This is a review of the Morphy Richards Accents espresso machine and a comparison of this coffee machine vs. the Gaggia Classic espresso machine that I usually use.
I’ve recently returned home from a week on holiday with my wife and kids in the beautiful St Agnes in west Cornwall. To my delight, I noticed when we were looking through the photos of the property we were renting, it has an espresso machine!
This isn’t the norm when you’re renting a holiday property. Usually I’ll squeeze the Smart grinder pro into the boot, but coffee for the week will be made via manual brewers, and I’ll only get my espresso fix while out at coffee shops, such as Sorting Office St Agnes, and breakers beach cafe, so to discover that the place we were renting comes with an espresso machine was a great surprise.
The machine in question is a Morphy Richards Accents espresso machine, OK it’s not a prosumer machine, but to have any espresso machine in a holiday property is a very nice surprise. I was actually quite pleased that it was a cheap espresso machine, and in particular, the Accents machine, as I’ve not previously had the opportunity to review a consumer espresso machine like this, and the accents machine featured in my post best cheap espresso machines 2017. In the post, I shared the specs and user reviews, but I didn’t review it myself as I’d not used the machine at that point.
Why am I comparing the Accents to the Classic?
The Gaggia classic is about £300 new (you can get them usually from around £250 on Amazon) and the Accents machine is around £80 – so it may seem unfair that I’m comparing the two, but I’m not comparing them like for like.
What I’m doing here is using the Gaggia classic and the Morphy Richards accents machines as representatives of two different types of machine (consumer vs prosumer), for two different types of user ( As well as reviewing the accents espresso machine I’m using this post to also help readers to identify what category they fall into, so they can decide whether a machine along the lines of the accents espresso machine is right for them, or whether they need to be looking at a prosumer machine).
There are two different types of people who buy espresso machines for the home, the average consumer, and the home barista.
The accents machine and the other cheap espresso machines are aimed at the average consumer, not the home barista. The more expensive espresso machines which are often made by the same manufacturers who make commercial espresso machines used by professional baristas, which are known as ‘prosumer’ machines, are machines that are made for the home barista.
The exercise of using this machine for a week has helped me to make a distinction between the inexpensive consumer espresso machines like the accents, and the prosumer machines, of which I consider the Classic to be at the entry level.
In other words what I’ve come to realise is that actually, the accents machine is a great machine for those who it’s aimed at. It’s made for the consumer market, and it’s perfect for the average consumer. It’s not made for the home barista, and it’s not fair to expect it to compete with the prosumer machines that are made for the home barista, which can run into the thousands of pounds.
Anyway, without further waffle:
Morphy Richards Accents espresso machine review
This is nice looking and compact espresso machine. The water tank is 1.25L which is on the large side for a cheap espresso machine, and it’s very easy to remove, fill, and return the tank.
It has the pannarello steam wand which most cheap espresso machines have, but it can be removed quite easily. I can’t see any potential to modify this wand though as you can do with the classic, but having said that I’m not sure if the very latest version of the classic can be modified either – it can with the older models available second hand, which is what I’m comparing this machine with for the purposes of this review.
The portafilter (filter holder) is quite small and lightweight compared with what I’m used to, and the single and double baskets supplied with the machine are pressured baskets. The general consensus is that pressured baskets are a positive thing when it comes to getting better results with worse coffee, and for use with ESE pods. So if you’re buying pre-ground commodity coffee, then you may get a better result with a pressured basket than you might with a standard basket. When it comes to freshly ground freshly roasted coffee beans, however, it’s unlikely that you’d get as good results with a pressured basket.
The portafilter has a little catch that you have to flip over to hold the basket in place when knocking out the coffee, this is one thing that I found annoying. I’m used to just knocking the portafilter on the knock box, so I often forgot the catch and the basket would just drop into the knock box, followed by some rude words by me as I picked up the hot filter basket and put it back into the portafilter. I’m sure this is something that I would get used to over time though.
The light indicating that the machine was ready for use, comes on very quickly, only a couple of minutes. When I tried pulling a shot as soon as the light was on, the results were not as good as when I left it for 15-20 mins to heat up, so if you do get an accents machine I’d recommend leaving it a bit longer after the light comes on to indicate it’s ready to go. To be fair it’s a similar situation with the classic, I never pull the first shot when the indicator light comes on, I usually give it 15-20 minutes.
The coffee that I managed to get from the Accents was “very good” from the standpoint of the average consumer coffee drinker, and “A drinkable espresso style coffee” from the perspective of a home Barista who’s used to using prosumer machines.
I’ve come to this conclusion because I personally found the coffee from the accents to be OK as a coffee drink, but to be more “espresso style”coffee, similar to the espresso style coffee you can produce with Aeropress for example. It just wasn’t quite there, I couldn’t get it tasting as full as I can with the classic, and I couldn’t produce anything more than a very slight slither of crema which only partially covered the surface.
But someone else who came round while we were there, for whom I made a cappuccino with the accents machine, thought this coffee was fantastic and instantly asked where he could buy one of these machines and how much they cost.
The difference is that this person is more “your average consumer & coffee drinker”, who drinks instant coffee a lot of the time and cafetiere on a special occasion or cappuccino when at a coffee shop. This, I believe, is who this kind of machine is made for. People like this see coffee as just a hot drink, where as home baristas see coffee as a hobby, are much harder to please, and are prepared to invest a lot more time, effort and money into coffee than the average coffee drinker would (who may even think £80 is a bit expensive for a coffee machine).
This espresso machine comes with a pannarello steam wand, which is a plastic sheath which goes over the steam pipe, with holes on the side. These wands are designed to make foaming milk as easy as possible for the domestic user, and I can certainly understand why, as frothing milk with a more traditional steam wand takes some practice. The problem with pannarello wands is that usually all they’re good for is producing fairly big bubbles, which is no good if you’re wanting to pour latte art. If you just want thick froth for spooning onto cappuccino’s, then using a wand like this will be fine for you, but if you’re wanting to produce microfoam for pouring art, then pannarello is no good.
You can easily take the pannarello attachment off the wand on this machine, which I did, and I was able to get much closer to the desired texture, but I couldn’t quite get there, even using my brilliant Espro Torid 2 milk jug, which improved my results with the classic straight away. Having said this, it took me aaaaages to get the texture right with the classic, once I modded the wand with the rancilio silvia pro wand, so it could be that I would be able to get better results with the accents with enough practice.
The average consumer often doesn’t intend on buying a grinder, and will prefer to use ready ground coffee (probably from the supermarket) or ESE pods. Even if they do plan on buying a grinder the chances are if they’re looking at paying around £80 for an espresso machine they won’t be looking at spending hundreds on a grinder, so they’ll probably be purchasing a cheap blade slicer which are sold as ‘grinders’ (how can something with a blade grind anything?).
So to someone who wants to produce espresso at this kind of budget, who is just wanting to make coffee, and isn’t embarking on a new hobby as a home barista, this machine will be absolutely fine in my humble opinion, and will produce coffee that the majority of “average consumers” would be more than happy with.
Home baristas on the other hand aren’t just buying something to make coffee with, for them it’s a hobby, and they want to make as perfect espresso and espresso-based drinks as they possibly can. They will have put time into research, they’ll know that the grinder is of crucial importance, they’ll be buying freshly roasted high-quality coffee beans, and they’ll be wanting to not just produce any old milk foam, but perfect micro-foam.
So if you’re looking for an espresso machine that would suit the average consumer rather than the home barista, then for the price (currently around £100 on Amazon) I think this is a very good home espresso machine.
What about the Gaggia Classic?
In my opinion, the Gaggia classic is the entry-level prosumer espresso machine, followed closely by the Rancilio Silvia which is around £100-£150 more expensive new, and from here you can go up, and up, and up.
Some espresso machine connoisseurs look down their noses at the classic, and some at the Rancilio too, but in my humble opinion, from experience – while there is a difference in performance between the Gaggia classic with an RRP of around £300, and a machine like the La Spaziale S1 at around £2,000 – this difference in performance doesn’t disqualify the classic as a proper espresso machine for the home barista, it just makes it a more affordable option.
The fact is, you can pull amazing espresso shots with the classic, I know this because I do sometimes. OK I sometimes make a complete hash of it, but I’m sure I’d do the same with a three grand machine, in the same way that if I was driving a Lamborghini Aventador, I’d still stall it and curb it ;-).
It’s also a very reliable machine, I know this because mine is 14 years old, and in the 18 months I’ve had it, all I’ve had to do with it is to invest about £3 for a new shower head and about a fiver for a new rubber group head seal. I also know that you can steam milk to a really good micro-foam consistency, as I do (with the addition of the rancilio silvia steam wand). So these things qualify the classic as a prosumer espresso machine as far as I’m concerned. OK it doesn’t have PID, it doesn’t have the E61 group head, and we could go on and on about features that are present on more expensive machines, but it has the ability to pull a great shot of true espresso, and to properly steam milk – and I think anything else on top is not a necessity but is a luxury if you can afford it.
Yes, if I had the budget I would prefer a La Spaziale S1, or one of the other higher end machines (wouldn’t mind a Lamborghini Aventador either, for a day maybe, if the owner doesn’t mind getting it back with scraped alloys from my brilliant parallel parking) because the features of this machine would help to improve the consistency of the quality of my shots, and being dual boiler meaning I can pull the shot and steam the milk at the same time is a big plus, and because a machine like this would probably have enough steam power to move the orient express. But in the meantime, I’m very happy with the classic.
So, if you see yourself as a home barista, but you don’t have the pockets right now to spend thousands, just keep in mind that my setup consists of the Gaggia classic which I paid £100 for second hand and then paid £12 for the rancilio silvia steam wand, along with the Sage smart grinder pro which is usually £199 but you can sometimes get on Amazon for around £150 (click here to see the current offer price at Amazon UK) – so in total probably about £250-£300 all in.