KitchenAid needs no introduction and is one of the first brands that springs to mind when it comes to premium countertop kitchen appliances such as stand mixers or blenders. But with just a small range of espresso and drip coffee machines, it’s not a big player in the coffee maker market.
The KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine KES6503 is the more premium of two espresso machines available in the US, whereas in the UK this is the only KitchenAid espresso machine you can buy. As you’d expect from KitchenAid, this is an expensive choice, but it’s got that unmistakably sleek KitchenAid style that’s so coveted by many.
This easy-to-use coffee maker, which is known as the KitchenAid Metal Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine in the US, can produce single or double espresso shots, plus the steam wand and included stainless-steel milk pitcher allow you to steam and froth milk to add to your coffee, so you can perfect the art of making a great cappuccino, latte or macchiato. It can also produce hot water on demand should you fancy herbal tea instead of your usual caffeine fix.
With a 15-bar Italian pump and commercial-grade portafilter, this espresso machine has everything you need to make the perfect espresso. And if you want to fine-tune water temperature and drink volume, it allows you to tweak these in the settings.
On test, we found this machine simple to use and we were pouring perfect espressos virtually straight away, it’s a great machine for beginners and coffee aficionados alike. The milk steaming is horribly loud though and in our opinion is the biggest downside to this well-built espresso machine.
KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine KES6503 price and availability
- List price: £449/ $499.99
The KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine, which is known as the KitchenAid Metal Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine in the US, is available directly through KitchenAid and will set you back £449/ $499.99. It’s not currently available in Australia. It’s an expensive choice that’ll
In the US, this semi-automatic espresso machine is also available in a version that includes an automatic milk frother. This model is known as the KitchenAid Artisan semi-automatic espresso machine and automatic milk frother attachment bundle KES6504 and will set you back $599.99 (around £450).
- 1.4 litre / 49 oz water tank
- 360 degree swivel steam wand
- Cup warmer on top
There’s no mistaking that this is a KitchenAid appliance, and if you have other countertop KitchenAid appliances it’ll look right at home. It’s not as compact as some espresso machines, but it’s smaller than bean-to-cup machines and measures 28.6 x 16.2 x 36cm / 11.3 x 6.4 x 14.2 inches (h x w x d).
As is pretty standard for KitchenAid small appliances, this espresso machine comes in a range of colours which include red, black, brushed stainless steel, and if you’re in the UK there’s a cream option too.
The stainless steel portafilter is noticeably weighty and has a sturdy feel, the 58mm diameter is commercial grade, which according to KitchenAid helps to maintain optimum heat throughout extraction. It comes with a choice of four stainless steel baskets to hold the coffee grounds.
There are two single-wall baskets, one single and one double shot. These are ideal for freshly ground whole bean coffee and give greater control for people who are skilled at making espresso. The two double-wall baskets are again in single and double shot sizes and are ideally suited to beginners and pre-ground coffee.
The stainless-steel tamper has a good weight for even tamping and there’s a coffee scoop as well as a stainless-steel milk pitcher included in the box. At the back, the 1.4 litre / 49 oz water tank is removable and has a handle for easy carrying.
Under the hood, there’s a 15-bar Italian pump and dual temperature sensors to ensure the best possible temperature and extraction. The steam wand swivels 360 degrees as well as tilting forward and backward so you can get the optimum angle for milk steaming.
At the back of the appliance below the water tank, you’ll find the on/off switch, but the machine will go into sleep mode if you fail to switch it off. Everything else is operated via four buttons on the front of the machine. The first button allows you to select espresso, steam, or hot water.
With the second button, you can choose between a single or double espresso shot. The third initiates the descaling cycle and the fourth is a start/ stop button. These buttons can also be used in certain sequences to program the volume of espresso and hot water dispensed, or to adjust water temperature and water hardness settings. There are three levels of water temperature to choose between.
- Easy to use
- Noisy when steaming milk
- Espresso has a thick crema
There’s not much set up required and with intuitive controls, it wasn’t long before we were pouring rich espressos with a thick crema. The wide portafilter is easy to fill with ground coffee without spilling too much, and it has a flat base so you can rest it on the counter while tamping. We liked the weighty tamper which compresses the ground coffee without too much effort and can be swivelled to polish the puck of coffee. It’s worth noting though that the portafilter is one of the heaviest we’ve used at around 625g / 22oz.
A double espresso took around 30 seconds to pour and the temperature was 140 F/ 60 C, but the temperature was set to the middle of three temperature levels, so this can be increased or decreased by programming the settings. There’s quite a lot of dripping after the bulk of the shot has poured so you need to leave the cup in place to catch the drips. Brewing an espresso maxed out at 68db on our noise meter, which is the same level of noise created when using an electric shaver on your body.
There’s 3.5cm /1.4 inches between the two coffee spouts which means it can’t pour into a narrow-rimmed espresso cup. Additionally, while there’s plenty of height to accommodate taller cups, short cups sit well below the spouts, which can cause some splashing as the coffee pours, this will depend on the shape of your cup though. All-in-all we were impressed with the espresso shot, it had a well-rounded flavour and thick crema that reformed when cut with a spoon.
Frustratingly, before steaming milk, you have to turn the steam mode on, point the wand at the drip tray and allow it to dispense water. Once this has finished and steam begins dispensing, it then has to be switched off so you can place the wand in the pitcher of milk and start steaming. During this process we found that the water wasn’t all captured in the drip tray and can dribble down the side of it, so to avoid mess it’s best to aim the wand into a cup instead of the drip tray.
Heating and texturizing milk using a steam wand is a process that takes practice, and creating a foamy cappuccino texture required the pitcher to be positioned at an angle and the steam wand to be inserted just beneath the surface. Once you get the hang of it though, it works well for both dairy and non-dairy milk. However, it’s very loud, with a piercing sound that registered up to 86dB on our noise meter, which is the equivalent noise level as when a train horn is sounded.
All the removable accessories require hand washing, though often a quick rinse is all that’s needed. A button next to the steam wand releases it so it can be thoroughly washed in the sink to remove any milky residues. On test, we had the brushed stainless-steel machine which marked easily with fingerprints and required regular buffing to keep it looking its best.
There’s an automatic clean cycle to descale the machine periodically and a flashing light will remind you when to descale, it’s an automated process that doesn’t require too much input.
Should I buy the KitchenAid Artisan Espresso Machine KES6503?
Buy it if…
Money is no object
At £449/ $499.99 this is an investment-level espresso machine, but if you’ve got the budget for it, you’ll get a well-made and sturdy machine from a trusted brand.
You want a good-looking espresso machine
Featuring KitchenAid’s iconic curved sleek lines, this is an espresso machine that’ll look great on your kitchen counter and it’s available in red, black or brushed stainless steel with an additional cream option in the UK.
You want an easy-to-use espresso machine
We were pouring excellent espressos from the get-go with this simple machine. It’s straightforward to use and there’s not much skill required to make the perfect coffee, but learning to steam milk to the perfect texture may take some time.
Don’t buy it if…
You want automatic milk frothing
The barista-style steam wand gives you the opportunity to steam and froth your own milk, but if you don’t want to do this, you’ll need a machine with automatic milk frothing. Although this machine is available bundled with an automatic frother in the US.
You want a machine that can grind fresh beans
This is an espresso machine not a bean-to-cup machine, this means it doesn’t grind fresh coffee beans, if you want coffee from freshly ground beans, you’ll need a separate grinder.
You want a quiet coffee machine
While it’s not too loud when pouring an espresso, this machine is noisy during the milk steaming process so if you want to make milky coffees while the rest of the house is still sleeping, this isn’t the machine for you.
First reviewed: March 2022
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