of the market but does it produce a good cup of coffee and is it good value for money?
Overall Score 7.6/10
This is hardly an ugly looking machine but it is a bit of a lump.
Finished in what we would classify as a glossy “piano black” it is a very matter of fact oblong shaped applinace with sharp corners that is a piece of German engineering that could have had a little more attention to detail applied from a design perspective
It is softened a little by the chrome finish of the coffee outlet and two dials on the front of the machine.
Half of the top of the machine has a grilled surface we assume to keep your cups on but it is not heated.
This measures in at 45.5cm deep, 20cm wide and 32.5cm tall. It’s much deeper than most other machines of this type so it worth noting in case you have a very narrow worktop.
It is not a small machine compared to others of this type so make sure you have the worktop space.
First of all you have the water container which is placed on the left hand side of the coffee machine as you look at it. It has two marks on it – one at 0.5 litres and the maximum line looks like it is at about 1 litre but is not marked.
For a machine of this size we would have expected the water tank to be a bit bigger and we found that the water level seems to go down pretty fast even when filled to the top.
It seems to go down a lot quicker than the amount of coffee in each cup and it becomes clear when you pull out the drip tray to expose the excess water reservoir. To be fair it does hold quite a lot of water but it needs to as it fills up after about 3/4 cups.
Quite why so much excess water goes into this tray is unclear but there is a warning light of it reaching maximum capacity so you don’t need to worry about it overflowing and it will stop working if it gets full until you empty it. The emptying process is very simple. Just pull out the tray from the front of the machine and empty the water into the sink and the used grounds of coffee “puks” into the bin.
The first dial on the left dictates how much water should be delivered through the coffee and into the cup. You can go from 30ml for a short strong coffee to 220ml for a long americano style coffee.
Be aware that if you go for the full 220ml you will end up over extracting the coffee that gets ground.
What we would recommend if you want an americano is to choose a lower level of water delivery to pass through the coffee (say 50ml) then use the hot water function to top it up instead of just pushing more water through coffee that has already been fully extracted.
That’s brings us on to the coffee strength dial. Three options here which show as one, two or three coffee beans on the digital display. You can have a play around to see which combinations suit you best.
If you like a short strong coffee then select 30ml of water and three beans for maximum strength. A tall weaker coffee and you’d select one bean for strength and 220ml of water.
Although this is a budget bean to cup machine a couple more options for strength could have been built in.
The steam section of the machine has three different functions.
The first is a standard steam wand for frothing coffee in the traditional way. Just hold the jug of milk in the wand to heat your milk up according to your preference.
Probably the best feature on this coffee machine that is normally reserved for machines with a much higher price tag is the automatic milk frothing function.
You put a tube into the side of the steam wand and the other end of the tube straight into a bottle of milk, turn it on and it automatically pumps hot, frothy milk into a glass or cup. This is a really good function for a machine at this price.
As far as the grinding of the beans is concerned there are three different levels of fineness to choose from.
Once you have chosen what works best for you in terms of strength of coffee and quantity of water delivery then this is a very simple to use machine.
Once turned on, it takes around 30 seconds to warm up and then you are good to go. Press the coffee button once for one cup and twice for two cups.
Then if you want to add hot water simply turn the dial on the right and up to 150ml of hot water will be delivered.
For milk you can either froth or use the automatic milk delivery system as described above.
Once you get used to it, overall very easy to use.
With any bean to cup coffee machine, it is only as good as the coffee beans that you use. Try to avoid the cheap supermarket beans and spend a bit more from a speciality retailer if funds allow.
Coffee is one of those commodities that translates into the more you spend the better it will taste.
The automatic milk feature is the stand out function on this coffee machine but it could offer a little more in terms of the coffee strength selector and the levels of grind
Pretty good for the money but not best in class. As a comparison check out the Delonghi Autentica 29.510.B