The Machine That Might Finally Convert Old-School Espresso Purists to Modern Capsule Technology

Courtesy Illy

Illy’s new X1 Anniversary Edition gives you restaurant quality espresso with the ease of a capsule system and the nostalgia of a vintage design.

Over 80 years ago, illy began making professional espresso machines. Twenty years ago, illy introduced its first home machine, the X1. Now, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the X1, illy has updated the innards of the X1, while going retro with the styling. 

The exterior, available in black, red, or classic stainless steel, harks back to the original Luca Trazzi design, with toggle switches and vintage indicator lights, along with a storage shelf on top for espresso cups. The analog thermometer dial, with bold markings on a black face, provides a dramatic contrast with the state of the art technology under the skin.

For the Anniversary Edition of the X1, illy has added its Smartbrew technology, with more accurate temperature and pressure controls. Smartbrew’s flowmeter, used mostly in commercial machines, recognizes the iperEspresso capsule (exclusive to illy), knows whether you’re brewing coffee or espresso, and will use the right pressure and temperature to make a perfect crema on your espresso, or will use the mini filter in the coffee capsule for exceptional drip coffee. A noise damper, new to the Anniversary Edition, keeps things nice and quiet as you brew. 

Courtesy Illy

Just like an old-fashioned espresso machine, the Anniversary Edition has a removable filter head. Instead of having to grind your own beans, however, and carefully pack the filter head, simply twist it off and drop in an iperEspresso Capsule. No beans or grounds to worry about: the capsule and the machine do all the work. Like Nespresso, illy also has a subscription service that gives you pre-paid envelopes to send used capsules back for recycling.

Like any classic machine, the Anniversary Edition has a steam wand, allowing you to froth milk for cappuccinos and lattes.  In keeping with its updated technology, its memory function allows you to pre-program your desired drink amount, while automatic descaling keeps the machine running without the need for complicated maintenance. 

If you’re an espresso fan, and like the look of a vintage machine that runs with the simplicity and ease of a modern capsule system, try illy’s X1 Anniversary Edition.  Available in red enamel or black: $595; Stainless steel: $695.