In a Nutshell:

The Smeg 50’s Retro Espresso Machine is a manual model that falls in the mid-price range. Its limited feature set and milk frother give novice espresso lovers the freedom to perfect cappuccinos, lattes, and shots without too many buttons to learn.

Brew Quality
Customization options
Ease of Use

Overall Rating



  • Beautiful retro design
  • Compact for limited counter space
  • Easy to use
  • Uses ground coffee and coffee pods
  • Brews two cups at the same time
  • 15 bar pressure pump


  • Lack of customization options
  • Hands-on cleaning process
  • Must purchase a separate grinder
Smeg 50's Retro Style Espresso Coffee Machine

Recommended For: Novice espresso lovers who want to start making perfect cappuccinos, lattes, and shots without too many buttons to learn.

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Do you love espresso but are spending too much at the cafe every day? The good news is, you can pull your own shots at home with a reliable espresso machine!

But that means choosing one that suits your needs and, most importantly, makes delicious espresso.

Never fear! Our Smeg espresso machine review looks at a user-friendly model that makes it easy to brew cappuccinos, lattes, and more.

Smeg Espresso Maker Design Overview

When you first lay eyes on a Smeg espresso machine, you’ll most likely have to do a double-take.

The Italian brand Smeg put a lot of thought into the aesthetics of this manual espresso maker, and the result is a 1950s retro design made from stainless steel and plastic.

There’s no doubt about it. This espresso coffee machine looks good on any countertop. It also comes in a gorgeous palette of unique colors, including pastels, red, white, black, pink, and cream.

Smeg Espresso Machine with cream exterior and a tall glass of cappuccino on the drip tray

There is even a special Smeg Dolce & Gabbana espresso machine adorned with colorful motifs from Sicily to celebrate the Italian heritage of these iconic brands.

To top it off, they made the Smeg retro espresso coffee machine simple and functional.

You don’t have a high-tech control panel to struggle with or a bunch of intimidating knobs and levers. Instead, three buttons are all that’s needed to get your brew on.

While it’s still a manual machine that will take some practice to learn, if you’re a budding espresso enthusiast, this is a suitable model to practice on. It helps that it’s also affordable, costing well under $1,000.

The Smeg espresso and cappuccino maker is compact and lightweight at a slim 6 x 13 x 12 inches and weighing 11 pounds. It will slide seamlessly into a small corner on your counter, and moving it around won’t require any elbow grease.

It brews espresso with a manual milk frother to make lattes and cappuccinos. It also has a hot water dispenser for those Americano lovers out there.

Overall, the Smeg 50’s retro style espresso coffee machine is a quality model for the price. It doesn’t have any fancy bells and whistles nor does it offer the convenience of automatic functions, but it’s a user-friendly option for flavorful espresso.

Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine Features

The Smeg 50’s style espresso coffee machine feature set is standard but reliable. Let’s see what this attractive little bean dream can do!

Water Tank

The Smeg ecf01 espresso coffee machine’s reservoir holds 33 oz of water, which isn’t the biggest tank out there but is suitable for small to medium household.

Smeg 50s Retro Style Espresso Coffee Machine in black with a small cup of cappuccino beside it

Thankfully the tank is removable, which makes cleaning and refills so much easier.

You can adjust the water hardness level between light, medium, or hard. There is a spot to install a water filter, but this is optional, and you’ll have to purchase the filter separately.

If you don’t want to buy a filter, just pour filtered or distilled water into the tank instead of tap water. Filtered water ensures the purest coffee flavors and also cuts down on mineral buildup.

Milk Frother System

For those days when you need the comfort of a cappuccino, use the milk wand to whip up a creamy milk foam for your freshly brewed espresso.

Bear in mind that this system is manual, so there is a slight learning curve to maneuver the steam wand.

Admittedly, it’s not powerful enough to produce professional-grade latte art. But it is a standard setup, making the Smeg milk frother suitable for beginners interested in microfoam.

Brewing Capabilities

We love that you have the choice to either grind your coffee beans or use Easy Serving Espresso pods with the Smeg Retro.

Smeg 50s Retro Style Espresso Coffee Machine in cream with a transparent water tank at the back

Fresh ground coffee is always recommended to get the most favors and aromas out of your espresso, but you will need to purchase a grinder separately, meaning more money out of your pocket.

Soft pods are convenient, less messy, and they’re also biodegradable—unlike capsules. You won’t get the same level of coffee quality as you would with fresh ground beans, though, but the choice is yours!

Hopefully, after loading the filter with your coffee, you know how to pull a mean espresso shot. That’s because there are no automatic buttons to help you out!

Instead, there are three buttons to choose between 1-Cup, 2-Cup, and steam activation.

The 2-Cup function is convenient for multiple drinkers because it allows the user to brew two shots of espresso in one session.

The Smeg retro style espresso coffee machine utilizes an advanced Thermoblock boiler to ensure a rapid warm-up time in only two minutes after plugging in the machine.

The pump produces 15 bars of pressure for optimal extraction—well above the industry standard of 9 bars.

Usually, we’re unimpressed with single boiler systems since it can take a while between pulling a shot and steaming the milk.

But with the Smeg retro espresso maker, you can switch from brewing to steaming easily due to the powerful rapid heating of the Thermoblock.

While the brewing performance is satisfactory, we did feel there is a lack of customization. You can adjust the coffee length and coffee temperature, but you can’t control the flow rate or water temperature.

We also felt that the tamper was a bit flimsy, but that’s usually the case with plastic tampers. This makes it difficult to pack the ground coffee tightly into the filter.

Some espresso aficionados might be peeved by this, while others might not care. Either way, you can always invest in a metal tamper.


To improve your brewing experience, the Smeg pump espresso coffee machine comes with the following accessories:

  • 1-Cup Filter: For brewing a single drink
  • 2-Cup Filter: For brewing enough espresso for two drinks
  • Paper Pods Filter: For brewing with ESE pods
  • Measurer/Presser: For scooping out your ground coffee and pressing it into the filter

Smeg Retro Espresso Machine Setup & Operation

We are happy to report that getting the Smeg ECF01 espresso machine up and running for the first time is a breeze compared to other models we’ve reviewed. All in all, it takes about 20 minutes to complete.

Smeg 50s Retro Style Espresso Coffee Machine with pastel green and chrome exterior

We break down the steps below.

1. Wash the Parts

Remove the water tank, filter holder, drip tray, filter baskets, and measuring spoon, and rinse them under running water.

2. Flush the Machine

While the removable parts and accessories dry, run the machine through multiple cycles without any coffee—only water. This flushes out the interior parts, so it’s clean for your first brewing session.

Don’t forget to rinse and purge the steam wand. It’s recommended to do this twice during the initial setup.

3. Place the Filter Basket Into the Filter Holder

This is where you’ll choose between using pre-ground coffee for 1-Cup or 2-Cups, or soft coffee pods.

If you’re using pre-ground coffee, you’ll want to make sure the coffee is tamped down nice and tight.

4. Lock It All Up

Lock the filter holder into the group head and place your mug underneath the filter holder. You can also remove the cup tray to accommodate taller mugs.

5. Adjust your settings

Hit the button that corresponds with your 1-Cup or 2-Cup filter basket. The espresso will then flow into your mug, ready to be enjoyed.

If you want to froth milk, you can learn how to do it here.

Smeg Coffee Espresso Machine Cleaning Process

We were unimpressed with the cleaning process of the Smeg manual espresso machine, as it does require ample maintenance to stay in tip-top shape.

You’ll have to wipe down the exterior with a cloth after each use and empty and rinse the drip tray, filter baskets, and cup tray.

The milk frother needs to be cleaned manually by steaming the wand after each use. This can be a pain when you’re trying to get rid of dried milk residue.

The machine will alert you when it’s time to descale, but you shouldn’t have to descale as often if you install a filter or use filtered water.

If cleaning is not your thing, especially when it has to be done every time you use the machine, you might want to consider a semi-automatic or superautomatic. With these models, you can simply push a button, and the machine cleans itself.

Smeg Espresso Coffee Maker Pros vs. Cons


  • Beautiful retro design
  • Compact for limited counter space
  • Easy to use
  • Uses ground coffee and coffee pods
  • Brews two cups at the same time
  • 15 bar pressure pump


  • Lack of customization options
  • Hands-on cleaning process
  • Must purchase a separate grinder
Smeg 50s Retro Style Espresso Coffee Machine with red and chrome exterior

It’s easy to look at the Smeg espresso coffee machine and fall in love with its retro design and gorgeous colors, but how well does it perform?

The feature set is basic. There isn’t much customization, and you have to learn how to pull a decent shot of espresso and froth milk manually.

If you’re OK with all of this, then you’ll probably love this machine. It’s actually an ideal starting point for rookies interested in espresso since there aren’t many features and buttons to learn.

And once you get your rhythm down, then the Smeg Retro pulls a delectable, full-bodied shot. Don’t expect barista quality, but it’s reliable compared to some $1,000 machines for the price.

The drawbacks are minor and shouldn’t impede your coffee experience. The only gripe we have pertains to the time-consuming maintenance, which must be done by hand every time you use the machine.

We recommend the Smeg coffee machine espresso for…

  • Beginners interested in learning how to pull espresso shots
  • Espresso lovers looking for a bargain on a quality manual machine

Espresso Maker Smeg Warranty

Smeg offers a limited one-year warranty from the date of purchase. This covers small appliance repairs or replacements due to defects in materials or workmanship. You can read the fine print here.

Comparable Products

If you’ve made it this far in our Smeg espresso review but are still unsure if it’s the right espresso maker for you, we’ve compiled a shortlist of similar models for comparison.

Mr. Coffee One-Touch CoffeeHouse

Recommended For: Coffee lovers who want a budget-friendly espresso machine with an automatic milk frother.

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If you don’t mind a more contemporary design, the Mr. Coffee is a budget-friendly 1-Cup and 2-Cup espresso maker with an automatic milk frother. It uses an advanced 19 bar pressure pump for extraction.

Gaggia Carezza De Luxe Espresso Machine

Recommended For: Espresso drinkers who want a vintage, Italian look for their home coffee machine.

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Another low-priced option is the Gaggia Carezza, which has a similar feature set to the Smeg Retro. You can brew preground coffee or ESE pods, froth your milk with the quality Pannerello wand, and it uses a special preinfusion function for more consistent extraction.

Swan Retro One Touch Espresso Machine

Recommended For: People who’d like a retro-style semi-automatic espresso machine at a low cost.

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If you’re digging the retro look, then it’s worth checking out the Swan One Touch. It’s all manual, with a traditional milk frother to make cappuccinos and lattes, and it costs considerably less than the Smeg Retro.

Smeg Espresso Machine Review Conclusion

The Smeg Retro Espresso Machine is a beautifully designed device that allows you to pull one or two shots manually and steam milk froth. It’s a standard model that doesn’t offer a multitude of fancy features, but it looks high-end (which may be what you’re really paying for).

To conclude this Smeg Espresso Machine review, this isn’t an exceptional model compared to others on the market, but it will pull a decent shot (after plenty of practice, of course). It’s ideal for beginners interested in learning espresso because of the affordable price and easy control panel.

Official Manufacturer Support

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