Sunbeam’s new EM7000

You’ll not find too much information about the EM7000 on the internet as yet, perhaps a little on the coffee forums, but certainly no other formal reviews or pictures of the insides of this machine.

We are pleased to bring you a review by one of our senior forum members, Mark Watts, where he gives us his insight into Sunbeam’s new EM7000.

My first impression is that the people at Sunbeam have got together around a table and looked at what worked for others, and where some long overdue upgrades could be made, with a focus on retaining/growing their niche in the home coffee machine market.  As a result, the essence of a well-engineered machine can be found, and at a price that shouldn’t put the budget at risk. The finish/quality of this machine has come a long way.

The build quality of the essential and core components is good, with some quality (commercial quality) components, and interesting new functionality, added in. The robustness of any machine is what will let any unit down, thus, it will be time that will be the real critic.

Is EM7000 value for money? Only you can be the judge of that as everyone has very different needs and wants vs expectations.

“Make no mistake, this is no dinky toy – it’s capable of real coffee for discerning coffee aficionados. However the quality of that cup will be directly attributable to the beans and grind that you use”


First Impressions 

The unit is well packed and comes with minimal accessories; at this time it only comes with single floor baskets.

The user manual is simple with a double page spread explaining the functions and what bits are what. I highly recommend that you read it twice as there are some new programing and maintenance modes.

Moving on to fill with water, I turned the unit on first and was instantly attracted to the low water warning on the gauge module and the gauge movement.

The group has a good feel and locks in cleanly, as one would expect. I noted plenty of space to allow mugs to be utilised, if that’s the way you take your caffeine.

Power and shot buttons in the usual place.

Very quick to heat up, for that morning cup, and it will not wake the house.

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Initial Look and Feel

Bling  Unit is all shiny with a mix of curves and lines that help to minimize vibration and noise. Neat double gauge, for steam and calculated brew pressure.

Knobs  Plain with a tab to assist movement and no marking to rub off, like the old EM6910.

Waste Tray  One of the biggest let-downs for me as it’s still shallow. But does engage better that the earlier EM6910.

Steam Wand  Cool touch and an integrated temp probe. This will be a love hate relationship for some.

Hot Water Wand  No longer on a swivel, but meets functional needs.

Power Cord  Has storage, the new safety type with an easy grip plug.

Internals  All components are very accessible. This can make minor servicing quick and easy once the top is off. Neat and compact routing of internal cables and pipes, avoiding hot spots and areas of vibration / scuffing. Protective sleeves used where necessary on all wiring connectors, neatly done, well protected electronically.

Finish of Edges  No sharp or jagged edges were observed or encountered.

General Finish  Stainless Steel and a brushed di-cast. It’s also double walled and has some insulation fitted to assist with management of heat and noise.

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Moving On

It is important that a machine is easy to use, works quietly and competently, day after day.

I am interested in drinking great coffee, not playing around with a machine to get my morning shot or to try and stave off the detox jitters!

With that being said, the EM7000 makes a mean shot of coffee and has no problem steaming milk.  Mind you, it takes a little while to get the steaming and the new milk temp feature in harmony.

And interestingly, the biggest issues around all this will be YOU (the user). Making that great coffee often has little to do with the machine, other than its ability to be consistent in its performance.

As to this, I only had access for a week or two and was unable to measure / determine any rates of change or observe any real potential problems, other than getting fresh beans and my grinder dialed in.

The EM7000 does not have an OPV and thus it is up to you to manage the dose and the grind to get your shot in the zone.

However, a great cup of coffee is not about the gauges and numbers, it’s about what is in the cup.

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“ The low water alarm, cannot be missed, but it still has 1L in reserve so your able to finish your shot / steam without stopping”

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What I did observe was that the group collar is now made of a brass material and should resolve the issues that were seen in the EM6910.  Mind you, those that overdose will continue to cause issues, but it will be at a lesser rate.

The group handle and porter filter holder has had some good changes and the inbuilt tamp feature is handy for those that use the edge of the bench.

The other issue I ran into was that the waste tray can become very full, very quickly, if doing lots of purges. However, this was easy to remove and re-fitting was clean with no drips, unlike the EM6910.

While I did play with pre-infusion and temps, I found that the default settings were close to the mark for the beans I was using. But for those that wish to play, or have a particular need, there is plenty of scope to change to suit any particular wants.

I found the steam to be much improved over the EM6910 and, again, it can be changed as to temperature and wetness. The main issue I had was that I had to change my method, to allow the milk temp sensor to sit in the milk.  Once I mastered this, I found I could get a good texture at a good temp, and the gauge was reflecting what I felt.

I did a further cross check with a number of milk temperature probes and would suggest the built-in one is far more accurate.  However it has to be immersed in the milk and that has an impact on the method one might use as well, when stretching the milk.

While it is still a thermoblock, so are many of the very expensive fully autos, and this technology is proven.  It will, as with boiler type units, come back to correct user maintenance and water treatment to ensure reliability.

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The following are some simple comments and a picture or two of some of the issues and key points that I observed. While none are outright show stoppers, some may be more of an issue to some users, than others.

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Fill Water Here

While I would like to think not, I am sure that someone will attempt to fill to the mark.

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A simple example of the tamp feature in action

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Here is the view up and inside the over flow to the drip tray

While it may not make sense at first, once you have a unit on the bench, it is clear that the old issues of leaking and not aligning are over.

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New style gauge

Milk Temp : The fill tank with light up when you have  1L of water left in the water tank.The temp accuracy is due to the thermistor, but placement in the milk is critical.

Coffee Pressure : An empty dual floor basket will see the gauge at the start of the grey. With fresh beans, the right dose level (4-5mm)  and ground for espresso – I have consistently got the middle of the orange zone. (This was during a side by side with a Minore III and using same grind/dose/beans/tamp – the Minore III  was displaying 9 bar).

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May only be relevant to technical people, but one can see the use of PTFE tubing.

Helps to insulate the steam pump and it has also been upgraded from the earlier EM6910.

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A close up of the new style steam valve and again the use of PTFE tubing.

PTFE has been around and used in medical and many coffee machines for years. It does not transmit heat and helps to stop the travel of sound via vibrations.

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The milk temp sensor

It is placed at the rear of the cool touch steam wand, and you need to have the tip immersed deep enough, so that the sensor in in full contact with the milk.

WARNING.  Do not use abrasive scourers to clean any steam wand. And this is even more so with the EM7000.

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A shot of the upper internals

As you can see there is no cramming of bits and the service agents have commented that – “getting access and carrying out repairs should be much easier”.

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Noise levels

One of the most common complaints of the EM6910 was that it would wake the dead. While I can’t show you a pic, I have provided dB levels for review:-

The EM6910 when pumping a manual shot into a dual floor basket runs about 76db with peaks to about 82db
The EM7000 when pumping a manual shot into a dual floor basket runs about 62db with peaks to about 64db
(My Minore III when pumping a manual shot into a blind runs about 68db with peaks to about 74db)


Cleaning and descaling

Read the user manual and take the time to study the key functions to maintaining a working unit.

In particular page 23.for cleaning the steam pathways – the system changes flow rate and heat to allow the descaling solution to be run through the steam wand etc. and all parts of the automatic cleaning program.

NOTE:  With the EM6910 one could not do a descale of the steam pathways as a user function.

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OPV

The system is not fitted with a brew pressure management system.  While some will scream this is a critical failure, many machines do not have an OPV. Even with an OPV it is still critical to have Beans / Grind / Dose / Tamp correct.  AND even more so if the OPV is not set correctly. The OPV will assist with consistency but will not solve all problems.

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Conclusions

Some might be surprised or even shocked, but at the end of the day, the EM7000 is very capable of making a great cup of coffee with ease. Stretching milk is also no problem, albeit somewhat slower than the bigger and more expensive machines.

For a Sub $1,000 price tag, this machine offers what many others do at half the price.

The EM7000 has addressed all of the common faults that the EM6910 suffered, and with introduced functionality not seen before.

As with any changes, regardless of factory testing, it is only after it’s had at least 12 months in the user environment that the reality of robustness [or not], will become evident.

That being said, I would be happy to have one in the kitchen.

NOTE:   I cannot say it enough – It is critical that you have a decent burr grinder and quality beans that are no more than a few months from date of roast, if using single floor baskets.

1: Many supermarket beans are not ideal (regardless of the expiry date)

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2: The Sunbeam EM0480 is a base level grinder

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Thank you

As per many other reviewers; my comments are those of mine alone and were formed form the observations and experiences I had with the unit I had access to.

They were also correct as of this time but may have little or no reflection on other EM7000 units that may be currently in the market place, or those released after this time.

Needless to say; I must thank Sunbeam Australia for their openness and the opportunity for me to do this slightly different review. MW

“My interest in all of this is the development of the market for the consumer.  To that end, I think that it’s great to see competition on prices, but only if it is accompanied by decent information about the relative merits of what’s on offer so that consumers can make an informed decision.”  Luca CS 01. Aug 2010 at 12:19



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