Top critical review
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Good, tasty and convienient, with some issues.
on 26 June 2013
I got this product from work, as they were selling it very cheaply - normally I wouldn't have bothered, unless it was a gift. That is to say, I didn't really research this item before I bought it, except to check its price.
To explain if you don't quite understand it (as I didn't) the machine has a water tank on the back of it, which you fill with cold water - it takes about 7 mug-fulls of water, so it's quite a good capacity.
On the front is a height adjustable plinth for your cup to sit on, and that comes off easily, for cleaning or for tall cups.
There's one button and an on/off switch. at the top there is an opening compartment where you put in the TASSIMO DISK (available everywhere - here and supermarkets) which are round, plastic containers, which foil over the top. You leave the disk sealed, and put the disk in the top (easy to do).
On the foil is a barcode, which aligns with the scanner on the machine perfectly, which tells the machine how hot the drink needs to be, and how quickly the water comes through.
You press the button, and the machine starts to brew the drink - you hear it pierce the foil, and boil the water, which it drips through the grounds of coffee, or tea in the disk - like one of the old percolators.
It takes about 30 secs to fill a cup (I'll come to that soon)
It then sends a load of steam through the pipe to I guess purge the pipes so you don't need ot clean them yourself - though there is a cleaning disk, which it says to use every week. That's a very simple task of putting the cleaning disk in the disk holder, and letting it run through the cycle.
There's a massive selection - lots of espressos, cremas, normal coffees, specialist coffees, teas and chocolates, from Cadbury, Costa, Kenco, Carte Noire, Suchard, Café HAG, etc.
On the side of the boxes, they will tell you the strength and the size of the drink. Annoyingly, they don't tell you strength on the top of the disk - they really need a system there, as it's hard to know the strength of the drink.
Some disks are to be used alone, so the Costa Americana, which I use as my standard coffee, say's it's 'Large' on the side of the box. If I can get the picture uploaded, I'll show you what that means in a cup, but that is about 3/5ths of a Bodum glass mug, so not massive serving.
As this produces a standard black coffee, I then add my own milk to it, which takes it to about 4/5ths of the level you'd probably fill a mug to, which is acceptable. These work out about 30p per cup.
Others, like the caramel coffee (which I've forgotten its name) take a coffee disk, and also a milk disk, so you do the coffee one first, the machine works out the amount from the barcode, and then you put the milk disk in, and the machine steams it through, making it nice and bubbly. This milk is a long life creama, so it's sweet - in a caramel drink that's fine, but it can taste weird in a hot chocolate. It'd be great to be able to fill something up with your own fresh milk. However, you can warm your own milk up and put the expressos in there, giving you a good option.
If you use a glass mug, you'll see it layers the components, which is a rather cool touch.
The caramel one gives a good mug size, the Cadbury chocolate one is about half the mug, and is overly sweet and synthetic, probably because of the milk stuff. It's really not worth it as opposed to hot milk and powered chocolate, to be honest, although I had high hopes, as the chocolate is a syrup in the disk, not a powder. Doesn't live up its promise.
There's other chocolates available too, from Milka and Suchard, so I'll give them a go.
The 2 disk drinks add up to about 60p a cup.
I have English Breakfast tea, which is really nice, as I guess it's like using your own tea leaves, and this is convenient, as there is no messing about with the kettle. These use one disk, and give quite a large mug full.
There are many expressos for the machine, and I've found them good. I guess that is the foundation of a coffee, and you'll find the right one for you. I've drank a lot of coffee, but I don't mind dissolvable coffee, and I'd say these are a step up from that, but not quite fresh ground bean standard, but you do get a similar smoky and mature taste from the disks, which you don't get from instant.
I'd say it's on a par with a coffee you'd get in Germany, as opposed to the ones you get in ponsey Italian places.
Bear in mind that expresso's are very condensed drinks, so the machine produces a shot sized coffee. That is as I expect from an expresso, but living in this country, it's not a common sight, so I expect they get some complaints.
The coffee smells great when it's being brewed - head and shoulders above the instants.
It's a well made machine, from Bosch. It's easy to use, and cleaning is minimal.
The tank at the back is easy to get to, though it could probably use more capacity. That said, it's fine.
It has one button at the front that you press when the disk is inserted and the top closed. When it's finished brewing, it had a moment before it's amber light comes on (Yes, green is "Leave me alone I'm still brewing" and Amber is "I'm done") and if you press the button at that period, you'll get more water come through, which somewhat dilutes the drink too much for me, but obviously increases your potion of drink - it's really hard to control this too - as the steam purges the machine after every serving, it takes a while to produce the water again.
That's it really.
In summary, I like it - it's convenient, fast and the coffee's and teas are tasty.
The disks are probably a bit expensive for day to day use, and the portion size of some drinks is pathetic (Cadbury hot chocolate, I'm looking at you)
I've had it for a month or two now, and use it every day - if you can find somewhere discrete to tuck it away in your kitchen, then it's a decent buy - probably not at £100, but I guess everyone has their price.