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Saeco Poemia Espresso Makers: Full Review with Disassembly and Comparison of the HD8327, HD8325, HD8323, HD8423 and HD8427

Comments: 5↓ specifications & manual ↓

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.

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 HD8323 Coffee Maker

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.

The rich and dense crema is the key feature of the Saeco Poemia coffee maker

§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.

Philips Saeco Poemia's pressurized crema filter

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:

Saeco Poemia vs Delonghi ECP3131 crema on espresso

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

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)

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

Switch off/switch on button in on backThere are a few things that I do not like about the Poemia. They are not too serious, however these small cons could be important to you.

  • 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.

Saeco Poemia: small window for checking water level

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 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.

Gaggia GranSimilar 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.

I NEED you opinion. Please rate my review:

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (13 votes, average: 4.77 out of 5)
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Saeco Poemia Coffee Machine Specifications:

Download manual: Download pdf manual
Machine type: Pump espresso machine
Width х Deep х Height: 21 x 28 x 30 cm
Coffee used: Ground coffee or E. S. E. pods
Grinder: No
Brewing group: Metal filter
Heater: Aluminium 110ml / Stainless Steel 130ml Boiler, 950W or 1025W (depending on the country)
Max pressure: 15 bar
Water container: 1.25 l, accessible from the top
Bean container: No
Waste container: No
Cappuccinatore: Manual 'pannerello'
Max cup height: 75 mm
Colors: HD8423/11, HD8423/19, HD8323/08: black body, silver controls, plastic dripray, plastic steamwand
HD8423/71: black body, silver controls, plastic dripray, no steamwand(!)
HD8327/47, HD8327/91, HD8427/11, HD8427/11: stainless steel body, silver controls, metal dripray, metal steamwand
HD8425/11, HD8325/47, Hd8425/19: black&silver body, silver controls, metal dripray, metal steamwand
HD8425/21: black&gold, black controls, metal dripray, plastic steamwand
HD8423/21: white body, silver controls, metasl dripray, plastic steamwand
HD8423/22, HD8323/98: red body, silver controls, metasl dripray, plastic steamwand

Author:

03/10/2017

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5 comments:

  1. Hi , would a Saeco Poemia portafilter fit on a Delonghi ecp 31.21 for that special cream system ?
    Thank you, Michael

    Michael BRYHER Hainsworth

    15 Dec 17 at 4:17 pm

    Reply

    • No. Saeco’s one is bigger.

      Dmitriy

      16 Dec 17 at 10:27 pm

      Reply

      • Thank you for the reply Dmetriy,
        Michael

        Michael BRYHER Hainsworth

        16 Dec 17 at 11:55 pm

        Reply

  2. Hi – do you know if you can retro fit a different type of steam wand to the machine? I think you can fit the rancillo wand to the Gaggia Classic but not sure if all the parts are the same. Great review!!

    Sorrel

    18 Dec 17 at 10:38 am

    Reply

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