Calphalon Temp IQ Review
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
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|Pros||Excellent espresso, can achieve near-perfect microfoam, relatively easy to use for a semi-automatic machine||Great taste, cafe quality lattes and cappuccinos||Great espresso, impressive milk steaming performance, compact design||Great taste, exceptional lattes and cappuccinos, mostly automated milk steaming||Good espresso and milk steaming, quite inexpensive|
|Cons||Pricey, requires more effort/practice than fully-automatic machines||On the pricier side, requires some effort and a learning curve||No built-in grinder||No built-in grinder, automated steam wand isn't ideal for microfoam or latte art||Doesn't quite achieve cafe quality results, somewhat slow, no built-in grinder|
|Bottom Line||A cafe-quality machine that manages to still be friendly towards beginner baristas||A perfect choice for those that don't mind putting in a little work to get the best tasting shot||One of the smallest machines we've found that can achieve cafe-quality results||A top-notch machine that pulls great shots and offers the best mostly-automated milk-steaming we've found||Offers good taste and overall quality at a far below average price|
|Rating Categories||Calphalon Temp IQ||Breville Barista Ex...||Breville Bambino||Breville Bambino Plus||Gevi|
|Ease of Use (30%)|
|Ease of Cleaning (15%)|
|Milk Steaming (15%)|
|Specs||Calphalon Temp IQ||Breville Barista Ex...||Breville Bambino||Breville Bambino Plus||Gevi|
|Dimensions||5.6" x 14.5" x 17.3"||13.2" x 12.5" x 16"||7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2"||7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2"||13" x 10" x 16"|
|Milk Frother||Steam Wand||Steam Wand||Steam Wand||Automatic Steam Wand||Steam Wand|
|Water Tank Capacity||94 oz||67 oz||47 oz||65 oz||42 oz|
|Cost per Shot||$0.45||$0.47||$0.45||$0.47||$0.45|
|Lifetime Cost per Shot||$0.70||$0.76||$0.58||$0.68||$0.50|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Shots to Make Up List Price||235||277||118||198||51|
|Number of Cafe Replacement Lattes to Make Up List Price||141||165||70||118||30|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell
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