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Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine Review: From Steam Wand to Grinder, Breville is Better. Here’s Why.

Long story short:  While the Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine is okay, the Breville Bambino Plus surpasses it in performance.

Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine header

I’m a former barista and coffee expert. I spent two weeks researching Calphalon. This Calphalon Temp IQ review delves into the aspects I appreciate and find lacking about the machine, while also addressing the following questions:

  1. Is the Calphalon Temp IQ suitable for espresso beginners? (Quick answer: Yes, especially for those interested in milk-based drinks like lattes.)
  2. Is it better to opt for the Calphalon Temp IQ with or without a built-in grinder? (Quick answer: Definitely avoid the version with a built-in grinder.)

Ready for more? Brew yourself a cup and let’s embark on this magical journey!

Do I Recommend the Calphalon Espresso Machine (Quick Verdict)?

While the Calphalon Temp IQ does not produce subpar coffee, the Breville Bambino Plus, available at the same price, outperforms it. I highly recommend opting for the Bambino Plus instead of the Calphalon Temp IQ.

Breville Bambino Plus: Outperforms the Calphalon Temp IQ

The Breville Bambino Plus excels in crafting superior espresso compared to the similarly priced Calphalon Temp IQ, largely due to its inclusion of an over-pressure valve.

Nonetheless, the Calphalon Temp IQ remains one of the better machines available for under $500.

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In cases where acquiring the Bambino Plus proves challenging, the Calphalon Temp IQ remains a decent option within this price range.

It boasts user-friendliness and its steam wand surpasses that of most machines in its price category. This feature makes it particularly appealing to those who desire to effortlessly prepare lattes and cappuccinos.

In this Calphalon espresso machine review, I’ll go into the IQ’s features in depth. Then I’ll share all the ways the Bambino Plus is like the Temp IQ —  but why the Breville espresso machine may be a better buy.

Calphalon Temp iQ Espresso Machine
Calphalon Temp iQ Espresso Machine
Calphalon Temp iQ Espresso Machine

Calphalon Temp IQ Assessment

  • Espresso Quality: 5/10
  • Steamed Milk Quality: 8/10
  • Functionalities: 6/10
  • Ease of Use and Cleaning: 8/10
  • Design and Build Quality: 5/10
  • Value for Money: 8/10

I strongly advocate choosing the grinder-less version of the Calphalon Temp IQ over the one with a built-in grinder.

The Calphalon Temp IQ’s integrated burr grinder disappoints due to its lack of measuring capabilities for the coffee dose.

You’ve got to measure each ground coffee dose individually for every shot pulled.

It is far more advantageous to pair the Calphalon with a separate adjustable burr grinder that measures the dose accurately.

In any case, I’d avoid the Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine with grinder model because it tends to get clogged with coffee grounds, too.

Perhaps Calphalon will improve this in a future product update but for now, I’d pass on the version with a grinder.

Get yourself a good standalone burr grinder to grind your whole beans instead, if you’re set on the Temp IQ. This’ll help you brew consistent espresso irrespective of your espresso maker.




Overview of Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine

The Calphalon Temp IQ is an espresso maker equipped with a portafilter, as opposed to a super-automatic espresso machine.

Automatic dosing is available for your espresso shots, and it features a pin-holed steam wand for frothing milk.

Pros
  • Its steam wand surpasses most similarly priced machines, capable of creating silky microfoam for latte art.
  • Equipped with a PID, ensuring an ideal brewing temperature is maintained throughout the shot-pulling process.
  • Quick transition between pulling shots and steaming milk compared to most similarly priced options.
  • Drip tray with a drawer for easy disposal of spilled coffee grounds.
Cons
  • Lack of an over-pressure valve limits how finely you can grind, resulting in espresso that may be less flavorful compared to machines with an OPV.
  • Non-pressurized portafilter baskets are not included.
  • Wide portafilter spouts fit two espresso cups, but can be awkward for other serving sizes.
  • Difficulty in finding aftermarket parts, leading to potential inconvenience if any part breaks.



Espresso Quality

The Calphalon Temp IQ yields decent but not exceptionally delicious espresso. Its deficiency in an over-pressure valve hinders the use of finely ground coffee.

Before delving into the evaluation of the Calphalon’s espresso quality, it is essential to outline the variables that significantly impact the quality of espresso brewed by a machine:

  1. Temperature control: Maintaining brewing temperature between 195-204 Fahrenheit results in optimal espresso extraction. The use of a proportional integral derivative (PID) component helps control brewing temperature.
  2. Pressure control: Brewing under nine bars of pressure without exceeding it allows for finely ground coffee beans without channeling (undesirable water flow paths). An over-pressure valve (OPV) serves this purpose.

While other variables, such as grind size and bean freshness, also influence espresso, they are determined by the user, not the machine.

With this understanding, let’s evaluate Calphalon’s espresso based on its control of brewing temperature and pressure.

Temperature Control

The Calphalon Temp IQ uses an impressive temperature control system comparable to that of high-end commercial espresso machines.

By employing Thermoblock heating technology and a PID, the machine precisely regulates water temperature at 198 degrees Fahrenheit as it comes into contact with the coffee grounds. This temperature is maintained throughout the shot-pulling process, ensuring better-tasting fresh espresso than most budget machines.

Pressure Control

The Calphalon’s pressure control system is relatively basic, affecting the machine’s espresso quality compared to machines equipped with an over-pressure valve (OPV), like the Bambino Plus.

The Calphalon Temp IQ employs a 15-bar pump for brewing espresso, yet it lacks an OPV, leading to occasional over-pressurization of the espresso.

Portafilter Diameter

Despite claims that the Calphalon’s 58 mm portafilter aids extraction, the presence of an OPV in other machines outweighs the benefits of a larger portafilter. The crucial factor for espresso quality remains grind size rather than portafilter diameter.

Quality of Steam Wand

The Calphalon Temp IQ shines with its exceptional steam wand, allowing for fine microfoam suitable for latte art. Its pin-hole steam wand surpasses Panarello steam wands in performance.

Functionalities

The Calphalon Temp IQ also offers versatility, allowing users to create various espresso drinks like Americanos and Lattes. It features preset volumetric doses for single and double espresso, as well as manual shot-pulling options. The pin-holed steam wand’s flexibility enables users to experiment with milk textures.

Ease of Use and Cleaning

The Calphalon Temp IQ stands as an easy-to-use machine, designed with beginners in mind. The pressurized portafilter basket ensures a decent shot even for those new to espresso-making. Cleaning the machine is straightforward, with removable parts facilitating quick cleanup after every use.

Design and Build Quality

The Calphalon Temp IQ exhibits some design flaws, particularly concerning the portafilter and drip tray. Its plastic components hinder durability, but the internal build quality is commendable, featuring a fast heating thermoblock system.

Value for Money

The Calphalon Temp IQ is still a good value for money, especially for those seeking a machine with a high-quality steam wand. However, due to difficulties in finding replacement parts, the overall value is slightly impacted.




Calphalon Temp IQ vs Breville Bambino Plus

OUR PICK
Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
Calphalon BVCLECMP1 Temp iQ Espresso Machine with Steam Wand, Stainless
Product
Water tank size
Water tank size
64 oz.
67 oz.
Design
Design
Brushed Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel
Dimensions
Dimensions
7.7" W x 12.6" D x 12.2" H
13.9” W x 11.6” D x 15.3” H
Group head/portafilter basket diameter
Group head/portafilter basket diameter
54 mm
58 mm
Heating system
Heating system
ThermoJet (proprietary to Breville)
Thermoblock with PID
Pump
Pump
15-bar Italian pump
15-bar Italian pump
Automatic water dosing
Automatic water dosing
Yes
Yes – single and double shot options
Over pressure valve (OPV)
Over pressure valve (OPV)
Yes
No
Steam wand type
Steam wand type
Pin-holed (four holes) and automated
Pin-hole (single hole)
Built-in coffee grinder
Built-in coffee grinder
No
No
Accessories
Accessories
Stainless steel milk jug, 54mm tamper, steam wand tip cleaning tool, the Razor™ precision trimming tool, dual-wall filter baskets (1-cup and 2-cup), cleaning disc, cleaning tablets & descaler
Stainless steel milk pitcher, plastic tamper, a cleaning pin, and dual wall 1 & 2-cup filters
Portafilter baskets
Portafilter baskets
(2) Single and (2) double-shot pressurized portafilter baskets
Single and double-shot pressurized portafilter baskets

Both the Calphalon Temp IQ and the Bambino Plus offer a range of features and capabilities to make quality espresso drinks.

Design & Size

The Calphalon Temp IQ has a cup warming tray on top, which is a nice design touch. Both machines are stainless steel, but the Bambino Plus looks shinier and more expensive (that could just be me though).

Another difference lies in the size and footprint of the machines. The Calphalon Temp IQ is larger, which means it may take up more space on the countertop. However, its larger size also means a larger water reservoir, allowing for more consecutive brews without refilling it.

On the other hand, the Bambino Plus is praised for its compact size and sleek design. It is ideal for those with limited countertop space. Despite its small size, it is still packed with features, including a fast heat-up time and a powerful steam wand for frothing milk.

Winner: Tied

Price

One of the key differences between the two machines is the price. The Calphalon Temp IQ is generally considered more affordable, making it a budget-friendly option. Breville machines tend to be a tad more. The Bambino Plus is priced higher, but it makes up for it with additional features and a more premium build. 

Winner: Tied. Calphalon Temp IQ may generally be cheaper, but the Bambino Plus machine also offers more.

Usability

Both semi-automatic espresso machines are convenient, easy to use, and come with important accessories like an espresso tamper.

The Calphalon Temp IQ has a simple dial and button interface, making it easy to operate regardless of skill level. It also has a removable water tank and drip tray, making cleaning a breeze. 

The Breville Bambino Plus also features a user-friendly design that’s just as good, with intuitive controls. But it gets more points from me because of the visual cues it features under the dial for one vs. two shots of espresso, water, and steam. 

Winner: Bambino Plus

Ultimately, the choice between the Calphalon Temp IQ and the Bambino Plus comes down to personal preferences and priorities. For those on a budget or with limited space, the Calphalon Temp IQ is a great option. It offers precise temperature control and a large water reservoir, ensuring great-tasting espresso shot after shot.

The Verdict: Should You Buy the Calphalon Temp IQ or Breville Bambino Plus?

The Calphalon Temp IQ offers a decent espresso experience, but the Bambino outperforms it in several aspects.

For those seeking a machine with better pressure control, usability, and more aftermarket support, the Bambino Plus emerges as the better choice. In my opinion, it’s a more professional espresso machine for slightly more money. I highlight recommend this machine if you want an espresso maker that’ll last: 

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You can buy the Bambino Plus home espresso machine on Amazon.




Temp IQ Espresso Machine Review FAQs

What is the Calphalon Temp IQ?

The Calphalon Temp IQ is a coffee machine that allows you to make good espresso at home.

Is the Calphalon Espresso Machine better than the Breville?

I don’t think so, but it depends on personal preference.

Is the Calphalon machine easy to use? Is the machine right for beginners?

Yes to both!  The Calphalon Espresso Machine is easy to use, even for beginners.

Does the Calphalon Espresso Machine come with a stainless steel milk jug?

Yes, it includes a stainless steel milk jug for frothing milk.

Can I use espresso grounds with the Calphalon?

Yes, you can use the Calphalon with espresso grounds to make any cup of coffee.

Is the Calphalon Temp IQ easy to clean?

Yes, the whole machine is designed to be easy to clean, and it includes a cleaning pin for maintaining the machine’s performance.

Where is the power button located on the Calphalon Temp IQ?

The power button is located on the front of the machine for easy access.

Does the Calphalon have a good steam wand?

Yes, the Calphalon Temp IQ is equipped with a powerful steam wand for creating frothy milk for your creamy espresso.

Can I make good coffee with the Calphaon Temp IQ?

Yes, it is designed to make consistently delicious espresso drinks that rival those from a local coffee shop.

How do I use the steam wand on the Calphalon Temp IQ?

To use the steam wand, simply turn the dial and allow the steam to froth the milk. It’s easy to use and creates creamy froth for your drinks.

Is the Calphalon Temp IQ the finest espresso maker under $400?

No, but it is one of the better ones in this price range. The Breville Barista is also great and potentially even better. 

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