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Calphalon Temp IQ Review

A cafe-quality machine that manages to still be friendly towards beginner baristas
Calphalon Temp IQ
Credit: Calphalon
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $600 List | $636.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent espresso, can achieve near-perfect microfoam, relatively easy to use for a semi-automatic machine
Cons:  Pricey, requires more effort/practice than fully-automatic machines
Manufacturer:   Calphalon
By Max Mutter and Michelle Powell  ⋅  Jun 24, 2021
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81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 16
  • Taste - 40% 9
  • Ease of Use - 30% 7
  • Ease of Cleaning - 15% 7
  • Milk Steaming - 15% 9

Our Verdict

For those that have aspirations of becoming serious at-home baristas, the Calphalon Temp IQ offers everything you need and then some. Its grinder, brew head, and steam wand are capable of brewing cafe-quality espresso and obtaining that rich, creamy, and elusive microfoam when steaming milk. It achieves this using the same kind of semi-automatic design you'd find behind the counter in a cafe, meaning you do need to learn a few skills before you can enjoy the best this machine has to offer. Luckily, the Temp IQ makes learning those skills easier than most comparable models on the market. Once you've mastered them, an intuitive interface makes it easy to start delving into advanced settings. Combine all this with a relatively painless cleaning process and you have a supremely capable machine that can keep up as your skills grow.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Calphalon Temp IQ
This Product
Calphalon Temp IQ
Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  
Price $600 List
$636.99 at Amazon
$300 List$700 List
$599.95 at Amazon
Check Price at Amazon$199 List
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Pros Excellent espresso, can achieve near-perfect microfoam, relatively easy to use for a semi-automatic machineGreat espresso, impressive milk steaming performance, compact designGreat taste, cafe quality lattes and cappuccinosGood espresso and milk steaming, quite inexpensiveEasy to use, quick and convenient, good taste, makes brewed coffee also
Cons Pricey, requires more effort/practice than fully-automatic machinesNo built-in grinderOn the pricier side, requires some effort and a learning curveDoesn't quite achieve cafe quality results, somewhat slow, no built-in grinderUses expensive capsules, only a limited number of espresso flavors available
Bottom Line A cafe-quality machine that manages to still be friendly towards beginner baristasOne of the smallest machines we've found that can achieve cafe-quality resultsA perfect choice for those that don't mind putting in a little work to get the best tasting shotOffers good taste and overall quality at a far below average priceGreat if you don't mind paying for convenience and want the ability to make brewed coffee too
Rating Categories Calphalon Temp IQ Breville Bambino Breville Barista Ex... Gevi Nespresso Evoluo
Taste (40%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Ease Of Use (30%)
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
Ease Of Cleaning (15%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
Milk Steaming (15%)
9.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
1
Specs Calphalon Temp IQ Breville Bambino Breville Barista Ex... Gevi Nespresso Evoluo
Dimensions 5.6" x 14.5" x 17.3" 7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2" 13.2" x 12.5" x 16" 13" x 10" x 16" 9" x 12.2" x 12.3"
Milk Frother Steam Wand Steam Wand Steam Wand Steam Wand None
Water Tank Capacity 94 oz 47 oz 67 oz 42 oz 54 oz
Cost per Shot $0.45 $0.45 $0.47 $0.45 $0.85
Lifetime Cost per Shot $0.70 $0.58 $0.76 $0.50 $0.93
Number of Cafe Replacement Shots to Make Up List Price 235 118 277 51 93
Number of Cafe Replacement Lattes to Make Up List Price 141 70 165 30 52

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Temp IQ offers cafe-level performance in a relatively beginner-friendly package, making it a great choice for those that are espresso-drinking veterans but espresso-making novices.

Performance Comparison


Attractive and user-friendly, this machine may be your new best...
Attractive and user-friendly, this machine may be your new best friend.
Credit: Laura Casner

Taste


In our tests, we were able to consistently pull fantastic espresso shots with the Temp IQ. In fact, these shots were deemed, "cafe-quality," by our lead tester, a seasoned barista. We particularly like that the machine uses a preprogrammed, 3-second pre-infusion period. This pre-infusion gently wets the grinds before applying the full espresso-brewing pressure. This helps even out the grinds before they are hit with the full pressure, which can help make up for any slight imperfections in grind size or tamping technique.


We also found the steam wand on the Temp IQ to be quite effective (more on that later) which led to the enjoyment of some insanely delicious lattes and cappuccinos throughout our testing. Again, our in-house barista deemed these milk drinks to be up to cafe standards.

The Calphalon Temp IQ brews top-notch espresso.
The Calphalon Temp IQ brews top-notch espresso.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Use


The Temp IQ is a semi-automatic machine. While this design generally allows you to achieve better tasting espresso, it requires a bit more effort and an increased learning curve than many of the more automated models on the market. That being said, the Temp IQ makes this more involved brewing style relatively easy, even for newcomers. If you've been wanting to up your game with a semi-automatic machine but feel nervous about picking the right machine, this is one we highly recommend.


From the standpoint of a beginner barista, the Temp IQ is one of the best models on the market at the time of this writing. The included simple instructions walk you through the process of grinding, tamping, and brewing step-by-step. They even help you figure out the exact grind size you need for the specific coffee beans you're using. We also appreciate that the grinder settings are labeled as "faster" and "slower" as well as "coarse" and "fine" — this makes it more intuitive for beginners to adjust the grind size if their shots are pulling too quickly or slowly.

The Calphalon Temp IQ's semi-automatic brewing process is easier to...
The Calphalon Temp IQ's semi-automatic brewing process is easier to learn and master than most.
Credit: Laura Casner

On top of the brewing process being beginner-friendly, we found it easy to refill the water tank and the operation of the steam wand to be quite straightforward (even if it takes a bit of practice to get the milk perfectly steamed). All told we were able to make a cappuccino in just over 4 minutes, quite a fast time given the semi-automatic style of this machine.

On top of making the semi-automatic brewing process more accessible to beginners, the Calphalon Temp IQ also makes it easy for more experienced baristas to experiment with their brew technique. Simple controls allow you to manually adjust advanced settings like temperature, extraction volume, and pre-infusion. We very much appreciate that this machine allows beginner brewers to mature into full-out espresso nerdery if they so choose. This would also be a great machine for the experienced barista looking to practice and refine their technique and know-how when not at work in the cafe. Most home espresso machines don't even discuss how things like temperature and volume play into the final shot, let alone allow you space to tweak those things. If you're someone that loves to make small adjustments to your culinary masterpieces and test each iteration for tiny differences, this is your machine.

The Calphalon Temp IQ is one of the more beginner-friendly of the...
The Calphalon Temp IQ is one of the more beginner-friendly of the semi-automatic machines we've tested.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Cleaning


The semi-automatic nature of the Temp IQ requires a bit more hands-on cleaning than some of the fully automatic models, but it generally makes these tasks as pain-free as possible.


Short-term cleaning is fairly easy. We had no trouble wiping down the steam wand and cleaning out the portafilter after each cappuccino. The descaling process is also quite quick. It took us only 10 minutes to complete, but it was fairly hands-on for that entire time. Descaling should likely be done every two months or so, depending on the mineral content of your water.

A handy reminder pops up when the drip tray gets too full.
A handy reminder pops up when the drip tray gets too full.
Credit: Laura Casner

Milk Steaming


The Temp IQ is one of the few models we've tested that can truly create cafe-quality steamed milk. Like with any model that uses a classic steam wand, it takes a bit of practice to get everything perfect, but it is well worth the effort.


What really sets the milk steaming on this machine apart is its ability to create finely textured microfoam. This kind of foam is what makes lattes taste so decadent and is what defines the cafe experience for many coffee drinkers. If your dream is to be able to pour a perfect rosetta or tulip on top of your lattes at home, the Temp IQ can help get you there.

Look at that gorgeous microfoam.
Look at that gorgeous microfoam.
Credit: Laura Casner

Value


The Calphalon Temp IQ certainly isn't cheap, but when you consider what professional espresso machines cost — and even what many of the home models sell for — then you'll start to see that this one is actually really fairly priced. It includes a grinder as well, so if you don't already own an espresso-capable grinder, you won't be additionally saddled with that cost. If you're looking to get a machine capable of making truly cafe-quality espresso drinks, this is one of the lower price tags you're going to see. As long as you're willing to spend a bit extra for high-quality results, and are willing to work a bit harder to achieve those results, we think the Temp IQ is a very good overall value.


Conclusion


The Calphalon Temp IQ is one of the best espresso machines on the market for both beginner and experienced baristas looking to make cafe-quality lattes at home. It produces beautiful shots, the steam wand is top-notch, and it affords you the ability to learn and grow your skills. While it's an investment, when you consider all you get and the quality drinks that you will be able to produce, we think it's more than worth it.

For anyone looking to up their espresso and latte game in the...
For anyone looking to up their espresso and latte game in the comfort of their own home (and without spending a mind-boggling amount of money), this is a fantastic choice.
Credit: Laura Casner

Max Mutter and Michelle Powell