June 15, 2005

Review: FrancisFrancis! X5 Espresso Machine from illy

Review from Single Serve Coffee.com - Coffee Pod ReviewsX5-Darkblueilly was kind enough to send us their new FrancisFrancis! X5 E.S.E. (Easy Serving Espresso) Espresso machine to help us on our journey into the world of espresso.

Buy the FrancisFrancis! X5 Espresso Machine & Get FREE Shipping at Amazon.com

It's also important to note: E.S.E. Espresso Pods work in E.S.E. espresso machines. E.S.E. pods will not work in your Home Cafe, Senseo, or Bunn My Cafe. However, if you love the ease of use that your Single Serve Coffee machine has provided you, then moving into the world of espresso via the E.S.E. pod is the way to go.

I have in the past tried to get into espresso and found it too time consuming, too difficult to get right every time, and most of all - MESSY. With the E.S.E. pods this goes away, and making espresso is as easy as brewing a cup of single serve coffee.

Img 0387Espresso Pods & ESE (Easy Serving Espresso)

As I started to write this review, I wanted to get familiar with espresso and what it is and isn't.

Here's a quick definition:

A strong coffee brewed by forcing steam under pressure through darkly roasted, powdered coffee beans.

This is much like the pressure brewing you've come to know and love from the Senseo, but much stronger and richer. The goal of any great cup of espresso or coffee is to extract as much coffee into the coffee that is produced. For every 7g ESE pod, you hope to get 25% of the coffee from the pod into the espresso. So, extraction and brewing is very important for a shot of espresso to taste great.

And that's an important difference, espresso is a "shot of coffee" versus an 8 oz mug of joe. You can take a couple of shots of espresso, add steaming hot water, and fill it up in a mug to make an Cafe Americano, but after you have a shot of perfect espresso, you'll realize there's a place for espresso and single serve coffee in your world.

The espresso pod has been around a bit longer compared to the coffee pods we use for Home Cafe, Senseo, and other Single Serve Coffe machines. Like making a pot of coffee and having to deal with the mess of grinds, etc., the espresso pod takes the hassle out of making espresso. Best of all, you get the right amount of coffee, the right grind, and the right extraction every time instead of winging it when you make a cup of espresso.

Img 0242FrancisFrancis! X5

Featuring an angular, sloping body, the X5 is the very latest espresso machine by Italian architect Luca Trazzi for FrancisFrancis! The machine is designed to take up less counter-space, and does compared to the Jura Capresso Super Automatic we reviewed last year.

Features of the FrancisFrancis! include:

  • All metal, pump-driven machine with brass boiler
  • Professional-diameter brass handles which can be used with either ground coffee or illy E.S.E. servings (pods) 48 oz. capacity water tank
  • Side steam arm for frothing milk and making cappuccino
  • 8-9 bars of dynamic pressure, 18 bars of static pressure
  • Contemporary clock on machine face

Making a Shot of Espresso with the FrancisFrancis! X5


It's easy. Here are the steps:

  1. Take the FrancisFrancis! out of the box
  2. Fill the reservoir with water
  3. Run one tank through to clean, and then grab the ESE pod holder
  4. Put a pod in, and crank it around into place
  5. Put an espresso cup underneath
  6. Click the top button
  7. Espresso comes out
  8. Click top button to stop
  9. Drink
  10. Taste the crema
  11. Feel the caffeine
  12. Make another shot

Espresso Thoughts

It's good. Really good and highly addictive to simply whip up a shot of espresso. We have been in love with espresso since our trip to Italy a few years ago, and after having the Jura Capresso to review last year.

We brewed shot after shot of espresso using the illy Dark, illy Medium Roast, and illy Decaf espresso pods. I preferred the Dark Roast over the Medium roast but I really liked the Medium Roast when making a Cafe Americano. The decaf (according to my good friend Kelly) was also quite good.

Best of all, with the pods - there's no mess. So in 10 minutes, after you feel the caffeine start to drain out of your system, you will go back to the FrancisFrancis! and make another shot. Trust me. It's endless.

Iced Coffee and the FrancisFrancis! X5

Thanks to my good friend Rich, we also made a ton of iced coffee. We've been experimenting with Iced Coffee over the past few weeks using the Bunn My Cafe (story to come soon) but had never thought of how easy it would be to make using shots of espresso. Note: USE ONLY GLASSWARE THAT CAN WITHSTAND HOT AND COLD SHIFTS. Use Pyrex if possible if you don't have pint glasses that can take the heat.

Here's what you do:

  1. Put a pod in
  2. Make a shot of espresso
  3. Fill a pint glass with crushed ice
  4. Make sure the pint glass you pick is pyrex or made for HOT LIQUIDs
  5. Pour over the shot of espresso over the ice
  6. Mix in some half and half or milk of your choice
  7. We like a little sugar
  8. Stir and drink
  9. Delicious!

Img 0390

Thoughts on the FrancisFrancis! X5

Img 0385This is a sturdy little powerhouse full of steam! The machine is too cute for words. It's also made out of a solid sheet of metal - folded to perfection. I would estimate this thing weighs close to 20 lbs - but maybe that's a little heavier than it is. It also exudes quality, and at a price of over $500 for the FrancisFrancis! X5 - I'm glad it does exude such quality.

I really think the clock face is cool and looks great, however I was a little taken back when it was the only thing made out of plastic. The entire machine like I said is made of heavy steel, but when the clock is one of the first things you interact with (you have to put in batteries and install it so it runs) and it's plastic - it really doesn't make you feel as great as the machine really is. But that's just a picky point but one maybe they'll fix in the future.

Img 0389Other Espresso Pods and the FrancisFrancis!


Robert from EspressoTiamo.com sent us a sleeve - an 18 count box of E.S.E. pods from Segafredo. These are "house espresso" E.S.E. pods. The taste is very different from the illy pods. We would put this in more of a rich flavor and reminded us of the espresso we've had in Venice last year. It also made a very rich glass of iced espresso.

Conclusions

We love the FrancisFrancis! X5. It's an amazing little piece of espresso magic, and as we move forward into the world of espresso pods and not just single serve coffee pods - we will always fondly remember our little FrancisFrancis!

Pros:

  • Uses E.S.E. Espresso Pods
  • Can grind and use your own coffee as well
  • Small footprint
  • High Quality - made of heavy steel
  • Easy to use - it really is if you use the pods
  • Steamer for making Lattes


Cons:

  • Expensive - at $599 you need to be committed to espresso

We are going to give the FrancisFrancis! X5 - 4 out of 5 pods. It's easy to use and makes a great cup of espresso using the E.S.E. espresso pods.

Illy Francisfrancis X5 Revi

At illy: FrancisFrancis! X5

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Posted by Jay Brewer at June 15, 2005 9:27 AM

Recent Comments

I enjoyed reading your comments about the X5, but I must say that my experience with the same model is very different. It's a lovely red, with a classic modern shape. Its cuteness factor is very high. That's what attracted and sold me on it. But since its purchase three years ago, it has proven to be a very problematic machine. Its gaskets have blown out twice, requiring complete disassembly and rebuild. Last week another malady surfaced: it would not turn off. So, I've just ordered a new switch, and hope that will solve the problem.

This machine will make a great latte or espresso, for one person. But if there are two of you, and you like your coffee strong, you may be late for work. You will need to go through the operation twice. The holder is simply too small to hold much coffee. I have spoken with Illy, and no larger ones are made for this model.

It may soon become too much of an ordeal to keep the machine in working order. At that point I will probably take out the guts and convert it into a flower planter, because I'll always be in love with its skin-deep beauty.


Posted by: JL at February 16, 2010 4:12 PM

When using the Illy pods,how much espresso can be made per pod? 2 ounces? I have read that extraction should take a certain amount of time. My Francis 5 takes about 15 seconds to make 2oz.with the pods. The espresso wasn't that good. Am I doing something wrong? I used cold water.


Posted by: sh at July 27, 2008 11:19 AM

Interesting review but it has to be said the espresso you brewed and show in the picture review of a shot was terrible. It should have good crema. Enough that if you put a spoonful of suger in, it would float on top for a short while before sinking through the crema.

In your shot you could see the coffee. The crema was thin. Was this picture taken some time after you brewed it ?

With espresso, temperature is all important. Both the temp of the water and also the cups. Get it right and the espresso should be to delicious !

This should help http://www.cafepods.com/images/espresso_shots.jpg


Posted by: CS at June 20, 2005 3:28 AM

Most of the pods you buy have fresh dates on them - so I don't think this will be a big problem. All the espresso we have tried so far in pod form was on par with fresh ground coffee - and was hard to tell apart from a blind taste test with several people here.


Posted by: Jay Brewer at June 17, 2005 7:20 AM

But does anyone sell pods for it with fresh roasted espresso? I worry that the only coffee available will be stale pods.


Posted by: darton at June 17, 2005 6:30 AM

E.S.E is the best way to do home espresso. Going the other route requires an investment in a grinder that will cost nearly as much as the espresso machine. And you'll waste a lot of coffee (and time) trying to get a good shot.


Posted by: hyacinth at June 15, 2005 11:34 AM
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