Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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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Mypressi

The Mypressi hand held espresso maker, is one of the most innovative coffee makers on the market today. The Mypressi allows you to create double espresso shots by using either fresh ground coffee or coffee pods. You create your espresso by pouring water into the Mypressi’s main bowl and then twist the levers to extract the liquid for your espresso . Many people find the taste in the shots generated by the Mypressi superior to what they drink in a cafe.

In order to understand the process of making espressos with the Mypressi you will need to follow these instructions:

Complete the following procedure twice: preheat the water bowl by completely filling it to the top with boiling water then loosely place the cap on it for about 45 seconds.

Once you have done this twice, pour fresh boiling water into to the bowl , then tighten the top.

Next , ensure you use coffee beans that were recently roasted for the maximum flavor. You will need to have some understanding of espresso in order to make the best possible use of this machine.

Make sure you get a good grinder to help you get the best flavor out of your coffee beans. A decent coffee grinder will cost you somewhere in the region of $150 to $200. However there are cheaper models out there for under a $100. Your investment in a good coffee grinder to be used  in conjunction with this machine, will make your drink taste even better.

In terms of storage and maintenance, this maker takes up very little space  compared to a full size espresso machine , in addition to it  being easy to maintain and clean . For example,  many users place it on a kitchen counter when in use then, when fished, pop it inside a kitchen cupboard . Your not only restricted to making espressos with it either: Mypressi also makes excellent lattes!

Not content with being a great product, it has also won awards from the coffee industry. It was voted by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) as the best new consumer product of 2010.

So ,in conclusion, if you want an easy to use, compact espresso maker that makes great tasting espressos, then you should give the Mypressi a go!

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Delonghi ec702 review

This DeLonghi ec702 review will give you some guidance on the type of espresso machine you  can buy when you have a maximum budget of $250 to play with.

I found, that after  3 months of use, and after drinking more than 150 cups of espresso,  the  Delonghi ec702 was a reliable machine that made an espresso with ‘a deep rich taste.’

It is also a flexible machine, allowing a user  to work with either pods or ground coffee so you get the best of both worlds: excellent espresso and less cleaning up from tamping and grounding.

If you are considering buying this machine, there are also a  number of other points worth noting:
There is a good gap between the base of the filter holder and the floor of the machine, which allows a user to push a large mug under the taps of the machine for filling. This manoeuvre can prove problematic on other machines.

In terms of hygiene, the DeLonghi ec702 is much easier to clean than previous models and the steam nozzle almost never clogs. In addition, the water holder can be easily taken out and washed.
It  will also add quality to any kitchen. It’s shiny bodywork wouldn’t look out of place in an upmarket espresso cafe.

Again, it gets full marks for it’s design, and the warming tray on top works really well. I experimented leaving cups on it and when I went back to them 15 minutes later they were still warm.

One thing I did note: the first 4 or 5 cups of espresso tasted slightly sour, but that’s the same with many new  machines when you pour the first drinks.  However, once the filters started working the drinks tasted great!

One small gripe: the steaming wand could have produced more froth. The problem is, it is made of plastic and designed for people who have a limited knowledge of milk frothing. Thus, what it produces is steamed milk that is a little on the bubbly side.

So, overall, in this   Delonghi ec702 review ,I find in favour of this machine based on the reliability of it performance, it’s look and budget price.

 

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