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illy Francis Francis X7 iperEspresso Machine

A Personal, At-Home Barista

The illy Francis Francis X7 iperEspresso Machine

ome mornings, our specific coffee descriptions can be near impossible to utter under a drowsy haze; and being last in a line full of baby-stroller moms and indecisive order-placers is not exactly our cup of Joe. In a quest to get our daily caffeine fix with minimal obstacles, we gave illy's Francis Francis X7 iperEspresso machine a try.

The Francis Francis X7 was invented to produce barista-quality espresso and cappuccino at home using illy’s iperEspresso method, which is used commercially in restaurants including Le Bernardin and Nobu New York. We fell for the machine's retro good looks, designed by Italian architect Luca Trazzi, especially the glossy red color (it's also available in black).

Function matches up to style here, as we were pleased with how simple it is to use. Making espresso involves little more than pressing a button. The machine works exclusively with illy iperEspresso capsules. These small single-use capsules are insanely convenient; just drop one into the holder, and when the espresso is done, plop! Into the trash it goes. There are no messy drips or grinds to clean up, which we were thrilled with. The milk steaming function took a little while to master, but once we did, staring into a beautiful cup of cappuccino we made ourselves felt strangely gratifying (who needs Starbucks?). Now if we only had an instant pastry-maker.

Price: Machine, from $395; Capsules, 42-pack for $32.
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(Updated: 11/01/11 JM)

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