Archive for October, 2012
Nespresso C101 Introduction
The Nespresso C101 is an easy to use espresso maker that utilises Nespresso coffee pods to deliver it’s coffee. Although the machine is only 6 pounds in weight it comes with a 30oz capacity, removable water tank that will provide enough capacity for up to 12 cups of coffee. The pods that come supplied with the Nespresso C101 are relatively easy to use but do work out a little more expensive than ground coffee – by my estimations you’ll be paying 55 – 70 cents per shot with Nespresso pods.
Whether or not you enjoy the taste of these pods will boil down to your personal preferences. In my opinion, I feel there is little to choose in terms of quality between pods and ground coffee. However, I do prefer the taste of ground coffee. But what you gain in taste you lose in convenience as fresh coffee leaves a lot more mess behind because of the tamping and grinding.
The Nespresso C101 comes pre-supplied with a wide range of flavours. It’s hard to critisise what Nespresso have included.For example, you get decaf, regular and different roasts with beans color coded on the side of the capsule. However, you are restricted to using these flavours as the pods do not give you the option of experimenting with other coffees blends.
Activating these pods in this machine could not be easier:
There is a shaft in the upper portion of the machine which is opened by raising a chrome handle.
Once this is exposed you need to insert one of the aluminum coffee pods into the hatch and press down on the pod button. The high pressure pump then goes to work, extracting the rich coffee flavours by perforating the sides of the pod using a procedure similar to piercing the outer casing of the pod with needles.
This whole process takes approximately 30 seconds with the end result being a cup filled with coffee that has a lovely crema on top lovely crema on top.
Once this process is complete, the used pod is dispatched into a section under the machine. Job done!
An interesting feature of this espresso maker is the way the machine has been designed, with 2 buttons controlling the size of the drink you request. Neither of these buttons allow for a really large cup of coffee. This comes with the advantage of not depleting your reserves of water too quickly; but the downside of not letting you drink a large cup of espresso in one sitting. A workaround for this is to use 2 capsules if you require a large shot .
Two small problems with the Nespresso C101: sometimes the capsules do not fit easily into the machine. This has only happened on a couple of occasions and may have something to do with the capsules being faulty.
Finally, the frother takes a little longer than other machines to heat up the milk
So in conclusion, the Nespresso C101 is an extremely versatile machine that can be used in either the home or the office. It would work well as your main machine or it could be deployed as a back up espresso maker.
DeLonghi EC155 Overview
The DeLonghi EC155 is a machine that is capable of saving you money by allowing you to cut down on your visits to your local coffee house. The reason for this, is it has the capacity to make hundreds of cups of your favorite espresso for a quarter of the price you’d pay on the high street .
In terms of the machine’s technical spec, the first thing you’ll notice is the speed at which the DeLonghi EC155 will make you a drink – once you’ve switched the machine on, and prepped your coffee, you are talking 3 to 5 minute before your drinking your first espresso shot. The key to getting a nice hot cup of espresso from this machine is to ensure you press the steam button first. This will warm the milk to just the right consistency.
But it not just the liquid you need to get right. The way you tamp your coffee will also have a bearing on the taste of the espresso. When putting coffee into the machine, fill the large basket right up to the rim. Tamp your coffee to the rim level of the basket. Twist the tamp with both hands and when you see the first drip coming out, turn the machine off. Twist the coffee basket again, turn the machine back on and your output should be a well made, tasty coffee.
You’ll know if you’ve got this process right because there will be a nice, think crema on top of the cup with a caramel colored body underneath. The crema should be about 2mm in height. If there is no crema then you need to put more effort into you tamping.
The tamper that comes with this machine is of OK build, but as you’ll be doing high levels of tamping over time, you’ll probably want to invest in something a bit more solid.
So, those are the inner workings. So what about the hardware of the machine?
Although the machine is small in size, De’Longhi have included a number of interesting features.
There is a removable water tank that will allow you to consume a good 9 shots of espresso before you need to refill.
You also get a drip tray with the machine as well as the choice of ground or ESE pods for your coffee. The pods cut out the need to ground and and tamp the coffee.
The filters in this machine are easy to clean – but DO remember to clean them! Overtime, ground coffee can stick to the filters of espresso machines, slowing them down. To assist in the cleaning process, ensure you ground the coffee down into a fine, granulated powder. This way you’ll get a better taste and there will be less clogging in the machine
One little design quirk you should be aware of is the fact that the frothing wand sits only 3 1/4 inches of the counter top. This may be a problem if you want to heat a large beaker of milk. However, a work around here is to elevate the machine slightly above the counter top. Or, as an alternative, remove the sliver tray underneath the machine and you will have plenty of room for any cup size.
Something else you may wish to consider if buying this machine is the fact there is no cup warmer. Because of the machine’s competitive price I would not view this as a deal breaker.
So ,in conclusion, the DeLonghi EC155 is a workhorse of a machine that, at the price, is a good product for beginners to learn about espresso machines and espresso making.
The key determinant of whether you are going to like the Nespresso D300 or not will depend very much on your attitude to coffee capsule technology. Because the Nepresso D300 is part of the Nepresso family of espresso machines you, as the consumer, must use the coffee capsules that are designed to be used solely with this machine.
Before I get into the advantages and disadvantages of this let me describe a little about the functionality of Nepresso D300. This machine comes with comprehensive pre-programmed technology. So, if your the sort of person who just likes to set your machine up once and let it get on with making you the espresso in the way you want it, then the Nepresso D300 is for you. For example, there are pre-programmed buttons that allow you to determine the strength of your espresso shot. Additional programming functionality includes adjusting the language of the digital display and warning buttons indicating water hardness allowing you to control scaling in the machine. In fact the programming detail on this machine is so precise it will even let you set the amount of coffee you have in your cup.
The Nepresso D300 also come with a 19 bars high pressure pump which maximises all the flavours from the capsule and produces an end result of a lovely smooth crema in the cup.
One minor quibble I’d have with the build is the fact the water tank is on the small side. But on the upside ,because of this, the machine takes up very little space on the work top.
Getting back to the capsules: there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to using these. In terms of advantages, there is very little mess with capsules. All you have to do is place a capsule into it’s holder and connect a capsule ring which creates a hole in the capsule allowing the coffee to seep into the machine. This process is very user friendly and once you’ve completed this task the first time, it is very easy to do it again. Capsules also remove the need to use grinders and tampers, so there is a cost saving there. The other thing to bear in mind is the capsules can stay fresh for a long period of time. However, there can be no experimenting with this machine in terms of ground coffee; you will have to use Nespresso capsules.
The flavour generated by the capsules is delicious! There are huge variety of capsule flavours available. For example, there are Arabic and decaf flavours, in addition to Latin American and African blends. The Italian brand is called Roma and it has lovely crema taste thank,s in the main, to the Nepresso D300’s powerful steamer.
One disadvantage of capsules is there cost. They work out at $0.45 cent a shot. But remember, the trade off with capsules is their convenience and the fact they make no mess.
So if your looking for convenience and minimal fuss, the Nepresso D300 will be perfect for your needs.
The Gaggia 16100 is firstly an espresso machine with a solid track record and secondly, carries with it the precision engineering of the Gaggia brand. There are a number of things to like about the Gaggia 16100:
- The first thing is it’s current price point of around the $200 mark. This is the most affordable Gaggia product I have come across.
- The second thing to like is the simplicity of it’s functionality. The machine has a one button touch for warm up; one button touch to produce steam espresso shots; and a one button push to produce froth for the wand. On this last point, the wand pressure is extremely powerful heating up 7 oz. of milk to 140 degrees in less than a minute.
- The third thing to like is it’s speed of use. Because the Gaggia 16100 has a fully integrated 17.5 bar pump and a dual element boiler, the first cup of espresso was ready very quickly.
- To counteract any noise the machine may make, Gaggia have supplied this model with anti vibration mounts which, once secured, enables the machine to run with minimal sound.
In terms of the aesthetics, I’ve always loved the look of these black, steely devices at my local coffee house. However, the Gaggia 16100 would not look out of place in any home kitchen.
Getting back to the practical side of the model, I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was to fill the water tank of the machine by just sliding out the container section and filling it with water. With other models this can take a lot of jerking and pushing. Another thing that impressed me about this machine was the amount of thought that had gone into the frothing pipe. For example, the pipe on this model contains little air bubbles which have the effect of creating perfectly frothed milk every time for your espresso.
If you are a newbie to espresso machines then you are well catered for with this Gaggia. It’s supplied with a clearly laid out and comprehensive instruction manual that cover every aspect of getting the Gaggia 16100 up and running. I also the CD that is supplied with the manual particularly useful in this capacity.
A couple of things that could be improved on:
I’d like to see the machine supplied with a larger water tank. Currently you have to replenish the water every 3 to 4 days, whereas on other Gaggia models this could be done every 5 to 6 days. The other thing that could be improved on is in the area of the cup warmer which sits on the slanted top of the 16100 and only moderately heats the cups. This again is not a major issue as the cups can be preheated with hot water.
In terms of the coffee that goes into the Gaggia 16100, use a burr grinder if you don’t have one. This will break your coffee down into the best consistency. A blade grinder will not be as effective. Here’s a burr grinder worth looking at.
If you can’t afford a burr grinder then use fine ground coffee, available here on Amazon.com.
It has great taste and will work well with the machine.
So, in summary, the Gaggia 16100 provides a nice cup of espresso with a lovely froth. It’s a great machine for beginners or master coffee makers alike!