I am not a coffee connoisseur. I usually liken my coffee to “hot chocolate, but coffee flavored”. It’s mostly frothy milk with a splash of decaf for flavor. The froth is accomplished with a $3 IKEA frother, and then a little pour-over coffee is added to it.
When a friend of mine had the Philips LatteGo 3200 machine on his counter, I was intrigued, not only by the price ($700 plus tax at the time of this writing! Yikes!), but at how it performed. I ended up buying one not long after. I could always return it if it wasn’t as good as it appeared.
It’s really easy to unpack, the machine was in a bag with handles, to make it easy to get out of the box. Thank you, Philips! Peel off some protective tape, wash the water and milk compartments, soak the water filter and connect everything and plug it in.
The first few cups of coffee were disappointing, but reading a few reviews indicated that the machine adjusts and “breaks in” after which it will produce a consistent and good coffee. This seems to be correct. The coffee pucks came out drier and more solid after about 10 cups. The coffee tasted richer and better than with our usual pour-over method.
The 3200 is the one with the milk container. There are other “lesser” models using a steam wand instead. My understanding from comparing features and parts is that this is a Gaggia Anima Class or Saeco PicoBaristo in a more convenient packaging.
Even regular coffee comes out tasting great (I’m no connoisseur though). I can only assume it’s related to the 15 bar / 218 psi scalding hot water it pushes through the beans.
The milk frother is extremely simple to use. Fill with desired amount of milk (real milk, almond, oat or whatever variety, it seems to froth them all very well), simply hang it on the protruding steam spigot, and make your coffee.
Besides the lid, it’s two parts, and they rinse/wash easily, and they’re dishwasher safe too.
Cleanup is simple. The drip tray slides out along with the cup for the used pucks. Both the tray and cup are dishwasher safe. A quick rinse when you empty it during the week, and run them in the dishwasher every weekend and they are good as new.
The bean compartment has a detachable lid. It’s not hinged or attached, so you don’t need a whole lot of space above the machine. You just lift it up a half inch and slide it out. Even the pre-ground coffee compartment on top only requires a couple of inches to pour a scoop down in it.
There’s a very slight amount of steam coming out of the pre-ground compartment, but not nearly enough to damage the cabinet above.
It uses a lot of water. There’s the rinse when you start it up. Then the steam for the milk froth, the water for the coffee itself, plus the waste water in the tray. Then when it shuts off, it does a quick flush too.
The flushes and wasted water up to about a cup of water that doesn’t make coffee.
It might be nice to have a water line connection kit for the larger families or if you have several roommates. A drain kit would be nice too, but then we get into the more professional units.
The milk container leaves a little milk in the bottom even when it’s empty. What I’d like to see here is a tapered ‘floor’ so every drop of milk is funneled down to the siphon hole.
Another milk container issue is the lid. I don’t really see a need for it. It’s not hinged or tethered to the container or the bracket the container snaps into. Since you fill with milk, make coffee and then remove it to wash it, the lid really serves no purpose.
I think even if it were hinged and attached, it would probably be in the way more than anything.
The indicator lines, both on the milk container and to a degree the water container, are too hard to see. I’ve attached small strips of tape to make easy-to-see fill marks.
It’s not as vital on the water container as you fill it to “full enough, but not so much that you spill” and that’s fine.
The drip tray gets a lot of water in it, even if you, like me, put a little cup to catch the pre- and post-coffee flushes. The indicator for that is a little float that rises up and alerts you, but by the time it floats up the tray is full enough to make it a very careful walk to the sink to avoid spilling.
Travel mugs – it’s not quite tall enough to accommodate them, which I think is strange in this day and age. My favorite mug fits under with a slight tilt, but otherwise I’d have to just make one or two cups of coffee and pour it into the travel mug.
Tips & Tricks
DO NOT put pre-ground coffee in before you’ve turned on the machine! The flush cycle rinses the brew group (where the grounds land) and you waste that coffee.
Verify water level before brewing. If it runs out of water before making your coffee, it will restart and run a flush cycle and waste that coffee. You’ll want the water AT LEAST above the filter.
Foam milk without coffee: Select Latte Macchiato, then hold the Coffee Strength button for 3 seconds to select pre-ground coffee so you don’t grind any beans, then start the machine. Once you have your froth/foam, press the STOP button to stop the brew cycle.
If your travel mug is too tall to fit, make one or two coffees (or a latte macchiato and a coffee) in a regular cup and pour it into the travel cup.
Don’t use fatty/flavored coffee beans. Allegedly this might gum up both the grinder and the brew group where eventually you might have a malfunction. I don’t know this from personal experience, but at least the greasy beans gumming up the works makes sense to me.