Category: Coffee

Reviewed: The Delonghi Cafe Treviso Espresso Coffee Maker – 5 Year Review (Coffee)

Posted by – December 30, 2009

Intro: The Delonghi Espresso Coffee Maker (aka “De’Longhi Bar 14 Café Treviso espresso cappuccino maker”), is a fairly compact electric presurised espresso maker with a milk steamer / frother. It’s £58 at Argos (link – Delonghi Pumped Espresso/Cappuccino Maker. Cat no: 422/3852) Delonghi Caffe Treviso is what it’s called on the machine. Nb. Also available from Amazon UK for £62 as the “De’Longhi Bar 14 Café Treviso espresso cappuccino maker”

The espresso machine has the right amount of pressure to make proper espresso’s (14/15 bar) – and the importance of being able to make a proper espresso should not be under-estimated – as it’s the basis for all real coffee. Too hot and the coffee burns (giving you a bitter taste), too much water and the flavour of the coffee goes and then you end up with effectively a filter coffee machine (and watery coffee).

Shown above: Ground Coffee that’s too coarse – it made watery (thin) coffee – with little crema – and a poor taste.

The coffee used with this machine is crucial – it must be espresso coffee to work properly – this is much more finely ground than standard “filter coffee” or ground coffee that says it’s “suitable for all coffee machines”. To get the best results, you may want to invest in a burr coffee grinder, such as the Dualit Burr Coffee Grinder (£87 from Amazon UK), and yes I do think it’s worth the money, as you can then buy roasted beans (or roast your own), and then get some of the freshest coffee available (the flavour, intensity and freshness of freshly roasted beans is highly recommended).

– Can make very good latte’s and cappucinno’s (with the right coffee)
– giving you coffee like you’d get in a proper coffee shop (starbucks, cafe nero, coffee union, etc) but much much cheaper, and in your own home.

Just stuff that isn’t great, but isn’t terrible:
– needs the right coffee, eg. Lavazza / Rose? Espresso, and Illy’s make VERY good coffee. Dowe Egberts Espresso coffee isn’t suitable, other strength 5 coffee isn’t suitable (too coarse), unless it specifically says it’s
– some ‘Espresso’ coffee, and coffee that’s too fine might not be suitable either.
– 1 litre water tank isn’t very much so you regularly have to refill it.

– Normal sized cups don’t fit under the coffee bit, or the steamer, as you can see in the picture – you do need the right size cups as they are not provided.
– you have to either buy a special small espresso cup (As shown in the pictures), or remove the drip tray to fit normal sized cups in it – also to steam / froth the milk you may have to lift the machine up to fit the cup under (unless you use smaller cups).
– There is no drip tray for the milk frother meaning your workbench gets all messy with milk.

Controls can be confusing:
– The controls, starting with the On/Off switch – this turns the machine on, when the machine is ready to make espresso the big red OK light lights up. To start making the espresso, you then switch on the top switch which has a coffee cup / tap symbol next to it
– you then switch this off when the big OK light turns off, meaning it’s finished making the espresso coffee. The second switch from the top, is the steamer switch, in order to steam the milk this needs to be on, and then you can turn the nob at the top to steam the milk.

The machine also has a small white “presser” which you can use to press the coffee down after you have put it into the holder. Under that is the water level meter, which you can use to see how much water is in the water tank.

I found the following method produced the best results for me: (Despite the manual saying you should leave it switched on for a certain amount of time to warm up the machine)

1. Switch the machine on, with the frother switch also switched on, (Start with fresh water every time you use the machine!)

2. When the ready light comes on: (you might like to froth / steam some water to clean it at this point, then) Froth a small amount of milk (normally 1/3rd of a cup – I use semi-skimmed), this would normally be warmed up enough with one froth (finish frothing when the red light goes off again) – it’s better to have the milk slightly colder than required rather than too hot, as making it too hot burns the milk and ruins the taste of milk for latte’s or cappuccinos

3. Once the milk is ready (sometimes you may need to wait for the red light to come on again and froth a little bit more if needed or wanted) you can switch off the froth switch.

Adams and Russell Coffee Beans are HIGHLY Recommended! (Shown
here: “Dominican Republic Barahona AA” graded – Very intense and unique smooth
cream like taste, with little or no bitterness to the flavour – and the
Burr Coffee Grinder

4. Run WATER ONLY (without coffee) through the coffee machine when the red light is on, using the coffee / tap switch, switch it off when the red light goes off. I normally do this 2 or 3 times so that the coffee machine has a) fresh water going through it, b) all parts are clean and free of any old coffee, c) the machine will be thoroughly warmed up and d) it lets you know if the machine is putting through the right amount of water consistently. If you have problems at this stage, for example if the water appears to stall or come through slowly, then you may need to clean your filter or check for blocked holes.

5. While the coffee machine is getting ready again, you can put ground coffee in the filter, push it down firmly with the “stamper”, then load the coffee machine, when the red light is on, switch on the coffee / tap switch, coffee should come through with a decent amount of crema and will fill around 1/2 a cup (depending on the size of the cup – sometimes more, sometimes less), when the red light goes off, SWITCH OFF THE COFFEE MACHINE (If you leave it on, hot water will continue to come through, and fill the cup, but you’ll end up with coffee that tastes like filter coffee – you don’t want that). You’re done.

6. Wait for the few remaining drips to come through, take the coffee, and add it to your cup with milk. Swirl the coffee cup so that the coffee is mixed with the milk, and you should be left with around 1/5th of the cup as white milk froth on top.

7. Clean out coffee, and frother, and clean / wipe over the machine, removing any spills, coffee, milk etc.

Overall: It can make very good coffee, although it can be a bit confusing, meaning you need to think about it when you first start using it, and the three switches all look very similar at a glance so it’s easy enough to accidentally leave the steamer switched off and not realise. It also seems as though it could have been designed much better, simply by allowing normal sized cups to be used, and by extending the drip tray. It also seems a bit random in it’s performance (unless you follow the routine outlined above), so whilst it is good, and is good value for money, you may be better looking at other espresso makers, if you want something easier to use.

I’ve had the coffee machine for nearly 5 years now and it took a long time to perfect the process – once this was done – it became very clear that the type of coffee used (the freshness, the source, whether it was freshly ground, the fineness of the ground coffee) plays a very important role in getting the best flavour from the machine. A burr coffee grinder is highly recommended and finding coffee beans that you like is worth pursuing. Comparing this coffee machine to others, this is perhaps the best value for money coffee machine available that can produce the kind of espresso needed for great coffee – spend any less and you might find you don’t have the right amount of pressure, or that the machine will burn the coffee and produce bitter coffee.

After 12 months the base of the coffee maker was quite rusty, as it’s quite easy to spill water underneath the drip tray and underneath the water container, the design of the coffee maker means that water doesn’t escape very easily. The feet of the coffee maker doesn’t raise the coffee maker very high either which means the coffee maker will simply sit in water, either water that’s on your work surface or water that’s managed to escape from the base after spillage from above. This means the base is quite successful at getting rusty. And it could be worth putting the coffee machine on a raised base.

After 5 years a small spider set-up home underneath the drip tray and was planning on making baby spiders – so it is very important that you clean all areas of the coffee machine (although some areas are very difficult / or impossible to access making it quite difficult). You may want to thoroughly clean the coffee machine more regularly than me!

Nescafe Collection – Espresso "Delicate Crema" – Represents Coffee in Appearance Only (Coffee)

Posted by – August 11, 2009

The dust like instant “coffee” may look like a cup of espresso when you have added boiled water to the cup, with a large amount of “crema” (off-white cream coloured liquid that you normally tend to get with real espresso) on top, and an even larger amount of “coffee” (dark brown coloured liquid) on the bottom, however, apart from these similarities, this drink is nothing like a real espresso! (I’ve shown some real espresso, with real crema, above for comparison)

There is little if any flavour or aroma to this, even with excessive amounts added to the cup, and even trying to use this, instead of other (decent) instant coffee like Carte Noire, for a normal cup of coffee fails miserably. The drink tastes like brown water with a vague, ever so slight, hint of something bitter that might have once upon a time resembled coffee. I think it may even be worse than Maxwell House* (but have yet to confirm this). If you think you can get a similar taste to a real espresso with an instant coffee, then I’m afraid, you’re in for a big disappointment, especially if you believe any of the Nescafe “marketing” (for want of a better word, and without slipping into libellous slander):

Nescafe Collection Espresso is apparently: “Short, dark and intense. – The finest quality arabica beans, fully roasted to achieve the dark intensity of a classic Espresso, with a characteristic, golden-brown crema layer.” according to Nescafe. In my opinion they have failed in everything, except making a “golden-brown crema layer”, which looks fairly impressive until you actually drink it.

Roasting your own coffee beans – WOW! (Coffee)

Posted by – March 26, 2009

(IMG: 490pixels) I used Sweet Maria’s oven roasting method – Gas mark 9 (500 degrees) to roast the green beans for about 10 minutes – the roasted beans and grounded coffee came out looking roughly the same colour as store bought beans / ground coffee, but the taste! WOW! Soo smooth and divine, with LOTS of crema, when compared to store bought beans that tasted SO bitter. (Admittedly the store beans were a couple of weeks old).

Definitely a must try if you are setup with your own bean grinder and coffee maker then you absolutlely HAVE to try roasting your own coffee beans!