New Calphalon Temp IQ w/58mm portafilter $300 retail

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iploya
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#1: Post by iploya »

I picked up this new Calphalon Temp IQ machine the other day as a backup for when my Breville Dual Boiler is down. After using it several days I would recommend it to new users and to more experienced "home baristas" as a backup to higher-end machines. Not a lot has been written about it yet, and the few questions/answers I saw online (e.g. questions about pump pressure) were not quite correct. I thought it would be good to put this out there as I think it will attract some interest from novice and experienced home baristas.

The main selling point for me was it comes with 58mm portafilter. It is the only machine I know of in this price range that has one. All other machines within a few hundred dollars of this price have funky PF sizes of reduced diameters and gram capacity. This one allows me to use all my standard 58mm gear (distribution tool, tamper, baskets) so I can follow my normal workflow and dosing.
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The first thing I confirmed was whether I can use my 58mm single-walled baskets rather than the included dual-wall "pressurized" baskets, so I can control pressure the right way by dialing in grind. The answer is yes, but not all baskets will work and the fit may be tricky. My Decent 18g basket did not stay seated (it wanted to spring up, creating a gap). But, my stock Breville 18g basket did work. The basket fits easily into the PF, but it requires both hands to twist/lock it back onto the machine. I cannot figure out why this is, because the basket seats pretty flush. Perhaps other users will find a way to adjust the fit or find another basket that works even better.

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The PF body is aluminum (not stainless steel) and plastic, which is of decent quality. The aluminum body has a disadvantage in that it does not heat up and retain heat like steel does. However, the lighter weight may be an advantage to some users in terms of handling. The PF has 3, evenly-spaced tabs at 120-degrees apart to lock into the group head. Thus, you cannot simply swap with a Breville PF, which has two tabs at 180 degrees apart. I do not know and have not checked whether other aftermarket PFs might have matching 3-tab designs.

This machine has thermoblock heater with PID control. It also has a pre-infusion feature, which is also cool at this price point. A rotary dial is used to select programmable 1-cup or 2-cup positions. The manual describes this as volumetric control, but really the process is to set a desired time interval by holding the power button down for 4s, then switching the knob to the 1-cup or 2-cup position, and letting it flow for a desired time period before moving back to neutral. I re-purposed the "1-cup" position (1 click away) as a manual setting by programming a very long time interval like 60s, which is longer than my longest extraction will be. Then when extracting, I switch it 1-cup, monitor time and gram weight of the espresso, then stop the shot manually by turning the switch back to neutral.

The rest of the design is user friendly. A removable water reservoir on the back is filled in a familiar way. It comes with a plastic tamper and a convenient circular storing location on top of the machine that could be used with any 58mm tamper of your choosing. The steam wand is fairly heavy and nice, albeit slow compared with higher-end machines. I was able to get a very nice, consistent microfoam from it; it just takes patience and practice to get the right amount of air if your goal is to do any latte art.

(Updated) With a little practice I am now pulling some pretty good shots using normal parameters. Just this morning I pulled a few doubles with Dragonfly Espresso Crema Dolce ground on the Niche Zero that were almost as good as shots I get from my BDB. The pump is rated at 15 bar but there is no pressure gauge to indicate what the pressure is at the head. (There was a misleading Q&A somewhere online claiming that 15 bars was too high since you usually want around 9-10 bars at the point of extraction, but 15 bars refers to just the pump pressure.)

I have tried other machines at twice this price, with funky, non-standard PF sizes (diameter and gram capacity) that I have to fight to get to work properly. To be able to use my normal workflow, using a normal-size tamper, basket, distribution tool, and dosing, makes this an unbeatable espresso machine at a very attractive price point. Mine was $240+tax with my 20% coupon.
--AB

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iploya
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#2: Post by iploya »

Updated the review above and adding this video:
--AB

Snow27118

#3: Post by Snow27118 »

Just curious how things are going with the machine. It's surprising nobody else has chimed in on the topic. Have you found any solutions to the portafilter/basket? How're you feeling about the machine now that you've had it for some time?

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yakster
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#4: Post by yakster »

Looks like this is a re-branded Sunbeam Mini Barista. Calphalon is known for nonstick pots and pans.
-Chris

LMWDP # 272

Snow27118

#5: Post by Snow27118 »

I couldn't find much on YouTube for the sunbeam. Just a super amateur review and some promo videos. Any idea if the Sunbeam stacks up?

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Bluecold
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#6: Post by Bluecold »

I'm just not getting the use case, sorry. Why get an iffy machine of questionable quality as a backup. Backups need to be dependable, and be able to stand idle for a long time. This machine doesn't have a boiler drain and is therefore useless as backup. A Caravel is a much more likely backup than this. Cheaper as well. You just need to get a different tamper, which is not a big deal.
LMWDP #232
"Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death I Shall Fear No Evil For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing."

kittyannart

#7: Post by kittyannart »

@iploya - My 10 years old New Baby Gaggia bit the dust a few weeks ago, I was bereft and without a way to feed my espresso addiction! I ordered a new Gaggia Pro @ $500 but sent it back, it was crap compared to my old Gaggia. So I went through many online reviews and such, including yours here, and finally decided the Calphalon sounded great, especially at the under $300 price point, I too used a 20% coupon. It will arrive on Monday, am very excited to have in-house espresso again, the local shoppe makes great espresso but I do like the convenience of having a home machine. I'll let you know my thoughts once the machine is in hand and I've pulled a few shots. Very happy to know I can use my previous tools with this machine since it has the larger PF. Thanks for the review!

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cerone

#8: Post by cerone »

How often does your BDB go down that you need a backup? :?