I’m a bit difficult to buy Christmas presents for – I’m not sure why – I’ve got everything I want, so I never know what to ask for. This year I couldn’t think of anything to ask for, so I was given a ‘surprise’ present in the form of this coffee maker. I love coffee first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but that’s the only time I tend to drink the stuff (strange but true) anyway, at Christmas I was given this as my Christmas pressie and it’s the best kitchen gadget I’ve ever been given! It’s quite a compact little unit, and comprises of four main sections. First up we have the section where you put water in. It’s dead easy to operate – you simply unscrew the top and pour about ½ a pint of water inside. Once that’s done you then fill up the coffee filter section – the inside of this filter cup has markings to indicate how much coffee you should put in depending on how many people are going to have a cup -clear and simple. With a simple twist and turn the filter section is secured to the main unit with the actual coffee jug underneath to hold that lovely fresh coffee inside. The unit takes a minute or two at the most to bring the water to the boil – so if you need a quick cup then this is ideal. But is that all it does? No, I’ve saved the fun part to the last! You can use a steam frother to make all the milk for your coffee froth up – it only takes a minute but it amuses me no end (yes, my life is that sad and empty!) Freshly ground coffee really does taste so much nicer than the normal supermarket stuff and this machine makes it really simple to make at home with minimal fuss. The instruction manual supplied is simple to understand and even provides a few recipes for making some nice coffee desserts. Maintenance is simple, the only parts you need to clean are easy to remove and can be l
eft in soapy water to become good as new again, full marks on all fronts for me on this one!
Coffee. Marvellous stuff. Over the past couple of years I've got into the habit of using a single cup cafetiere to start the morning and using my percolator to fill a flask which will last me through the working day. Recently I began to toy with the idea of getting an expresso machine - generally I like my coffee strong and black, and the only exception is when I choose to have a cappuccino. Then I looked at the prices and decided to wait a while... Recently however, my wife and I were shopping in my local Sainsburys and found this device for all of £30. Since we had £25 of Sainsburys vouchers to use, it seemed like a pretty good deal and worth a shot. That was just under a week ago and, since then, I've I been engaging in extensive testing before venturing to write this review. The machine is smartly finished in black, and constructed to a reasonably good standard of quality. I particularly like the space underneath for coiling up excess power lead (although at first I thought it was just fitted with a very short lead - that's how tidy it is!). I suspect I'll have many years of use out of it - although if something drops off, I'll come back and make a note. It's relatively small but you do need to put it somewhere with good access to minimise the risk of scalding yourself. As kenjohn mentioned in his review of the product, it comes with a metal filter, so cleaning is easy and the only ongoing expense is the coffee (and, obviously, the electricity, although I doubt it uses much more than boiling the kettle). When you've set it up, as per the instructions, it heats the water in a strong container until it turns to steam and then forces that steam through the coffee, which extracts every last drop of flavour. You don't get a huge quantity at the end but it does have that distinctive 'expresso' taste and strength. If you want cappuccino, you make yourself a shot or two of expresso as normal but use a va
lve on the side to direct some of the steam into a cup of milk, causing it to become hot and foamy. The results are certainly very drinkable, and distinctive enough from my other coffee making methods for me to give it a thumbs up. Rather than finishing there, let me run through the experiments I have tried out this week. There are one or two points where I felt the manual was not particularly clear, so I present the following observations to help: 1. Hot milk seems to froth up better than cold. Because the device is quite small, it doesn't have a lot of steam to spare, so I've found you get better results by warming the milk in the microwave first. However, it has to be said that you get better results still by warming the milk and then using one of those inexpensive little hand pumps. This may be due to the machine only having a pressure rating of 3.5 bar - more expensive devices quote 15 bar - but I don't think I've missed out by not making the extra £70 investment for what is really nothing more than a lot of froth... 2. If you fill the filter less than halfway, the steam seems to displace it and ends up dripping straight through and watering down the resulting brew. However, I have found that I still get a strong brew even if I use four measures of water against two measures of coffee. 3. You can also use non-expresso coffee. Again be generous with the amount you put it. The result is a little stronger and richer than you will have been used to. This morning, I had a very palatable cup of French blend (coffee and chicory) brewed in this manner. 4. Don't bother trying to reuse the coffee. When I first emptied the filter, I noticed that the coffee seemed almost dry. However, when I used the grounds in my percolator, it soon became apparent that most of the flavour had been leeched away. 5. I wouldn't recommend tea either. To finish off my experiments I tried using the machine with some
Turkish tea I've had for a while. I suppose the sharpness could be due the half lemon I squeezed into it, but there's a tang in there which is more redolent of overbrewed tea. Still, it had to be tried, in the interests of science and all that. In summary then, I'd recommend it with a few reservations. I found the manual wasn't particularly thorough, and I'm not bowled over by the milk frothing function. On the other hand, it produces the expresso taste that I haven't been able to get in other ways in a quick, easy to use, and easy to clean fashion. If I'd paid £100, I would have been disappointed, but for £30, I think I've got my money's worth.
~ ~ My wife and I received a present of this wonderful piece of equipment from a friend for Christmas. It's just as well it has a year's guarantee as it has been in constant use ever since. I am a caffeine junky of long standing, and I shudder to think what would happen to my system if I was suddenly forced to go cold turkey. ~ ~ Having long been a lover of Italy and all things Italian, when we go on our family holiday each year, one of the things I look forward to most is the coffee, which in Italy is totally delicious, especially their cappuccino and tiny cups of expresso. Up until now, I have never been able to get the same taste or flavour from any of my own coffee at home, despite owning an elaborate and expensive “Krups” filter machine, and experimenting with all different types and blends of coffee. But this has all changed now we have this little "Russell Hobbs" masterpiece. I personally use the “LavAzza” brand of genuine Italian expresso, (freely obtainable) but you can pick your own brand to suit your personal taste. Most of the supermarkets these days have an extensive range of coffee on offer to suit most every palate. ~ ~ This is a compact little machine, which doesn’t take up a lot of space on your kitchen worktop, and is very easy to use. No more messing with paper filters; the Russell Hobbs has a removable stainless steel filter that you only need run under the tap to clean. If you want, it can make up to four cups of coffee, by simply making your mix stronger. Or you can make a strong expresso by simply using a lot of coffee and very little water. A little bit of experimenting will soon tell you how much coffee to use to get that perfect blend every time. ~ ~ To make beautiful cappuccino (a la Italia) there is a spout placed at the right hand side of the blender. This uses the steam from the boiling water, and shoots it into your cold milk
at fairly high pressure, until eventually the milk boils up and foams. Be just a little careful with this on your first few attempts, as if the milk actually boils over the side of your cup, you could possibly end up burning your hand. Then simply add the lovely frothy milk to your coffee and sprinkle with some powdered chocolate. Lovely !! It also has a small drip tray to catch any spillage, which is removeable for simple cleaning. I must admit that using this device took a bit of practice to get it right, but half a dozen attempts and I was quite the budding expert. Now I can have my “Italian style” coffee all year round, and not only when I’m on holiday. ~ ~ I’m not a hundred percent sure of the actual cost as we were given this wee cracker as a gift, but my wife tells me that it was bought in Argos for around the £40 (Irish Punts) mark, or the equivalent of about £32 (Sterling)