Calphalon Temp IQ Review
Pros: Excellent espresso, achieves near-perfect microfoam in its steamed milk, relatively easy to use for a semi-automatic machine
Cons: Expensive, requires more effort/practice than fully-automatic machines
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Calphalon 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 Calphalon 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 preinfusion peridod. This preinfusion 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 Calphalon Temp IQ's steam wand 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 Calphalon 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 more of a learning curve than many of the more automated models on the market. That being said, the Calphalon Temp IQ makes this more involved brewing style relatively easy, even for newcomers.
From the standpoint of a beginner barista, the Calphalon 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 operation of the milk 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 its semi-automatic style.
Advanced Customization Options
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 preinfusion. We very much appreciate that the Calphalon Temp IQ allows beginner brewers to mature into full-out espresso nerdery, if they so choose.
Ease of Cleaning
The semi-automatic nature of the Calphalon 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 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 Calphalon 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 Calphalon Temp IQ's milk steaming 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.
Listing for $600, the Calphalon Temp IQ certainly isn't cheap. However, if you're looking to get a machine capable of making truly cafe-quality espresso drinks, that's 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 Calphalon Temp IQ is a 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.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell