Saeco Syntia Focus Espresso Machine Review

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Introduction

Saeco Syntia Focus is one of the many espresso lines designed and manufactured by Saeco. Being a super-automatic machine, the Syntia Focus offers a touch-of-the-button operation that delivers your favorite drinks from bean-to-cup.

This process is done-it-for-you behind the scene with grinding the coffee beans, tamping, heating up the water at the optimal temperature, pre-soaking the coffee grounds and extracting the maximum flavor for a perfectly balance cup of espresso.

With the compact size and front loading of the water tank and dreg drawer, it’s an ideal unit for those who live in a small apartment where space is at a premium. Let’s peek inside to see what are the features that make this unit one of the 100 top-rated espresso machines.

 Table of Contents
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1. Introduction
2. Features & Benefits
3. Brewing
4. Steaming
5. Display & Control
6. Additional Features
7. How to Clean
8. Accessories
9. Power & Cord
10. Dimensions & Weight
11. Warranty
12. Pros & Cons
13. Consumer Reviews
14. Price
15. Summary

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Features & Benefits

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  • Integrated Grinder: The ceramic burr grinder is the best type of grinders to date because it is durable and doesn’t impart flavor into the coffee ground with minimum heat friction and static. The grinder is built with a 9 oz. bean hopper that’s sealed with a silicone to preserve the freshness of the coffee. The 5-settings allow you to dial in to a specific grind size to meet your brewing need. The by-pass doser is an added-feature should you feel like using a different pre-ground coffee.
  • 15-Bar Pump Pressure and Boiler: The 15-bar is pretty much a standard adopted widely by the industry to ensure an adequate pump pressure for extraction.
  • Removable Brew Group: This is a rare feature not available in many competing products. This feature makes it so easy for cleaning.
  • Front Loading Water Tank and Dreg Drawer: Unlike many other espresso machines on the market, the Synthia Focus is designed with front-loading capability for the water tank and the dreg drawer/or the used coffee bin.

    The distinct advantage of this design consideration is that it’s easy for removing the compartments out of the unit for refill or emptying without removing the entire unit from the wall or under the kitchen cupboard. For a small confined space, this is especially important as there may not be enough space for maneuverability.

    The water tank is only 40 fluid ounces which is quite small. It may not be a major issue for someone who drinks one or two cups a day. Otherwise, you’d have to refill the water tank multiple times a day. It’s also worth mentioning that you may use a water filter to reduce the need for descaling due to mineral build-up. It’s more critical for those folks who live in an area where water hardness is an issue.  It’s a small inconvenience to put up. The same limited space goes for the used coffee bin. It only holds up to 8 used coffee pucks. It’s indeed a trade-off with compactability.

  • Rapid Steam: What this means is that the machine will have very little downtime switching from brewing to steaming. Less time, less waiting and more quickly to be able to enjoy your drink.
  • Steaming Wand: The pannarello steam wand enables you to make a milk-based drink such as a latte or cappuccino either before or after the espresso shot is extracted.
  • Energy Safe Mode: For those who are very mindful in energy conservation, this unit features an energy safe mode after being idle for an hour. In the standby mode, only 1 Watt of energy is consumed.
  • Two Color Choices: Stainless steel and black are the two color choices to match your existing kitchen color and décor. It costs a lot more for the stainless steel vs. the black one (over $400) at the time of this review. Unless you really need it, the difference in price is quite substantial for many shoppers.

Brewing

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Easy to use is one of the competitive advantages. Fill the water tank with fresh or filtered water and the bean hopper with coffee beans. The machine will grind the coffee, heat up the water, pre-infuse the coffee ground, tamp and brew the shot. Two options to brew an espresso or a long coffee (coffee lungo). You may adjust the coffee strength from mild, medium to strong. Simply pressing either Espresso or Coffee Lungo button, you can decrease or increase the water in the shot.

The brew spout is adjustable to fit different sizes of cups.

Steaming

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There is no integrated steaming with this unit but an external steam wand for making milk-based beverages. Adjust the knob to Steam or Hot Water, you can either froth the milk or get hot water to make Americanos or hot teas.

Display & Control

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This is one of the most simplistic and intuitive display panels with four push-buttons (left to right) for Espresso, Aroma Pro-ground Coffee, Standby and Long Coffee. A knob switch right below for Steam/Hot Water.

The Display Panel is color-coded in Green-Ready to Use, Yellow-Busy and Red-Action Required.

Additional Features

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None

How to Clean

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Emptying the dreg drawer, wiping/flushing the steam wand and drip tray are the cleaning rituals after each brew. For every 500 brewing cycles, descaling should be performed following specific instructions on how to and the cleaning products to be used. This number fluctuates based on the water hardness and whether or not an Intenza water filter is used.

Accessories

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Included Accessories

Included in the purchase are: Milk carafe, Intenza water filter, cleaning brush, pre-ground coffee measuring scoop, brew group lubricant, and instructions.

Optional Accessories

A handy tool is a liquid thermometer to gauge the temperature of the frothed milk if you are not experienced enough to judge by the external heat of the pitcher.

Power & Cord

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  • Input Power (W): 1400
  • Voltage/Frequency (V-Hz): 120/60

Dimensions & Weight

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  • Dimensions (W x D x H inches): 10 x 12.4 x 16.3
  • Weight (lbs): 20

Warranty

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 1-year limited warranty on parts and labor

Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Brews consistent and high quality coffee drinks.
  • Convenient front-loading water tank and used coffee bin.
  • Very simple and intuitive to operate with some customization such as coffee strength and water volume.
  • It’s sturdy and well-built with either black or stainless steel finish.
  • It’s marginally quitter when grinding coffee beans with the sound-insulating technology.
  • Compact and lower profile suitable for small space.

Cons

  • Small water tank and dreg drawer that require more frequent refills and cleaning.
  • The dreg drawer can be tricky to remove sometimes.
  • Limited brew and customization options.

Consumer Reviews

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3.9 out of 5.0

80% of the Amazon reviewers reviewers rated this product 4-5 stars with the other 20% not enamored. The happy campers were very pleased with how easy it’s to use and clean and brews great espresso/coffee with minimal effort on their part. On the other hand, people reported issues such as persistent error messages or small water tank.

Price

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The retail price for this model is on par with a super automatic type but the discounted price on Amazon makes it one of the more affordable on the market. As I mentioned earlier, the stainless steel finish costs $400 or so more than the black one.

Summary

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If letting go of control and focusing on enjoying your drinks in the morning or throughout the day is your thing, the Philips Saeco Syntia Focus is a very competitive contender. The ease of operation, the consistent drinks it produces and the compact size with a low profile make it a hot seller. With 25+ year’s experience in designing and innovating espresso machines, Saeco delivers on its promise time and time again.

 

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