I like to drink beverages whilst working away, be that a nice cup of tea or, more often than not, when I need to keep a little more alert, coffee. So when I'm working from home I used to spend what seemed to be quite a lot of time putting the kettle on in order to make a coffee as I tapped away on the keyboard. (not at the same time of course as there's nothing worse that water over a keyboards is there?)
I realised that there was a more efficient method on keep up with my caffeine fix whilst saving me time and effort in putting on the kettle, this being something called a coffee maker, which I have owned and used several of them over the time, enjoying the produce that they spit out, sort of.
Anyway, I remember once, a while back, I mentioned to a friend of mine, simply in passing really, telling her that I was on the hunt for a new coffee machine, as the one I was using seemed to be faltering somewhat
The very next day, there was a tap on my front door, (what a silly place to put a tap, I first thought), and when I answered the door the same friend was stood there carrying a large white box.
She told me that she had had this in her house for ages now and had never got to use it.
So there was me, wondering what on earth she had brought round, knowing that she was a bit of a one for practical jokes, cling film over the toilet, drawing pins in the inside of the heal of a shoe, eye liner on the edge of a coin.... You really have to watch her... I opened the box to see a strange black object held in place by that horrid white solid foam packaging stuff that crumbled when you touch it.
Once I'd pulled the black object out of the box I realised exactly what it was. It was in fact a coffee machine, a massive coffee machine in fact, being about the size of a small family hatchback, almost.
At first I thought it was an industrial coffee machine until she told me that it was a household one and would make a good 6 large size cups of coffee in one go.
So, after asking her how much she wanted for it, with her telling me that I could have it for nothing as she had had it for ages and had never used it. So I agreed and took it off her hands.
This coffee machine that I was given, free of charge, and still, to this date, works like a charm, is not a well known branded named machine. In fact, it's one of those names that you may find in pound land on the specials shelf.
This coffee maker is in fact named the EGL filter coffee maker, or to give it its proper title, the Express gifts limited filter coffee machine, from a company called... yes you've guessed it, Express gifts limited...
If you're interested, I googled EGL to see who they were and could only come up with that they are a company that supply item, such as this coffee maker, to certain catalogue companies, or more Studio and Ace, which are one in the same really.
But anyway, you don't want to know about studio, or Express Gift limited, you want to know about this coffee machine don't you? (or at least I hope you do).
* What does it look like...
It looks like a chunky tube that would not look out of place inside the engines of a Boeing 747 with it's black plastic casing that stands proudly at a good height of 380mm, being a chunky 210mm in diameter.
It's mainly made of a dull black plastic having a few silver rings around it, giving the machine a little bit of style so that it fits in many kitchen without looking out of place.
Taking up most of the front section, there is what I can only describe as a hole, which is where the glass jug, or, to be technical, the carafe, but as I'm not that technical I'll call it the jug, sits inside.
Right at the bottom, almost, there is a warming plate that the jug sits on, this is designed to keep a low heat buzzing through it so that the coffee inside the jug stays warm enough for you to drink even after many minutes sat there.
On the front, above the hole there is a small screen which, when the machine is turned on, turns illuminates a lovely blue colour. This screen is the clock and also a timer control, sort of, although the controls are really on either side of this screen, those controls being four little buttons. These buttons are, on the left, an hour button and a minute button, which you use to set the hour of the time and the timer. You do have to use this button together with the prog, (or program) button, which is on the lower right of the screen. Then above the prog button there is a on/auto/off button.
And that's all the buttons and controls, all set in one small place.
Right on the top there is a little sort of 'lip' piece of plastic that protrudes out slightly from the from of what is a lid really. At first this lid is difficult to see as the rim looks like it's part of the trim around the top section of the unit. It's only the 'lip' that gives you any real idea as to the fact that the lid lifts up, eventually, to reveal the water reservoir and the filter sections.
I mention the lid lifting up and I also said the word 'eventually'. what I mean by this is that the lid is pretty tight and it does take a little bit of effort to actually get the lid off. But in a way this also works to keep the heating water inside and sends it into the jug rather than out into the ceiling.
Once you've lifted the lid you'll see that half the inside section is taken over by a removable filter and also what is called a funnel, which is really a filter shaped piece of plastic that directs the water through the filter and into the jug that is waiting below.
The rest of the area underneath the lid is taken up by the reservoir itself, which does seem to be in two halves, separated by the water spout, but it's actually one complete pit for the water to be poured into.
When I looked closely inside the reservoir, more towards the top, I struggled to find a mark for the water fill level, until I realised that the fill level was shown by a small hole that is drilled into the back of the machine. And on checking with the destruction manual, it is this hole that you should to fill above. Although to be honest, there's no chance of filling above it as the water simply pours out of the hole and onto the work surfaces that this machine is sat on.
The filter, and the funnel, have a little handle on them for easy removal from the machine, with the filter having a close enough knit to stop the coffee dropping through whilst allowing the water, or coffee by now, to drop slowly into the waiting jug.
The jug itself is made of plastic and is a good size, 160mm by 160mm with a handle that sticks out another 60mm. Up the side of the jug there are some measuring marks, 2 to 12, going up in twos, giving you a rough indication as to how many cups of coffee are inside the jug.
The handle is nice and chunky, making gripping simple and the lid flips up with the push of a thumb as you hold the jug, which helps when it comes to filling the jug with water from the tap in order to pour into the reservoir. The lid itself has a hole in the centre which is surrounded by four more holes. These holes let the water into the jug from the funnel above it when it is inside the machine.
The spout is curved in such a way as to keep the water from spilling over the edges, directing it into the cups without it going all over the tables, or you laps, or worse.
* How do you use it..?
It is used like most other coffee makers. You put in the required amount of water into the reservoir, then put the coffee into the filter, switch it on at the mains and press the on button.
With this one you drop the funnel into the top of the machine, then drop the filter into the funnel, then you add the coffee into the filter and close the lid, then you press the on/auto/off button to start the machine up.
If you press it once the little light inside the button turns red to let you know that the machine is on and is heating the water up. It then starts to make some strange gurgling noises, sounding like someone is trying desperately to strangle a elephant, and the water begins to heat up and slowly stream from the reservoir, through the coffee in the filter and down into the jug below.
If you press it again the light then flashes blue, which is letting you know that it is in the 'timer' mode. This timer mode is so that you can set the machine to start making the coffee when you want to instead of immediately. To set the timer you simply press the 'prog' button, then use the hour and minute button the set the time and press the on/auto/off button until it flashes blue. The machine will wait until the time is right before beginning to gurgle away.
Finally, if you press the button once more, that's' three times in total, the little light shows a constant blue colour, this means that the machine is still switch on but not brewing.
And that's how it works...
* So what about cleaning..?
This is a simple matter of taking out the filter and the nozzle, tapping the used coffee into the bin and running it under a hot tap to clear any excess coffee bits. You could leave it to soak in warm soapy water if you want to but make sure you A) rinse it off before using it again and B) try not to use harsh abrasive brushes as this could damage the filter.
As for the jug, this is too can be either rinsed or left to soak, then wiped down and it's ready to use again.
* My opinion...
To be honest I'm pretty well chuffed with this coffee machine, even if it's not been branded with a well known, and much more expensive name. I'm even more chuffed as I got it for nothing, (thanks Sam...much appreciated, but stop with the practical jokes please...).
I have used this many many times and, even though I don't use it that often now, having the use of a different coffee maker that the wife decided to buy to fit into the new kitchen a while back, I still think this one is without doubt one of the best and easiest coffee makers that I have used, even if it took up half the kitchen work tops.
It does exactly what it is supposed to do, it makes a lovely jug full of coffee, and keep it warm until I'm ready to drink it. The jug is a good size and the handle is firm, which gives me confidence when I'm pouring the hot coffee into a cup, and the measuring marks are a good guide as to how much coffee is left inside.
The way the spout is designed does keep the liquid going in the right direction and the way the lid is designed makes sure the heated water drops into the jug and not over the side.
I did notice that when I slide the jug into place it actually lifts up the funnel and filter a little bit, enough to make it sit higher in its section that it should do.
I don't know if this is a fault in the design but it has made absolutely no difference to the machine as it works and it doesn't make the water go anywhere but the jug below.
The other thing that happens is that when you take the jug out of the machine the end of the funnel springs downwards and stops any more coffee/water dripping out onto the hot plate. This is a great idea and only a drop or two actually hit's the hot plate which instantly fizzle away with the heat, so a quick wipe over gets rid of everything on it and you're left with a clean and none sticky plate.
I didn't use the 'timer' function that often but I did test it out and it worked perfectly well indeed, so no faults there then.
* So what about the price..?
This is a bit tricky to answer actually. Not that I'm being secretive of course, but as it was a gift I had no idea about the cost, so I did a quick search on line to get a price, (naughty l I know but I had to find out), and I could only find it in one place, or more one group of places. With that I mean that it is on sale in the studio catalogue range, or ace, which is the same really, for the price of under £30.00.
* Would I recommend this one..?
If you want a good size machine that will make a fine coffee without the hassles of having to buy filters then this one is worth looking at.
It may not be the most sophisticated. It may not have more controls than a nuclear submarine, but what it does have is all it needs to make a jug full of steaming hot coffee for you to enjoy.
So with that, I have to say that I would recommend it even if it doesn't have a branded stamp etched on the front.
It looks like something that would catch your eye when you walk into a room and it does exactly what it is designed to do at a lower price than you'd expect.