Gadgetry Makes your Coffee Better

ReviewsGary Mazo

I use gadgets for just about everything in my life. One thing that I do every day (the old fashioned way) is brew a pot of coffee. Grind the beans, measure out the scoops, add the water and then clean everything once I’m done. There has to be a better way….and there is. For two weeks I have been testing and enjoying coffee from Braun’s TASSIMO coffee system. Is this the be all and end all of coffee makers? Read on for my thoughts.
Coffee. The life-blood of beverages in the morning. Imagine a perfect cup with the aid of technology. Imagine no mess, no measuring and better coffee. This has been the Quest for years – but surprisingly few innovations have occurred in what is arguably the most used kitchen gadget – the ‘Automatic Coffee Maker.’

Now, I remember when Coffee was either made in a huge old-fashioned drip coffee maker. Then, Sanka gave us the new fangled ‘freeze dried’ (and freeze tasting) coffee. Then, good old Joe Damagio introduced us to the Mr. Coffee and our lives changed forever. No more instant coffee – instead we could brew coffee ourselves in a few minutes. Not much has changed in the last thirty years. Sure there were variations on a theme – adding a separate side of the coffee maker to pour in milk for making Cappuccinos and the like – but the principle remained pretty much the same.

This past year has seem some major innovations in the Coffee world. One of the most intriguing is the TASSIMO Coffee maker from Braun.

The ‘Official Line’ from the company Web Site is as follows:

TASSIMO is not just another coffee maker. It’s a whole new way to prepare a variety of delicious hot drinks perfectly, in the comfort of your own home. And it’s so simple.

With the TASSIMO machine and the TASSIMO Discs (T DISCS) you can make the hot drink you want, when you want it. No fuss. No bother.

It’s truly amazing. The same machine that makes a real espresso and freshly brewed filter coffee from some of your favorite U.S. and European brands, also makes real milk-based latte and cappuccino, cafe crema, tea, hot chocolate – something for everyone. Each cup is freshly brewed to celebrate its true character and gives you the taste you love, every time.

The art of the perfect cupTM

Tassimo lets you enjoy a cup of exactly what you want, right now. Simply insert your choice of T DISC, select the right cup for your drink and press the button. In about a minute you’ll savor an exquisite cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. You can brew your next delicious cup right away, knowing it will be as fresh and delightful as the one before it. No mess, no grounds and no waiting. Just pure pleasure, one cup at a time.

The T DISCS

See the demo. The ingenious TASSIMO Disc (T DISC) is designed to work exclusively with the TASSIMO machine. Each T DISC contains a precisely measured amount of coffee, tea, chocolate or concentrated milk, and is sealed to protect the precious flavors inside.

When you insert the T DISC, the machine reads the bar code printed on the label. It automatically calculates the amount of water needed, brewing time, and temperature to prepare the perfect beverage.

All the brewing happens inside the T DISC using a unique inverse flow. Your beverage pours directly from T DISC into the cup so you can prepare different drinks, one after the other.

So, just add one of their proprietary T-DISCs and push the button – it truly is that simple. Now for my review:

Design:

The TASSIMO is very much of a ‘futuristic’ designed device. It is curved around the sides and the water reservoir is raised, but slanted forwards at the top. Four LED’s are on the front right of the machine indicating whether the machine is in ‘Stand By’ mode or ‘Heating’ or in ‘Automatic’ or ‘Manual’ modes.

One single large button is on the right of the machine which you push when in Automatic mode or Manual mode. The power switch is in the back of the machine.

Front and center is the compartment for the T-DISC of your choice. Just lift up the T DISC cover, insert the disc (face down) and close the cover. (more on the operation later in the review.)

The shelf upon which your cup rests is adjustable; it can be raised for an Espresso cup and removed entirely for a travel mug – a nice touch.

Set-Up:

The TASSIMO came with detailed instructions as to how to prepare and ‘condition’ the machine for its first use. They include a clear plastic T DISC with a barcode that is placed in the T DISC holder. The filter for the Water reservoir needs to soak for half an hour – then just put it in place, add water, insert the plastic disc and follow the instructions to run a few cups through the machine.

We had a couple of problems getting this process underway – each step needs to be followed exactly as the instructions say – once that is done, the machine operated without a hitch.

Ease of Use:

The TASSIMO could not be easier to use. Just keep a supply of water in the tank (we used filtered water, even though there is a water filter at the bottom of the tank) and pick out your drink of choice. Each T DISC has its own unique bar code which must be face down when inserted in the holder. Put in the disc, close the cover and push the button. It really is that simple. The machine then flashes the orange ‘Heating’ LED.

Water is taken from the tank and just the right amount is heated. Once ready, the Green ‘Auto’ light is on – push the button and wait. Depending on the drink, the time that you wait varies. Tea takes longer than coffee. The machine knows what you are making and knows how much water to brew for the perfect cup. Once completed, the LED goes to ‘Manual’ and you can add a little more water if you don’t want as strong a cup.

Options:

There are no real options, except for the ability to add more hot water to weaken the taste or increase the milk in the Cappuccino. The options are in the drink variations. There are a full range of T DISCS available for the TASSIMO. Different roasts of coffee, various teas, real Espresso and Milk for Cappuccinos, Hot Chocolate and more.

So, how do the drinks taste?

Herein lies the beauty of this machine. This is without doubt the best tasting automatic cup of coffee, tea and Cappuccino that I have ever tasted. The coffee is never bitter or too dark or too light – it truly is perfect every time. The Cappuccino is amazing – first you make the Espresso, then you add a separate T DISC which contains real milk. The milk comes out frothy and it tastes like fine Italian Restaurant Cappuccino every time.

Overall Conclusions:

The Tassimo is a great machine. The concept of being able to brew one cup of great tasting Coffee, Tea, Cappuccino or Hot Chocolate is a fabulous one. The machine was simple to use (once it was properly conditioned) and it is easy to maintain and keep clean.

The reading of the bar-codes is a technological leg up on the competition in this category of Kitchen Gadget. It allows for the right amount of water, proper temperature and it insures consistent taste.

The Tassimo is not without its flaws, however. I noticed a large amount of ‘splashing’ – especially when in the manual mode to add more water to a drink. For some reason, the little reservoir that catches drippings below the cup holder was almost always in need of emptying.

One other potential drawback is that you can’t brew your own coffee from your private stack. The T-DISCs are not cheap, and it might be a nice option to just fill an ’empty’ with your own grinds. The Keurig system ( a direct competitor to the Tassimo) does allow for brewing your own grinds.

The last thing I would like to see (which also seems available on some of the competition) is the ability to adjust the brew to the size of the cup. If I could tell the machine that I was using a travel mug as opposed to an eight ounce cup – that would be a nice option.

All in all – this is a fabulous device. It does what it says – it does revolutionize the daily cup of coffee. It is easy to use, there are lots of choices in the T DISCs you can brew and it produces some of the finest tasting home brewed drinks you can experience.

Final Grade: A-

Pros: Easy to use, sleek high-tech appearance, great tasting drinks

Cons: Pricey, some ‘splashing’ when adding more water to drinks, no ability to brew your own grinds

The Tassimo is available at http://www.tassimodirect.com/Tassimo/ … atalogLink=Tassimo_System“>http://www.tassimodirect.com – and you will also find lots of T DISC and accessories there as well.

The Tassimo sells for $169.00

Written by Gary

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