Kmart Anko Coffee Machine – What is it in the UK and is it any good?


If you’re looking for a Swan retro espresso machine review, then you’ve definitely found what you were looking for.

But also, if you were wondering what the heck is the Kmart Anko coffee machine, whether it’s available in the UK, and is it really as good as the rave reviews – then, same here – but I’ve figured all this out, and I’ll share it with you shortly.

You may have reached this post by searching for the Aldi Ambiano espresso machine, Cookworks espresso machine, or Klarstein Espressionata Gusto – and if that’s the case, you’ve also found what you’re looking for – all will be revealed.

If you’ve landed on this post but actually, you’re just realising that while you know you do want a coffee machine, you’re not really sure exactly what kind of machine is best for you, give this post a quick read: 

How To Chose The Best Coffee Machine For Any Budget

I’ve noticed that quite a few coffee blog readers (who I affectionately refer to as my fellow coffee botherers) are searching for “Kmart Anko Coffee machine UK” or “Anko espresso machine UK” etc., – so I did some digging to try to find out what this Kmart Anko coffee machine is, and whether I could find it available in the UK.

If you’re wondering what this has got to do with the Swan Retro, I’ll get to that in a sec.

Firstly I found that there are some really amazing rave reviews for this cheap espresso machine.

This article for example suggests “Kmart’s $99 coffee machine outperforms $4500 coffeemaker” while this one suggests that this cheap espresso machine produces better espresso than the De’Longhi La Specialista, another espresso machine in a much different price bracket.


Check Price - Amazon UKCheck Price - John Lewis


Some of the positive vibes spreading about the Anko coffee machine are coming from a test that did on a number of home espresso machines.

In this test, they gave the Anko an overall score which put it ahead of some much more expensive machines, including the Jura ENA 8, Jura Z6, Miele CM6350, Delonghi Dedica EC685 (see my recent YouTube review of this machine), Delonghi Icona, Sage duo temp pro & La Pavoni Stradivari Lusso.

The machine scored 80% for temperature consistency, which I suspect is what has boosted it into a position above so many more expensive machines in the test.

I have a suspicion that the machine was given this score for the fact that it displays the temperature, rather than for actually being temperature stable. There’s nothing about this machine that would suggest better temp consistency than other similarly made cheap espresso machines, but the fact that it has a thermometer does make it stand out.

By the way, the Sage Barista Express was at the very top of this list, way ahead of its bigger sibling the Sage Oracle touch, and also above the Sage Barista touch, which is interesting.


Check Price – Amazon UKCheck Price – Sage Appliances Check Price – John Lewis

Update: Sage Discount Codes!

If you’re in the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Switzerland (and most other European countries) and you’re thinking of buying any Sage coffee machine or grinder (or any other product from Sage Appliances) I have an active discount code that works so you might want to drop me an email. Click here to join my “Brew Time” mailing list, and then email me ([email protected]).

Read my post on best discount and sage deals:

Sage best deals and discounts


What About the Swan Retro?


Check Price - Amazon UK



It turns out the Swan Retro, which has sold quite well in the UK, is the exact same espresso machine. It isn’t just similar, from what I can gather it’s literally the very same machine which is being sold all over the world with different branding. This machine has also been sold in the UK (and other countries I believe) as the Aldi Ambiano espresso machine.

READ ALSO:  Baileys & Pact Coffee? Delicious! Now you know what to get me for Christmas! :-)

If you wanted an in depth review of the Swan Retro, see my video above. 

Going back to the testing:

They tested  38 coffee machines, but many of them were pod machines, and of the espresso machines they tried, most were bean to cup coffee machines. 


Best Bean to Cup Coffee Machines


I don’t know who performed these tests, how they went about it, and how well qualified they are when it comes to coffee tasting to rate these machines based on taste, but it surprises me they missed out the most obvious higher ticket home barista machines to try such as the Gaggia Classic Pro, Rancilio Silvia & Lelit Anna.

Anyway, the espresso machine sold under many names including Swan Retro and Kmart Anko scored well in this test, and in others such as this one from choice, which makes it an interesting machine at such a low cost.

This same machine has also sold in the UK and other countries as the Aldi Ambiano espresso machine. I don’t think you have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce from a quick glance that these are all the same machines with different branding.


There’s also a machine sold as the Cookworks espresso machine, and the Klarstein Espressionata Gusto. I’m not 100% certain that this is the exact same machine internally as the swan retro, but I’m under the impression that it’s the same machine in a slightly different shell.


Klarstein Espressionata Gusto

Check Price - Amazon UK


Anyway, whatever you want to call it – it’s an interesting looking little cheap espresso machine.

It’s quite rare to see a thermometre on the front of any espresso machine (and I suspect this is probably the main reason for it scoring so highly on comparison posts) let alone a sub £100 espresso machine.

I can see it has a 1.2 litre water tank, it boasts 15 bar pressure (emphasis on the word “boasts” as being a 15 bar isn’t really something to boast about – see my 15 bar espresso machines post for more on that). 

It’s a semi automatic espresso machine – which means it has a pump to deliver the pressure, as you’ll find with most espresso machines now – except machines such as the La Pavoni Europicolla which are fully manual piston lever machines.  This isn’t a bean to cup espresso machine, you’ll need a coffee grinder.

Best Coffee Grinders

Having said that, it does come with a pressured basket, so – if really want to, you can use pre-ground, but I’d urge you not to. I’d highly recommend buying great quality freshly roasted coffee beans and grinding them fresh, for the best tasting espresso and espresso based coffees. 

Talking of great-tasting coffee did you know I supply coffee beans? If you know me, you’ll know how passionate I am about coffee, so you’ll know that I’m not going to supply anything other than mega tasting, freshly roasted coffee beans. But don’t take my word for it, I’m putting my money where my mouth is with this discount code :-):

Use discount code CBNC25 for 25% off your first order at Coffeeworks

Is the Kmart Anko or Swan Retro Coffee Machine Any Good?

Well, it’s a sub £100 espresso machine, so you do need to manage your expectations.  It’s a cheap machine, it’s going to be built cheaply, and it’s going to have to be built using cheap components. 

It’s a pressured portafilter machine, so it’s really intended as a domestic consumer level espresso machine. If you’re a budding home barista, and you want to be able to continually improve your shots of espresso, any cheaper pressured portafilter machine like this isn’t going to be for you.

You need to be looking along the lines of at least the Gaggia Classic, Sage Bambino Plus, Rancilio Silvia etc. if this is the path you’re on. 

But if you just want to get started with a low cost home espresso machine, you’re on a really tight budget, and you’re not too fussed about perfection – then actually, given James Hoffman’s comments on this cheap espresso machine, I think you could probably do a lot worse!

READ ALSO:  Types of Coffee & the Difference Between Them

James Hoffman is one of the world’s most knowledgeable people when it comes to coffee, he’s lifted the world barista championship trophy, I mean he won it, not that he pinched it 😉 – he’s the co-founder of Square Mile, one of the UK’s leading coffee roasters – he’s the author of The World Atlas of Coffee (which I’d highly recommend by the way).

He really, really knows what he’s on about when it comes to espresso machines, and he actually said some positive things about this machine, which surprised me. I would have expected someone like James Hoffman, who’s used to using the very best espresso machines, to want to launch a machine like this at the wall, as has been the case with other cheaper espresso machines he’s reviewed. 

But he didn’t. OK – he said it had a cheap and plasticky build, that’s no surprise at this price.

He said the power button doesn’t stick in as the other two buttons do, but that’s the same with a lot of more modern machines now, including the latest Gaggia Classic, and it’s to do with the EU regulations re auto shut down, I think – and this doesn’t impact on the quality of the coffee, of course. 

He noted that the thermometer on the front seems a nice idea, but that it doesn’t seem particularly temp stable.

This isn’t really that much of a put down for such a cheap machines, as much more expensive machines including the Gaggia Classic and the Rancilio Silvia are known for not being very temp stable.

At least with this little sub £100 espresso machine you have a temp reading, which is something you don’t get with the Classic or the Silvia.

He wasn’t all that impressed with the pressured portafilter, or with the little spoon/tamper that tends to come with these cheaper espresso machines, but this is just what you get with these kinds of machines, nearly all of the machines he reviewed in this video came with pressured portafilters.

These kind of machines aren’t aimed at espresso machine users like James, or like me. They’re really meant for people who just want a fast and low cost route to home espresso, so I think the important thing is – does it make drinkable espresso?

Well – James Hoffman referred to espresso pulled with the Swan Retro (or the Kmart Anko espresso machine, which is the exact same machine just with a different badge) as being “Fine – but a bit dull”.

To me – this is a MASSIVE endorsement of this sub £100 home espresso machine!

This is a guy with incredible taste buds, he’s not a normal coffee drinker, he’s not a novice home barista like me who has been improving their coffee palate for 5 years or so.

This is a veteran time-served coffee professional, and ex competing Barista who won the World Barista championship. He lives and breathes coffee and coffee machines, literally – and is surrounded by the best machines imaginable – as everyone in the industry wants James Hoffman to talk about their coffee gear.

So for him to refer to a shot of espresso from an espresso machine at under £100 as “Fine, but a bit dull” – I think is high praise indeed. By the way, this isn’t someone who pulls punches – when he tries a machine and doesn’t like it, he doesn’t hold back. 

Would I buy the Kmart Anko or Swan Retro Coffee Machine?

No way! Actually – what am I talking about, I just did! ;-).

The Swan Retro Espresso Machine in my YouTube studio.

OK, just to clarify. There’s no way in the world I’d use a machine like this as my home espresso machine.

I class myself as a home barista – I want to continually improve my shots of espresso, I don’t want to use pressured baskets, I want full control of the quality of my espresso, even if that means that sometimes I probably pull way worse shots than I’d get via a pressured basket.

I want to grind my own coffee, I have a coffee grinder, and I’m more than happy to spend time dialing in to get the shot perfect. I’m not the kind of person that the Swan Retro / Kmart Anko espresso machine is aimed at. 

READ ALSO:  La Pavoni Europiccola & Professional – Kev’s Updated Reviews for 2023

But – if you’re not interested in the home barista hobby – if you think I’m completely crazy for wanting to invest what must seem to some to be stupid amounts of money on home barista espresso machines and grinders and to spend time and effort and waste coffee beans dialing in (meaning to tweak the grind size) in order to get a slightly better tasting shot – then you may well be the kind of person this machine is aimed at.

That doesn’t make you the minority, by the way. That makes you the majority – it’s people like me, the coffee crazed lunatic home baristas that are in the minority ;-).

Most people are “normal” when it comes to coffee. They spend “normal” amounts of money on coffee machines and invest normal amounts of time on brewing coffee. Their coffee palates tend to be “normal” too, meaning that the average person probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a shot pulled on this sub £100 espresso machine and a £4,000 or £5,000 setup. 

So for most “average” coffee drinkers who just want a home espresso machine for a really low investment, to me – this doesn’t look like a bad option at all.

But I bought one, I tried it – I recorded a Youtube video review which I shared with you earlier, and I have to say, I was slightly impressed, overall, with such a cheap machine. 

The espresso isn’t amazing, but it’s never going to be with a pressured basket machine at this kind of price. It wasn’t the worst I’ve tasted, though. 

As with most cheap espresso machines, this machine does suffer from overheating, but the advantage of the thermometer is that you can see what the temperature is.

With machines which overheat, as many do (and not just the really cheap ones to be fair) you can pull a cooling flush in order to drop the temperature, which means to simply press the shot button to dispense some water through the group.

But with most machines you can only guess at what the temp has dropped to – there’s some guessing with this machine too as the thermometer isn’t the most precise or easiest to read, but it’s definitely an advantage over not having one. 

I was quite impressed with the Swan Retro machine when it comes to steaming milk too.

Again to compare with the Amazon Basics, with that machine your espresso will be stone cold by the time you’ve steamed your milk, so you’d definitely want to steam your milk and then pull the shot with that machine. With the Swan Retro though, I was quite impressed with the steam power.

Also, the Panarello steam wand very easily slides off, and the pipe below looks like it’s actually intended to be used as a single hole tipped steam wand, which is not usual – and it worked quite well.

I’m going to give this away, by the way. Just click here to join my “Brew Time” mailing list, and you’ll get an email as soon as this is available to win.

If you’re wondering if there are any live competitions right now, by the way (and they’re always free to enter and there’s no catch) just look towards the top of the page in the right hand side bar if you’re viewing on a desktop or laptop, or if you’re viewing on a mobile device, scroll down to the bottom of the page – you’ll either see the current competition, or the “next competition coming soon” image. 

Life is like a box of chocolates, so join my Brew Time list, subscribe to my YouTube Channel, become an accredited coffee botherer (Patreon supporter), try my coffee at The Coffeeworks (use discount code coffeebotherers), follow me on Twitter & Instagram, follow the coffeeblog FaceBook page, and that’s all I have to say about that. 


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