Want a coffee maker that doubles as a piece of decor? The illy X7.1 is all you need

Is this the most beautiful single-serve machine I've ever seen? Yes it is.

illy X7 espresso machine in pink in front of pink presents on a pink backdrop
(Image credit: illy)
Homes & Gardens Verdict

The illy X7.1 is a sure-fire way to make a style statement on your countertop. It feels premium, can texture milk, and makes a delicious cup of coffee. My only criticism is the low brew head (and that's worth overlooking).

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Stunning design

  • +

    Makes delicious coffee

  • +

    Feels premium

  • +

    Exceptional value

  • +

    Textures milk

  • +

    Good value

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Low brew head

  • -

    Fiddly process

  • -

You can trust Homes & Gardens. Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing the latest products, helping you choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Illy’s unmistakably retro machine is iconic. It combines speedy capsule coffee with espresso machine mechanics, so you can enjoy making coffee like a barista without having to go through all the training and qualifications.

I’m a former barista, so I was excited to test illy’s machine. I’ve reviewed all the best single-serve coffee makers on the market, from Nespresso to Keurig and none have been quite like this. 

It’s simple, stylish, and certainly the most striking machine on test. Plus, the coffee it makes tastes great. Even if you don't like coffee, with a silhouette that pretty, I’d be willing to invest in this just for the aesthetics.


illy X7 espresso machine

(Image credit: illy)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Dimensions10.2 W x 11.4 D x 12.6 H
Cord length39 inches
Water tank capacity40 oz
Cup warmeryes


illy X7 espresso machine unboxed on the countertop

(Image credit: Future)

The box for the illy was deceptively large because the machine itself is relatively small. This is brilliant, because it means you don’t need to write off a whole countertop to your coffee station, whilst still making a style statement. The machine comes with its own material bag, which is a nice touch. The rest of the packaging is completely recyclable – great news for your garbage. 

I tested the limited edition pink colorway, which took me back to all the Barbiecore-inspired pink kitchen appliances that I still love wholeheartedly. I was proud to have the illy on my countertop. Whilst testing this, every person who passed me made a comment or expressed interest in the illy. I’m almost always testing coffee makers, so when one is getting some appreciation, you know it’s special. 

Who would it suit?

illy X7 espresso machine on countertop

(Image credit: Future)

Capsule coffee suits those who are looking for speedy, easy coffee. This is a little more involved because you insert your pods like you would on an espresso machine (locking them in from the bottom), but it’s just as quick once you’ve got the hang of it. The fact that you can steam milk for such a low price point (other machines with the same functions cost at least double), makes this both a versatile and reasonably priced option. 

I’d also note that the coffees I made with the illy were much more flavorful than most single-serve machines. They had a speciality quality, which is great news if you’re lazy, but like life’s luxuries too.

If you want to drink pared-back black coffee and you really don’t care about the process, this might not be the machine for you. It's also a coffee machine that's made to be admired, so if you don't want it to become a feature of your kitchen, you might want a more modest design. Although, the cream colorway is relatively subtle and still stunning.

What is it like to use?

illy X7 espresso machine portafilter

(Image credit: Future)

I followed all the standard rules for setting up: I filled the water reservoir, turned the machine on, and ran a rinse cycle. The machine warmed up in an impressive forty-two seconds. The rinse cycle was done again, very quickly in one minute and thirty-six seconds. 

I’d recommend reading through the instructions if you’ve never used an espresso machine before, because this isn’t as simple as popping a pod in the top of your machine and pressing go. You put the pod in a portafilter-like handle which you then lock in the bottom of the machine. From there, it’s all the same as all single-serve machines, you push buttons and coffee comes out. 

Test 1: espresso

illy X7 espresso machine brewing an espresso

(Image credit: Future)

Making an espresso was easy. I pushed a button and in twenty seconds, I had extracted the perfect shot. It was 186 degrees with a nice crema on top. This is rare for single-serve coffee makers because the crema normally reflects the freshness of coffee beans grounds and the thoroughness of a machine's extraction capabilities (neither of which go hand-in-hand with single-serve machines).

The crema didn't deceive. My shot was intense, rich, and delicious. It was 1.25 oz, so on the smaller side of shots, but it stood up to other ones in strength. It's impressive. There was something about the quality of this espresso, alongside the portafilter-style brewing method, which made me feel like I was back working as a barista.

Test 2: Americano

illy X7 espresso machine brewing an Americano

(Image credit: Future)

The Americano follows much of the same story as the espresso. Mine took just over one minute to make a 5 oz cup of coffee, which came in at 190 degrees. I tried using a taller mug, which couldn't fit underneath the lower brew head. This was a little frustrating (and will be especially annoying if you use travel mugs), but my lower, wider cups fit underneath perfectly.

Flavor-wise, I couldn't fault this Americano. It was well-balanced, boasted a distinct flavor profile, and was really strong again. I would say that this was good for a specialty Americano, so for a single-serve coffee maker, this is outstanding.

Test 3: latte

illy X7 espresso machine latte

(Image credit: Future)

Not every single-serve coffee maker can texture milk, especially at this pricepoint. I was excited to give this a go. Illy doesn't provide a milk pitcher, but you can pick up a simple stainless steel milk pitcher relatively inexpensively at Amazon. 

I had one to hand, so I tested out texturing both dairy and plant-based milks. The steam wand is relatively short, but it's intuitive to use and I textured some brilliant latte milk on dairy, almond, and oat options, even if I do say so myself.

As is the case with all manual steam wands, you'll need to learn how to steam milk to get really perfect results, but in time you'll get there. Mine was nicely balanced with the intense espresso shot, giving a sweet, smooth, velvety cup of coffee.

Cleaning, storage, and maintenance

illy X7 espresso machine reservoir

(Image credit: Future)

The illy is really easy to use. The portafilter-style brewing is brilliant because you don't end up with stale, soggy capsules collecting in a drawer on your coffee maker. Running a rinse cycle after use is easy, as is running the steam wand through (this will stop any milk from drying and clogging up your steam wand).

I didn't have any issues with coffee splashing up the backboard of the single-serve machine and there weren't any issues with dripping. It's a low-maintenance, beautiful machine.

How does it rate online?

illy X7 espresso machine espresso rail

(Image credit: Future)

People love the illy X7 and its retro aesthetics. I think the portafilter brewing style threw-off a lot of users, confusing them on how single-serve coffee makers work. Once people had familiarized themselves with this, the illy got a lot of love. People praised the flavors that this can extract and enjoyed the machine's versatility.

There was very little in the way of criticisms on the illy. Some people said that they wished the cup clearance was a bigger, facing the same issues as me. However, that was pretty much it. This does a lot for the money that it costs, looks good, and can brew a delicious cup of coffee.

How does it compare?

illy X7 espresso machine texturing milk

(Image credit: Future)

I saw lots of reviewers compare the illy to Nespresso’s Latissima and Vertuo Creatista, which are double and triple the price of the illy respectively. 

Whilst Nespresso’s models are more sleek and modern, they come with their drawbacks. The illy is compatible with a range of pods, including reusable capsules such as these from Amazon. Nespresso’s models are exclusively compatible with Nespresso pods. These are delicious and come in 30 different varieties, but they’re limiting and expensive. 

The illy’s barista-style brewing might put some people off. It’s not difficult but is less straightforward than popping a Nespresso pod at the top of your machine. Furthermore, with the illy, you have to learn how to steam milk to get barista-quality beverages at home. Nespresso automates the milk texturing process, delivering consistent velvety results at the touch of a button.

If you want simple, effortless luxury, the Nespresso’s are a good investment (although, I wouldn’t only buy the Creatista if you can find it on sale). If you like the idea of brandishing some barista skills and you want some retro aesthetics, the illy is an excellent investment. 

Should you buy it?

illy x7 coffee capsule on a grey countertop

(Image credit: Future)

I would buy the illy without hesitation. I loved it for speedy, single-serve coffee and the addition of some barista-ey features only make it more appealing to me. However, I can see that these quirks could put off less confident coffee drinkers, in which case, you can’t go wrong with a Nespresso.

How we test

A Morning Coffee Maker lined up next to a Nespresso Latissima One, a Nespresso Vertuo Pop, and a Nespresso Vertuo Next

(Image credit: Future / Alex David)

At Homes & Gardens, we are very particular on how we test coffee makers. We have a team of experts who like to stay on top of all the latest news on single-serve coffee makers. As soon as there’s a new model on the market, our team starts doing their research. Once we’ve confirmed that this is the kind of coffee maker you might like, we take it to our test kitchen to make a start on some in-person tests. 

These tests start with an espresso. This is the bedrock of all coffees, so it’s important that a machine can make a good one. The best espressos extract in 20-30 seconds, at 190 degrees, and they’re normally 1.25-2 oz. We want a thick crema on top too, because this indicates good extraction of coffee flavors. However, some single-serve coffee makers spin coffee inside their machines, giving a false crema, so we always watch out for this too. 

The next test we give these coffee makers is making an Americano. Whilst this is essentially a diluted espresso, if a machine puts boiling water on top of a delicate espresso, it will burn it, making your coffee taste bitter. The ideal temperature for these kinds of coffee is 190 degrees. Americans should be at least 5 oz, but it’s great if a coffee maker has the capability to make them in different sizes to suit different coffee drinkers. 

The final test we give espresso machines (if we can) is how well they can make a latte or a cappuccino. Texturing milk is an art form made harder when it’s applied to plant-based milks. Overheated milk will have a claggy temperature and taste off. It should look like wet paint and have an ultra-velvety mouthfeel, this is often called microfi. It means that your machine has achieved a really tight aeration and bubble structure. 

If there are other features and flavors in a coffee maker’s repertoire, we make sure to test them, so we can let you know whether they’re genuinely good or a bit of a gimmick. 

We also let you know what a machine is like to clean, how to descale it, and what it’s like to store. 

After all that, you should have a good picture of what the single-serve machine is like. Well put our coffee-fuelled heads together and think about how it compares to other models on the market and whether it’s good value or not. That way, if you choose to make an investment, you’ll know that there are only good things coming your way.

Laura Honey
eCommerce Editor

Laura is our eCommerce editor. As a fully qualified barista, she's our expert in all things coffee and has tested over thirty of the best coffee makers on the market. She has also interviewed Q-Graders and world-leading experts in the coffee industry, so has an intimate knowledge of all things coffee. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she studied English at Oxford University. Whilst studying, she trained as a master perfumer and worked in the luxury fragrance industry for five years. Her collection of home fragrance is extensive and she's met and interviewed five of the world's finest perfumers (also known as 'noses'). As a result of this expansive fragrance knowledge, she always puts quality and style over quantity and fads. Laura looks for products which have been designed simply and with thoughtful finishes.