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C100T

The C100T espresso maker,manufactured by Nepresso, is a 19 bar single serve espresso machine that uses the Nespresso proprietary coffee capsules to deliver it’s espresso shots.

Although the machine is small in stature, it delivers a powerful punch from within it’s compact, triangular  frame.  This is due in the main to it’s pulsating 19 bar pressure gauge which infuses it’s coffees with potent flavours.

Before I go on to discuss the taste, let’s first of all look at the set up. As with all Nepresso machines getting the equipment up and running is very straight forward:

  •      fill up the water tank, which holds approximately 4.5 cups of water.
  •      activate the on switch to heat the water – a light will come on letting you know the water is hot.
  •      select the required cup size from two buttons – large or small.
  •      lift the chrome lever to open the coffee capsule holder.
  •      ensure you have your cup positioned ready to capture the brew.
  •      insert a coffee capsule and press down on the lever.
  •      the cup will fill based on your volume of choice.

This whole process takes no more than a couple of minutes. As you repeat these actions, you will notice that as you insert another capsule into the machine, the old capsule is automatically dispatched into a bin at the back of the C100T
There has been some feedback in relation to the coffee being lukewarm when placed into the cup. However, if you heat your water correctly at the start of the warming process and then heat your cups prior to them being used, your coffee will remain hot. Please note, the C100T is not supplied with a cup warmer.

This is a very low maintenance machine. Quite apart from the fact it requires very little cleaning because of it’s use of pods, it also requires very little descaling. However, it is recommended that you descale after using 500 pods; in some instances this may take a user up to 6 months.

The machine comes supplied with 12 coffee flavours ranging in diversity from the Ristretto, a chocolate flavored espresso, to the nutty flavored Livanto – my particular tipple of choice is the Italian espresso Roma

The capsules have to be purchased directly from the Nepresso website and work out at approximately $0.52 each. Now this may not seem a high price if you are drinking a small cup of coffee but may stretch some peoples budgets if they want to use 2 capsules for a larger espresso. Once you have used a capsule they may not be used again and can only be purchased directly from Nespresso.

The counter argument to the cost of the capsules, is that although €20 of ground coffee will purchase more cups of espresso for you at a better price, the time spent cleaning and maintaining a machine that has been used for grounding and tamping could be time spent doing something else. As always with coffee capsules you are paying the extra bit more for the convenience they provide you with.

As the C100T is such a compact device, it does not come with a frothing wand. However, in order to create froth for lattes and cappuccinos, take a look at the Aeroccino which can be purchased separately. It works like an electric milk pitcher creating a nice, milky froth for drinks in about 50 seconds.

The C100T is a small, unobtrusive machine that packs a big punch. The coffee connoisseurs out there may feel they’d like to go a little more upmarket, but for beginners and people new to espressos and espresso making with limited budgets, the C100T is a very good starter machine. I would recommend it for homes where space is of a premium or to have as your office espresso maker.

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Nespresso C101

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.

Nespresso C101

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.

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DeLonghi EC155

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.

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Nespresso D300

Nespresso D300

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.

 

 

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Gaggia 16100

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!

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A Modo Mia

The Italian coffee maker Lavazza have now decided to compete with the likes of Tassimi and Nescafe using their A Modo Mia coffee machines. Although it comes in a compact size, the A Modo Mia packs a lot into it’s 20.5cm wide frame. For example, it has a steam arm to heat milk, a 1 litre water reservoir and a good size pod holder with a drip tray. It also has a nice, two-tone finish displayed in a range of colours, allowing it to blend in well with any modern kitchen.

In the first instance it is useful to look at the functions on this machine. It takes 50 seconds to fill the water tank and get the machine active. To pour your first drink,  place your chosen flavour in the slot at the top of the model and pull down  on a silver lever.

The first cup I poured was a double espresso which took about 35 seconds; this is longer than the preparation of a similar drink on either the Tassimo or Nespresso machines.

Although slower than the above mentioned machines, the quality of the drink was excellent. The espresso had a rich, smooth finish that would bear favorable comparison with more expensive models.

A macchiato and cappuccino were also tested using the steaming component. On cheaper models of espresso makers steam arms can cause problems. However, the A Modo Mia’s steam wand worked well and heated the milk, generating the appropriate whooshing and gurgling noises in the process!! As an offshoot of the steaming process, the steam generated can also create hot water fora cup of tea. One small observation: the steam arm is on the short size, making it difficult for some mugs to be used with the A Modo Mia.

The A Modo Mia is also easy to clean and maintain. For example, once you’ve  finished using the coffee pods they fall automatically into a container and the extra water drained off into a separate tray leaving no mess behind.

The coffee pods that come with the machine can be bought for £3.59 for 16 from major supermarkets such as Tesco or directly from Lavazza at www.lavazzamodomio.co.uk. Thus the cost per cup works out at 22p

So if you are looking for a compact, easy to clean Italian espresso machine that fits well into a modern kitchen, then the A Modo Mia is certainly worth looking at.

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Saeco Aroma review

In this post I will highlight the main points of a Saeco Aroma review that I read recently.

The Saeco Aroma is a modern looking espresso machine that has a stainless-steel boiler.

In the Saeco Aroma review the person carrying out the testing took advantage of the fact that the Saeco Aroma had a powerful 15-bar pump that allowed him to make coffee in 105 seconds – which takes some doing!

Additional features that were picked up by the Saeco Aroma review was the fact that the large water tank only had to be refilled once a week; but remember, this will obviously depend on the amount of coffee or espresso you drink!

The machine comes with pre packaged doses of coffee that fit neatly into the pressurised portafilter. These packages come with the added advantage of freeing up the user from tamping or grounding and thus cutting on the amount of mess that is made by the machine.

The Saeco Aroma review found the cup warmer to be  a nice touch. This device allows you to position your cups on the warmer while you make additional espressos . For example, the reviewer left a cup on the warmer  and 3 minutes later the drink had retained it’s heat.

The steaming wand in the machine has been placed quite low, but the tester  used a 16oz pitcher, filled to about 2/3 of actual capacity, and then placed the machine on the far edge of a counter to allow the cup to be correctly positioned for steaming

Just a word of warning – if the portafilter has not been tighten firmly enough or if it is filled too high with water, it may leak at the top. The tester in the Saeco Aroma review only experienced this once and after further testing did not come across this problem again.

The reviewer also found that the Saeco Aroma’s pressurized portafilter tends to be less sensitive to grinding and  gives you a consistent shot,  even if your not an expert with these machines. For most users this is an excellent feature, since you can get a good shot with a pre-ground espresso or pod.

In conclusion, the Saeco Aroma review found the Saeco Aroma to be an impressive machine with a strong build that make good quality shots at a reasonable price.

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Tassimo or Dolce Gusto

“Tassimo or Dolce Gusto , which do I prefer?”. This is a question I get asked all the time about the Tassimo and Dolce Gusto single serve coffee machines. So, to clear this matter up, I’m now writing a review comparing each of these machines.

Firstly, I’ll start with the Krups Nescafe Dolce Gusto.


As the name implies, Nescafe has worked with Krups and Nespresso to produce this model. On opening the packaging for the machine, I found the instructions, in terms of set up, easy to read and follow. The machine comes in a striking red color and oval shape that will look good in any kitchen.

The next step in this Tassimo or Dolce gusto  review was to check the mechanics of each machine. The first thing you’ll notice here is how quickly the Dolce Gusto heats the drinks:it took me about a minute to make a really nice latte, cappuccino and hot chocolate. Also, the quality of the drinks from this machine are excellent. This is not really surprising as the beverages supplied with this model are branded under the Nescafe label. So, if you are familiar with the Nescafe taste, you’ll appreciate the quality of what you will be tasting.

The Dolce Gusto  comes with it’s own smart capsules that contain only 100% ground Arabic coffee. These capsules are easy to insert into the machine, however they cannot be refilled or recycled.

The next step in the Tassimo or Dolce Gusto review was to test for usability. Usability with the Dolce Gusto was excellent. It was particularly good to see the power buttons on the front of the machine. In so many coffee makers these are only found at the back which can make them difficult to activate. Another nice touch is the fact that the Dolce Gusto comes pre packaged with a tall glass for lattes and a small cup and saucer for espressos.

Some of things that could be improved upon include:
The bin for the unused smart coffee capsules gets dirty and fills quickly. Thus, I would like to have seen the Dolce Gusto  come with a larger bin

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There was no filter with the water reservoir and, because of it’s oval shape, it is quite difficult to fit in a fridge. This would only be an issue if you wanted to keep the reservoir cool. If not, then it won’t be a problem.
The machine is roughly $30 more expensive than the Tassimo.

So, overall, this is a very nice machine that makes lovely crema-like frothy top coffee.

So now for the second review in the Tassimo or Dolce Gusto comparison. The Tassimo Hot beverage system has been distributed throughout the US for the past two years. When it was first launched it was made by Braun. Now with a new partner (Bosch) there have been many improvements. These can be most clearly seen in the new cup stand area where it can now accommodate both coffee mugs and, if you remove this stand, will also fit and fill travel mugs.

Additional controls have been added to the machine so you can now check when your drink will be ready for consumption. For example, it has standby, automatic, and water refill indicators on it’s LED panel.

It’s water reservoir is larger than the old model and, unlike the Dolce Gusto, it also has a water filter.
Making coffee with this machine couldn’t be easier: simply pick out your T Disc capsule, place it in the machine and close the brew head; put your mug underneath, and hit the button for brewing!
Again, like the Gutso, you can’t use your own coffee when brewing; but then why would you when you taste the quality of coffee that comes out of this machine.

So, will I recommend the Tassimo or Dolce Gusto ? Well, in terms of price, both machines are positioned in a similar range: the Tassimo retailing at $139.99 and the Gusto at $169.99. The per cup prices are also quite similar: $0.50 for one cup of coffee, add milk to this and you are talking $ 0.80 – 1.00 per cup

We also looked at the taste and the range of drinks available. Both machines make flavorsome coffees, however there is a difference in the range of drinks available: the Gusto comes supplied with 8 different types of drink whereas the Tassimo has over 40 coffees and teas. So, the Tassimo wins out on the number of drinks!

So, my conclusion in the Tassimo or Dolce Gusto comparison is there is very little to choose between either of these machines. Both these single serve coffee products make excellent coffee, so your choice of Tassimo or Dolce Gusto will depend  on which machine will look best in your house in terms of style and design.

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Cafe Prestige

 

The Cafe Presitge espresso maker, also know as the Ariete Cafe Prestige, is a strong, durable, low cost espresso machine. Looks can be deceiving here as it would appear to be more expensive than it’s price tag would suggest.  Contributing to that impression is it’s solid steel outer frame which gives it a coffee shop feel and look.  But there is also, in addition to style, a great amount of substance to the Cafe Prestige. It is a well constructed espresso maker. This can be seen when cleaning the device: on cheaper models it can be quite easy to dislodge machine parts  when polishing specific sections. However as hard as I cleaned on the outer body of this maker, everything component still remained intact.

Again, in terms of spec, the Cafe Prestige also delivers. It has a large, removable water tank with the capacity to take the equivalent of 9 cups of coffee. Likewise, the warming tray on the top of the machine, has the capacity to manage 9 cups of coffee. The one problem though with this tray is it doesn’t keep the drinks warm for long enough.

In the under carriage of this machine there are some impressive features. Firstly, the drip tray is large enough to deal with any overflow of water. Even if this was not to happen the Cafe Prestige provides you with a plan b in the form of an innovative early warning feature that signals a problem with water over capacity: a little pop float rises with the water, thus you can easily and instantly see where the water level is at.

Care though and planning has gone into the  drinks tray on this machine, with there being ample room between the nozzle and drip tray, allowing you the option of pouring your coffee into a larger mug or small coffee pot.

In terms of the range of your drinks you can serve, the Cafe Prestige will allow you to prepare and serve espresso’s, lattes, shots and pure coffee. The portafilter is equally as versatile allowing the brewing of single and double shots in addition to using espresso pods.

Finally, we come to quality of the drinks themselves. The Cafe Presitge has a 15-bar pump-driven system which provides stable  pressure and near perfect brewing consistency.  The drinks are produced with good foam and a great taste.

Relative to it’s price point, the Cafe Presitge represent an excellent buy and comes with one year’s warranty.

 


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Em-100

The EM-100 from Cuisinart is a sturdy, well built espresso machine. Unusually, it come with a  DVD disc that assists you in stepping through the set up process.  This is just as well because the manual sold with the EM-100 is not  comprehensive enough.

As there are  quite a few things to learn before you start using the machine, it would be good to invest some time in viewing the DVD. Many common problems can be addressed if a user adopts this approach in the first instance. For example, I know many people who have taken the EM-100 straight out of the box  and tried to activate the  heating light. What they didn’t realise is a small button needs to be turned to a droplet icon for this to happen. This is something that could be overlooked but is covered in the DVD. The DVD also covers a range of other features including the types of coffee drinks you can make, machine maintenance and cleaning the EM-100.

Leaving aside the setup, once you start using the EM-100 you will see that it has all the characteristics of a well built, well speced espresso machine: it’s quiet, it locks easily into place so you know things are working correctly,it has a  large water tank and warming plate on it’s roof; it has 15 bars of pressure which produces a great taste – although it should be noted you will have to use the highest quality coffee beans to achieve this taste.

The wand in this machine works well but I found it overfilled the pitcher the first time I used it. The solution:use less milk than you think your going to need as milk tends to double in volume when heated.

A couple of things you need to be aware of: the coffee pod system doesn’t make great coffee but that’s more a to do with the cheap pods that were put into the system than any fault of the machine itself.

Be careful  of getting the coffee grind too fine; it will clog the tiny holes in the portafilter basket and jam the machine. But again, cleaning needles are supplied with the EM-100 to prevent  this  from occurring.

 

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