Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
When I was young, I was lazy and cheap. My meals consisted mainly of Kraft Dinner, hot dogs, and TV dinners washed down with endless cups of instant coffee.
My routine hasn’t changed much except that I’ve exchanged the hot dogs for plump and spicy sausages. I’ve also—blame it on coffee shops—developed a taste for good coffee. I moved from instant to filtered and then to a French Press.
Sadly, the French Press involved far too much work, forcing me to switch to a Tassimo machine. Pod coffee is always fresh, and this coffee maker could even brew a passible cappuccino.
Cappuccino and latte pods, however, are expensive, and since I drink a lot of these concoctions, an investment in an espresso machine appeared to be the next logical step. If my new device worked as well as anticipated, coffee house quality cappuccino could be enjoyed at a very economical price.
My final choice was the Oster BVSTEM6601SS-033. Mr. Coffee (which is owned by Sunbeam-Oster) also markets this machine under its own brand name.
This espresso maker weighs in at just under 10 pounds. It is 12.5 inches high, 9 inches wide and 10 inches deep.
It is mostly composed of plastic and stainless steel. A transparent and removable water tank is positioned at the back. Another container—this one for milk—can be inserted into the front of the machine when required.
Two removable drip trays equipped with aluminum tops are provided to account for differently sized cups.
When in operation, pressurized hot water is forced through a porta-filter fitted with one of three different metal filters. One will hold sufficient coffee grounds to prepare a shot of espresso; the second can be filled with enough grounds for a double shot, and the third is intended to contain a prefilled pod. The porta-filter assembly can easily be removed for cleaning.
Milk, which is required when preparing a cappuccino or latte, is sucked from its container and either steamed or frothed.
The unit's one-touch control panel allows for the selection of a single or a double-shot of espresso, cappuccino, or latte, and includes indicator lights. The machine supplies 15 bars of pressure to ensure consistent results.
- Brand: Oster or Mr. Coffee
- Name: Prima Latte Espresso, Cappuccino and Latte Maker
- Model: BVSTEM6601SS-033 (Oster) and BVMC-ECMP1000-RB (Mr. Coffee)
- Type: Semi-automatic
- Weight: 4.45 kilograms (10.81 pounds)
- Dimensions: 31.8 x 22.9 x 25.4 centimeters (12.5 x 9 x 10 inches)
- Control panel: Allows selection of either one or two servings of espresso, cappuccino or latte
- Cup size: Two drip trays permit both large and small cups
- Filters: One shot, two shots and ESE pod container
- Water tank capacity: 1.6 liters (54 fluid ounces)
- Milk tank capacity: 0.45 liters (15 fluid ounces)
- Pressure: 15 Bar
- Power: 1040 Watts
- Power cord length: 66 centimeters (26 inches)
The John Oster Manufacturing Company was acquired by Sunbeam in 1960, and by the end of the 1970s, this corporation enjoyed $1.3 billion in annual sales and employed nearly 30,000 people.
In 1981, Sunbeam was bought by Allegheny International. Eight years later, Allegheny was taken over by the investment group Japonica Partners and renamed Sunbeam-Oster.
Albert J. Dunlap became CEO of Sunbeam-Oster in 1996, laying off half of the company’s workforce. Dunlap then purchased a controlling interest in Coleman and Signature Brands, acquiring Mr. Coffee and First Alert.
An internal investigation, however, revealed that Sunbeam was in severe financial crisis and that Dunlap had encouraged violations of accepted accounting rules. Dunlap was fired, and the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
In 2002, Sunbeam emerged from bankruptcy as American Household Incorporated. It was purchased in September 2004 by the Jarden Corporation. Twelve years later, Jarden was itself acquired by Newell Rubbermaid to form Newell Brands.
How Pressure Affects Coffee
Italian inventor Luigi Bezzerra determined that pushing water—heated to the brewing temperature of 90-95°C—through finely-ground coffee at a pressure of 130 psi, produced the best coffee. Pressure above or below this point will result in either weak or overly strong espresso.
One bar equals 14.7 psi, 9 bars equal 130 psi, and 15 bars equal 217 psi. Coffee machines intended for home use are typically rated at 15 bars at the pump. As the water travels from the pump to the brew head, pressure decreases to approximately nine bars.
Ease of Operation
Tassimo and Keurig coffee machines are a breeze to operate. You stick in a pod, slide a cup beneath the brew head, and push the start button. Once the coffee is ready, you pull out the cup and dispose of the pod.
Life is more complicated when using this Oster espresso maker. You must first insert the proper filter into the porta-filter, fill it with grounds, and then insert the complete mechanism into the coffee maker.
When preparing espresso, the next steps consist of sliding a cup into position and clicking the start button. After a two-minute wait, you may select one or two shots on the control panel.
If preparing a cappuccino or a latte, you must also install the milk container. In this case, it will take about three minutes for the machine to reach the proper temperature and pressure.
While my Tassimo machine must be thoroughly cleaned every couple of months, there is no requirement for a daily routine. When using the Oster espresso maker, however, additional work is required.
Immediately after brewing a drink that requires milk, the milk container should be removed, and its upper assembly reconnected to the coffee maker. Then, after replacing the full cup with an empty one, the cappuccino button must be pressed until the espresso maker begins its cleaning routine.
For 90 seconds, the machine will be fully enveloped by impressive clouds of hissing steam. Then, once the milk delivery mechanism is thoroughly cleaned, it is removed and replaced atop the milk tank.
Later the porta-filter should be disassembled, and the used grounds dumped into a green bin. This filter assembly can be washed in warm water.
Quality of Coffee
I’ve tried two types of coffee beans in this machine. The Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger Espresso was quite good, provided it was well-packed in its filter. Otherwise, I found the resulting coffee to be a bit weak. The Melitta, medium roast Hazelnut Crème tasted surprisingly good considering these beans are not traditionally used for espresso. I suggest you experiment, purchasing small bags of beans or ground coffee until you find a variety that you like.
The Oster espresso maker’s best feature is its ability to produce steamed milk and foam. Cappuccinos and lattes prepared by this coffee maker are far superior to those produced by my Tassimo machine.
If you like espresso, I’d recommend that you use a Keurig or a Tassimo machine. They work well with a minimum of effort, and these coffee makers do not require extensive cleaning.
If, however, you are fond of cappuccinos and lattes, you will happily accept the extra work required to operate and clean this Oster espresso maker. The coffee is delicious.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Walter Shillington