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The Calphalon Temp IQ Review: An Excellent Mid-Range Espresso Machine

Calphalon Temp IQ Review

Thanks to their range of cookware, Calphalon is a household name. The company became famous for inventing hard-anodized aluminum cookware — a process found in the aerospace industry that makes the cookware corrosion and warping resistant. But, what about their espresso machines, specifically Calphalon Temp IQ? 

This is my Calphalon Temp IQ review, after using the machine along with other espresso machines over the years. I really like the Temp IQ as the PID technology, thermoblock system, 58 mm brew head, and steam wand make this espresso machine stand out. Calphalon gives Breville and DeLonghi a run for their money with this mid-range model, which is at a nice price point for beginners.

I’ll talk in detail about all of these and other important features you should know about before making a decision on your espresso machine purchase. I’ll also explain who this espresso machine is for, and I’ll include a step-by-step user guide.

Quick Highlights

Calphalon Temp IQ (No Grinder) highlights:

  • Dimensions: 13.9 x 11.6 x 15.3 in
  • Weight: 15.42 pounds
  • Brew head: 58mm
  • Heating system: Thermoblock with PID
  • Pump: 15 bar Italian pump for high espresso quality
  • Volumetric shot control
  • 2-liter water reservoir
  • Powerful steam wand for steaming milk
  • Cup warming tray
  • Accessories: Stainless steel milk pitcher
  • Filter baskets: 1-Cup and 2-Cup Dual-Wall
8.9
Calphalon Temp IQ: Craft Coffee Spot Rating (no grinder option)
Design8.5
Performance and Espresso Quality9.5
Steam wand8.7
Ease of Use8.5
Value9.5

Here are the main pros and cons I found.

Pros

58mm brew head helps achieve optimum extraction.

Has a warming cup tray on top.

The transition time between brewing and steaming is quick.

Has a cleaning pin in case of blockages.

A high-quality steam wand is perfect for making lattes, macchiatos, and other milk drinks, as well as practicing latte art.

Cons

Can be loud while frothing

You need to hold the machine still to lock the portafilter in place

Some plastic parts, although BPA free.

Feature Breakdown

The Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine features PID temperature control, a 58 mm brew head, a thermoblock heating system, and many other characteristics that make this espresso machine easy to use. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each of them, with an explanation of why they matter.

Design

Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine has a stainless steel exterior with chrome accents. The design is sleek and high-end, especially for the price. 

Apart from the stainless steel, there’s black plastic on the top and sides. In my opinion, the plastic doesn’t detract from the design but compliments the stainless steel look nicely. Overall, the design is elegant, and it’ll fit into any kitchen aesthetic.

This semi-automatic espresso machine has a steam wand on the right and a pouring spout in the center. It can fit two espresso cups. Above the pouring spout, there’s a control panel, which has:

  • A dial button (right above the spout). You use it to choose between one or two espresso shots, turn on the steam wand, and start hot water dispensing.
  • Toggle to turn the machine on and off.

Above the control panel, there’s a spot for the tamper and a cup warming tray. The tray has space for two espresso cups and comes in handy for warming them.

The removable water reservoir is on the back of the Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine. 

58mm Portafilter

Every espresso machine has a brew head — the part where you attach the portafilter. Manufacturers choose different brew head designs, but most commercial espresso machines have a brew head that’s 58mm in diameter. Most home machines have a smaller size, but the Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine is 58mm as well.

The brew head is the first place the water is pumped into before it reaches the tamped coffee grounds in the portafilter basket. A wider diameter brew head means the water more evenly soaks and extracts the coffee grounds. A larger brew head improves brewing espresso, and most espresso machines opt for a 51mm or 54mm brew head.

Calphalon Temp IQ machine has a 58mm portafilter that’s about 2.5 in deep. This makes it cafe-sized and helps achieve even water dispersion and optimum extraction. The portafilter’s ability to hold coffee grounds means your espresso will have a more robust flavor.

All in all, I was satisfied with the portafilter. The only drawback I found is the bottom of the interior is plastic and not stainless steel.

Filter Baskets

This coffee machine also has two pressurized (dual wall) filter baskets — for single and double espresso shots. Pressurized baskets are a good choice for beginner home baristas, as they give more leeway across different grind sizes. Even if your espresso grounds are too fine or too coarse, you’ll get a delicious espresso drink. This is especially significant as this version of Calphalon Temp IQ doesn’t come with a coffee grinder.

The dual wall baskets created excellent crema. The secondary wall has a tiny hole at the bottom. Thanks to this, the already extracted coffee grounds are extra pressurized through the secondary wall. This creates aeration. Aerating the grinds when brewing coffee helps have less bitterness and creamier espresso cups, with a layer of crema on top.

filter baskets pressurized vs non-pressurized

Thermoblock

Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine has a thermoblock heating technology, which heats the water quickly and consistently. 

I like thermoblocks, which are aluminum blocks with a stainless steam pipe wrapped around inside.  The water comes in one end and gets heated quickly in the piping system of the thermoblock. The Calphaon Temp IQ espresso machine generates consistent water temperature at 198°F for optimal espresso extraction. 

017 Thermoblock espresso machine image v2
Thermoblock systems heat the water through stainless steel pipe that wraps through an aluminum block

Thermoblocks are considered more energy efficient than boilers, as they only heat the water when in use. Also, the Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine is fast, and the pre-heating takes 30 seconds. 

PID Temperature Control

PID temperature control goes hand-in-hand with thermoblock technology. Together, they provide the optimum temperature. 

PID stands for a proportional–integral–derivative controller, and it’s used to regulate temperature and pressure in an espresso machine. The water that reaches the tamped ground coffee is the exact temperature needed for optimum oil extraction. 

This feature is usually found in higher-end espresso machines, as it guarantees even heat during espresso extraction. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Calphalon Temp IQ also has it.

PID is considered the most stable controller in a thermoblock heating system. You can read more about it here

Pump and Espresso Quality

The Temp IQ espresso machine has a 15 bar Italian pump with a pressure relief system that prevents over-pressuring and helps achieve even extraction.

Bar measures atmospheric or barometric pressure at sea level. This pressure is used to push water through the grinds in espresso machines. As water goes through the coffee grounds, it extracts oils, flavors, and other coffee components, which are released through a spout and into a cup.

Always get an espresso machine that generates 9 to 15 bars of pressure for a rich and creamy espresso. Everything under and over this can result in a weak or burnt espresso.

I pulled consistently delicious espresso and nice crema, so the pump does its job and provides good espresso quality.  Once the extraction is done, the dial goes back to the ready position, and any remaining pressure gets released into the drip tray.

Steam Wand

The Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine comes with a commercial-grade steam wand. It does an excellent job at frothing milk for my morning lattes.  

It has powerful pressure, may be better than the Breville machines. I didn’t have any issues using the steam wand milk forthing. I got a nice microfoam for cappuccinos and lattes within about 30 seconds.

The steam wand is manual, so you have to climb the learning curve as a beginner before making latte art. The nice part is this wand comes on a ballpoint and is easy to rotate. It’s easy to position the stainless steel milk pitcher for proper stretching and aeration.  

Calphalon Temp IQ steam wand

The Calphalon Temp IQ uses a thermoblock heating system, it takes about 15 seconds to transition from brewing to steaming modes. It’s a little longer than boiler systems, and you can’t brew and steam simultaneously. That said, the Temp IQ is still faster than many other espresso machines I’ve used.

The coffee machine also comes with a 6oz frothing pitcher. This is on the small side, so I recommend looking into a bigger alternative. You don’t want your milk to overflow and make a mess.

Volumetric Shot Control

With Calphalon Temp IQ, you can choose between single and double shots. All you have to do is turn the dial to the shot of your choice. The auto shot volumetric shot control will pour the exact amount of water needed to pull the shot, then automatically stop.

This feature is useful because it means there’s less work for you. You won’t have to calculate the coffee to water ratio, i.e., dial in the shot, to get a delicious espresso. If you want, you can change the preset volume to get bigger or smaller espresso shots.

Warming Cup Tray

I mentioned that Calphalon Temp IQ has a cup warming tray on top. This comes in handy for keeping the cups dry, as a wet cup can cause breaking surface tension when doing latte art.

If you plan to drink espresso-based drinks and do your own latte art, this will come in handy.

The only downside is that this is a plastic cup warming tray, so it won’t get as hot as a metal one would. Also, plastic parts will get in contact with hot water, which can be concerning. However, Calphalon claims the plastic is BPA-free, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

Cleaning

Temp IQ espresso machine doesn’t differ a lot from other espresso machines when it comes to cleaning. 

Both the portafilter and baskets should be hand washed. The drip tray has a floater that indicates when it’s full. I liked that the drip tray can be removed, which makes the cleaning easier. The tray easily slides out, and parts snap apart. It also has to be washed by hand.

Both the portafilters and baskets were easy to clean. It’s enough to hand wash them. I liked that the Calphalon comes with a cleaning pin in case the filter basket gets clogged, and you have to unblock it. However, this never happened while I used this espresso machine. Make sure you always clean the steam wand right after every use!  That’ll prevent future clogging and messier clean-ups later.

The cleaning tool fits nicely behind the drip tray, so you won’t have to fear you’ll lose it.

Value

The Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine has a very good price-to-value ratio. It’s available at a lower price range compared to many other coffee machines. 

While there are some minor drawbacks (mainly the noise level), it’s still a solid choice. Not to mention, it performs much better than its cheaper competitors. 

The price is more than justified with the fast thermoblock heating technology, PID temperature control, and 15 bar Italian pump. You’ll be able to brew delicious espresso and milk-based coffee drinks. 

This is a good choice for you if you’re looking for an affordable option, already have a standalone burr grinder, and don’t mind some plastic parts. 

How to Use the Calphalon Temp IQ

Temp IQ is an entry-level espresso machine, so it’s fairly easy to use. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Use the toggle to turn it on. When the indicator light flashes, you’ll have to wait about 40 seconds for the espresso machine to pre-heat. You can start coffee brewing once the “ready” light is on.
  2. Put the filter basket in the portafilter. Choose between a single or double shot.
  3. Fill the filter basket with ground coffee beans and use the tamper to tamp evenly.
  4. Attach the portafilter to the head. You’ll need some strength to do this, and the espresso machine may move on the counter, so place one hand on it to keep it in place.
  5. Turn the dial to one or two shots. This will start the pre-infusion, and after a couple of seconds, you’ll see coffee come out of the spout. 

That’s all. Temp IQ espresso machine is easy to use, mostly thanks to the pressurized portafilter and volumetric shot control.

You can also brew other espresso-based beverages. For example, to brew an Americano, brew your espresso, turn the dial to hot water and place the cup beneath the steam wand. The hot water dispenser will pour over the espresso.

Of course, you can also brew milk-based coffee drinks by frothing the milk after pulling an espresso shot.

Calphalon Temp IQ Review: Our Recommendation

The Calphalon Temp IQ espresso machine is a great choice if you want an espresso maker that brews great-tasting coffee and makes a creamy froth but doesn’t want to pay through the roof. It’s one of the more reliable espresso machines I’ve used all well.

Calphalon Temp IQ is a great option for home baristas.  The 58mm brew head, thermoblock, and PID make espresso that competes with the coffee shops.  It’s also easy to use, operate, and clean.  It’s a little noisy and inserting the portafilter can be tough, but it’s great for the price point.

If you want to get an entry-level espresso maker that can make local coffee shop quality espresso, this is a good choice. You’ll be able to hone your espresso-making skills and work on latte art. 

However, if you absolutely need a coffee grinder, this isn’t the option for you. We always recommend using a burr grinder to grind coffee right before brewing. Quality coffee grinders don’t come cheap. It’s can be more affordable to get an espresso maker that has an integrated burr grinder.

Alternative Choices to the Calphalon Temp IQ

My #1 alternative to Calphalon Temp IQ is also the Calphalon Temp IQ – the version with the grinder. This version has an adjustable burr grinder with 30 grind settings.  

Calphalon Temp IQ with Grinder

If you don’t have a standalone grinder, get the Temp IQ version with a grinder.  The integrated conical burr grinder creates consistent grinds for good espresso.  The grounds dispense into the portafilter as well, and the water reservoir is 2.8 liters.


This will give you plenty of opportunities to perfect your grind and find the one that works best for your taste. It’s easier to use an integrated grinder that fills right into your portafilter.  This model also comes with two non-pressurized single and double shot filter baskets and a larger water reservoir — 2.8 liters.

While you’ll be able grind fresh coffee whenever you need it, you’ll have to pay more for this model.

Option #2 is Breville Barista Pro. It also comes with an integrated conical burr grinder and has even more temperature control than Calphalon does. The Breville Barista Pro also comes with a better manual steam wand, but it’s more expensive than Calphalon Temp IQ as well.

Breville Barista Pro product photo no background

Barista Pro is our favorite Breville espresso machine.  It uses the latest Thermojet technology, has more grind settings, and includes a four-hole steam wand.  The display is easy to program across multiple inputs.  The perfect semi-automatic espresso machine.

Read our full Barista Pro review.


Calphalon Temp IQ: Final Thoughts

The choice of espresso machines can be overwhelming, but it can be difficult finding a machine that makes consistent espresso and is affordable. The Calphalon fits the spot nicely. 

While it does have some cons, such as the noise level and plastic parts, it also comes with many of the features of a high-end espresso machine. These include the 58mm brew head, PID control, thermoblock heating system, volumetric shot control, and high-quality steam wand. The large water reservoir and warming cup tray are nice features to have as well. All of these make the Temp IQ espresso machine a great choice, especially at the mid-price point.

If you’re looking for a beginner espresso machine, check our buying guide for beginners, which includes a buying guide and our expert recommendations.  Our Breville Bambino comparison reviews two similar machines.

Marina Maletic

Marina Maletic

Marina comes from a family of coffee addicts, but she started to appreciate java fairly late — around 25 years old. Her coffee journey began by writing coffee articles. This led to buying her first coffee machine, where she fell in love with the drink that means so much to people all over the world. For the last five years, she starts every day by brewing a cup of coffee. Nowadays, if she’s not writing or thinking about coffee, she can be found trying out the latest social media coffee trend.

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