If you’re like us, there are some mornings where it’s either difficult to get started or you don’t have time to make coffee from scratch. In that case, how does the prospect of professional-quality espresso drinks at the touch of a button sound?
If that appeals to you, a fully automated espresso machine is the answer. Indeed, they really are extremely convenient. The catch? The cost of them is often prohibitive. But are there more affordable automatic espresso machines that can still do a great job and offer quality espressos?
This review will look at one of the possibilities, the Philips 3200 LatteGo, which we ranked the best budget option in our top 10 super-automatic coffee machines rundown. We’ll go in-depth on this relatively affordable yet powerful machine, so you can decide if this represents the best virtual barista for those mornings where you just can’t spend the time you need to make espresso from scratch.
Philips 3200 LatteGo Review
Philips 3200 Series LatteGo EP3241/54 Summary
- So user-friendly that you don’t need barista skills
- Modern aesthetic that will look great in most kitchens
- Completely automatic, so it will take care of the process from beans to cup
- Easy to clean, the milk tank is dishwasher-safe
- Considering the features, it’s relatively inexpensive
- Fairly loud while grinding beans and frothing milk
- There isn’t a steam wand, so there’s no control over the milk froth for making latte art
The Philips 3200 fully automatic machine has an easy-on-the-eye contemporary look, which tells the user that this is a product that’s right up to date. While there is a stainless steel wrap on the touch control panel, most of the machine’s exterior is plastic. However, overall its build looks premium-quality and solid.
The machine’s control panel is straightforward to use. It contains a drinks menu for setting elements, including the brew strength and the amount of milk and water you need. There are also indicator lights that alert you when to clean or descale the machine, clean out the excess grounds, or refill the water tank.
The bean hopper stands on top of the machine and holds more than one pound of beans comfortably. Meanwhile, it has an aroma seal, which keeps the coffee beans fresher for longer.
The machine’s ceramic flat burr grinder has 12 grind settings, meaning it’s very capable of grinding fresh beans for whatever grind size you need. Alternatively, you can use pre-ground coffee. A lid on top of the machine flips up, revealing a chute for adding pre-measured ground coffee into.
The front of the machine has an adjustable coffee spout for different cup sizes. This means larger cups for milk-based drinks and demitasse cups for espresso will fit without splashing.
The machine’s water tank has a 1.8L capacity, which is an impressive size. You can also remove the water tank from the front of the machine, making refilling it easy.
What Coffee Drinks Does The Philips 3200 Series Make?
The Philips 3200 has five coffee options – espresso, regular coffee, Americano, latte macchiato, and cappuccino. So, if you want to different coffee between Monday and Friday, this has you covered! Handily, the machine also dispenses hot water.
The Philips 3200 is an automatic coffee maker aimed at beginners. Therefore, unsurprisingly, the quality of the espresso is decent, but not without issues.
In keeping with many automatic coffee machines, finding the correct grind size is pivotal in the overall coffee quality. Some users note that the espresso the Philips 3200 brews is a little watery compared to high-quality semi-automatic machines. To counteract this, you can grind the coffee beans a little finer, increase the brew strength, and reduce the volume of water. It’s all about tweaking until you find your sweet spot. If you take the time to do this, the Philips 3200 is more than capable of brewing a decent espresso topped with an enticing and rich crema.
Another element to consider is the quality of the whole beans. Inevitably, the better quality you use, the better quality the espresso will be. Dark roasts are best for automatic coffee machines because you can’t dial in as you would with a semi-automatic machine paired with a high-quality espresso grinder. Also, a high-end espresso grinder will cost more than the Philips 3200.
Your dialing-in technique combined with the correct grind size is pivotal to brewing the perfect shot, and these are lacking with automatic espresso machines. However, where automatic espresso machines lack precision, they make up for with convenience, and the Philips 3200 brews consistently decent coffee. Overall, if your grind size and brew settings are correct, the coffee beverages the Philips 3200 produces will satisfy most espresso lovers.
LatteGo Milk System
One of the standout features of the Philips 3200 is its ability to brew milk-based coffee beverages at the push of a button. In other words, the entirely automatic LatteGo milk frother provides hands-off latte macchiato and cappuccino.
Getting those drinks is a straightforward case of filling the milk to the appropriate mark in the milk container. Then, once you choose the milk foam level and begin the coffee cycle, it mixes the milk and air rapidly, adding a fluffy layer of milk to the beverage. After this, the Philips 3200 pulls either a single or double espresso shot into the milk, giving you a drink akin to those you’d find in your local coffee shops.
One drawback of the Philips 3200 is it doesn’t have a milk frother that allows you to get the microfoam for your milk drinks, unlike many other espresso machines. Therefore, you can’t manually control the milk foam to make latte art with it.
Ease Of Use
Because the Philips 3200 is a super-automatic espresso machine, manual input is minimal for making a cup of coffee. So, the machine grinds your beans, tamps your grounds, froths your milk, and brews your coffee, all at the touch of a button. To emphasise how easy it is to use, let’s follow the step-by-step instructions for making the most popular espresso drink – Cappuccino.
- Plug in the Philips espresso machine and pour water into the tank.
- Add your beans to the hopper.
- Turn the machine on and leave it to preheat and flush the brew unit (this process takes around one minute).
- Attach the LatteGo milk frother and add your milk to the cappuccino level (there are lines to indicate how much milk you need to add).
- On the control panel, select “cappuccino.”
- On the control panel, select the strength, water volume, and milk volume.
- Press the “start” button. The machine will do the rest.
Firstly, the machine froths the milk and pours it into the cup. Then, it pulls an espresso shot directly into the milk. The foam moves to the top of the cup, while the espresso moves to the bottom, creating a beautiful layer comparable to the one you’d expect of a coffee shop cappuccino. If you opt for max coffee, milk, and water, this process takes two minutes – the longest brewing time with the Philips 3200.
Ease Of Maintenance
If brewing a coffee with the Philips 3200 is easy, cleaning and maintaining it is similarly straightforward. Just ensure you top it up with the necessary water and beans and occasionally empty the grounds bin and drip tray.
To clean the used coffee grounds container, you just need to pull out the removable drip tray. Accessing the removable brew group is easy, too, so there’s no issue rinsing it and removing any excess grounds. It’s recommended you do this every week.
Meanwhile, it’s suggested that you apply some lubrication to the brew unit every two months to ensure all the moving parts are in pristine condition. The machine comes with a grease tube to facilitate this.
The milk container has only two parts without tubes, meaning it just needs a rinse with tap water after each use. Meanwhile, if the milk fat accumulates to the extent that it’s difficult to clean by hand, it can go into the dishwasher.
Other Useful Features
Quick Heat-Up Time
It takes one minute for the machine to heat up after you turn it on. That’s quicker than most espresso machines.
You can adjust the temperature of your coffee with the Philips 3200 LatteGo, but the function is a little hidden. Here’s what you do.
- Press the on/off button to turn off the machine.
- With the machine switched off, press and hold the coffee quantity icon until it lights up.
- Press the icon to select either normal, high, or max temperature.
- Press start/stop.
- Press the on/off button to turn it back on.
When brewing coffee, we prefer using filtered water. The Philips 3200 LatteGo is compatible with an AquaClean filter, meaning you won’t need to descale the machine as regularly as many other coffee machines. In fact, the manufacturer states that you won’t need to descale the machine for 5,000 cups!
This means that if you make a couple of cups of coffee per day on average, not only will you not need have to perform regular descaling, but you’ll only need to descale the machine every six years or so. This is incredibly convenient and, in our opinion, a significant attraction of the Philips 3200.
|Philips AquaClean Original Calc and Water FIlter...||2,912 Reviews||See on Amazon|
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Value For Money
Because the Philips 3200 is a fully automatic espresso machine, it’s quite expensive. However, compared to other bean-to-cup automatic coffee machines, it’s one of the more affordable.
Other fully automatic espresso machines have more features, including the Saeco Xelsis, Saeco PicoBarista, and high-end De’Longhi machines. However, these are more expensive. Meanwhile, more solidly built and durable Jura machines are sometimes two or three times the cost of the Philips 3200 LatteGo.
For a similar price, you’re unlikely to find another completely automatic espresso machine that is as easy to use and has as many coffee options, and boasting a truly hands-off LatteGo system.
As with all fully automatic espresso machines, the Philips 3200 is not cheap. However, if you brew one or two cups of coffee with it per day for six or seven months, it’ll begin saving money over the cost of the same number of coffee shop coffees.
That’s why we chose the Philips 3200 LatteGo as our best budget super-automatic espresso machine option. It will deliver decent coffee consistently for years.
If You Like Iced Coffee…
De’Longhi ECAM35020B Dinamica Espresso Machine – this machine’s TrueBrew process offers full-bodied and smooth iced coffee thanks to brewing the coffee at a lower temperature, then pre-infusing, and infusing the coffee over ice, so it’s not watered down. The machine has a steel burr grinder with 13 settings. One significant advantage over the Philips 3200 is the addition of a manual frother, which offers more control over the foam texture.
|De'Longhi ECAM35020B Dinamica Automatic Coffee &...||283 Reviews||See on Amazon|
If You Want A More Premium Product…
Jura ENA 8 – if you have a more generous budget and are in the market for a more high-end machine that is both more durable and produces better-quality coffee, Jura machines are worth looking into. The Jura ENA 8 has a better-quality burr grinder than the Philips 3200 and offers 10 specialty beverages rather than five. Jura machines are undoubtedly well-designed and solidly built. However, you will pay more for them.
Our Verdict – An Affordable Yet Powerful Automatic Espresso Machine
The Philips 3200 LatteGo offers the ability to brew excellent espresso, normal coffee, Americano, cappuccino, and latte without extensive barista skills or a separate grinder. In other words, it offers an incredibly convenient way to brew coffee shop-style drinks at home.
As well as being easy to use, it is also straightforward to maintain, even down to only needing to descale the machine once every few years or so.
If you have the budget for an espresso maker and would like beverages comparable to those you’d buy in a coffee shop but without the hassle, the Philips 3200 is well worth considering.
Yes, it has some limitations, including the absence of a milk frother and the fact the coffee it produces – while decent – is not the very best it is possible to experience. However, overall it is a high-quality super-automatic coffee machine that is far more affordable than many other rival machines.