Welcome to Urban By Design Online! This blog is a notebook of my travels as a city planner, historic preservationist and nonprofit advocate. It's a virtual collection of the many things that I adore, featuring cities, the arts, architecture, gardens, interior design, and retail. Enjoy! - Deena
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Philips Saeco Syntia

Recently, I received the Philips Saeco Syntia espresso machine.  Normally I use a traditional coffee maker to make my morning coffee, so the Syntia was a phenomenal upgrade.

Honestly, for the first few days, I hesitated to test-drive this machine out of fear that somehow it would be complicated.   Thankfully, I was wrong, because this solid machine was surprisingly operational right out of the box!  Both the easy to read product manual, and the detailed instructional videos on the company’s website were extremely helpful.

The Syntia has a sleek, sophisticated, and elegant black exterior.  Its modern and stylish design is a testament to the storied legacy of Saeco, known for producing extraordinary espresso machines.  I am impressed by the chrome finish, which gives it a rather polished finish. Its compact size makes it easy to store on the kitchen counter, taking up minimal space, without having to rearrange existing appliances.

The control panel, with its LED display was incredibly intuitive. Adjusting the coffee length is a matter of touching the appropriate button. There is also a convenient hot water and steam selector switch.

One of my favorite features is the aroma preference. So far I'm still on the one bean setting, but each new brew has presented a deeper and more flavorful result than I ever would have imagined.

There is a manual button to modify the coffee to either a coarse or fine grind. I've also used pre-ground coffee, but prefer using the whole beans, because of the bolder taste. However, I also enjoy hearing the gentle whirl of the ceramic grinder prior to the brewing cycle, because it makes for a more complete espresso experience.


I made my first cappuccino with this machine. The Pannarello wand was not difficult to use, and made rich, frothy milk with ease. The result was an incredibly flavorful cappuccino that tasted even better, because I made it myself!


The front loading 40-ounce water tank was a huge plus. I have low kitchen cabinet clearance, so this was an excellent feature.

The machine is easy to clean and maintain. Overall, I highly recommend the Syntia for its ability to provide a delicious espresso, without ever leaving the comfort of home.