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My other half and I are both avid coffee drinkers, and not being a huge fan of some of the instant coffees available we decided to invest in this Tassimo coffee machine. I bought ours 3 years ago for £100 from B&Q. Despite many newer models being released, this machine still costs roughly the same now, although you can get new models for much cheaper.
The machine works using coffee pod called 'T-Disks', these are placed into a holder under the lid of the machine. The machine then reads the barcode on the T-Disk and uses it to dispense the correct amount of water, at the correct temperature for the drink you have chosen. The water is pushed through the T-Disk, which will contain either coffee, tea or concentrated hot chocolate/milk and into your mug which is placed onto of a removable drip tray.
The machine is black, mainly glossy, and looks very smart. It's more compact than I was expecting, and doesn't take up an awful lot of room, which is great for anybody who doesn't have a lot of worktop space. The machine is around 27cm high, 20cm wide and 33cm deep. It has a removable water tank at the rear which is very easy to lift out and place back into the machine. This holds 2 litres of water when full.
There is a circle on the front of the machine, or which the middle is a button and the 4 segments around it are indicator lights. One to say the machine is ready to brew, one to say the water tank is empty, one to say the machine needs de-scaling, and one to say that you can top up your drink with extra water if you so desire. There is a 'on/off' switch below the circle. There is also a slot behind the water tank of the machine which holds a service disk. This is the same as a T-Disk, but just has a barcode written on it, and is inserted into the machine to service or de-scale it. The slot in the back of the machine is an excellent idea as I'm sure I would have lost mine without it by now!
I usually service my machine every few weeks, when I remember. This just runs hot water through the machine and cleans it out. The De-scaling light comes on periodically. We purchased a bottle of Bosch descaler when we first bought the machine, it cost us around £9 and we still have some left after 3 years. The de-scaler is put into the water tank and set to the de-scaling problem, this takes around 20 minutes - please remember to rinse the water tank after!
To insert a T-Disk into the machine you simply pull up the lid using the curved handle and place the disk into the holder with the barcode facing down. Once you close the lid the machine will be able to read the barcode and the 'ready to brew' light will go green, signalling that the machine has recognised the disk and is ready to make your drink Now you simply have to press the button and the machine does the rest.
The very first time I used our Tassimo machine it was louder than I had expected, however after seeing other coffee machines in action and being able to compare I now feel that it is quite quiet for what it does. When it first starts to brew you hear it bringing the water through, then heating it up and passing it through the disk. This can create a small amount of steam towards the end of the drink, or if you are doing a few drinks at once, but it's much, much less than if you were to be boiling a kettle.
What are the drinks like? They're very nice! There are a variety of T-Disks available in most shops, and whilst I was worried that over time the selection and availability may dwindle with time I have been proved wrong as new ranges are being brought out often, especially when new models of the machine is being released. The most recently released range is a selection of Costa coffees. There are also various types of Tea and Hot Chocolate available, and a wide section of coffees. There is also a wider selection available from the Tassimo website for home delivery, there are some very unusual flavours and drinks which I never expected to see made into a disk for a specific machine like this. The T-Disks are usually sold in packs of 16 disks. This will mean either 16 cups of tea/coffee, or 8 cups of a drink which contains milk. For example a latte will contain a T-Disk of coffee and a T-Disk of milk (16 pack = 8 coffee, 8 milk), so you get half the drinks for you money when you purchase those. T-Disks are available in bulk from Amazon, and can work out cheaper if you're willing to buy a larger quantity at once. In the supermarkets a pack of 16 T-Disks is usually £3.79, with a high price for the fancy ones! This works out at around 23/24p per drink, which is much more than instant, but I'm happy to pay this for what you get.
It's also worth noting that many of the drink are different sizes, a Kenco Medium roast only gives you around 190ml of coffee, whereas a Kenco Columbian gives you a 215ml serving. The smaller drinks can be more enjoyable for people who do not enjoy drinking a large amount of hot drink at once, like myself. The drink sizes are specified on the packaging.
The only problem I have encountered with this machine in the 3 years of use is that occasionally we have had a 'dud' T-disks. We have made a coffee as usual but the machine has not stopped pushing through water and we end up with a large mug of water coffee, with ground coffee also coming out of the disk. I haven't put my finger on what causes this and it may be a mistake on my behalf, but this has only happened very occasionally. If making a lot of drinks in a row the barcode reader can sometimes get a little condensation on it and cannot read the barcode properly, but a quick wipe with a cold cloth sorts this.
I love our Tassimo machine, and would hate to be without it now. I find the drinks of a much higher quality than instant drinks and the machine has coped very well with our heavy use over the past few years. I do think that the T-Disks are on the expensive side, and it's frustrating that there isn't an unbranded version that you can use in the machines, however they're not extortionate and there is a very wide range available. Highly recommended by me!
The Tassimo TAS4012GB makes a great coffee or hot chocolate, but the making of it is simply very long and tedious! When you are drinking the Tassimo's product, you can definitely appreciate its quality. However, it takes about two-three minutes to make just one drink, and it's very difficult to make a drink without getting your hands wet / burnt! The drinks are made by putting the Tassimo pods in the machine (normally the chocolate / coffee, followed by a milk pod). As you have to normally run two separate pods through the machine, it can take a long time to make a drink, so if you intend on making coffees for four people, you'll be in the kitchen for a very long time! Having said this, the Tassimo machines offer a great selection of drinks to purchase, such as Milka hot chocolates (my favourite) and a range of coffees. If you don't mind spending a while making the drinks, then the Tassimo is worth it. If you're after an easy and quick solution to coffee-making, the Tassimo TAS4012GB is not worth your while.
I bought the Tassimo on the recommendation of a friend, I had tasted the cappachino in a small cup, thinking this was all very nice. When I got the machine home it was easy to unpack and set up, looking at the instructions I was a surprised that all the drinks where in small cups of various designs. The t disks can be hard to find as not all supermarkets have them, and I never seem to find them on offer.
On the plus side there are lots of different drinks to try, it's reasonably ok to set up ready to make the drinks, although I did find I needed the instructions a lot. The drinks we tried like cappachino and hot chocolate where pretty good, but (and it's a big but) they only made small drinks. Know I no to a lot of people that may be ok, if you are a cup drinker rather than a mug drinker, but if you are expecting a mug full of steaming chocolate you will be disappointed
In the end we used it for 2-3 weeks, then it sat gathering dust dust for a couple of months so I sold it on, and bought a rival machine instead which is in another league to this one, for the same price .
If you want a drinks machine that produces dainty little cups at the end of a dinner party then this will suit you, if you want to chat over a a steaming mug of a latte, look to one of it's rivals.
Picture the scene: you sit, sated, at the dinner table, having just finished the gourmet meal you spent hours preparing. The perfect way to finish it off, you think to yourself, and to clear the fug of too much wine from your head, would be a short, intense hit of espresso. Do you:
(a) measure out and grind the correct quantity of coffee beans, compact them into the filter, screw that on to the coffee machine and percolate the water through, all in the knowledge that you'll have to dispose of the soggy grounds later and wash the component parts; or
(b) put a T-disc in the machine and press the button?
If you chose (a):
This machine is not for the coffee connoisseur. If you enjoy the process of making it properly, Tassimo isn't for you. If you can taste different blends and detect juniper berries and tinderbox, it isn't for you. If you enjoy going to the little coffee stall, next to the humidor in the corner of the indoor market, and buying beans to suit your every mood, it isn't for you. Although a good range of big name coffee brands produce T-discs, there's a conspicuous lack of interesting and exotic blends. Also, if you're after cappuccinos or lattes, they are available, but as the "milk" is stored in a T-disc, it's not the same as you would get from a coffee shop.
If you chose (b):
With the current fad of having a coffee machine in the home, many people buy one without realising that they will seldom have the time or effort to do what it takes to actually produce a cup of fresh coffee (I haven't even mentioned steaming the milk!). This machine is for those people: it's quick, simple and clean to use. All you have to do is put the disc in and press the button, and occassionally fill up the water reservoir. The machine does the rest for you. The way in which it works is ingenious: each T-disc has a small bar code on the top, which the machine scans, telling it how much water is required, when to steam and how much froth is required. In this way, it can make different types of coffee, from espresso to cappuccino, and all manner of other drinks from hot chocolate to tea.
Bear in mind that this is an expensive way to buy coffee, with a pack of 16 T-discs (which would make 16 drinks) costing more than a whole bag of ground coffee that would make many more cups. It certainly isn't worthwhile buying the tea discs, as they do nothing that a much cheaper tea bag doesn't. Whereas other disc or tab-based systems allow you to fill an empty tab with your own coffee grounds, Tassimo does not, so you're locked into the system and they've got you where they want you!
If you do buy one, or already own one, I will recommend two things:
1) Try the Latte Machiato - it's creamy and delicious.
2) Pour a shot of espresso over vanilla or chocolate ice cream to make an instant, delicious affogato. Worth buying the machine just for this.
To summarise, if speed and convenience are what you're after, this is the perfect coffee machine for you.
Short name: Bosch TAS4012GB