- Easy menu system, translated into every language known to man!
- Can fine tune your brew parameters.
- Maintenance is easier than any super-automatic we've come across
- A lot of plastic at this price level.
- Cup warmer turns off when the machine auto-shuts down.
New for 2016, our in-depth review of the Miele CM6 Coffee Machine brings many unique changes to light on their all-new flagship espresso machine. The CM 6310 is a super-automatic espresso machine that replaces the long running CM5 series. Put them side-by-side and you’ll notice a large size difference. The new CM6 series coffee system is less than half the size of its predecessor, but all of the same features and more.
Miele Coffee Machine Review – In Depth
The new LCD screen on the Miele coffee machine is larger and far more informative this time around. We especially like the new LED light arrangement which illuminates the entire brew deck in a very… theatrical way. When you first open the box on your new CM 6 series espresso machine, the first thing you notice is just how light and portable they’ve been able to make the new coffee system.
I remember hauling the older CM5 series units to and from catering gigs a few years back and while it was always able to pump out cappuccinos night after night, my back was sore from its dry weight. The new unit drops in at 19 lbs, shedding quite a few pounds off the weight of the old one. Some people still prefer to keep their coffee machines hidden behind cabinetry and this unit is far easier to pull out and cart around than any in its class currently.
The brew head is the most important part of any espresso machine, and this one functions extremely well. It isn’t temperamental no matter what brand of beans we throw at it and it always manages to pull a good shot. The brew-head system is accessible on this unit through the door panel on the side of the unit. There, you will find a lever which will unlock it from the housing and allow you to pull the entire unit out for periodic cleaning. The ability to clean the brew-head is essential, as over time coffee grinds will get stuck in hard to reach areas. Underneath the brew-head access you will also find an extra milk tube. Redundancy… I like it.
On the side of the unit you will also find the grind level setting as a gray knob that can be moved left or right. Mine stays almost exclusively on the finest setting. It comes from the factory set in the middle, and depending upon the roast level of the beans you use as well as the freshness of your coffee your results may vary.
Experimentation is advised.
Espresso Drink Options
The front of the machine has four “icons” for the most common drinks: Espresso, Cappuccino, Lungo, and Latte.
A “double” icon is there for you to select when you’d like to make two of the same drink. For instance, if you have company over and would like to make two cappuccinos at the same time, you would select this option before selecting the cappuccino icon. Its a simple and intuitive way of telling the machine to double the portion.
The espresso and milk portion sizes are programmable by holding down the icon instead of just tapping it. In programming mode it will keep the “Save” icon up and wait for your command, both on espresso shots and milk frothing, so that you can set the machine fill your cup to just the right level. From that point on your settings will be saved (they are tied to your profile) and every future drink will be run the exact same amount.
Milk Frothing and Automated Cleaning
The new milk frothing system is extremely well thought out. You have a single thermos canister to fill with milk, and a tube that connects from the machine to the top of the canister. When you’re finished using the machine it will prompt you to remove the tube connector from the top of the milk canister and plug it into a special plug in the drain grate. The machine then flushes itself automatically.
No longer must your flush the milk pipework manually. The machine now automatically flushes the pipework for you when you turn it off. You can leave the nozzle connected to the grate until the next time you fire up the machine for use. As for the thermos, its sized perfectly for storage in the refrigerator door bin, ready to be pulled out the next time you need it.
Coffee Parameters, For the Coffee Hacker
Even out-the-box with no parameters set, this machine will pull a nice smooth shot with decent crema. This is the most important icon on your touch screen, the coffee parameters menu:
This menu will allow you to modify every aspect of your brewing parameters, giving you full control in order to pull the best tasting shots, every single time. This is essential in any “automatic” espresso machine because different vendors roast their coffee beans differently, and therefore they usually require different brewing temperatures and pull times. For example, we tested our machine using Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Espresso beans. Our first few shots we pulled using the machines default brew settings. The results were good, but they were a little short and had a slightly bitter aftertaste.
We know from experience that these beans favor a low brewing temp, and so we decided to try tweaking the brewing parameters. We selected modified the brew temperature setting, taking it down from “medium” to “low” , we turned on the pre-brewing and set it to “short”, and then we set the grind amount to “max”. Pre-brewing just hits the grinds with enough water to soak them, and then holds for a second to allow the coffee to begin to open up before pressure is applied and the shot is pulled.
These settings allowed us to pull nice, long shots with crazy crema and the bitterness disappeared. It’s important to know your beans, and the only way to know them is to experiment with the brewing parameters until you find that “sweet spot”. Once you do, the settings will be stored forever in your Profile.
Sizing up the competition
Now lets take a look at some of the competition in the Super Automatic Espresso machine category. I tried to pick from the latest units out there that are currently selling in the same price range. So how does the Miele CM6 espresso machine stack up against it’s competitors?
Jura Impressa A9 Coffee Center – $1,799.
The closest in size and design to the Miele coffee machine, the Jura Impressa A9 espresso system specs list out almost identical to the Miele, but with a few distinct operational differences that make all the difference in my opinion. It has the typical espresso modes, each with the option to make a “double” portion like the Miele. It also features a color touch screen LCD control panel on top that, while much flashier than the Miele’s black and white screen, fails to offer the same amount of options or brewing parameter control.
Couple of issues I have with the Jura:
- Milk system design is a little outdated, there is no canister, just a milk tube which you then have to drop into a milk carton or cup with milk in it. This system is more of a chore and also takes more steps to clean at the end of each day.
- It only holds about 4-5 ounces of whole beans. That means you’ll be pulling the machine out and filling the beans twice as often.
- The drip tray reservoir is smallest we’ve seen. Fills up almost completely just by the flushing when turning on and off the machine.
- Brew unit cannot be taken out for cleaning. You’ll have to rely on their cleaning tabs only. This is a big issue for long term use as eventually the brew head will get caked up enough to require a thorough cleaning and Jura has made this impossible.
Verdict: Sitting at only $200 more, the Miele offers more value for the money in my opinion, albeit with less flair.
Krups Barista Fully Automatic Espresso Maker – $1,999.
The Krups Barista Espresso Machine is a beast. Much larger in size, but no larger in selections than the Miele Espresso Machine. It is a very different take on machine design from the Miele and the Jura. On this unit, the water and cleaning access is from hidden doors in the front of the unit. The color screen gives as much control over the brewing parameters as the Miele and the drip tray reservoir is even larger.
Milk frothing is where this machine really departs from others. Instead of loading your milk in a canister, this machine requires you to pour your cold milk directly into the cup, and then it drops a milk wand down into the cup and steams and froths the milk right there. It then mechanically retracts the steam wand back into the machine and dispenses the coffee. At the end of using the machine it will automatically clean the steam wand inside the machine itself, however because of this design the unit requires a special, proprietary detergent canister to be attached at all times. This is sold by Krups and as soon as it runs out, it must be replaced, otherwise the milk drinks cannot be made.
The Krups does offer brewing parameter control, although not as much control as the Miele. Where the Miele will give you six different levels of selection for coffee grind amount, the Krups gives you three. Same story on the heating options, three heating levels only.
Verdict: Same price as the Miele and many of the same functions, albeit in a much bigger and more complicated Americano package.
DeLonghi PrimaDonna S Super Automatic – $2,499.
The DeLonghi PrimaDonna line has been a prominent fixtures at Williams & Sonoma for years now. This Italian made machine is a dual-boiler machine, unlike the heat exchanging units of the other super automatics in this review. This is what helps account for the higher price tag. The benefit to double boiler machines is that both the Milk and the Espresso can be run at the same time, giving the machine the ability to make the drinks faster. In reality though, this time difference is a matter of 10-15 seconds, and while in a coffee shop that extra time would certainly be a precious commodity, at home this is not enough of an up-sell to justify the thousand dollars plus difference.
The DeLonghi machine is fairly large, sitting much taller than the Miele or Jura, and is clad in Stainless Steel on the outside which is a nice touch. The control interface for this machine is its weakest point, by far. The machine’s drink options comes pre-programmed from the factory and cannot be changed. Instead, they offer a “my coffee” option where you create the brew that is best for you. This system is clunky and difficult to use. Every button has to be hit multiple times, there is no easy way to set your coffee parameters on the machine.
Milk frothing is done through a special milk canister system. The system works well, but cleaning after each time is time-consuming and difficult, as each piece must be broken down and cleaned. There is no easy auto-clean system like the Miele uses.
Verdict: An extra five hundred dollars here does not go a long way and some of that money should have gone into redesigning the control system.
For me, a super automatic for the home should be the following things:
- Easy to use. With clear and concise controls.
- Simple to clean. Automating anything and everything possible.
- Fine-tuning friendly. Every aspect of the brew parameters should be easy and simple to modify.
- Small footprint. No one wants a giant machine sitting taking up all of their counter space.
When reviewed on its own, and when compared its current market competitors, this Miele coffee machine nails each of these points. Is it perfect? No. There is far too much plastic on the exterior housing for this price point, the capacitive touch controls can be sluggish in responding to your commands at times, and the milk canister holds only enough milk for two or three “Americano”-sized cappuccinos. If you’re looking for the perfect super-automatic machine, we haven’t found one yet.
But the new counter-top CM6310 Countertop Coffee System in Black has gotten us much closer.