2009-06-27

Tchibo Cafissimo

I bought recently a Tchibo Cafissimo espresso machine. I had been pondering about Nespresso, Zespresso and some other, but this one finally convinced me. There was preciously little information online about this particular machine, so I thought I could help someone. These are the things I would have liked to know before buying it and/or which helped me decide.

My requirements were coffee capsules and milk frothing. I would have liked to have the option to use non-capsule coffee, but looks like there is no such machine. Also, I preferred having a steam wand for frothing the milk myself instead of the frothing unit of other machines (since I wanted to be as close as possible to "the real thing"). Frothing devices seem to be good-but-not-the-same, from the opinions I have been reading online. Also, they seem to have a tendency to stop working.

Coffee from capsules of course is also "not-the-same", but everyone seems to accept that it is pretty good, and I since I don't have the time to fully investigate the subject, I guess I also don't have the time to make (and to learn how to make) "real" coffee. And anyway you never know when you're just reading a pissing match between coffee snobs. I know I kind-of like coffe, but mostly have it for the caffeine. I DO like frothed milk beverages, though, so that's the reason for the steam wand. Chai latte was in fact more of a target than coffee itself.

The Tchibo machine costs about a third of the Nespresso machine I was considering (one with frothing device). 350 zloty for the Cafissimo, about 1000 for the Nespresso City-whatever. Also (by what I have read) the Nespressos seem to have a tendency to make lukewarm coffee/milk beverages. Not important for me, but I wanted my polish girlfriend to like it, and polish people enjoy hot (scalding for the spanish taste) drinks.

I was very uneasy about the aluminium in the Nespresso capsules; I felt it was too much contamination. I read somewhere that they in fact are quite recyclable, though. Anyway, the Tchibo capsules are plastic, which I hope will be also easy (easier?) to recycle. The Tchibo capsules are compatible with the Lavazza espresso machines, which I haven't seen. Anyway the Lavazzas seem to be quite good, so by extension the capsules should also be good. [UPDATED: see below]. Anyway later I discovered that the capsules are from the Caffitaly system, which is shared by other makers. They are about 1 zloty per capsule, and right now there seem to be not a lot of variety; I'll be visiting the shop from time to time to check for anything new. The caffitaly website offers more types, but I haven't checked if they ship to Poland. Also, Tchibo is a coffee maker. So is Lavazza. Nespresso is DeLonghi, if I have understood correctly. I guess Tchibo should have the upper hand here.

The machine brews coffee in 3 different ways: espresso, crema and filter. Espresso is 50 ml, the others are 125 ml (quantities are configurable). I don't really know the exact difference between them (apart from variations in pressure, temperature and time). The wand pressure is quite good; I don't remember the recommended numbers, but it's in the good margin, and it does feel OK. I had been trying to make cappuccinos before in a fully automatic coffee machine, and I was never sure about how it should end up looking and tasting; sometimes the froth wouldn't even come up. Now I think that machine (a Saeco) was not too good, expensive as it was (underpowered maybe? some part missing in the frothing head? not properly taken care of?...); in the Cafissimo, the froth is very easy to make, and it's easy to see the difference between the dry foam and velvety texture I had been reading about. Really interesting and nice. I haven't yet made more than ten lattes and I think they are turning out better already than the typical cafeteria ones. Of course, part of that can be that now I use a milk thermometer.

Speaking of which, the milk froth is resistant! I thought it was kind of delicate, that it would collapse when mixed with something, for example. But seems to not be the case. The most extreme example up to now is that I prepared a small quantity of very thick drinking chocolate, frothed the corresponding quantity of milk, and mixed both (stirring with a spoon and all). And it was still plenty of velvety. (In fact it was delicious, so I had to drink it just then and there. Dangerous, man.) (I still have to try expressly burning the milk (>70 degrees) or waiting for the froth to collapse, to see which are the margins and the results.)

 The manual comes printed in a number of languages, which don 't include english. (I bought it in Poland, so the languages are east-european). I looked for the english manual on the web: no luck (some other people was looking for it too). The official website is not in english. I sent them a mail asking for the english manual. But in the few days it took them to answer, I translated the german manual with Google Translate. They finally answered, and sent the manual (boasting that they were sending it free of charge; are you joking??).

...and anyway, just then I realized that I had not even tried the DVD that came with the coffee machine. And guess what was there... (apart from a cheesy but useful 8-minute video summarizing everything and subtitled in english). Yep, the manual in a number of languages, like english.

UPDATE: Eventually I found some Lavazza capsules, called "A Modo Mio" or AModoMio , and they are NOT compatible in any way. The Lavazza capsule is shorter, and internally it's totally different, so manually perforating the capsule doesn't help. I guess that's what you get for believing whatever non-official, non-qualified "review" in whatever commentary you come across in the Intharwebs; meta-humor, anyone? ;P

Also, looks like the only way to get capsules in Warsaw is through Tchibo's shops, which only have about 5 varieties (which I fail to distinguish or even appreciate - I definitely am in this for the lattes), or thru some online shops in the UK (not Caffitaly's own webshop, which only seems to ship to Italy; when asked about that, they referred me to some polish dealer, which only carries a couple of varieties and sells in packs of 150 capsules. Bleh.)

Looks like this blog entry is quite popular! Looks like Tchibo should advertise a bit that the manuals are in the DVD...

14 comments

  1. Mijail.

    Soy Vicente Segura. York. Concerto. Cartas haciendo el capullo (musica por adn, forrarse los intestinos con esparadrapo, aikido, ... ). Valencia, estación de trenes o autobuses, no me acuerdo.
    Libro de la ley de Murphy.
    Amigo, vaya (uno de los viejos).


    Contesta, tío. chazz747@iespana.es.

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  2. para que sepas que te leo

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  3. I am so happy you wrote that. I just brought my Cafissimo home, and wished there was a manual in English. And with a google search found your blog. So, now to put that DVD in and not have to suffer through the manual in German!

    Thanks!

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  4. Updated on the Lavazza compatibility subject and on capsule availability...

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  5. Thanks you for the info - I, too, was looking for a manual in English. I just moved to Poland a couple of weeks ago and bought the machine today. I will pop in my dvd now :-)

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  6. Thank you for pointing out the DVD has the english manual. I was really having a time with the german one. Danke!

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  7. I bought the Cafissimo for my mothers birthday (I posted it to her in Ireland) and I spent an hour translating the manual into English!! They should put English DVD on the outside of the box, I wouldn't have known it otherwise. Thanks for the help.

    BTW There sre about 8 different sorts of coffee you can buy. Here's the link. I believe they do deliver direct to Poland (they deliver to Ireland!)

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  8. hey guys, i also has this machine, but no dvd. can anyone tell me the "before use" instructions cz i think there is a certain procedure that you have to perform.......thanks!!!

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  9. The english manual they sent me (slightly different to the one on DVD) is also here:

    http://hotfile.com/dl/69248433/6870d04/manual_cafissimo.pdf.html

    No idea if the Cafissimo has evolved during this time...

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  10. besided tchibo you can use other caffitaly system capsules like
    -chico doro
    -dalmayr capsa
    -ecaffee
    -danesi
    [thoses you will find on ebay]
    but there is much more
    http://www.hjreggel.net/kpadinfo/eps-caffitaly.html

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  11. I like this machine but the problem is lack of variety of the capsules available - only four, as opposed to about 50 for the Kuerig system. However, you can make your own pods by re-using the capsules and inner filters. Put two layers of aluminum foil over the top, being careful to press it closely over the outside of the pod. This really works and you can now use the machine for the coffee of your choice.

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  12. Actually they are plenty of capsules. I have made a website of them http://www.caffita.info/.

    I am from Prague and do have also a bir problem to find a right dealers. However most of the types can be ordered on the internet. Its more expensive however when you take 6 packs or more, its quite fine. Tchibo are not bad however they are much better ones (and more expensive). What is good about tchibo are their limited editions which are expensive but very good!

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  13. the light ont he machine that i bought turns red everytime i switch it on, without an english manual i dont know what to do, pls help us thank you

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  14. Hi,

    Here is an English Manual:

    http://www.manualslib.com/manual/349260/Severin-Cafissimo-Ka-5115.html?page=14#manual

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