Showing posts with label latte. Show all posts
Showing posts with label latte. Show all posts

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...