Melitta E 970-102 Caffeo CI
After years of coffe pad and capsule machines, including the best on the market, we were fed up of the lack of choice of coffee and the relative inflexibility. And the cost per cup especially for capsules in the latte macchiato role was quite high. And of course the material rubbish/waste was significant - not eco friendly.
So, time for change. We wanted a machine which was easy to maintain, flexible, simple yet flexible to use and above all that made decent coffee. Our research took us to the German press (we read the language perfectly) and the test published by an independent review magazine in December 2011 short listed 5 machines including the far more expensive Miele, de longhi and Jura. The Melitta Caffeo ci came out first; not bad against such fierce competition so we tried it in the shop and bought one.
What a brilliant decision. Let me take you through it so you can sense the pleasure we have from this device. First, to set it up is a doddle. Plug and play. Set the language to English (or whatever you want it seems). The water tank holds enough for normal use and to refill takes seconds as the tank is removable and so just pop it under the cold tap. To use a the water filter in our area is a must and can set the water hardness in the intuitive LCD menu. To fit the filter use the tool provided which also doubles as the ground coffee measure - more on that later. Next, fill the holders with fresh coffee beans. Yes - holders as there are two allowing you to have different coffees at flick of a lever. So if one person wants espresso (which we also use for latte and for cappuccino) and another wants a caffe creme from different beans, there is no fussing with having the wrong kind of bean loaded - you can have both.
Now the fun bit. The machine has a simple dial up menu which allows you to specify and store the strength and milk mix of the various coffees for up to 4 people. So, you can spend a while finding out how much coffee,(and how strong as it offers a choice of 4 strengths) how much milk and milk foam for the various drinks each person likes. Then store the results under each persons name.
Now to the milk. The simple and hygenic way this works was a major attraction for us. It is definingly simple. Just pour a liter of milk of your choice into the provided milk box, which fits easily in the fridge when not in use. Connect the milk pipe and it's good to go.
Now make your coffee(s); two of the same kind at the same time if you will! Just press the right button and the delivery tray and cups (which you can warm up on the plate on top of the machine) are then lit up by LED lights. It makes cappuccino the right way round; coffee first then milk. Latte produces the classic foam/coffee/milk layering. Obviously espresso and straight coffee come as they are. If you want to use pre ground coffee (this gives you a third choice over the beans) then place a single measure using the spoon provided into the special opening and the machine will recognize it. In this case only one cup at a time can be made.
To clean the milk system just connect the milk pipe to the drip tray and press the quick clean button. It flushes with hot water and then with steam. Pop the milk box back into the fridge.
The drip tray does fill up quickly but it's so easy to empty and rinse under the tap; the coffee grouts holder is a separate box on the drip tray and also very easy to empty. If you forget to empty there is a visual float and it will aso remind you in the display.
A brilliant innovation is that the entire brewing unit can be taken out for cleaning (or replacement I guess in the very long term) by slipping off the side panel and the whole unit then comes out with one lever movement. Rinse it under running water, shake it dry and replace. And the milk dispenser unit and pipe come off easily and you can then run them under the tap and use the provided brush to clean inside the pipe if you want.
We clean the milk system properly every week (or when the machine tells us to) using the Melitta approved sterilizing fluid which came with the machine. It costs little and keeps it all hygenic. From time to time (every couple of hundred cups I think) the machine tells you it's time to use a cleaning tablet. This drops into the ground coffee input and makes sure the interior workings are freed from coffee residue. Dead easy and takes very little time.
As to the coffee taste. Well that's as subjective as your choice of beans and milk and mixtures you decide are right for you - each to their own in this flexible machine. Each of us here has found just what they want but we still experiment with differnt beans; you can't do that so well with pad or capsule and of course the cost per cup is lower than those when taken over the full life cycle. And there's no rubbish from capsules etc. It's a win- win.
We are really delighted with this machine. It won the tough German competition and rightly so. We commend it to anyone looking for a great, flexible, easy to use and clean, intuitive coffee machine at a very sensible price.