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:
- Is the Calphalon Temp IQ suitable for espresso beginners? (Quick answer: Yes, especially for those interested in milk-based drinks like lattes.)
- 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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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: