Table of Contents
- Saeco Poemia Espresso Makers: Full Review with Disassembly and Comparison with new Gaggia Viva RI8437, RI8435, RI8433
- §1. An Ideal Design for Espresso
- §2. What is a Pressurised Crema Filter and Why is the Saeco’s One So Unique?
- §3. Cappuccino and Milk Frothing
- §4. Boiler Changes and Build Quality
- §5. Small Things That Could Be Better
- §6. 2018/2019 Update: Saeco Poemia is now Gaggia Viva
- My Review Conclusion
- Similar Models: the Gaggia Gran
- Different Models for Different Markets
Image 1 of 4
Philips Saeco Poemia image: This espresso machine is quiet to operate. Image 2 of 4 Philips Saeco Poemia image: The golden crema covers the entire surface of the espresso. Image 3 of 4 Philips Saeco Poemia image: You get a convenient cup warmer on top of this espresso maker. Image 4 of 4 Philips Saeco Poemia image: The water reservoir is easy to install and remove.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
The Philips Saeco Poemia HD8327/47 is a sleek and compact espresso machine that makes rather good-tasting espresso, and it is easy to use, accepting both pods and ground coffee. It heats up almost immediately, and you can make two shots of espresso at a time.
That said, our tests showed that the results of frothing capabilities were rather unimpressive, and it comes up short as far as certain useful features. When we taste tested the espresso from the Philips Saeco Poemia, the result was a flavorful espresso with a crema that covered the surface of the drink. When you lock the portafilter into place, it turns itself slightly to the left to show that it has been positioned correctly.
The nozzle of the steam wand offers a useful feature: a steady flow of hot water for other drinks such as tea or hot chocolate. But when we tested the wand to froth milk, we got mostly steamed milk and not much foam. We tested five milks: three different dairy milks with varying amounts of fat in them, along with almond and soy milk. We got decent volume and some pleasant foam, but not much of it, which would be disappointing to someone who likes a “dry” cappuccino. (A dry cappuccino is heavy on the foam rather than the steamed milk, while the “wet” variety is just the opposite).
The exterior of the device reaches a temperature of 102 degrees F, which is lower than the 104 degrees F average we found for all the products we tested. You also get well-written instructions and illustrations to help you use and care for your cappuccino maker.
This is a rather quiet cappuccino maker with our tests showing its noise level during operation to be 63.7 decibels, equivalent to the sound of regular conversation at about a distance of three to five feet away. In fact, the Philips Saeco Poemia was the quietest espresso maker of all the products we reviewed. The low operation sound for this espresso maker is a real boon if you’re an early riser who longs for some espresso to start the day right, but does not want to wake up the rest of the household.
This device is equipped with a rather small water reservoir holding only 40 ounces, but that would still work well for a home espresso maker. This comes with a tamper that has a measuring spoon on the other end, which might make some elite espresso lovers turn up their noses. Purists prefer tampers with a flat end so you can press on it to tamp down the coffee grounds in the portafilter. However, we had no problems using this tamper and, if you really want it, you can easily pick up an inexpensive regular tamper to use.
The Philips Saeco Poemia espresso machine makes some good espresso, but it is rather lacking when it comes to the standard of foam required for the best quality cappuccinos, caffe macchiatos, lattes and other drinks consumers expect from an espresso maker.
Saeco Poemia Espresso Makers: Full Review with Disassembly and Comparison with new Gaggia Viva RI8437, RI8435, RI8433
The Saeco Poemia is a classic espresso and coffee maker for home use. By “classic”, I mean that it has been produced for years with great success and only minor changes. Its technical construction and design have been copied by many manufacturers: not only cheap Chinese coffee makers are inspired by Saeco technology – even Delonghi’s recent ECP31.21 looks very similar to the Saeco Poemia.
However, the Poemia’s key feature – the unique pressurised crema filter – has not been copied by anyone. It is still only used by Saeco, Gaggia and Philips. All three brands now belong to Philips, which is why you can find both Saeco Poemia and Philips Saeco Poemia models in stock. Since 2019 on most of the markets Poemia is sold as Gaggia Viva read below 👇.
This is the number one model if you want an affordable machine for home-brewed espresso. You can also make cappuccino, latte, latte macchiato and other milk & coffee drinks. However, I think that the Poemia is not the best for cappuccinos (although still good). Its primary goal is espresso and that is what the Poemia is really good at.
Saeco Poemia. Check price @ amazon
There are many models in the Saeco Poemia range. The most popular are the HD8323 (or Poemia Focus), HD8325 (or Poemia Class), HD8327 (or Poemia Top), HD8425 and HD8427. The two digits after the slash (e.g. Saeco HD8327/47 or HD8423/19) usually only designate the body colour, materials used and in some cases the country where this model is sold. Since 2016, Saeco has made some modifications to the boiler construction of some models (I will explain this in detail at the end of my review), but besides that all Poemias have the same functions and same technology inside.
Firstly, I will talk about what all Poemias have in common and then I will tell you about the differences between a few particular models.
§1. An Ideal Design for Espresso
Any Saeco Poemia espresso machine has the three main characteristics that are needed for a good espresso.
1) 15-bar pump. Saeco uses Italian vibrating pumps made by ULKA or Defond Phoenix. The maximum pressure of 15 bar output by the pump is needed to create a high pressure of 7-10 bar (which is ideal for espresso) inside the portafilter where hot water goes through the tampered coffee. Cheaper coffee makers, where the pressure is built up by steam, can only reach 3-4 bar and should not technically be classified as espresso makers (however, their names often say otherwise and the Mr. Coffee ECM160 model in the US or Excelvan in the UK are a great example of this).
2) The boiler (not a thermoblock like on the Delonghi Dedica, for example) as a heating element gives a more stable temperature while preparing your espresso. However, the boiler’s capacity is limited (130 ml/110 ml, depending on the particular model – see the differences below).
The perfect drink size for the Poemia is 30-60 ml (~1-2 fl. oz.). After 80 ml the temperature falls. That is the reason why the Poemia is perfect for a ristretto, espresso, double espresso or one classic Italian lungo (60-70 ml maximum), but not for larger portions.
However, it is possible to make some kind of caffè Americano or caffè crema on the Poemia by adding hot water from the steam wand to an espresso. Alternatively, use the so-called Scandinavian method: fill the cup with hot water and add the espresso on top. This method will keep the crema (coffee foam) on top of the drink.
3) Crema filter. As shown in my comparative test (here), the crema is especially good on the Poemia because of the pressurized filter. That feature guarantees not only high and dense crema foam on top of the espresso shot, but also a full-bodied taste and aroma.
§2. What is a Pressurised Crema Filter and Why is the Saeco’s One So Unique?
All pressurised filters ultimately have two functions: limiting the pressure and making crema. Roughly speaking, the second (crema) is a consequence of the first (pressure). In a real life coffee shop with a professional espresso machine, the barista should choose the grind level and tamper the coffee in such a way that the tampered coffee itself will create the necessary resistance and, therefore, pressure.
However, for at-home models it is better for the construction of the filter basket or portafilter (the thing you put the filter basket in) to limit the pressure. This makes it possible to get a decent espresso from cheap ground coffee without tampering it at all. Or get a good espresso if you work on the grind level and tampering technique.
The Saeco Poemia is not the only coffee machine with such a filter. In fact, the majority of pump espresso makers now have it. The construction of Saeco’s filters, however, is unique.
Most competitors use a very simple method – they make the output from the filter basket very small. That small hole limits the pressure, because water is only able to pass through it if the pressure is high enough.
Saeco uses a more complicated approach. Saeco’s portafilter has a special plug with a string. In the first seconds after you switch on the water supply, the “exit” is closed. This creates a prebrewing effect – the hot water fills the ground coffee. However, after a few seconds, when the pressure rises, the string shrinks and the water starts to pass through the coffee at high speed.
This construction is effective and gets better results. Compare photos of two test espresso shots that I made on the Delonghi ECP31.21 and Saeco HD8327/47 Poemia Top Espresso Machine:
If you disassemble and clean your filter (which you had better do once per year), pay attention to the small parts, as they break easily. That is probably the only downside to the construction of the Saeco crema filter.
§3. Cappuccino and Milk Frothing
All Poemia models except the HD8423/71 are equipped with milk frothers, which can make milk foam for your cappuccino (they are not automated – you will need to froth the milk manually using steam). There is more than just a steam wand: it is equipped with a special nozzle called a panarello. This device makes the steam flow wider, which makes it much easier to froth the milk.
The only difference is that on cheaper Philips Saeco Poemia models (HD8323/01, HD8323/05, HD8323/08, HD8323/09, HD8323/98 and HD8425/21) the panarello wand is made of plastic. The more expensive models have a metal one that is a bit easier to clean. There is no difference in performance.
However, the aforementioned relatively small boiler (compared with Delonghi’s 180ml boilers) is the first reason why the Poemia is not so good at making cappuccinos. The smaller boiler produces less steam, which means that you have less time to froth the milk. However, if the steam pressure drops, you can stop to let the boiler heat up again and continue.
Frothing milk for a cappuccino on the Saeco Poemia
The second thing that stops me from saying that the Saeco Poemia is the perfect machine for cappuccino is the uncomfortably small space under the steam wand. It is hard to prepare milk foam in a large cup or pitcher because of the high edge of the drip tray (see photo below). The small maximum angle of the steam wand also makes the frothing procedure less convenient.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that the Saeco Poemia is bad in terms of milk foam – the foam itself is good. It is just less convenient to froth the milk on the Poemia compared to its competitors.
§4. Boiler Changes and Build Quality
The main thing that could be different in the various versions of the Saeco Poemia espresso maker is the boiler:
- The ‘old, big boiler’ is made of stainless steel, its capacity is 130 ml and it has an internal heating element. I prefer this version, because it gives a more stable temperature. However, the internal heating element collects more lime scale (do not forget to run descaling cycles 1-2 times per year!)
- The ‘new, small boiler’ is made of aluminium and only holds 110 ml of water. It has an external heating element. This version is less affected by lime scale, but it should be properly warmed up in order to get a decent espresso.
The bad news is that you cannot be 100% sure if there is an aluminium or Inox steel boiler inside. I have not found any patterns. It has nothing to do with the model number (I personally saw two Saeco HD8323s for different markets where one had new boiler and the second one had the old boiler), nor the power (there are 905W and 1025W versions), nor the logo on the front (“Philips Saeco” or “Saeco”). The only way to find out is to disassemble it.
I can only guess that all the models officially sold in the US, UK and Western Europe have 130 ml stainless steel boilers, while the cheaper version is made for Eastern Europe and Asia.
However, if you are in the UK, for example, you may notice that popular online shops sell models that are produced for other countries (you will not find the Philips HD8423/11 on the official philips.co.uk site).
Old boiler (photo by expert-cm), new boiler (my photo) and example of build quality (my photo)
Even the cheaper versions of the Poemia with plastic parts and the aluminium boiler are very well assembled. Just look at the photo above: all O-rings are well tightened, the steam wand tubes and regulators are made of copper, and all the heated parts have thermal isolation.
I can say that the Poemia is the most durable of the budget espresso makers. If you want to see more technical details, please read my comparative test of pump espresso machines.
§5. Small Things That Could Be Better
- The on/off switch is located on the bottom at the back. This could be a problem if you want to have the coffee maker in a small kitchen where there is not much space.
- The deep grooves of the plastic drip tray can be hard to wash – the coffee gets deep inside them. This cannot be said about the models with a metal cup stand on top of the drip tray. On the other hand, the metal cup stand has another negative effect (which is common to any pump espresso machines with metal cup stands) – the cups jangle around while the pump is working. This is due to poor vibration isolation.
- There is only 7.5 cm (2.95″) under the holder. This is OK for espresso cups, but makes it hard to use tall glasses.
This fact again highlights that the Poemia’s main drink is espresso, not cappuccino!
- There is only one version (HD8427/11) with a full metal body and it is a) rare and b) overpriced. Otherwise, the body is always made of plastic, with certain metal elements in a few versions. However, the plastic is of good quality and does not smell. Because of the plastic body, the cup warmer plate on the top is not effective.
- Personally, I do not really like the water tank, which is made of opaque plastic. The tank itself is installed inside the body of the coffee maker (it can be accessed from top) and there is only a small window in the front for checking the water level.
§6. 2018/2019 Update: Saeco Poemia is now Gaggia Viva
Gaggia Viva = Saeco Poemia. 100% the same machine. Check price @ amazon
Philips continues to move older classic models under its subsidiary brand Gaggia. Since the end of 2018 in Europe and in most of the other countries outside North America this model is sold as Gaggia Viva (not to be confused with this old Gaggia Viva model from 2005). I assume that in 2019 they will rebadge it in the US and Canada as well.
Gaggia Viva comes in three versions:
- Gaggia Viva Style RI8433 (successor of the Philips HD8323). The cheapest model with black plastic coating and plastic panarello wand. Drip tray and the upper cup stand are also plastic.
- Gaggia Viva Deluxe RI8435. Body is partly covered with brushed stainless steel: cup stand, drip tray, panarello wand and front panel with controls are made of metal.
- Gaggia Viva Prestige RI8437. The front is fully covered with brushed SS, the sides, however, are just silver colored plastic.
From technical point of view the Viva is exactly the same as the last generation of the Poemia. It comes with the new boiler – smaller capacity, aluminium made, but with external heating element, which helps to reduce scale (read about boiler differences above). The machine is still controlled with a central rotating knob and has a famous Saeco’s pressurized holder, which makes the best espresso in the budget class (in my opinion). However, Viva keeps all the Poemia’s cons as well – my main claim is a panarello wand, which has small rotating angle and not enough space under it.
In Europe now both machines are sold (Poemia and Viva). Since there is no functional difference, I suggest to choose simply by the price factor.
Check if the new Gaggia Viva is already available at your local Amazon
My Review Conclusion
Despite not being the best in terms of ease of use (not enough space for big cups under the holder and the steam wand, on/off switch on the back, mainly a plastic body, etc.), all the Saeco Poemia models from the cheapest HD8323 to the luxury HD8327 (and the HD8425, the black and gold anniversary edition) will brew a perfect espresso shot. Better than any other pump espresso maker under $200/£200. However, the small boiler can only produce a maximum of 60 ml (which is enough for one or two espressos) of coffee at the right temperature.
I would highly recommend the Saeco Poemia (the same applies to the Gaggia Viva) if you and your family prefer traditional espressos in small cups and cappuccino is not your everyday drink. If you are on a tight budget, you should not hesitate to choose the cheapest available Poemia, as there are no differences in the taste of the espresso compared to more expensive versions. Only the design varies.
If you like bigger portions of coffee, often make cappuccino or have a small kitchen, I would recommend choosing a Delonghi/Ariete/Kenwood (these brands also belong to one company and use similar parts). For example, the DeLonghi Icona, DeLonghi Dedica or Ariete 1389 Vintage. The espresso will be a little bit hotter and more bitter, the crema a little bit smaller. However, in terms of usability and the ease of making cappuccinos, they are a little bit better.
Similar Models: the Gaggia Gran
As I mentioned in the beginning, Saeco and Gaggia brands are now subsidaries of Philips. That’s why it’s no suprise that Gaggia Gran Style/Gran Deluxe coffee makers are very similar under the hood. Mostly the interface and design are different, the taste of the espresso would be the same on Gaggia and on Saeco.
Check current prices and deals @ Amazon for Saeco Poemia or for Gaggia Gran.
Different Models for Different Markets
In the United States, there are two models that are sold officially: the HD8325/47 and HD8327/47. Both have a plastic body, metal drip tray and steam wand, and a silver front panel. The difference is the color of the sides – on the HD 8325 they are black and on the HD 8327 they are painted silver. However, you can find the European HD8323/17 model on Amazon that has a red body, but a plastic steam wand. The Gaggia Gran Style can also be bought in the US. I believe that all US models are equipped with the “old”, big stainless steel boiler.
In Europe, the range is much wider.
In the UK, the most affordable Poemia is the Philips Saeco HD8423/11 and I am afraid that this model has already been equipped with the new, small aluminium boiler (as I mentioned before, it is impossible to buy and disassemble every model on every market). The HD8423/22 is the same but in red. The Saeco Poemia HD8427/11 is less popular on the UK market, but it definitely has the old, stainless steel boiler. It has also a metal steam wand, drip tray and silver painted body (which is still made of plastic). The Saeco HD8325/47 lies in between and is the same as the US version: old big boiler, metal steam wand and drip tray. The front panel is silver, however the parts on the side are black.
In 2019 in Germany, United Kingdom and most of other European countries Saeco Poemia was completely replaced by Gaggia Viva.
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(31 votes, average: 4.61 out of 5)
Authentic Italian Espresso every day
Classic Milk Frother Manual Espresso machine
Saeco manual espresso machine offers enthusiasts of traditional preparation everything for a perfect daily espresso. The patented pressurized filter Crema guarantees a long lasting delicious crema, at every use.
Suitable for ground coffee and pods
For your convenience you can choose between ground coffee pads
Ergonomic in day by day operations
Refilling coffee powder or water, emptying the filter or the drip tray, All compartments are directly accessible for maximum convenience
Stainless steel espresso machine
Premium material for long lasting and easy to clean
Delicious milk froth thanks to the classic milk frother
This Saeco espresso machine comes with the classic milk frother that baristas call a “pannarello”. It dispenses steam and is immersed in milk to prepare gorgeous milk foam. Unleash your inner barista by preparing your delicious milk specialities the traditional way!
Pre-heat your cups letting the aroma unfold even better and guaranteeing a long-lasting crema.