ok so this is really just a report on my first experience with my new cafelat robot. A couple of people seemed interested in hearing more about it so here it is.
background: I really love coffee but I would never call myself a coffee geek, let alone a coffee nerd...more of a coffee dork. Meaning, I am pretty picky, but I do not subscribe to many of the persnickety, sometimes bizarre "rules" that have developed in the last years around making coffee. I've experimented with a lot of tricks/techniques but I've found they often aren't very important/helpful and sometimes are even detrimental. I don't want to buy let alone use a bunch of technology that's supposed to "help" me do the "right" thing - to the contrary, I've found recommendations for using timers for measuring "proper" pouring cycles, smart scales, precise temperature control on the kettle, sieves to refine the grind, image processing tools that evaluate the quality of the grind...ffs! really? We're making coffee here, guys, not building rockets My goal is to get to simple and fairly quick, without sacrificing the good, and I'm happy to say I've achieved that with my filter coffee using minimal tools and simple principles. sweet!
thus far I have not delved into making espresso at home as it seems fairly impossible to get anywhere near simple, quick and good - possibly ever. websites like homebarista,com and others are littered with tales of endless woe from newbies and even some experienced users (especially when they get new equipment). They spend 800 - several thousand on a "real" espresso machine and grinder, yet they can't manage to make a cup that's even drinkable let alone "good" for weeks or months or, ever. I have friends who have traditional machines at home, they still don't get great results after years of use, and they spend so much time maintaining their machines - I didn't want any of that! Who needs that? Not me especially not at that price. nope!
still, I often have home made espresso in the back of my mind...if only! So I was curious when this video popped up last week:
Of all the coffee "experts" out there, I've found Mr. Hoffmann's advice the most useful, and his recs very often match my tastes so I was very intrigued after watching this video, to say the least. After reading a bunch of reviews, I finally ordered one of these bad boys on Sunday, got it yesterday, and tried it out this morning.
Using the coffee/water ratio cited in the video above and his general technique, I managed to make a very drinkable double shot this morning on my very first try. It took +/- 5 minutes from putting the kettle on to final cleanup, no joke! It is STUPID simple. The shot on it's own was much tastier than I expected on the first go, especially as I don't even like the coffee I used There's room for tweaking for sure, primarily the grind as this was just a guesstimated starting point, but even so, it tasted fairly balanced and evenly extracted. Strong enough to put hair on your chest and give you a buzz, but with few off flavors at all - even the level of bitterness was totally acceptable - even typical - though I prefer sweeter shots. I really am VERY impressed and I'm excited to play around with this little machine in the days to come!
some might be concerned about the price, which I totally understand and it gave me pause as well, but I can say on the other side: this thing is extremely well made - it looks a bit silly but it is NOT a toy. fully made from stainless steel and aluminum (gaskets are silicon and teflon), all parts are finely machined and finished, and each unit is assembled by hand under the designer's/founder's direct control. There is literally nothing on it (unless you go for the model with the pressure gauge) that is prone to breakage or even serious wear, aside from the gaskets, which are easily replaced and match standard gaskets for other pump machines. There is zero maintenance required aside from wiping it down, no potential for kalk buildup, no electrical connections to short, just...nothing, nothing! to concern me about the longevity of this device. And when you contrast this to a decent entry level "real" espresso machine with boiler and pump, you'd be hard pressed to spend much less than 500 and these don't last very long usually. After seeing the machine first hand and using it, I have no qualms whatsoever about the price. Seems very fair to me.
we're lucky in Germany as there is a dude who apparently imports them and sells them via various online retailers @369 eur for the base model. The only other alternative that I know of is to buy them direct from cafelatstore.com Those ship from hong kong for $310 plus $60 shipping (fed ex) and then you'll have a final bill from fed ex for the zoll and customs handling fees - no significant cost savings with current exchange rate that I could find, so I chose to buy from brewcompany.de and had no problems whatsoever. shipped on monday, arrived yesterday - hard to beat that.
happy happy - I think I found quick, simple and very good espresso