Cafelat Robot Review

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In an era marked by rapid technological advancement and automation, a contrasting trend is emerging among espresso enthusiasts – a return to the roots of espresso making, where the human hand reigns supreme. At the forefront of this movement stands the Cafelat Robot, a manual espresso maker that combines a classic design with modern engineering.

In this article, we take a look at the Cafelat Robot and delve into what sets this manual espresso maker apart and why it continues to captivate aficionados with the timeless traditions of manual espresso brewing.

Cafelat Robot 

Cafelat Robot

The Cafelat Robot is a manual espresso maker that can pull a mean shot of espresso, with the caveat that this depends on both the skill of the operator and the quality of the grinder used. The Cafelat Robot has a beautiful and well-built design and is equipped with a 58mm portafilter and a pressure gauge, making it easy to use.

Why Buy A Manual Espresso Machine?

Manual espresso machines are loved by the traditionalists out there- they were the original way of brewing espresso. They generally have beautiful aesthetics and allow for a high level of customization. The user can fine-tune every detail in the brewing process from grind size, temperature, pressure, and length of extraction. These espresso machines take the art of espresso brewing to the next level and offer great satisfaction once you have mastered it. Manual espresso machines also (debatably) can produce the best-tasting espresso. So if you are a coffee geek and love the art of brewing, a manual espresso machine should at least be on your radar. 

About Cafelat

Cafelat is a well-known brand in the coffee industry, most commonly known for its espresso accessories, including knock boxes, tamping mats, and spare parts. Paul Pratt is the mastermind behind the brand- and he certainly knows his way around an espresso machine! In 2015, Pratt embarked on a new venture, crafting a manual lever espresso machine. Finally, in 2018, the culmination of his efforts emerged with the launch of the Cafelat Robot. Drawing inspiration from the iconic Faema Baby, the design of the Cafelat Robot pays homage to the classics while incorporating modern innovation.

Faema Baby Espresso Machine

Cafelat Robot Review


Design

The Cafelat Robot is a striking machine with a classic vintage look. It is available in multiple colors: blue, retro green, red, orange, and black. There are two models available: the basic and the barista– with the main difference being that the barista version has a pressure gauge on it, whereas the basic model does not. Some users have complained about the placement of the pressure gauge, saying it is hard to see. Despite this, we recommend opting for the Barista version as the pressure gauge is very helpful when brewing. The Cafelat Robot is capable of generating up to 16 bars of pressure when the levers are pressed down. The other flaw some users have found in the design is that the base is small, so it is hard to find a scale that will fit under it- the Acaia Lunar scale is one scale that does work. Despite these minor flaws, the Cafelat Robot’s design exudes charm and functionality, elevating any coffee nook. 

The Cafelat Robot boasts some practical features, including a 58mm filter basket with a capacity ranging from 16 to 25 grams of fresh ground coffee. Its bottomless portafilter, complemented by a detachable double spout, enhances versatility. Additionally, the espresso maker includes essential accessories such as a stainless steel dispersion screen, a silicone drip mat, and a steel tamper, conveniently fitting into the Robot’s hand when not in use. For those seeking an upgrade, the option of a leveling tamper is available if you want.

Cafelat Robot

Build Quality

Cafelat has put a lot of thought into the Robot’s build and used only high-quality materials creating a well-built and sturdy machine. The body and base are built of die-cast aluminum, while the other metal parts are all stainless steel. The seal on the piston is made of silicone; this is one of the few parts that could wear down but is easy to replace. There is no plastic used in the design at all, which is extremely rare these days.

The Cafelat Robot has a unique design where the portafilter doubles as the brew chamber. This helps prevent heat loss which is a common problem with manual espresso machines. Some users have commented that the portafilter feels loose when it’s locked in, and while this is true, the problem disappears once you begin to exert pressure. Overall the simplicity of the design means that there are fewer parts to break down, and it is easier to maintain.

Parts of the Cafelat Robot

How Does The Cafelat Robot Work?

If you haven’t used a manual espresso maker before it can be a bit hard to get your head around how to use them. But the good news is there are tons of YouTube videos detailing how to use the Cafelat Robot. We have summarized the main steps below:

  1. Boil your water and grind your coffee to an appropriate level for espresso.
  2. Add 10-21 grams of fresh ground coffee into the basket, level out, and tamp using the tamper.
  3. Press the dispersion screen on top of your puck, ensuring it is flat.
  4. Pour hot water into the reservoir and fill it up to 5-8mm below the basket rim.
  5. Lock the portafilter into the machine.
  6. Press down slowly and evenly on the lever arms.
  7. After extraction, raise the arms to remove the portafilter. Knock out the puck, wipe down the bottom of the piston, and rinse the basket and dispersion screen
  8. Enjoy your espresso!

    For pre-infusion: apply gentle pressure during the beginning of your extraction and then increase pressure once you get the first few drops of liquid out.

Ease of Use

As with most manual espresso machines, the process of brewing espresso is quite hands-on. However, compared to its competitors, the Cafelat Robot is relatively straightforward to brew with. It has a large basket that you can grind directly into. The portafilter, which doubles as a brew chamber, has good thermal management, so you can get away without preheating the different parts especially if you are using traditional dark roasts. If you want to brew with lighter roasts, you should still preheat the machine to achieve a delicious shot. If you have the Barista model, the pressure gauge helps ensure you exert the right amount of pressure during brewing. The only shortcoming is the lever arms, which require a bit of strength to push down and are a bit uncomfortable to use. Amusingly, Cafelat has designed some ‘robot hands’ which screw onto the ends of the arms to allow for a more comfortable hold.

Because the Robot has fewer parts and a simple workflow, it is a lot easier to use than competitors like the Flair Pro 2 and ROK.

Cup Quality

The Cafelat Robot can produce some pretty tasty espresso; well extracted with good texture and complexity. That being said- the shots are only as good as the user is. Being able to brew a decent shot with a manual espresso machine requires an in-depth knowledge of brewing. It would help if you also had a capable espresso grinder and quality espresso beans to achieve the best-tasting espresso. It may take a bit of trial and error to get used to the machine.

Several users have commented that with the Cafelat Robot, it is better to do an early hard press rather than a gentle pre-infusion. Many also find that manual espresso machines work better around 6-7 bars than the typical 9 bars of pressure. Once you understand the workflow of the Cafelat Robot, you will find it is capable of pulling espresso shots on par with espresso machines three to four times the price.

Espresso from cafelat robot

Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning the Cafelat Robot, it is a straightforward process. After pulling your shot, you remove the shower screen, knock out the used coffee puck, and then clean the brew basket in the sink. Other than that, the piston and the base may need a wipe-down to remove any stray coffee grounds, but that’s about it.

Cafelat Robot vs Flair Espresso Maker

If you have done your research, you will know the other leading contender at this price point are the Flair espresso machines.

Flair Espresso Maker

Flair Classic

If you are considering the classic Flair, you will find it is a lot more affordable than the Cafelat Robot and maybe a good entry point if you want to have a play around with brewing manual espresso. The only downside it it doesn’t come with a pressure gauge.

Flair Pro 2

Flair Pro 2

The Flair Pro 2 is closer in price to the Cafelat Robot. While both espresso machines produce excellent espresso, the Cafelat robot is slightly easier to use, with no preheating required and fewer steps to pull a shot. It also has a more straightforward design with fewer parts that can break down. Unless portability is a priority, where the Flair Pro 2 excels, we recommend opting for the Cafelat Robot for its ease of use and reliability.

Flair 58

Flair 58

Finally, there is the Flair 58, which is slightly more expensive than the Cafelat Robot but well worth considering. The Flair 58 has some compelling features including a 58mm commercial portafilter, electric preheating, and a stunning design. While the Flair 58 takes around 5-10 minutes to heat up, once heated it has excellent temperature stability ensuring consistent results. The brewing process is also very simple and the shots are delicious. However, the Cafelat Robot shines in terms of build quality and occupies less countertop space while delivering similar-quality espresso shots.

Who Is The Cafelat Robot For?

The Cafelat Robot is a beautiful, well-built, manual espresso machine suited to the home espresso enthusiast. While it is expensive for a machine considering it can’t make milk drinks, it is straightforward to use and, with a bit of practice, can pull some excellent espresso shots. The Cafelat Robot has a compact design, making it a good manual espresso maker for home use.

Pros:

  • Stunning espresso maker
  • Well built
  • No plastic is used in the design
  • Produces an excellent shot of espresso

Cons:

  • High price
  • No ability to steam milk
  • Brewing gauge is not the easiest to read
  • Difficult to push levers down

Final Verdict

The Cafelat Robot should be a contender for a spot in the espresso lovers’ coffee kit. It has a combination of beautiful aesthetics and functionality. The design makes it quick and easy to brew with, producing some delicious espresso shots.

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