When the little coffee maker my husband had had for many years finally died on us, we experienced unexpected difficulties in finding a suitable replacement. One machine, bought at the local supermarket, was so badly put together that the panel containing the controls was coming off before we even got to use it. Having returned this, we then proceeded to buy another from our local Woolworth's, their own brand. Well, that one was cheap... Cheap in price and unfortunately quality and the jug, made of very thin glass, smashed the first time we washed it.
After this run of bad luck, when our new Hinari machine arrived (mail order), we were delighted when we took it out of the box. It looked great! This being an espresso/cappuccino and filter coffee maker, it was bigger than what we had previously (about 22cmx43cm). As our worktop surface is limited in the kitchen, it took some rearranging to fit it in, but there it was sitting proudly by the cooker.
My caffeine-deprived husband couldn't wait to try it, and wanted to dive straight in, with his usual disregard for instruction manuals. I managed to contain him long enough to flick through the booklet. I have to admit that in this instance he was right to trust his own technical abilities as the manual contained such gems as: "Swing out the filter basket, insert a paper filter and put your desired brand of ground coffee in the filter. The filter basket is fitted with a permanent filter system and does not require paper filters." Confused? I certainly was... If you buy this coffee maker, the upshot is that it does use paper filters. One of the diagrams also mentions a 'filter retainer' on the espresso-making side, but nowhere is it explained what this is for. Maybe I am obtuse, but it took me a while to figure out it was to hold the metal filter whilst emptying the coffee ground. You should however make sure you read the manual, as it does contain important safety instructions.
When we finally got going, we decided to make filter coffee (we do enjoy espresso, but only have it on the odd occasion). We were shocked to see how much steam the machine produced, and here lies its biggest drawback: all this steam hits the plastic above the carafe and drips back down as water. A lot of water! This then gets on the hotplate and all over the worktop.
The filter machine is also fairly noisy and extremely slow (it takes a good 10 minutes to brew half a carafe). Because so much of the water is lost to the coffee-making process, the resulting brew is stronger than you expect. It took quite a lot of adjustment to get the quantities of water and ground coffee right. On the plus side, we use less ground coffee to produce the same number of mugs (due to the slowness of the process I think). And it is really excellent coffee.
The espresso machine is fairly easy to use and makes nice coffee. You can either use the little carafe provided or the cup adaptor to make the coffee directly into the cups. This last method ensures the coffee is hotter by the time you drink it. I cannot say very much about the milk frothing abilities of the machine, as we don't drink cappuccino. However, in the interest of research, I did try the steam nozzle and it appears to work fine.
In conclusion, I would say that we are fairly happy with the Hinari cafe continental CC905, but it does feel a bit like a compromise. If we hadn't had such a run of bad luck before getting to this one, and if it wasn't for the fact that sending it back would cost us extra, we would probably not have kept this machine. We have grown accustomed to it and it is serviceable, making excellent coffee, but I would imagine other models have those same qualities without any of the downsides.