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AUGUST 2005 Newsletter

Given my opinion of thermoblock machines in general, reviewing
the Sunbeam EM6900 Twin Thermoblock espresso machine might be
thought to be a bit unusual. However, this machine is supposed to
have been designed with considerable input from World Barista
Champion Paul Bassett, making it worth at least a closer look.

The review is now up at and is far too
long to include in the newsletter. However, excerpts are below.

"I purchased the review machine from Myer Melbourne for the RRP
of $599.00."

"Unpacking all the bits and pieces, I ended up with:

Warranty, quickstart guide and manual.
800ml ss milk jug.
Measuring spoon (capacity 12g per scoop.)
Single & double filter baskets (NOT "industry standard" designs.)
58mm plastic tamper with ss base.
58mm twin spout portafilter.
Corrugated ss cup warming plate.
Rubber backflush disc (in rear door.)
And, of course, the machine itself."

"There is enough steam pressure to get a "vortex" effect going
with about 250ml of milk in the supplied jug, and decent
microfoam is possible. However, compared to a Rancilio Silvia it
takes about twice as long to achieve a milk temperature of 60c,
and foam height is about half. In this respect the thermoblock
and pump combination, while adequate, are no match for a boiler."

"Adding hot milk to the shots made any variation undetectable to
my palate. I would therefore conclude that given decent filter
baskets the machine can produce quality shots."

"I would score this machine at a 7/10 at present. It has a number
of minor problems and at least one major production fault, but it
must be remembered that this is the first production batch. The
warranty service (1 year overall, 5 year Pump) is excellent and
Sunbeam has service centres all over the country. If Sunbeam is
able to address some of the niggles and fix the production faults
then the machine will be unmatched at the price. It comes with
good functionality and a suite of accessories that Italian
domestic machine manufacturers should take note of (but probably

"Until such time as a Mark II version is available and tested I
can't give an unqualified "BUY" recommendation for this machine,
but if Sunbeam do manage to fix all the niggles they will have a
"category killer" in domestic espresso machines. Their biggest
problem will be training the department store demonstrators in
the barista skills needed to show the machines off to best

This month's special coffee is a repeat from April,


A  full bodied, low acid coffee with complex dark chocolate
flavour and distinct cocoa aftertaste. The addition of milk and
sugar produces the definite impression of milk chocolate. Superb
single origin espresso.

My request for opinions on the provision of free technical advice
has produced a deluge of responses, which now I've got the big
review out of the way I'll have time to consider and talk about.
Most of the responses had a single theme though, "make 'em pay!"

Anyway, that's for next month, and I'll worry about it then.