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If you like the taste of proper coffee but can't be bothered with all the hassle required to make it, then the Tassimo from Braun is probably, if you'll pardon the pun, just your cup of tea.
Tassimo is the result of a collaboration between experienced appliance manufacturer Braun and food-giant Kraft and the fact that they've worked together from the start has really paid off.
Rather than using traditional brewing methods to produce your drinks, the Tassimo exclusively uses special pods called T-DISCS to brew your drinks. These T-DISCS each contain precise amounts of coffee, tea, chocolate or concentrated milk and have been individually designed for each of the different beverages that the Tassimo machine can produce. Each disc features a barcode that is read by the Tassimo machine when inserted and gives instructions on exactly how much water should be used and how long the drink should be brewed as well as any other variables that are needed in preparing the perfect drink.
This rather high-tech approach to drink-making really pays dividends and during Amazon.co.uk's tests we were particularly impressed by the high quality of the drinks that the machine produces. At the time of writing there are seven drinks available in the Tassimo range including Kenco Classic Blend, Kenco Classic Blend Decaffeinated, Kenco Cappucino, Kenco Espresso, Kenco Caffé Crema, Twinings English Breakfast Tea and Suchard Hot Chocolate. Even the resident Amazon.co.uk coffee buff was pleasantly surprised, in particular with the machine's ability to churn out a potent espresso with a decent crema - something that often proves to be the stumbling point for other coffee machines (the crema is the layer of thickly effervescent foam that is found on top of a well crafted espresso).
The Tassimo machine itself is a squat little device with stylish curves and a clean modern feel to it, something that will make it look at home in pretty much any kitchen, dining room or home office. It has a good solid feel to it and a relatively compact footprint that won't take up too much valuable worktop space. Water for the drinks is provided by a 1 litre water container that sits at the rear of the machine. A nice touch is the ease with which you can fill the water container - the whole thing simply lifts off, can be filled directly from the tap and then popped back on again - meaning that there's no messing around with jugs of water required.
Operating the machine is simplicity itself. Once you have chosen which drink you want just lift the clamp above the brewing mechanism, insert the appropriate T-DISC and close the machine up again. Conveniently T-DISCs only fit in the machine one way round, so even the most ham-fisted of individuals shouldn't experience too many problems. After a brief pause (while the machine reads a barcode on the T-DISC to work out how your drink needs brewing) the Auto light pops on and you can operate the Tassimo's single control - an unmistakably large start/stop button - to dispense your drink.
If you want to make other drinks straight away then the Tassimo copes well with this too. All that is required is to pop in another T-DISC and follow the process straight through again, although if you're making a large round you may experience a pause after the second or third cup while the Tassimo machine heats additional water to cope with the demand. The fact that all brewing happens inside the T-DISCs is a real boon at this point as it means that flavours aren't transferred when you switch between different drinks.
Other features of the Tassimo include a variable height cup stand and the ability to make drinks stronger or weaker than standard (depending on your tastes) by adding more or less water as you brew them. This latter feature can actually turn out to be quite important if you're a fan of big mugs as the standard cup sizes delivered by the Tassimo (approx. 75ml for espresso, 200ml for cappuccino and 280ml for coffee, café crema and tea) can be a little on the small size for many bigger cups.
Overall the Tassimo succeeds in doing exactly what it claims to do and produces exceptionally good tasting drinks with the minimum of fuss and will no doubt become a well-used appliance in the homes of those who desire a little more to their coffee than a teaspoon of instant coffee granules. Highly recommended.--Adi Himpson, Amazon.co.uk