Following on from the blog about the free Nescafe Dolche Gusto machine I scored as part of this Bzz word-of-mouth marketing campaign thing (recap: It's not bad! Pretty good coffee but I'm not really mad about buying plastic one-use pods of an extremely limited range), my mind was made up - I need a proper full monty espresso machine. Then I got a nice phat bonus at work so what better time!
I do some cursory Internet research and, as is usual for this sort of thing, find pretty much bugger all. If it's not a sexy gadget there's fuck all on the Net. Eventually I settled on an Ascaso Dream. Looks pretty good there don't ya think? Helpfully available in a pile of colours too but it was way cheaper from Comet in red so I went for that. It seemed to be pretty well rated. Ticked the boxes I wanted ticking, uses real coffee AND pods. Has a removable water reservoir. Actually those are both the boxes...
The problem is never having owned one before I didn't really know what was what. I quickly discovered another box. Must be able to fit an actual proper fucking mug underneath it. Alright another box too, should be able to make entire long drink. Hot. These, I should note, are both things solved by the Krups-made Dolche Gusto machine admirably. As you may guess, the Ascaso was a failure on both counts. I found if I removed the little dribble thing from the coffee cup thing I could get one of my shorter mugs under it but it's still gash. And a long drink? It ends up barely luke warm.
Also, I 'tamped' down the coffee with a handy provided tool. Because the UK importers handily inserted a leaf saying you should do this to ensure a decent 9 and 12 bars of pressure through the coffee. Well, I did this, and the most I ever got was 7.5 bars. This is pretty shit tbh. Unsurprisingly the coffee it made was shit. Worse still, the thing showed up flecked with bits of paint and crap. The knob on the side is ridiculously cheap and rubbish. There's no way this machine is worth over three hundred pounds. I think the key problem here is that it's made in Italy. And as we all know, the Italians can't make anything right.So, it's time to call in the collective intellect of the clan (somewhat greater than that of a labrador and somewhat less than a ringneck parakeet) to find the perfect espresso machine. To recap let's just list the vital features.
- Removable water reservoir (because pouring jugs of water in when it's tucked away is not on).
- Ability to use pods and proper coffee - ideally two cup handle things provided.
- Proficiency at making long drinks: A hot full-sized mug is the order of the day.
- Decent fucking build quality (perhaps Mazda make one?).
- Secondary: Relatively quick prime time, less than jackhammer sounding compressor, funky looking chrome shit with temp and pressure gauges.
Promising brands probably include Francis Francis, Gaggia and, er, Krups?
Update 04-April-08: after the failed attempt with the Ascaso machine, I shopped around for a bit and eventually found a full deal with a Gagga Baby D Class, uber measuring grinder type thing and a base for the whole thing to sit on complete with knock-out draw. All for less money than the Ascaso!
And beyond, a suitably produced Americano!
Very happy with this. Strangely it turns up with limescale in the machine (eh?!) and bits of foam/insulation tape coming out between the chassis at the back (Italian craftsmanship sigh) but it's waaaay better than the Ascaso. They sent me the Baby Class thing instead of the Classic I asked for, but there's nothing in it really. At least I can fit a mug under it. Even knocks up a wicked brew with a pod, not that I'll be using it for that because it's so easy to use ground with this measuring grinder gadget.