What is the CaffItaly SO5?
If one espresso is never enough, or you need an on-demand supply of tea, coffee and hot chocolate, the SO5 is the capacious capsule machine that can deliver.
A 2-litre lidded water tank with a generous capsule drawer means it can brew a supply of delicious drinks without missing a beat. It also alternates between a low-pressure setting for black tea and filter coffee and a standard 15-bar pressure for crema-topped espresso and lungo. It’s available in two colours: carbon and white.
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CaffItaly SO5 – Design and features
There’s no denying the SO5 is substantial – in size, weight (around 6kg) and in its styling. It features a chunky chrome handle for securing and releasing capsules; large, simple buttons for brewing; and an ample capacity for water and used capsules. In contrast to the usual reversible platform to elevate espresso cups for the perfect crema, the SO5 has a retractable spout that extends down to meet whatever sized cup is used, making it great for rounds of different drinks.
On the front, you’ll find all the controls and functions you’ll need with three buttons for espresso, lungo and filter coffee. In addition, there are three lights that illuminate to indicate the machine needs descaling, has run out of water, or that the capsule drawer is full – making it ideal for those who forget to fill or maintain the machine. Each button can be reprogrammed from its preset dispensing amount from 30-250ml. After an hour of non-use, the unit will go into a low power mode.
CaffItaly SO5 – What’s it like to use?
The SO5 turns on with a flick switch that’s located on the side of the unit, and it took just under a minute to heat up. For those who want their drinks faster, it would be better to keep the SO5 in low power mode.
I started by making an espresso using a small cup and a coffee capsule with the espresso button setting. To insert a capsule, I rotated the lever back to reveal a shaped slot, before moving the lever forward to secure it. The spout extended down to just above the rim, its proximity resulting in a faultlessly even, aromatic crema on top of the drink.
Next I made a cappuccino, using the middle lungo button to dispense a milk capsule, then a coffee one. Here, the cup platform’s design proved useful, accommodating a wide-rimmed cup that can be tricky to squeeze onto the narrower-width platforms of more compact machines. The milk capsule wasn’t especially frothy on this middle setting and left the coffee tasting quite strong, so it may be that the machine’s ability to alter its dispensing settings would come in handy for this drink.
Usefully, the SO5 counts the number of drinks that have been made and can therefore indicate when the capsule drawer needs emptying. This also enables it to figure out the amount of water that has been dispensed, and so can prompt when the machine requires descaling.
I moved on to making a hot chocolate with a milk capsule then a cocoa one, again using the middle buttons for both. The drink was sweet and delicious, but the milk froth was minimal.
After making this drink, I ran it empty to clean the nozzle. While some capsule machines allow you to run water through without closing the capsule holder, the SO5 doesn’t – which is a good thing since this can result in excess water flooding the empty capsule container.
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I finished by making tea using the longer dispensing button. Even though I’d cleaned the machine, there were still some bubbles – although this may have resulted from the force of the dispensing.
CaffItaly SO5 – How good is the coffee?
The SO5 makes a great espresso, with a thick, smooth crema and an intense taste, but some of the other drinks may need a little test and adjust to find the perfect flavour.
Tea is quite strong and the milk pods may not be to everyone’s taste – I found that I preferred drinks made with fresh milk. The choice of coffee capsules is more limited than some systems, although it does include a decaf, while cocoa, tea, lemon tea, ginseng and chamomile provide some more interesting options for non-coffee drinkers.
Should I buy the CaffItaly SO5 capsule machine?
For most households, the SO5 will prove too bulky in terms of the space it takes up on a worktop. If capacity is what you’re after then it’s ideal, catering happily for large families, offices and small businesses.
The range of features on offer for maintenance demonstrate its suitability for volume drink production, as does its adaptability for different cup sizes. However, a sleeker design and a greater number of dishwasher-safe parts would have been welcome.
A commercial machine in a consumer package, the SO5 does most things well – but it will be a space hog in a small kitchen.