August 31, 2010

FrancisFrancis/Illy Y1 iperEspresso Espresso Capsule Machine Full Review

The Illy company has several iperEspresso machines out on the market, but none are as stunningly different in their design as the Illy Y1 espresso machine. The low body with its square design at first looks like as 9.5" square land grab on your countertop with room to spare and plenty of wasted space.

It's different though as I live with the Illy Y1 for a while as I find that it starts to fit well into the countertop routine. The unit becomes a storage area for my expresso cups and glasses, as the residual heat from the heater filters up in the left rear part of the unit to keep things warm. Overall I liked having the Illy Y1 around the kitchen and think it's a serious contender in the capsule market.


The FrancisFrancis/Illy Y1 Espresso Machine Basics

Tipping the scales at over 16 pounds the FrancisFrancis Y1 is no lightweight and the unit feels solid as a result. The water reservoir holds about 24 ounces, giving the unit a good operating range of at least a dozen normal espresso shots.

See the unboxing of the FrancisFrancis Y1 over at our sister site: SingleServeCoffee.com

The 19-bar pump combined with the capsule design cranks out the espresso with a fine emulsion of oil and air to create a fantastic crema, rivaled only by a Nespresso machine. Each capsule contains 6.7 grams of coffee (Medium Roast variety), and is available in four varieties: Medium Roast, Dark Roast, Lungo (long shot), and Decaf. All capsules are sold in metal canisters and come 21 capsules to the canister, except for the Decaf which comes 14 to the canister. Considering Amazon.com prices, that comes out to be about $0.75 a shot for regular and over $1 a shot for Decaf; not cheap but not expensive given the costs of cafe quality espresso.

Spent Capsule Magic - Hats off to the engineers who designed the spent capsule chute - as you lift the lever for your next brew, the spent capsule gets dumped in a chute to be stored in the back of the machine. The lever snaps back down ready to accept the new capsule in the blink of an eye. Honestly if you aren't watching for it, you'd miss it.   

Brewing

Part of the key to brewing with the iperEspresso system is the machine and capsule design that has teh brewing happen exclusively in the capsule, never touching the machine. The result of 19-bars pushing through the capsule and pouring straight into your cup is convenience, pure and simple. The machine stays clean, the mess goes into the spent capsule bin, keeping the machine primed for a clean shot next time around.

Each shot brewed comes out with a fantastic crema on top; no excuses here. The pressure and capsule design help to emulsify the oils and air to create the intoxicating look on top. Flavor-wise the Medium Roast capsules create a good solid shot that is versatile, offering a reasonable flavor for short shots as well as longer shots. I used the Medium Roast as an iced coffee; its clean finish making a great drink. I like the Medium Roast for its lattes also, but my perfect milk drink would use a darker roast with a more traditional (strong finish) flavor profile.

Buying Options

Illy offers a few options to buy the FrancisFrancis Y1, which of course include buying the machine outright and then buying capsules too. you can buy the Y1 from Illy for $295 and then buy capsules for about $16 each, ($20 each with shipping if order is under $75). The other option is to sign up for their Membership Program which offers the machine at a lower rate and automatically sends you capsules to your house each month. You'd better like the coffee because they come three a month; about 60 shots a month if you are drinking the caffeinated varieties. According to their website, you can cancel at anytime and keep the brewer.

FrancisFrancis Y1 Espresso Machine - Wrap-Up

Pros

  • Easy to use - capsules are clean and convenient
  • Compact size - only 9.5" square and fits under the cabinet with room to brew
  • High Quality blends available - four blends, cover most coffee tastes
  • Great looks - love the design
  • Place to store espresso cups - some think it's messy - I like storing cups there.

Cons

  • Expensive capsules - At over $1 for Decaf and about $0.75 for caffeinated varieties
  • Limited varieties - If you want to brew your local roast, of want to experiment, the line-up of four blends doesn't match competition, nor is there a brew your own option

More at Illy on the Francis Francis Y1 Espresso Machine for a special introductory price of $125 plus convenient home capsule delivery! and the iperEspresso Capsules separately.


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Posted by Scott Martin at August 31, 2010 9:40 AM
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Hennie Greeff: Where can I get hold of an operating manual for read more
Scott Martin: Yea, me neither. read more
Ironpeddler: Looks very nice...but for $1,700.00USD? I don't know... read more
david: How did this sampling of Hiline's products go for you? read more
Scott Martin: Erik, Answering a few questions: So the whirring is definitely read more
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