VonShef Espresso Machine Review
Our VonShef Espresso Machine Review takes a look at this budget machine from a manufacturing giant – how does it stack up? Read on to find out…
Now, there are generally two types of companies that I come across when I write coffee machine reviews. On the one hand, you get specialists. Usually, quite small companies that were formed by someone so incredibly passionate about making coffee, that they stumbled into making these machines, despite having no real experience in manufacturing.
Then on the other hand you have businesses like the one we are looking at today – manufacturing giants – usually, huge companies that have their fingers in so many pies across the world of homeware (and often beyond) that happened to see an opportunity in the coffee machine market, so have piled in.
You will often find people from ‘the coffee world’ being a bit snooty about these bigger companies, but it would be wrong to dismiss them completely. They bring an awful lot of experience and creative design to complement the innovation and attention to detail of the coffee-focused businesses. There is room here for everyone!
VonShef are part of the VonHaus family, who are in turn part of the even larger DOMU company – formed in, not Germany as you might expect, but North West England. Their portfolio covers “kitchen and homeware, garden, beauty, fitness and pet products”.
Today we are looking at their Espresso Machine – one of the cheapest domestic espresso machines available on the market. Let’s find out whether this is a bargain, or whether you really do get what you pay for.
VonShef Espresso Machine Specifications
As soon as you reach into the box to remove the VonShef Espresso Machine, one thing will hit you immediately – this is a tiny little machine. Measuring just 34 x 35 x 36 cm, this is one of the smallest espresso machines that I have ever used. It is smaller than some pod coffee machines, which are basically designed to be as small as possible!
What this means is that this will fit into even the smallest of kitchens, without appearing overbearing, or getting in the way. It is a particularly great option for people living in small flats, or people that want one for an office break room. It would probably even fit directly on your desk!
The other things you will notice when you take it out of the box are that you receive a very handy coffee scoop, with which you can measure out your coffee, and that the drip tray is detachable – which is very handy for cleaning.
The unit has quite a stylish look to it, without seeming like it is trying too hard. It goes for a simple black base and sides, with a little flash of chrome down the middle. There is nothing particularly ‘fancy’ about it, but it is very much in keeping with the diminutive size – it doesn’t dominate or demand attention – it just fits in.
The VonShef Espresso Machine is equipped with a 15 bar pressure pump, which has become pretty standard throughout the industry. To be honest, this is more than you will really need to pull a great espresso, but it is always nice to have a bit of a buffer in case you lose a bit of power.
The water tank has a capacity of 1.5 litres, which again is pretty standard, but put in the context of this tiny machine, it really is impressive that they haven’t compromised on water storage space. Again, this is more than you will probably need for domestic use, given that you tend to get the best results with fresh water – this will really help if you tend to make a few drinks at the same time.
There is also the milk steam wand, located on the side of the machine. There is a control dial just above it, so you can monitor the flow of steam to create drinks like cappuccinos and lattes.
The main interface consists of three buttons – one for turning the machine on, one for steaming milk and one for pouring coffee. Nothing to be worried about here in terms of operation, but more on that later.
In terms of cleaning, a quick wipe of the steam wand after each use will keep on top of things. The drip tray and filter are both dishwasher safe, so there is nothing to worry about there either.
What It’s Like To Use The VonShef Espresso Machine
One of the big selling points of the VonShef Espresso Machine is that it is incredibly easy to use. Above we described all of the specifications and you will have noted that there are only three buttons and a control dial in terms of settings and interaction, so the theory is there. But how does that work in practice?
The best way for me to portray how easy this is to use is to walk you through the steps it takes to make a drink, so here goes:
Before we start, you will need to check that there is enough water in the tank to make whatever drink you would like. For an espresso shot. You will need about 30ml, obviously a double would be 60ml. With a water tank capable of holding 1.5 litres, you have enough for 50 shots if it was to be full, which gives you some idea of what you should be looking for in order to work out if you have enough water.
Once that is sorted, it’s time to load the coffee. Use the scoop provided to measure out the amount you require, which will depend on whether you are making a single or a double, and also how strong you like your coffee. You can use the opposite end of the scoop to act as a tamper to make sure the coffee is well packed into the filter, which is essential in order to get an even extraction, and therefore a better-tasting coffee.
When you are happy, simply load the filter back into position on the machine, place your favourite cup underneath and hit the bottom button on the user interface at the front of the machine. Your espresso will then pour directly into your cup.
Now for the milk – press the middle button to begin heating up the water for the wand. It is best to use a stainless steel jug for your milk, if you have one, so just pour in the required amount of milk. This will depend on what sort of drink you are making, so if you are unsure, have a quick look on the internet for a recipe for your favourite coffee.
Similarly, the amount of froth that you will want will differ from drink to drink, so have a quick read if you have never used an espresso machine before. As a rough guide, a cappuccino will have equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk froth, whereas a latte will have more steamed milk and just a little foam on top. Each has a slightly different technique when it comes to frothing and steaming, so it is well worth your time to practice to perfect the art.
When your milk is at the desired temperature and density, you simply pour it into your cup to join the coffee, and there you go – your drink is made! That’s all there is to it.
VonShef Espresso Machine Taste Test
With an espresso machine, you have the opportunity to use the freshest coffee and the freshest milk to produce some wonderful coffees – the sort you would normally spend a few pounds on in a coffee shop or cafe.
The trick is, of course, to master the art of milk frothing – and the VonShef Espresso Machine is a great machine to really hone your skills in that regard. As a result, you do have the potential to make some delicious coffee with this machine. The cappuccinos I was making after a small amount of practice, were delicious and went down well with everyone that tried them.
We would, of course, recommend using the best possible coffee, and look for one with a fine grind and a light roast for the best results. The key though, is to experiment – and the Vonshef Espresso machine has plenty of scope for that.
Espresso machines are the perfect choice for many people, but not for everyone. Some people just want to be able to push a button and have their coffee made for them. That’s fine, and there are plenty of wonderful options available for those people, but this espresso machine isn’t one of them.
There is another group of people, that thinks they might be ready for an espresso machine – that like the idea of frothing their milk and acting like a barista. The problem is that, on the whole, they are a big investment, and what if you don’t really take to it…?
That’s where the VonShef Espresso Machine comes into play. At the price, it is a perfect entry-level espresso machine that you can try out and see if the barista life is for you. It is also small enough so that, if you decide that you are ready to upgrade, it would fit in perfectly somewhere else – perhaps a home office…?