Great tasting coffee (in my opinion)
Cons: Messy if pod bursts
Restricted to one brand
Expensive if you drink a lot of coffee
My history of coffee
At 33 years old, I have been a fairly late starter to the world of coffee. My parents always drank the same recipe of coffee, 1 teaspoon of freeze dried granules 25ml milk and add hot water. I tried it but never liked it. I started a new job recently and one day was sharing my dislike of coffee with one of the folks training me. He said that I was missing out and that "real coffee" tasted nothing like the freeze dried "muck"! I nodded in agreement, while all the time just thinking, "yeah sure". And to be honest, once he started talking about "nutty flavours" and grinding methods, then I kinda lost interest.
Over the next few weeks, I noticed that a few other people in the office where using their own little french presses and curiosity kinda got the better of me and I took the plunge (excuse the pun) and bought one, along with a bag of ground coffee from the local supermarket. And to my surprise I was quite shocked by the taste of the french press coffee. I spent the next few days playing about with the amount of coffee, steep time, etc to find a brew that I actually liked. There was only one problem, my wife is pregnant and with her heightened sense of smell, she could not stand me making the french press coffee in the house.
I toyed with the idea of buying one of these "pod" type machines for a few weeks, but could never find one at the right price. The cheapest I could see was $120 and didn't want to spend that sort of money on something that may turn out to be a passing fad. I kinda gave up on the idea then for a while. Then a couple of weeks ago, I noticed and add for an espresso machine, that was last years model and slashed in price from $130 down $35. I located the last one in the area and drove a 40 mile round trip to buy it. I stopped on the way at the local supermarket and bought a couple of packets of Lavazza ground espresso coffee.
I got my new machine home and spent the next few nights trying to learn to pull espresso shots. I tried s whole range of shot times, tamping pressure, coffee qty, etc and got out everything from a reasonable shot, to absolute bitter or watery shots. I also made quite a bit of mess with the ground coffee. Even though I moved it out of the kitchen down to the utility room, the smell still bothered my wife, although not as bad as the french press.
However the espresso machine, started to develop a couple of faults. The brew handle started to tarnished and the water tank leaked, so I took it back to the shop and got a refund.
Anyway onto the actual review!!
The very next day I was at the local outlet park and a new Tefal store had opened up and they were selling refurbished versions of the Krups Dolce Gusto "Robodog" machine for $70. This was the best price I had seen by far, so I took the chance and bought one. The sales assistant told be that they were just display models that were being sold as refurbished and were never actually used and still came with 12 months warranty.
He was kind enough to give me a couple of sample boxes of pods, which contained a variety of the 18 flavours available for the machine.
I got the machine home and set it up following the quick start guide contained in the box. Which was really the only thing in the box apart from the machine itself. The 1st time use routine, was basically to fill the water tank, switch on the machine, let it heat up and then run cold, then hot water through it for 85 secs each. Which is just to flush it out I assume.
The machine itself is very easy to use. First off just remove the water tank and fill it with cold water. It has the capacity to brew about 6 mugs of coffee, so is perfect for entertaining. There is just a single push button for the power. Once pressed it flashes orange for 30-45 secs while the machine is heating up and then it stops flashing and changes to green. The next step is too lift the silver lever at the front and pull out the capsule holder. You then place the capsule in the holder and then reinsert into the machine. Once inserted you pull down the silver lever, which forces the water nozzle through the lid of the capsule.
There is a lever on the top that you push to the left for cold water and to the right for hot water. It is left up to you manually to decide the amount of water dispensed, depending on the type of capsule you are using (espresso, americano, latte, etc) and your own personal tastes.
There is a 15bar pump in the machine, so it technically possible to brew proper espresso, which other "pod" machines don't offer.
Once the coffee has been brewed and you switch the lever back to the middle position, the power light again flashes for about 15 secs, while the pressure in the system is released and it makes it safe to remove the empty capsule. There is nothing mechanically stopping you from doing this however, so if you are impatient you do run the risk of getting scaled by a jet of hot water if you don't wait. Although I ignored the light on several occasions and ejected the capsule straight away with no problem, but the risk is there so be warned.
I brewed all the coffee that came in the sample pack on the first night, just to do a taste test. The only problem I encountered was with the hot chocolate. The seal around the lid of the capsule must have been weak and when I turned on the pump, it leaked everywhere, which made a real mess. But I have used about 15 capsules since with no problem.
It is very quick, clean and convenient to use. And most importantly for my wife, it doesn't stink the place out. So much so that she has been happy to have it in the kitchen and says there is no smell off it.
This part of the review isn't going to hold a lot of weight, for two reasons. Firstly, coffee is a subjective thing and one man's pleasure will be another man's poison. Secondly, I am a coffee novice, so don't know a lot about what is good or bad in a coffee. The capsules all contain 100% arabica ground coffee.
All I can really say is that the coffee I have tried so far (espresso, americano, Caffe lungo) have all tasted good and all tasted different. They are certainly as good as anything I have tasted from Starbucks. I guess the key thing here would be to find a shop with a demo machine and try the coffee out yourself. It does make a very consistent brew.