espresso

Illy Francis Francis X7.1 Espresso Maker Review

Offers iconic design and simple brewing of good espresso shots, but the milk foam it produced wasn't so great.

December 09, 2011
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Espresso Speed

The process of brewing a shot of espresso with the X7.1 is quick and easy, and we found that we could pull a shot in just 26 seconds. That's because the pod holding the coffee grounds does not require any placing, grinding or tamping: you just pop the pod into place in the portafilter, replace it on the machine, press the button and it does the rest. More on how we test the brewing process.

Espresso Quality

The illy Francis Francis X7.1 produced good quality espresso, with good color and a decent amount of dark brown crema. Although it didn't match up to the quality of some more expensive espresso makers, it was very drinkable and attractive looking.

We don't judge the taste of the espresso, as this is a matter of personal preference. Instead, we test the total dissolved solids (TDS) of the brew, which is the main factor that determines the strength of the brew. An ideal espresso maker will produce a range of strengths that allow you to tweak the shot to your taste, but the illy Francis Francis X7.1 can only produce one strength, with a TDS of 4.1%. This is an acceptable strength, but other machines are capable of producing a much stronger shot if required.

One thing to note here: we test most espresso makers with our standard espresso beans, but the illy Francis Francis X7.1 does not allow for the use of your own beans. So, we tested with the illy medium roasted iperEspresso capsules More on how we test the brewing process.

Espresso Shot Photo
A single espresso shot brewed by the illy Francis Francis X7.1
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Espresso Quantity

The X7.1 only offers one size of espresso shot: a rather small three quarters of a fluid ounce. If you want a double shot, you'll have to brew the two shots separately. More on how we test the brewing process.

Milk & Foam

A steam wand with milk frother is located on the right side of the device. This has a fairly standard design, with a thin, narrow steam wand and a clip-on plastic foam maker. You start the flow of steam by pressing the large steam button on the control panel. After a minute or two of heating up, the button is illuminated, and pressing it again starts the flow of steam.

We found that this did an adequate, but not great job. It foamed our test milk up quite quickly (in an average of about 46 seconds), but that the foam it produced had larger bubbles than we like to see. This might be fine for a cappuccino, but a latte requires a foam with smaller bubbles (called microfoam) that will stay together longer. There is also no way to control the steam flow: it is either on or off with no stops imbetween.

The steam wand is also not that flexible; it rotates in a circle, but cannot be pointed straight down, which means it is awkward to use with larger cups or containers.

Foam Photo
A latte macchiato brewed by the illy Francis Francis X7.1

Other Drinks

The illy Francis Francis X7.1 can't make any other drinks than the standard shot: there is no way to produce a long coffee or other drinks.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Page
  2. Design
  3. Performance
  4. Usability
  5. illy Francis Francis Y1 Comparison
  6. Gaggia Accademia Comparison
  7. Rancilio Silvia Comparison
  8. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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