With its smart dual-hopper that accepts two different types of bean, the ‘Smart’ edition adds smartphone control too.
Design and build
The Melitta Caffeo Barista TS Smart still looks great and every bit the high-end machine. Impressively, this coffee machine retains its slender build (372 x 259 x 467), and you’ll easily be able to fit it on a standard kitchen counter.
The touch-sensitive buttons are responsive and easy to use.
The attention to detail is impressive. For starters, the steamer tube that connects to the milk carafe can be mounted on either side of the spout. In addition, the drip tray has dual connectors – one on either side – to take the tube when it isn’t connected to the carafe.
The spout slides up and down, providing enough room for everything from an espresso cup to a tall latte glass. You should find that practically all mugs and glasses fit comfortably under this coffee machine.
I love the dual bean hopper, it provides great flexibility. By default, Melitta expects the left-hand hopper (number 1) to be used for espresso and milk-based drinks with darker beans; hopper 2 is designated for a lighter roast for cafe crema and more subtle drinks.
That’s just a guide, however; you’re free to configure the coffee machine in the way that suits you. You may want to go for decaffeinated beans in one hopper, for example.
The top of the coffee machine has dedicated buttons for different drink types, including a short drink (espresso), long (cafe crema doppio), short milk (cappuccino) and long milk (cafe latte macchiato), plus buttons to dispense hot milk or hot water only. There’s also 2x button, so you can dispense two drinks of the same type at the same. Impressively, the Caffeo Barista TS Smart can even dispense two milk drinks at the same time.
There’s no need to be stuck with limited recipes, either, since the touch controls on the front let you override the bean hopper, volume and intensity of your drinks on the fly.
There are eight profiles in the machine, letting different people in your home configure their own drinks recipes, overriding the shortcut buttons on the front. Melitta has an amazing 21 recipes, taking in everything from ristretto to flat whites, and you can individually adjust the strength, temperature and volume of each. That’s a huge amount of customisation on offer, so be prepared to spend a while getting everything configured the way you want it.
While you can configure settings through the menu system, it’s far easier to use the smartphone app. Connecting to the Caffeo Barista TS Smart via Bluetooth, the app lets you set and configure profiles and recipes. You can also dispense drinks, although this method is a little slower than using the touch controls.
You get good results out of the box, but it’s worth playing with the settings to get coffee the way that you want it. I found that using a finer grind (there’s a control inside the back panel), setting strength to normal, and upping temperature to hot was spot on.
Melitta has impressed with the quality of its espresso shot, and it’s very close to the best you can get with a top manual machine. A rich, full-bodied and oily crema sits on top of the drink, lasting for a few minutes.
Delivered at 63ºC, the coffee excelled. It retained the finer notes of my test beans, delivering its pronounced acidity and strong body. There’s also an IntenseAroma mode, which changes the brewing process to deliver a richer and, arguably, more authentic tasting espresso.
Milk-based drink quality
Milk frothing is usually the one area that coffee machines aren’t so impressive, but not with the Caffeo Barista TS Smart. Just plug the milk tube into the carafe and the TS Smart will heat, froth and pour your drink for you.
You’ll need to adjust your recipes to suit your mug size (you can make adjustments on the fly, with the coffee machine retaining the right ratios), and once that’s done you’ll get perfect results every time.
Testing with a cappuccino I achieved near-perfect results, with a cup full of rich coffee topped with microfoam. As with all bean-to-cup machines, there’s some separation in the coffee and milk, but this isn’t anything a good stir won’t fix. Yes, you can achieve better results manually, but this machine is capable of the best automatic, hassle-free results.
Melitta make maintenance easy, with on-screen prompts to tell you what to do.
Turning the machine on or off rinses automatically. And, when you finish making a milk drink, you’re prompted to run the cleaning cycle, flushing steam through the milk tube and into the drip tray.
Griding coffee, you’ll hear a high-pitched whirring sound, as if the grinder is empty; it is, the Caffeo Barista TS Smart shuts off the hoppers and over-runs, so you don’t get any flavour tainting when switching between beans.
An IR sensor will notify when a hopper is empty, but it can warn you when there are still enough beans to make a drink. Covering the sensor with a finger will trick the Caffeo Barista TS Smart into carrying on. I recommend doing this and part-making a drink when you’re at empty, just to flush remaining beans through before you refill.
Clear instructions on the LCD take you through all other cleaning routines when required, from using espresso cleaning tablets to descaling.
Once again, emptying the drip tray and used coffee bin is a little tricky. The long, shallow drip tray is cumbersome and tricky to carry without spillage.
It’s also possible to remove the brewing unit at the side of the machine, so you can clean it out regularly. The only other job you have to do is fill the 1.8-litre water reservoir, and replace the water filter when prompted. The water hardness level you set will determine how often this will need to be done.
If you want flexibility and excellent coffee, the Melitta Caffeo Barista TS Smart is a top bean-to-cup machine. The AromaIntense and smartphone control add much to the original Caffeo Barista TS, making a great machine even better. An excellent bean-to-cup coffee machine with excellent configuration options to suit everyone.