Krups is an old German company that used to sell Swiss made pump espresso machines - maybe they still do but the focus here is the four dollar to twenty dollar used Krups XP4000 and XP4030 semi automatic thermoblock pump powered espresso machine. Before I found the Gaggia, this machine was the best thing my espresso had going for it. With a decent hand grinder and a non pressurized basket from a Mr Coffee espresso machine (that is a story for another day, gentle reader) I was able to create something resembling decent espresso.
Easy does not enter into the equation though. Temp surfing involved using the steam heat function judiciously - ride it too long and watch as the programmed controls empty your thermoblock of water in something that mimics a 3-way controller on a standard machine - all the hot water intended for the shot ends up in the drip tray if your timing is off.
Pressure through the small Krups thermoblock isn't the same as pressure in a boiler either - the grind is either spot on or your shot ends up watery or you choke the machine - in between these frustrating results lies an average shot at best - the best you can hope for is a middle of the road, not awful tasting shot. Every now and then I play with one of these machines just to see what I can come up with, but using something nice will spoil you quickly an the experiments are no longer as much fun.
The Krups XP4000, XP4030, and the thermoblock Breville machines that have an identical portafilter and probably identical internals are OK if that is all you have available - any port in a storm espresso anyone? But as soon as you can, you will want better. Sideways thumb depending on your situation - are you broke? Then it is great. Just cheap? Get ready for your money's worth then - you did not spend enough to buy happiness.
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