Philips Series 2200 LatteGo Fully Automatic Espresso Machine review: Better than pods, I guess.
- The milk frother looks very cool while it’s dispensing
- It makes coffee pretty quickly
- It’s an automatic coffee machine under $900
- The coffee tastes “fine” at best
- Minimal customisation options
- Pressing the double-shot espresso button will make each shot of espresso individually, savings neither beans nor time
Automatic coffee machines are truly the best way to get your morning coffee if you don't want to spend up to $7.50 going to the barista. However, automatic machines themselves are very expensive, costing up to $5,000 in some cases. I've tested a lot over the last few years, and the Philips LatteGo Fully Automatic Espresso Machine is the least expensive I've encountered at $899. Unfortunately, it's also the least good.
It sits in the middle of the Philips Fully Automatic range. It's between the $799 machine that appears to be the same, but it has a steam wand instead of the LatteGo frother (which sounds better in theory, even if it isn't as cool), and a $1,199 machine with more coffee options.
Philips LatteGo: Design
I really like the design of the Philips LatteGo. It's simple and easy to use. There are touch buttons on the front that can make 3 different coffee drinks as well as hot water. You can moderately customise those drinks (though not in any way that seems to meaningfully improve the flavour) and the machine doesn't take up as much space as some more premium coffee machines.
Rather than a complicated touch screen, the Series 2200 relies on capacitive touch buttons, which is fine. It's not as good as a physical button, but it's still nice and sleek.
The milk frother attaches by being gently rested on a little protuberance and then sucks up the milk from the bottom through an invisible straw. The design is very impressive and it's utterly mesmerising to watch. I question its efficiency against, say, a steam wand that would make better quality milk and be easier to clean. But it just looks so cool that I found myself making more milky coffees than ever just so I could watch it. So that's certainly something.
I'd class the aesthetic as a bit 2005. With the black plastic and chrome accents, it looks quite dated, and while small and unobtrusive, it is far from being a beautiful décor piece. It is the physical embodiment of "fine" from every angle. It's functional and seems durable, but it's very hard to find either positives or negatives about the design. It exists.
The most important thing about a coffee machine is that it makes good coffee. It would be nice if it looked good and was extremely intuitive, but being mediocre in those arenas can be forgiven if it makes great coffee.
The LatteGo does not make great coffee. No matter what beans I use, which setting I put it on or anything else, it always tastes a bit burnt, a touch earthy and just a step above capsule coffee.
For $900, I want a coffee that makes waking up worth it. Automatic coffee machines should make great coffee because it is literally their only purpose. They grind the beans, they add the water, they extract the coffee and then they're turned off until they do it all again.
Capsule coffee machines get a pass for being a bit crap because they're cheap and convenient, and they really don't have that much coffee to work with (usually only 5–15g of ground coffee). The Series 2200 was given the finest beans, used a lot of them and then managed to make the equivalent of capsule coffee. My wife literally spat hers back into her cup. I had to force myself to drink mine and considered switching to tea in the mornings so I could limit my exposure.
It's not an overly offensive flavour. It doesn't taste like the beans have been cast into the sun or like it's mouldy or anything. It just tastes like something you'd expect to find at McDonald's or 7/11 in 1997 before they realised coffee was supposed to be good. It's not a coffee you'd drink if you had literally any other option. It's not a cup of coffee you'd pay $900 for.
If you were moving from an Aldi capsule coffee machine and had never had any other kind of coffee, you'd think it was pretty good. If you were doing a blind taste test with the Smeg BCC02 and a De'Longhi PrimaDonna Soul, you would think someone peed in your cup. Usually I'll do a blind taste test between machines with the same beans and be looking for subtle differences. The differences here were not subtle.
In good news, though, the milk was better than a Nespresso Aeroccino and I liked the dispensing method more than the De'Longhi PrimaDonna Soul. So, if you just wanted milk and no coffee, I still wouldn't recommend this $900 machine, but I also wouldn't actively caution you against it.
Sure, it's easy to set up and use, even if the controls aren't super intuitive. I could complain about the silly nature of the double-shot function. But, really, the coffee tastes bad. None of the rest of that matters.
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you want the taste of pod coffee without the waste – at 3 times the price.
- Don't buy it if you like coffee.
Here is normally where I would write 3 paragraphs about how this machine might work for some people if they have taste that's different to mine or a higher budget. Not today. This machine makes bad coffee. You can get a machine that makes better coffee without having to spend too much extra. Do that instead. If there's a sale, look for the Smeg BCC02 – that one is way better. If $900 is your absolute budget, get a cheap Nespresso machine instead to tide you over while you save for a better machine.
Or, I guess you can try this machine in the store. Maybe you will like the coffee. Everyone's taste is different after all, and just because I don't like it doesn't mean you won't.
Philips LatteGo: Pricing and availability
How we tested
I spent 3 months steeling myself to use the Philips Series 2200 LatteGo Fully Automatic Coffee Machine as often as I could. I was sent the machine by Philips PR.
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