[easyazon-image asin=”B000AQAHPC” alt=”Saeco 21103 Royal Professional Fully Automatic Espresso Machine, Silver and Blue” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YC67NRS1L._SL160_.jpg” align=”right” width=”160″ height=”146″]Where do you go when you want to buy your favorite coffee drink?
A lot of folks go to the place that starts with an “S”, you know the one, and word on the street is that they use Saeco machines to satisfy millions of fans around the world.
Why am I telling you this? Well as they say 10,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong.
Of course the fact that there is a re-labeled Saeco machine on every other street corner is not reason enough to run out and buy a Saeco 21103 Royal. No, Saeco has a lot more going for them besides that! Let’s get moving then because I enjoy investigating these machines as much as, hopefully, you enjoy reading about them.
Saeco recognize their services as simple, and convenient luxuries, their expression of mission is “Espresso Feeling”. What they mean is that espresso embodies more than just a hot beverage.
Saeco say espresso is a celebration of life itself and that Italy, the home of Saeco, is synonymous with enjoyment, contemporary design and passionate living.
Saeco talk a lot about their employees in their mission statement, and state that offering a safe, modern and positive working environment is their responsibility as an employer. They also mention that they invented the fully automatic coffee machine, more than 20 years ago.
The Saeco 21103 Royal
The Saeco Royal Professional has been around for a few years, and has seen at least one re-design. This model is unique in that it bridges the gap between home and office. Plenty of manufacturers claim that “this” or “that” model is perfect for home, as well as office, read: heavy use, but with the Royal Professional, Saeco means it.
Having one foot in both worlds means having some great features that you won’t find in home oriented models, but there are a couple trade-offs too. I was just pontificating the other day about how almost no one seems to make a tap plumbable water system, but the Royal Pro has it. Similarly, I was thinking about the lack of both a steam wand and an automatic frothing system and, you guessed it, the Pro has both.
So it sounds perfect right? Well, maybe. As I mentioned, there are a few trade-offs, the first being the footprint. This machine is a bit larger than your average home model. For some this is not a problem, others a deal breaker. It’s not mentioned often, but the maker has a built in turntable, a lazy Susan, if you will.
This alone is such a great idea; you have to wonder why others don’t use one. Then there’s the maintenance. According to owners, you will find yourself cleaning this machine frequently. I’ll get more in depth in the “What Others Say” section, but this machine appears to struggle more than the average when it comes to oily beans.
Being a relatively older machine, the Royal Professional uses a rather small and simple digital screen that doesn’t have the flair of the more recent, large-screen, TFT multi-color read-outs that you will find on other makers, including those made by Saeco. It also lacks the programmability of some of the newer home models, but realistically this, in the end, may be a good thing if used primarily in an office setting.
This may sound like a big negative mess, but it isn’t, at least not for me. I’m not sure that this would be the one I would choose for my home, but if I was looking to use a machine in any kind of high traffic capacity, and that includes a very busy home, the Royal Professional deserves a close look.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
Saeco Royal Professional owners seem to have hit and miss experiences with their machines. The maker generally rates quite high, but there are some issues that are fairly consistent. The first, and most common is a finicky burr grinder. While it does its job well, it seems quite sensitive to oily beans.
I have found that this is not uncommon for super-automatics, and indeed burr grinders in general. I have noticed in ther machines that getting even the smallest amount of water in the grinder by accident creates problems, and the Royal Pro is no different. Tis will be another reason to plumb the water.
If you have had experience with a busy office, and busy employees, you can probably testify that people can be a little less careful with appliances that they, themselves, do not own. Warm-up time, too, has been cited as an area of concern. I don’t think that the time is excessive, just a little slow compared to some other makers.
Maintenance on this machine is important and frequent. The good news is that the brew group is removable, so a good rinse is all that is likely needed here. Lastly, the owner’s manual, many say, is poorly translated and difficult to read. Saeco was purchased by Dutch electronics giant Philips in 2009 and the fact that the Royal was created well before then may, or may not have something to do with some of these complaints.
However, I have read a few complaints about Saeco owner’s manuals since Philips purchased the company. Perhaps we can consider the translation part of the Italian firm’s charm?
IT’S A PROFESSIONAL
Since this machine was designed to be more flexible than others in terms of volume, I think it’s time to consider some of the Royal Professionals strengths. Keeping in mind that this is a high volume machine, and we’ll call “high volume” up to around 100 cups per day, it’s really not that big.
Because of its inherent size, you get a higher capacity than typical for water, enough in fact for 40 espressos, or best of all unlimited, when plumbed into a potable water source. Another excellent feature that you will be very hard pressed to find elsewhere is the ability to froth milk with either the Panarello wand, or the Cappuccinatore.
If that’s all Italian to you, it simply means you can use the traditional type steam wand with Panarello attachment to froth milk in a container, or use the Cappuccinatore, which draws milk from a container, and froths it for you before dispensing it directly into your cup. They even make refrigerated containers for the Cappuccinatore. Talk about convenience!
This really is a great office/church/busy home/small business/etc… solution. Speaking of solutions, one owner mentioned that he/she kept a jar next to the machine in the office to help cover the cost of the machine, supplies and maintenance and was able to pay for it that way. Capital idea!
SPECIFICATIONS & CAPACITIES
- 110v or 220v
- Weight: 31.3 LBS.
- 15 Bar Pump
- Cup Warmer
- Adjustable Doser: 6 -9 grams
- Removable Brew Group
- Plumbable Water/Reservoir 82oz
- Conical Burr Grinder (10.6oz)
- Dual Frothing Capable
- Made in Italy
Note: Older models were 220 volt for commercial applications. If you are buying used, and need 110 volt, make certain that you are getting the updated model. There are a few other differences too with the programmability, etc.
W 15.5” x H 15.5” x D 17.5”
1 Year Limited Warranty
EXPLORING THE COMPANY WEBSITE
The Saeco website is one of my favorites. Not for any practical purpose, mind. I just like the clean layout, and the little Flash sequence when the page loads.
The other 99.9% of the site is fairly typical. The header at the top has tabs for products, support, contacts and other links you’d expect to find on any corporate website. Looking for the Royal Professional on their website, you need to go to the vending machines area.
There are some differences between the Royal Coffee Bar, and the Royal Professional, so what you find at the Saeco website may be a bit confusing. Typical web support for Saeco makers is pretty good, I’d say better than for the Royal Pro. Bummer.
WHERE CAN I BUY A SAECO ROYAL PROFESSIONAL, AND HOW MUCH SHOULD I PAY?
You can get your Saeco Royal Professional at a great price here. Amazon I find, offers great prices and fast shipping. Consumers have always reported excellent customer service as well.
Saeco made a choice with the Royal Professional that other companies have chosen not to make. Whether this is because Saeco already make vending machines, and therefore have the know-how that others lack, or maybe saw an opportunity to fill a niche.
Either way it’s the consumer for whom this machine was designed who really wins by choosing this maker. The fact that there was an update, two models with similar names, some color options, different SKUs, and even power requirements can make finding the right one a little confusing.
The model reviewed here, of course, is the Royal Professional # 21103 and finding it at Amazon couldn’t be easier.
It may be tempting to buy a sexy new maker, with as much processing power as the computer that I’m typing on right now, you know, the one with a fingerprint scanning I.D. system, wait a sec, that would be another model by Saeco, the Xelsis, but I’m getting off track.
The point is that in a high volume situation, what you really want is a little simplicity, a little ruggedness, to go along with your high-tech super-automatic convenience, and that is exactly what you get with the Royal Professional.