Review: FrancisFrancis! X5 Espresso Machine from illy
illy 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.
Espresso 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.
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:
- Take the FrancisFrancis! out of the box
- Fill the reservoir with water
- Run one tank through to clean, and then grab the ESE pod holder
- Put a pod in, and crank it around into place
- Put an espresso cup underneath
- Click the top button
- Espresso comes out
- Click top button to stop
- Taste the crema
- Feel the caffeine
- Make another shot
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:
- Put a pod in
- Make a shot of espresso
- Fill a pint glass with crushed ice
- Make sure the pint glass you pick is pyrex or made for HOT LIQUIDs
- Pour over the shot of espresso over the ice
- Mix in some half and half or milk of your choice
- We like a little sugar
- Stir and drink
Thoughts on the FrancisFrancis! X5
This 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.
Other 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.
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!
- 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
- 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.
At illy: FrancisFrancis! X5
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Posted by Jay Brewer at June 15, 2005 9:27 AM