There is nothing I like more than the tempting aroma of freshly percolated coffee filling the kitchen in the morning. I'm not even sure I'm a big fan of the taste, but I love to drink it because the scent is just so warming. I have memories of visiting my late great aunt since childhood and each morning she would have the percolator running and the beautiful scent would reach up the stairs and make me that much more keen to get up early and enjoy it. In fact I did not like the taste back then, but always said 'yes please' to coffee. Percolated coffee, in particular, became something of a special treat in our house as we bought our own machine and started to use it when guests were visiting.
Normally in our house we stick to standard instant coffee with boiled water from the kettle, but on the odd occasion we do enjoy a special drink, even without visitors. Currently we are using ground coffee beans but my mum believes that whole beans, although expensive, are even better for percolating. Originally we bought a simple percolator with a glass jug, but when we moved house we went for an upgrade, and the Rowenta Milano Therm CT 273 was introduced to our household. This was very different to our previous, more old fashioned percolator.
I have to admit I cannot remember the exact amount we paid for this kettle, although it was in the region of £80-100. It is currently priced at £82 on Amazon. I know I have seen coffee machines on offer for around £50 but even £80, from my searching is a pretty good price. The higher end coffee machines, particularly those that use capsules, can set you back a good £200. Sometimes it is worth shopping around to see whether there are any promotions on because these seem to happen occasionally.
Appearance and Aesthetics
Tucked away behind our kettle and under the cupboard, this large appliance barely gets noticed by visitors to our house until it is in use. In fact it is quite a pleasant sight, albeit not fancy, and I wouldn't mind too much it being more on display. The machine has a glossy black exterior with a hollow central part for the jug. Above this is a compartment which opens in front for the coffee and along the side is a water measuring level, which is large enough that the printed numbers are not too hard to read. The name 'Rowenta' and 'Milano Therm Line' is printed across the front of the machine. The is an on switch with an LED light near the bottom which comes on when in use.
The jug is short but wide. It is mostly made from stainless steel with a black handle. The handle is reasonably large and allows plenty of space for larger hands to grip it. I have very small hands but still find it quite comfortable when lifting and pouring. Engraved on the jug is the name 'Rowenta' again and 'Stainless Steel', confirming this material. The jug is not overly heavy but quite thick and robust.
The machine is large, just fitting under the top kitchen units on our worktop, but very light indeed. It has a very plastic feel to it and one concern I might have is that with rough use the compartment doors feel like they might easily break. This has fortunately not happened so far and perhaps it is stronger than I think, but it does feel a little flimsy. The jug on the other hand has a quality weightiness about it and since you are only lifting it full when ready to pour for me this is alright.
There is also a measuring spoon to make it easier to get the right amount of coffee, but I'm not sure what happened to ours as we just use a normal tablespoon these days!
The jug fits nicely in the machine whilst the coffee is made. The jug itself is completely cordless, which makes it more convenient. The space designed for it holds it well and clicks into place quite easily. The jug has a good sturdy handle to make it easier to take out when ready. The machine has a power cord which is about the same length as our current kettle - two thirds of a metre. You can't really tuck this underneath too well but it is not such a long cable that it is likely to be a problem.
The machine is taller than it is wide, but is certainly much bigger than a lot of the newer machines on the market today. It would best suit a large kitchen area as I think it would look out of place anywhere too small or in a bedroom. Being such a large machine, it is not surprising to learn that the capacity is pretty good. This machine states that it can make up to 10 large cups and 15 small cups of coffee. We often use it to make just a couple of large cups but perhaps our mugs are small as we often have a bit left over! It amazes me that so much coffee could fit into the jug but so far we have never used it to full capacity.
I really enjoy making coffee in this machine and it is really simple. You spoon in a couple of good heaps of coffee into the top compartment; depending on your taste you can make it stronger or weaker. Guidelines are given in the manual. Then you add water at the back. The fill level shows how many cups of coffee you will get for the amount of water you have poured in. Of course as I mentioned before I do think these measurements are a bit different to the mugs I use as we always have some left over. I think it is worth trying out different amounts and deciding how much is right for your own needs, so personally I would have preferred the measurements to have been in ml rather than cups. Once this is all done you just close up the compartments, which will click shut, and switch it on.
Our old machine used to make a lot of noise that sounded like someone slurping through a straw as the coffee was made. The Rowenta, on the other hand, is very quiet. I did not mind the noise of the old one because it told us all that some lovely coffee was on its way, whereas now often people in the house make coffee and I will not even notice it! That said, I can see how a quieter machine would be useful to some people, especially if it is close to bedrooms and might disturb people with different sleeping patterns. Although I would say this machine is a bit big for a bedroom, it would at least not be too loud.
I am interested in how these things actually work, so it would be nice to be able to see what is happening as the jug fills. However, I can see how this design is meant to look simple and discreet so all the work is done behind the scenes. With our old percolator the jug was glass so you could easily see it filling up and would be able to tell when it was done because it will slow to drips and then stop filling. With this one, you know it is working because the light comes on, but it is otherwise hard to tell the progress. We just switch it on first thing then go away and come back and it is ready. If the water is already hot then it will probably not take very long but if cold then a few minutes more to heat up the water.
Although I would like the convenience of a machine that makes coffee straight into a cup, there are advantages to this machine working with a jug. Whereas a cup would just go cold if left, the jug keeps the coffee nice and hot for a very long time. It is particularly well insulated. I do not have to keep going back to make another cup as there will be plenty of hot coffee in the jug even a couple of hours later. I also think that it keeps it well. I know I shouldn't, but I have used coffee from it the next day by just pouring what was left in the jug, microwaving this and then adding hot water to taste. Obviously do NOT microwave the jug itself! My next day coffee tasted absolutely fine and was no problem at all. I'm not recommending you do this (we also use out of date coffee and keep it well beyond the recommended 10 days!), but while the coffee is hot it will still taste nice and fresh.
Inside the compartment where the coffee goes is the filter. After each use this must be taken out and washed. The jug lid comes off completely so that the two parts can be easily washed. The main part would probably just need the odd wipe down every now and then to keep it looking good, but ours hardly ever seems to need a clean. Being under the cupboard might explain why it is well protected but it seems to stay quite clean. There are never any spills or mess around the machine which is good too. It is important not to use an harsh chemicals or scourers on any part of the machine as they will damage it, however the filter can go in the dishwasher for convenience.
We've never had any problems with this machine requiring repairs or support and have found it to be quite reliable. We do not really use it that often, although recently mum has been firing it up at the weekends for her morning coffee. Perhaps if used more frequently you might expect signs of wear and tear, but to be honest it is hard to see how as it is very durable. The only risk I see is if kids are allowed to play with it or plastic parts are forced out then they may crack or be broken somehow. This has not happened to us and I think with good care there is no good reason for it to do so.
My mum taught me how to use this machine so I did not really need to refer to the manual. It is actually quite simple anyway so the manual is unlikely to be needed too much once you learn the basics. The manual itself is big because it has a whole range of languages covered. There are also diagrams at the start showing the parts and how they work with a numbered step by step guide on what to do without words.. These are not too hard to understand but as it is in black and white that makes it a bit less clear, but the pictures are quite nice and artistic.
The written guide gives advice on how to wire and also contact details for support and what to do if it is damaged. This has never been needed by us but it is nice to know. It also adds more advice on using the machine and keeping it clean and avoiding damaging it.
The one downside to having percolated coffee is that the actual coffee is likely to be quite expensive in comparison to your standard instant coffee. Of course you are paying a premium for better quality and fresher tasting coffee. The use-by dates are pretty tight though, and on our current packet we are advised to 'refrigerate and use within 10 days'. I think it has been in the fridge for a few months and even left out at one point. Personally I am not bothered about this but it is worth considering if using products past their dates concerns you, because you may want to buy something that lasts longer. For example a lot of machines now take individual pods that might work out cheaper.
This machine can also be used to make tea using tea leaves. I have not done this yet but a friend gave me a bag of herbal tea leaves a while back so I will hopefully get around to giving them a try in this machine. Apart from being able to choose different flavours of tea and coffee, there are no extra functions. However, the jug is a good insulator and can be used to hold hot and cold drinks.
At some point in the future I would like to buy a fancy new coffee machine that takes a variety of pods and does milkshakes and other things. If I had something like that it would almost render our current machine obsolete to me. However, it has been very convenient and enjoyable to use. It looks really nice on our kitchen worktop and is the kind of product I feel proud to own. Even if that makes me sound a little materialistic! If you were going for this type of coffee machine it is not a bad buy and will not disappoint. However, it may not be enough alone to suit all needs and where space is an issue a smaller machine that has other functions might be a better option.
This is an excellent product. Mine has gone on and on for years. No stay-warm heater means it doesn't burn out and the coffee stays warm enough in the insulated jug, without getting stewed by a heater.
The coffee it produces is smashing.
It's used every morning and often in the evening too - a model with a stay-warm facility would have burned out with that sort of use.
It's easy to use, easy to keep clean. I use filtered water anyway, so descaling isn't an issue for me.
It's a smart and stylish piece of kitchen equipment that I'm proud to own. When it does eventually give up the ghost I shall buy another identical model.
It's among the best Christmas presents anybody ever bought me. Previous coffee makers with heaters have all burned out before they were very old at all. I would certainly recommend this to anybody.
Short name: Rowenta CT 273