The Anko CM5013-SA is a home brand manual espresso machine from Kmart Australia, which caught my eye for its low, low price of AU$89. The machine has made somewhat of a splash online, with consumer affairs magazine CHOICE reporting that it outperformed a $949 machine in testing. But after about several weeks of using one, how does it stack up?
Though distributed in Australia by Kmart under the Anko brand, the CM5013 appears to be manufactured wholesale in China, and can be ordered for US$30–40 a pop on Alibaba. (Minimum order quantities apply!) The same machine also appears to be sold as the Arielli KM-501W, Swan SK22110 and various other names.
The CM5013 is very light, weighing in at just 3.2kg, but otherwise built reasonably well. The water tank fits snugly and securely, the drip tray draining rack feels sturdy, and the group handle slots into the group head comfortably.
The operational mechanics of the CM5013 are quite appealing. As a thermoblock-based machine, the CM5013 sports a button to switch mode between brewing coffee and steaming milk – separate to activating the pump or steam controller knob, allowing the machine to be specifically preheated. The temperature gauge, while not necessarily particularly useful, is fun to look at.
The group handle is fairly well designed, featuring a filter blocker to hold the filter in place while knocking out spent coffee pucks.
In use, the CM5013 makes a reasonable cup of coffee. I did not experience any issues described by others on ProductReview involving acrid taste. In the CHOICE review, the machine scored well on taste and consistency of coffee temperature.
As mentioned, the CM5013 is quite light, and two hands will be required to slot the group handle into place, lest the machine run away from you.
As noted in the CHOICE review, the CM5013 also does not come with a separate tamper, which is instead built into the measuring spoon, making it a little awkward to use.
The CM5013 is also quite short vertically, with maximum clearance of less than 9 cm with the drip tray draining rack in place. The machine accordingly has difficulty accomodating even modest sized mugs.
Where the CM5013 ultimately falls down is in its milk steaming capabilities. The steam wand is very short, measuring in at around 5 cm in length. Firstly, this means that the steam wand cannot be directly purged into the drip tray, requiring, as the manual instructs, a separate container.
But the length of the wand is not merely a problem for convenience, and amounts, in my experience, to a fatal design flaw:
There is, of course, a minimum quantity of milk required to froth milk effectively (one millilitre will not do!). The milk also needs to be filled quite high up the milk pitcher in order for the short steam wand to reach. But doing this either means the milk will overflow while steaming, or an appropriate angle cannot be reached in the milk pitcher, lest the milk pour out the side.
Despite repeated, persistent attempts over many weeks, using various quantities of milk in various sized milk pitchers, I was not able to achieve anything better than a bubbly mess.
Indeed, in CHOICE's video review footage of the CM5013, we can see that the end result CHOICE's expert testers achieved is exactly that – a bubbly mess, far from the glossy, silky appearance of well-textured microfoam. In its full review of the machine (available to CHOICE members), CHOICE described the milk frothing performance as ‘only OK’. I find this to be a very charitable characterisation.
Kmart advertises the CM5013 as featuring a ‘high pressure milksteamer’. Given the fundamental design flaw in the steam wand, I am forced to conclude that the machine is not fit for purpose within the meaning of the Australian Consumer Law, and I accordingly returned the machine for a refund.
While the CM5013 does have some nice things going for it, the woefully inadequate performance of the steam wand on the CM5013 renders it fundamentally not fit for purpose. On the basis, I unfortunately concur with the CHOICE review and cannot recommend the CM5013. For between $50 and $70 more, you can pick up the Sunbeam EM2800 or EM3820, which CHOICE does recommend.