The Saeco Via Venezia is a new type of espresso machine that does not require tamping the grounds in the porta filter and makes pretty good espresso shots but misses the great espresso characteristics.
Ease of Use/Performance: 18/25
How much I enjoy 18/25
The Saeco Via Venezia is a pretty good espresso machine that uses a pressurized porta filter to try to get rid of the need for tamping of the grounds. The Via Venezia is a pretty good espresso machine but I have had my problems with using it for the past month.
First I will go into the use and general features then to my problems, the Via Venezia makes a pretty good espresso machine but for the price you can get much better ones. The Via Venezia does make good espresso shots without having to tamp or press the grounds when making them but the problems do not make up for this feature.
The Via Venezia comes with the machine that has a removable water tank, the porta filter with ground filter or porta filter with adapter, trays and drawer, scoop, tool and instructions. The trays mean you can use a small espresso cup or a regular coffee mug under the porta filter and below the tray is a small drawer for storage.
The pressurized porta filter uses a mechanical device to help add pressure to the water going through the grounds when making your espresso. This works well for getting a good espresso but it does not make espresso shots as good as other machines I have used.
The shots do not have as rich a crema as shots from other machines and the pressurized porta filter also means the pucks of grounds are not as solid as other machines. I have found I can expect a soup of grounds when I’m done with the shot and have to let the porta filter drip out some but it is not like more solid pucks from other conventional machines.
The pressurized porta filter means a different type of brewing process than more conventional espresso machines but it still uses hot water and pressure to force water through the grounds. The machine has an internal removable tank that inserts into the area behind the porta filter brew connection behind the trays.
You can remove the tank to fill it with water or just use the top opening to fill the tank for a hassle free way to fill the water as long as the machine is on a counter with room above it. This is an easy way to fill the Via Venezia but you can remove the tank as well but the small hose makes this a little more difficult.
There is a small hose with a filter end on it to keep debris out of the machine that sits rather low in the tank and is a bit of a hassle to deal with. The hose takes a bit of wrangling to remove and insert the tank to get the hose in and out of the tank when working with it.
The machine works by pouring water in the tank and filling the porta filter with grounds, then turning the machine on when the porta filter is in place. Once the pump indicator lights you press it and the pump will start to force the hot water through the porta filter.
The Via Venezia can use ground coffee or pods with the two filters but when using pods you have to insert the rubber pod adapter before the filter goes into the porta filter. The machine makes pretty good espresso shots but not great ones and the steamer function works fantastically for great steamed milk.
This is one area that the Via Venezia really excels above all others and does a fantastic job at steaming and frothing milk. The steam comes out well and the tip works great to get an easy froth from your milk for those great cappuccino drinks.
Cleanup is not the best as the puck is more of a soup because you don’t tamp the grounds so you should wait a minute or two before removing the porta filter. I found that letting it drip some you can have a dry enough ground after pulling your shot.
This means you have some mess in the tray no matter what and you might spill the wet grounds if you don’t let it drip before removal. All this hassle means a bit of a lower rating but other problems also occurred during use, I had problems with buttons on the two machines I received for review.
I received the first Via Venezia and started having problems with the pump button staying in when I pressed it until it stopped working totally. When I received a second unit from the company the power button started to have problems but this unit still works.
The button just is not a very good design, they are the kind that you push in and it is supposed to stay in after it catches on some tabs. The problem is the buttons have small tabs inside and these tabs often get worn or break because they are just not a good quality part.
I have read on internet sites that this is a problem with others and the porta filter design that does not give you hard pucks is also a hassle. The Via Venezia costs about $300 but with these problems I would be hesitant to really spend my hard earned money on one.
You can purchase espresso machines that are more reliable and do not have as many cleanup difficulties as this so you may want to look at others. The Via Venezia does make espresso without having to tamp the grounds but this is not that big of an advantage.
Using a tamp and making good espresso with just about any home machine does not take all that much effort and a little practice is all that is needed. I can make a great shot of espresso with any of the five machines I have used and only had to practice a few times to get decent enough at it.
The Via Venezia is available from the Saeco website, Starbucks also has a version they sell and from other websites online and some stores locally like the Starbucks I mentioned. I just have reservations at recommending the Saeco Via Venezia espresso machine with its pressurized filter.