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Brewista Tea Kettle Review

Brewista Tea Kettle Review

Brewista Tea Kettle
Liquid Lab 8.5/9

The Liquid Lab Team gave the Brewista Tea Kettle an overall average rating of 8.5 out of 9 planets. The bottom line is that although the manual isn’t nearly as good as the product itself, it’s a must have if you enjoy a perfectly brewed cup of tea EVERY time.

Read each individual review below:

Mike (aka drip-all-day):

I must say, of the products we have tested recently I was most excited to take the Smart Brew Tea Kettle by Brewista for a weekend test drive.  I have started really delving into the tea world recently and the concept of controlling temperature AND steep time was intriguing to me.   I was not disappointed!

My biggest initial concern was about the unit’s overall size, however pulling the Smart Brew Kettle out of the box I was pleasantly surprised.  It is not “compact” by any means but it is not nearly as large as the pictures make it appear with the kettle standing about 10 inches tall, taking up slightly less counter space than my drip coffee maker.  I did find that there was a steep learning curve in programming the kettle.  The instructions were only slightly less confusing than some of the IKEA furniture I ordered last month.  Luckily, there are some decent instructional videos online. 

 Once I could get the primary brewing functions figured out I fell in love!  The Brewista Smart Brew Tea Kettle makes one amazing cup of tea.  I found the ability to control the temperature and steep time such a crucial tool.  These features give you the ability to brew a perfect cup of tea EVERY time.  Over the course of the weekend I had the opportunity to brew two different types of teas.  The first tea I tried a pot of Liquid Planet Breakfast in Bejing China Black Tea.  I was able to heat the water to an exact 210°F and then steeped for 4 minutes.  The tea came out great, however as an experiment decided to brew a second pot.  This time steeping for 8 minutes and WOW!  An absolutely perfect cup of Black Tea.

Next up was the Liquid Planet Citrus Oolong.  I have always found that Oolong that steeps for too long can start to get bitter tasting, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to really put the steep feature to the test.   I set the temp to 175°F with a steep time of 4 minutes and bingo!  Nailed it again.  And I know that I would be able to make it just as perfect the next time. 

In the end the Brewista Tea Smart Brew Tea Kettle is the ultimate tea brewing experience.  Whether you are a “cup every once in a while” or a “cup every hour” kind of tea drinker, nothing beats the control and consistency that can be achieved with the Smart Brew.  And at $139 it wont break the bank either. 

 9 out of 9 Planets

Brewista in Action

 

Stella (aka the Sipper):

Thank You Brewista - I am now a tea goddess!

This sweet machine just made me a tea snob.  The technology of continually cycling the perfectly hot water “showered” over the loose leaf tea for the perfect amount of time is Jetson-esque.  After all, the traditional method of pouring boiling water over tea leaves IS pretty 18th century.  The result of this brewing method is nothing short of stellar.  Too bad the handle isn’t clear so you can see the water being cycled through.  Either way – fantastic cup of tea.

My only complaint is though they did an incredible job of holding your hand through the brew temperature and brew time, they did little to aid in the portioning of tea.  Through some trial and error, however, I persevered - a small price to pay for a great brew.

I love the idea of the “Keep Warm” feature, but think an hour isn’t quite long enough.  Finally, the programmability, though I haven’t taken advantage of this yet – sounds as sweet as the idea of waking up to a fresh brewed cup of Breakfast in Beijing

Journey on tea drinkers – but don’t do it without the Brewista.  8.5/9 Planets for me!

Scott (aka Chief Beverage Maven):

This marvelous contrivance brews coffee or tea in just the right way at just the right temperature.  The water is first heated to the temperature of your choosing, and then circulates up through the handle and into the infuser basket for a specified length of time – also of your choosing!  This allows you to dial in exactly how you prefer your coffee or tea to be brewed.  It is quite amazing the difference it makes brewing coffee or tea at different temperatures and for different lengths of time.  For example, brewing an oolong at 180 degrees instead of pouring ‘just off the boil’ nearly scalding water on that same oolong could create a remarkably different taste profile.  Same goes for coffee.  Brewing coffee over the course of 5 minutes instead of 3 minutes, could also yield a remarkably different flavor profile.  

8 of 9 Planets

TR (aka Sud Bud): 

What set me in orbit:  The Brewista is a conversation piece.  The process the device goes though while brewing your tea will most defiantly be something any friend or guest that watches the brewing process will be struck by.  I tried this device with my mother-in-law who is a tea fanatic.  She was impressed with both the temperature control and the ability to adjust the steeping time.  As much as she loves tea, she did not have the different temperatures memorized for the different types of teas she enjoys.  Having that information on the base plate of the kettle.  Once it was programmed to her tea drinking standards, it worked flawlessly At $139.99, considering how well this device performs, is more than worth it.  For the tea enthusiast this is an essential addition to their tea accessory arsenal.  

 Drawbacks:  The Brewista, while coming with a good instruction manuel, did not include recommendations for how much tea to put in the basket to get a good brew.  It took us two tries, but once we dialed it in, it was a fantastic experience.

 8 out of 9 planets!

Download the Brewista Quickstart Guide

Download the Brewista User's Manual

  • Liquid Planet
Cafflano Kompact Review

Cafflano Kompact Review

Cafflano
Liquid Lab 8/9

The Liquid Lab Team gave the Cafflano Kompact  an overall average rating of 8 out of 9 planets. In a nutshell, it’s a must have for traveling, camping, back-packing and boating, unless, of course you already have an Aeropress – and even then – given its ease of use, it still might be worth the purchase!

Read each individual review below:

Mike (aka drip-all-day):

The ultimate travel coffee maker for people tight on space!  The first thing that you notice about the Cafflano Kompact is that it is REALLY compact.  It comes in a very packable carrying case measuring 4.5” wide and 3” deep.  This must be the smallest coffee maker I have ever had my hands on.  But don’t let its size deceive you, the Kompact packs a powerful punch.  I found it very easy to use; just throw some ground coffee into the bottom of the silicone bellow, add hot water and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes.  After steeping simply squeeze the Kompact and bam!  A fresh delicious cup of coffee.  For those of you that have battle other pressure driven portable coffee makers, rest easy, the Kompact is virtually effortless.

For my perfect cup, I found that the grind size was crucial.  I tried both a standard drip grind as well as an espresso grind.  The finer grind was DEFINITELY the way to go.  The courser grind did not allow for sufficient pressure to build up in the unit, greatly reducing the flavor of the coffee being pushed through.  I also found that letting the coffee steep slightly longer resulted in the bolder flavors that I look for in coffee.  Better yet, unlike some of the other portable coffee makers I have played around with, clean up on the Kompact was fairly painless.

This is most likely not a daily driver for me, but I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a coffee maker they can throw in a backpack for camping or their carry-on to travel with.  As I mentioned earlier, for its size the Cafflano Kompact packs a powerful punch.   I give it 7.75 planets.

Stella (aka the Sipper):

This little accordion gem will have you singing in the mountains!

minipresso camping

It’s impossible not to compare the Kompact to the Aeropress as these travelers create a very similar, strong brew that, in my opinion, are best used as more of a concentrate.  I add a little additional hot water to both as well as a little cream and sugar and BOTH create an incredible brew.  I’m going to give the slight nod to the Cafflano Compact though – less moving parts, equally great brew (maybe ever-so-slightly not as strong) and the big difference:  how easy it is to extract/press.  The biggest complaint most people have with the Aeropress is that is takes a lot of force to expel the brew – a LOT!  So it’s hard on the hands and wrists (and even elbows when you really get into it).  The Kompact is almost effortless!

Once you dial in your grind (I went pretty fine the second go-round when i realized it wasn’t tough to press) – the Kompact is crazy quick to use.  Add grind, hot water, let it steep a couple of minutes and let it sing.  My biggest tip is to make sure all parts are screwed tight – otherwise, you’ll get a big of leakage. The only reason I wouldn’t make this my go-to every day is the one cup factor. I’ll continue using my 3 cup French Press, but you can bet you’ll find the Kompact with me in my backpack, on any road trip and in my boat for over-nighters! 8.5 out of 9 planets for me – Best travel coffee maker yet!

Scott (aka Chief Beverage Maven):

The Cafflano Compact is a great little coffee maker!  Emphasis on ‘little’.  I often travel with an Aeropress, but the Cafflano Compact is a great alternative with a few key differences.  First and foremost, it’s genuinely compacted into a very small area making it even easier and lighter to travel with.  Second, it works more like a French Press that you then squeeze out into your mug of choice.  The coffee steeps in a silicone container that contracts as you push it down.  So you can decide how long you want your coffee to brew, and voila! — push it through its built-in super fine mesh filter and in to your cup or mug for a great single cup of coffee.

8 of 9 Planets

TR (aka Sud Bud):  What set me in orbit:  I’ll admit, I’ve not been a big user of the Aeropress, the single most popular on-the-go single serve coffee maker of the past 10 years.  I’ve tried it on a few trips, and while it made a great cup of joe, I still find it clunky and a bit messy, especially considering that you have to carry the extra paper filters.

The Caffllano Kompact has hit the market and taken my two biggest issues with the Aeropress and thrown them out like a used paper filter.  The kompact is not only very easy to use, its even easier to pack with you.  The design of the unit folds down into its own carrying case which is about 1/3 the size of the Aeropress when storing it for travel and is comparable in weight as well with the Aeropress coming in at 8 ounces & the Cafflano at 11.2 ounces w/case.  In addition, the built in stainless steel filter works great and I don’t have to worry about running out of, or carrying, extra paper filters.  Simply expand the unit, add your desired coffee (according tot he strength and flavor you like), add hot water and press.

Where I’d take it: When I fly, car camping, backpacking just about anywhere!

What brought me down to Earth:  The price is roughly twice that of the Aeropress.  However, when you consider how many filters you need to purchase over the life of the Aeropress, there is no doubt that the Cafflano Kompact will be cheaper in the long run.

8 out of 9 planets in my solar system.

Cafflano Kompact

  • Liquid Planet
Cafflano Coffee Maker Review

Cafflano Coffee Maker Review

Liquid Lab Review

Cafflano
Liquid Lab 7.5/9

The Liquid Lab Team gave the Cafflano an overall average rating of 7.5 out of 9 planets. In a nutshell, it's got a great balance of portability for an "all-in-oner" and an ability to make a great pour-over brew. Downsides were instructional and issues related to any manual coffee grinder. The Take-home message - Take it home, but use it on the road at the office or car camping and be wary of the copy cats. Read each individual review below:

Mike (aka drip-all-day): The Cafflano Klassic is billed as an all in one grinder/steeper/tumbler.  It did not fail to deliver.  Out of box the Cafflano has clean lines and looks very unassuming.  Yet, open it up and like the Russian nesting dolls, you are treated to layer after layer of fiddle-worthy goodness.  The overall build quality seems solid with no part feeling flimsy. I must say that my first experience with the Cafflano Klassic produced a really good tasting cup of coffee.  I found the grinding to be generally pretty smooth despite the small package.  However, I could see that if you have the grind too fine it could present a little more of a challenge.  Steeping the coffee was a bit of a time-consuming process due to the super fine steel filter.  The end result was worth the wait because sitting at my desk I had just created a fine cup of coffee. My take away from my experience with the Cafflano Klassic is pretty simple.  This is a great all in one coffee maker in a small but potent package.  Will this be a replacement to my current everyday coffee making?  Probably not.   However, I think the Cafflano does have a place in my quiver as the “enjoy a fresh cup ANYWHERE” coffee maker. With a process, as enjoyable as the end result the Cafflano Klassic gets a 7 out of 9 planets

Stella (aka the Sipper):  Overall, the Cafflano is a great concept, the grinder integrated with the pour over filter into a mug is innovative and very convenient.  The marketing is a bit misleading in that the “All-In-One Coffee-Maker” (with many images of the kettle included) lead the consumer to believe at first glance that somehow you are also able to boil the water with this handy little gadget.  Note that is not the case, so if you’re considering this for travel, camping or backpacking (which you SHOULD BE) keep in mind you’ll need a JetBoil or some other means of heating water.

minipresso camping
The grinder, a quality conical burr, is well-built, ceramic construction that does fantastic work, albeit a mini-wrist work-out.  I do find it annoying that there are no markings on the grinder to indicate course to fine grind so that became trial and error, but once you have it - you're done.  The pour over cup forces you to go slow, likely by design, otherwise you’ll spill - this forced patience at the time is a bit trying, but the final smooth taste of that patience trumps the initial painstaking pour, so kudos to the designers for that forethought! The payoff is the flavor - the Cafflano (as do most pour overs) made a very smooth and incredibly flavorful brew.  Using the same freshly ground beans in a French Press in a side by side comparison yielded a good brew, but not the robust flavor of the Cafflano.  

So, in a nutshell, if you want the luxury of freshly ground beans when you travel or camp, the Cafflano is a perfect choice. But unless you’re one of those people who really want to toil over the fruits of your labor, I wouldn’t recommend the Cafflano for everyday home use - the hand-grinder would become a chore morning after morning and you’ll get the same great taste from a more traditional pour-over like the Hario or Chemex and an electric conical burr grinder.  7 out of 9 planets for me and a quick warning:  Beware of the imitation knock-offs that have made their way to the market!  You get what you pay for.

Paul (aka Pour-Over Paul): Sleek, hip, and ready for drip! I had a chance to try the Cafflano on a weekend morning before getting outside to enjoy a crisp fall day raking leaves. The design is very well thought out. All the parts fit snugly together with the top and bottom being threaded for easy set up and breakdown. It has the feel of unwrapping a gift when you dive in and take it apart. The handle from the hand grinder is neatly hinged and extends so you can add beans and grind directly into the metal filter. I found the coffee bloomed nicely for just under a minute allowing me to pour the rest of the water slowly for about a 4 minute brew time. I cannot wait to take this out on the boat with me next time! It will give me something fun to do while I wonder why I am not catching fish!

Scott (aka Chief Beverage Maven): The Cafflano is in its own category; pour-over – meaning that you hand pour hot water over the coffee grinds in order to make a single fresh cup of coffee. The main attribute of the Cafflano is that it’s an ‘all-in-one’ coffee maker which includes a grinder, a pour-over filter, and the coffee cup all together. The top of the Cafflano can serve as the pour-over spout (how the hot water is poured over the coffee grinds), but in most circumstances, I doubt it would be used that way. I think it would be more typical to just pour the hot water from your own kettle or pot.

One thing to keep in mind is that while the Cafflano is not inexpensive, if you had to buy a stainless steel mug, a high-quality stainless steel filter, and a well-built hand grinder, you could easily spend $80 to $100, so here you get everything snuggly fit together in one unit for essentially the same price. Very easy for travel and camping! The hand-grinder works like a typical peppermill in that you have to manually adjust it to get the grind the way you want it, but that’s the case with most hand-grinders. The stainless filter is super high quality and mesh-like – producing a nice clean cup of coffee. And because you are grinding the coffee on the spot, it’s as fresh as it gets. Overall, I give it high marks for what it is; a great all-in-one coffee maker that you can use at home, but is perfect for travel or camping. No electricity required. All you need to add is coffee and hot water. 8 Planets.

 

TR (aka Sud Bud):  What set me in orbit: This is the ultimate, compact all-in-one coffee maker for the individual who demands it fresh and custom.  I absolutely love the concept of being able to choose the grind on your beans. When you combine your grinder, a fine yet durable filtration system, the classic full-bodied taste of pour over and a vessel to indulge, you've got the premier all-in-one caffination station. Considering the quality of the grinder and internal components, this is definably worth the price point right around $100. Day hikes, river trips, car camping, hotel room, the office and general globetrotting where you've got a little bit of extra space to store this all-in-one apparatus are just a few of the places I'd tote this beauty with me. What crashed my asteroid: Lack of instructions. You need to do a bit of surfing on the cafflano website to truly dial it in. It wasn't until I watched the video there that I understood how to change the grind setting for instance. It's a bit bulky. Probably not the device for the oz. counting backpacker in your life. It comes in at just over 7.5" tall and 3.5" wide and just over a pound in weight. Additionally, the heat lost in the non-insulated plastic kettle during the pour over process made my coffee just a tad less than piping hot. 8 out of 9 planets in my solar system.

Cafflano How to Set Grind

  • Liquid Planet
Growler Werks UKeg Review

Growler Werks UKeg Review

GrowlerWerks UKeg
Liquid Lab 7.5/9

The Liquid Lab Team gave the GrowlerWerks an overall average rating of just over 8.5 out of 9 planets! When a product is well-made, well-supported, made-in-the-USA, looks bad-ass and just flat out works at keeping your drinks anything BUT FLAT - it's going to be an astronomical hit! Read each individual review below:

Mike (aka drip-all-day): I am going to start this review with a blanket statement:  I LOVE BEER.  Now that I got that out of the way…  I am typically not a huge growler person because I find that the beer always has a flat taste, let alone when you let it sit for a day or two.  So, to say that I was skeptical going into this would be an understatement. Upon initial contact, it was love at first sight.  Pulling the uKeg out of the box it became clear that a great amount of thought was taken in designing the over aesthetic of the growler.  The steel finish with the brass accents gives it an incredible look. In practice is where the uKeg really shinned.  Setup and filling is a breeze.  The carbonation mechanism really seems to work perfectly.  The pour is smooth and consistent and as long as you have the carbonation dialed-in you can get a perfect head every time.   The true test however was when I left a full uKeg in the fridge for a week (this was tougher than it sounds).  The beer that flowed out tasted the same as it did the day it left the brewery. This is a MUST HAVE for any beer enthusiast.  Whether you are a Micro-brew junky or a home brewer the uKeg is a perfect drinking companion.  I would say that if you are into changing flavors often or a slower drinker the uKeg 64(4-5 beers) would be perfect.  I think for myself the larger uKeg 128(8-10 beers) is the way to go.  This is a welcome addition to the family! 9 out of 9 Planets!

growlerWerks Cider

Stella (aka the Sipper):

Full disclosure - not a beer drinker - BUT, i do drink cider so I used this bad-ass Keg for a couple pints of fresh cherry cider (NOTE: that’s not a Rose’ in the picture!)  Let me first brag about my discipline not to drink all of it in a day, but rather a small glass every night for 7 nights to test the GrowlerWerks keg’s ability to truly keep a drink fresh.  I tried not to be swayed by just how cool I felt walking into my local filling station with this thing – but let’s not deny there’s some vanity here – it’s just simply cool looking.  But above the aesthetics, I couldn’t be more impressed with the final product, even after 7 days! Truly, the cider came out just as tasty as it went in – AMAZING.  It was easy to use, but I admit that I did look through some videos for some tips, and it was very helpful.  My one failure was not tightening the cartridge holder tight enough, so upon my first spin to carbonate, nothing happened (which is why I ventured online).  User error for sure. So in nutshell, great product, great company (made in the USA – Portland-style), super easy to use, an outrageous cool factor and incredible durability make for an 8.75 out of 9 planets for me.  The last 1/4 of a planet would cost them a slightly better no-drip spout (the handle lock easily gets sticky and come-on boxed wine even has this figured out) and a slightly better price point, but now I’m just kinda being a jerk. There’s a lot more that you can do with this little gem like force carbonate wine, apple juice or your own home brew for a bubblier beverage and I hear you can pre-make gin and tonics (avec the lime) that stays fresh for over a week– so that’s next up for this non-beer drinker -  Happy carbonating!

Paul (aka Pour-Over Paul): No more flat beer for me I was able to check out the GrowlerWerkz pressurized growler recently from the liquid lab and decided I would bring it to the local growler fill shop. It sure was a conversation starter. After enjoying a pint, it was time to head home and fire up the barbecue so I treated myself to an organic IPA for the road. The GrowlerWerkz fills like a normal growler so there was not much explaining to do to the busy beer tender. The magic happens when you slip a C02 charger in the cap of the growler and it screws down tightly to seal the beer inside like any other growler. When the cap is secured, you dial in, and adjust the amount of pressure it receives. A pressure gauge on the bottom shows exactly how much pressure is inside. When my friends asked what it was, I was forced to pour off a few samples and do an impromptu demo of how it works - that was a hoot. I got home and put the growler in the fridge and fired up my grill. Unfortunately, I had little room for a beer with dinner and called it a night. The beer stayed fresh in my fridge until I barbecued about a week later. As fresh as the day I bought it. I cannot wait to try the pressurized growler with mixed drinks and an thinking about adding some eggnog or making a festive White Russian for the holidays.  8 out of 9 planets.

TR (aka Sud Bud):
growlerWerks Beer

Orbital Bliss Factor:  The craft beer phenomenon has exploded in America over the last 15 years.  Do you have a beer lover in your life who has about 15 glass growlers sitting in their garage?  If you do, this is the gift for them, without question. I LOVE beer almost as much as my wife and sometimes more even than that when its combined with football on Sundays. Often, when I buy a growler it does not get finished in one sitting.  Anyone who has been in this predicament before knows that when you use your standard growler, the beer is flat once its been opened and exposed to oxygen.  Not with the UKeg!  I poured about a 1/2 glass each day over a 6 day span & was floored with the results. The instruction book was incredibly helpful in letting you know how much pressure you should have depending on the style of beer you had chosen.  I enjoyed "tweaking" the dial on the cap to keep the carbonation just where I wanted it.  Each beer was carbonated and tasted as fresh as the first sip I had days earlier. My next test was to see how the "wrench" would work for taking apart the unit for a thorough cleaning.  It fit like a glove.  I was able to take to growler apart and put it back together to complete functionality with no trouble all.  While putting it back together, I started thinking of all of the carbonated beverages (Gin & Tonic, Moscow Mule, Whiskey Coke) that I could put in here and share with a group of friends over a period of days.  This little beauty will store any carbonated beverage you can think of!!!!!  The more I thought about it, the bigger my smile got.  I was so pleasantly surprised at everything this unit offered and had potential for, my billfold started twitching.  My testing phase was quickly turning into a purchasing phase. I would be remiss not to tell you that the Growlerwerk website has some incredibly helpful videos for any questions you may have regarding how the unit works.  They also have some great recipe ideas on there too! Dent in the halo:  It ain't cheap. $129 for 1/2 gallon and $199 for the full gallon is a chunk of change for a beer growler. Also, you have to use 1 Co2 charge each time you use the unit (just under a dollar a unit for a box of 10 charges at www.liquidplanet.com).  There was enough pressure left in the cartridge, even after storing beer for 6 days, to flush warm soapy water through the entire system after I was finished drinking the beer.  I liked getting a little bit more out of that fully recyclable Co2 canister. When I stopped to think of all of the wonderful beer I had let go flat in my standard growlers that ended up down the sink drain, the cost more than justified itself.  I'm guessing I'll have paid for this unit in saved waste alone in less than a year. 9 perfect planets

 

  • Liquid Planet
iCoffee Coffee Maker Review

iCoffee Coffee Maker Review

Cafflano
Liquid Lab 7.5/9

The Liquid Lab Team gave the iCoffee an overall average rating of 8 out of 9 planets. There is little doubt to the iCoffee claim that it creates an incredibly bold, rich and impossibly smooth™ brew.  The team had to dig deep to come up with some shortcomings - but outside of a misleading name and brew time it was a bit of a stretch.  Bottom Line:  The iCoffee takes 'drip coffee' to another dimension. Read each individual review below:

Mike (aka drip-all-day):  My experience with the Remington iCoffee was a sensory pleasure.    This thing just looks like it is a serious coffee making machine.  Going through it, everything seems high quality including the stainless-steel filters which followed suit with the rest of the high-quality nature of this coffee maker.  The name is a little misleading.  In an age of “i” this and that, and everything we own connected to the web, the iCoffee does not have any interconnectivity.  This is not a deal breaker in my book considering the results. From the second you press the start button you know that there is something special afoot.   I found myself staring through the small window into the steeping area.   With crema clearly visible through the window it was hands down the most entertaining pot of coffee I have ever made.  There was a little bit of a learning curve.  Because of the efficiency of the brewing process, the iCoffee needs only a fraction of grounds compared to a traditional coffee maker.  My first pot was WAY too strong.  After a little bit of proportion adjustments, I hit the sweet spot.

icoffee-ground
The iCoffee lives up to its claims of making a bold yet not bitter cup of drip.  With the combination of using less coffee and the high quality stainless filters, the iCoffee seems like it could be a real money saver in the long run.  And at just under $100 it does not break the bank in the initial purchase.   If you are in the market for a new coffee maker I would strongly steer you towards the Remington iCoffee. 8 out of 9 Planets!

 

 

Stella (aka the Sipper):  If drip is your dealio and you actually like coffee (in that Folgers isn't your cup-0-choice), this is the machine for you.  This Jetson-esque inspired machine actually 'steams' the coffee versus just letting gravity soak and pull water through static grounds like most drip makers.  The result will have you doing Astro-like tail wags in your kitchen, singing "I didn't know drip could taste like this!"  The iCoffee makes a robust, flavorful brew that lets you actually taste was the grower and roaster intended out of those fancy beans.  An equally exciting side-note (that they don't really mention in the instructions) is that because of the steaming process more flavor is extracted so you can use literally half the amount of grounds you normally would.  If you're a mathmagician, you realize that it won't take very many mornings to recoup the cost of the machine.  

Two incredibly small issues i have with iCoffee.  First, don't call it the iCoffee if I can't lay in bed and start this baby from my iPhone. Second, it takes a solid 14 minutes to brew, this is really nitpicking - AND there is a timer if you really need the aroma to wake you in the morning.  One final tip, use the secondary filter basket to make your brew even smoother and DON'T use paper filters, the Gold Tone filter is enough and paper filters may cause a fire... really, that's what the directions say so i didn't try. I'm going 8.5 out of 9 planets - instructions are great, coffee is incredible and not even just for drip, instructions are clear and concise and plastic pieces of the machine are BPA-Free - they call this marvel the "Astro" and it may have been my first perfect review.
icoffee-steam

 

Paul (aka Pour-Over Paul):  The iCoffee brewer is a fantastic example of innovation going in the right direction for a change. Ground coffee gets steamed and agitated while mixing with hot water to release amazing oils and flavors in the brewing process. I am not sure the science behind it, but it seems that the coffee is less bitter than the drip coffee maker I have used for so long. It is fun to watch the coffee swirl around in the hot water and steam, almost like watching laundry get clean in a front loading washing machine.

Scott (aka Chief Beverage Maven): It’s rare to come across revolutionary innovation in the coffee world, but I would have to say that the iCoffee maker is just that.  I’ve always thought that the ultimate coffee maker would grind the coffee fresh into the brewing process – almost like a hot blender.  (I’ve tried this by the way – placing coffee into a blender with hot water and then filtering it for a super fresh cup of coffee.  Not good.  I don’t know if it over-extracted or what, but from my very few attempts, it did not turn out well).  With the iCoffee, it stirs and steams the coffee as it’s brewing and seemingly extracts the maximal amount of coffee compounds and essential oils.  With most drip coffee makers, the hot water just drips straight through the coffee grinds with very little actual extraction.  They tend to extract from the surface of the grinds which usually leads to a more acidic brew.  Of course the coffee you use matters immensely, but assuming that you are using quality coffee, the iCoffee will brew an extremely robust, fatty brew that’s easier on your stomach (less acidity) and easier on your wallet as well.  To my surprise, I was able to use approximately half the normal amount of coffee and still yield a full-bodied cup of coffee.  The first few times I used it, the coffee was just too strong! If you want to get the most out of your coffee – potentially even more than a French Press – then give the iCoffee a try.  I’m not a coffee maker kind of guy.  I’m more into espresso, French Press, AeroPress, etc.  But as far as coffee makers go, I think the iCoffee is the cream of the crop. 9 Planets.

TR (aka Sud Bud):  What was out of this world:  The flavor.  There is no question that the steam-swirl-of-happiness going on during the brewing process works.  I have never tasted a more full-bodied cup of joe from an automatic machine in all my trips around the sun.  The flat, limited profile that drip machines typically give to even the best beans are nowhere to be found with this beauty.  The fact that I can pre-program this flavor bomb to rock my socks first thing in the a.m. is also a big added bonus. I'm sure the affect will wear off over time, but actually watching the coffee swirl and brew through the window was fun.  The pleasant tune that indicates both the start and ends the brewing process was both pleasant and unique in an "R2-D2 is happy" kind of way. The additional filter in the glass carafe worked incredibly well.  No matter how you like to brew your joe,  there are always going to be a few grounds at the bottom of your receptacle of choice.  The additional filter noticeably minimized the particulate level at the end of my drinking experience.  So much so over a standard drip machine that it was very noticeable. Under $100 for a home machine that pumps out this kind of flavor profile is well worth the price.  There are plenty more expensive auto-home machines that do far less out there on the market.

Crashing back into the atmosphere:  12 cups is not 12 cups.  As with most auto-drip machines, when you fill the glass kettle to the 12 cup line you get a bit less than 12 cups in return.  In the case of the iCoffee, it was a full cup and a half below the mark I was attempting to brew to. Don't use a traditional drip grind in the machine, it seems to be a bit too fine.  You'll want to have a more course grind along the lines of French Press to ensure the filters don't slow down the brewing process too much. 7 out of 9 wishes on a shooting star!

 

 

 

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MiniPresso Espresso Maker Review

MiniPresso Espresso Maker Review

minipresso espresso
Liquid Lab 8/9

The Liquid Lab Team gave the MiniPresso an overall average rating of 8/9 planets.  It received very high marks for portability, quality and overall value. Downsides are the cleaning (isn't that the case with coffee makers period) and that it doesn't make enough! Read each individual review below:

Mike (aka drip-all-day):  My first impression of the Minipresso is that it is solid and heavy duty feeling in a sleek compact package.   I am not a daily espresso coffee drinker and was a little intimidated that I might not be able to get the Minipresso to make a nice cup.  I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at its intuitive design and ease of use.  The one piece of advice I was given going into my test was to be sure to tamp the grind.   With that in mind I have to say that I had quite an enjoyable experience.  I found the pumping action smooth and effortless and the result was a beautiful looking cup of espresso.  The crème looked as if it came out of a machine.  As far as taste goes I was incredibly pleased with the results.  Would it stand up next an espresso out of a shop grade machine, no… but the mere fact that I was sitting at my desk made up for the difference.  I found the flavors to be rich and bold… mission successful!

The one negative that I really had was that I found it to be a little messy, especially in the clean-up phase… however that could very well be chalked up to operator error.

I think the Minipresso would really shine for a person constantly on the go and could easily fit into carry-on luggage without compromising space.  With its rugged construction and design in mind, I personally can see myself throwing it in my pack on my next backpacking trip and enjoying a tasty espresso on my next summit bid.

I give the Minipresso 8 out of 9 planets!!

Stella (aka the Sipper): I'm a latte' snob, so lot's of espresso but with milk and a touch of sweet, so rarely do i sip a straight shot or two.  That said, i'm a fan of options and if I'm camping or at home and drip or French Press isn't cutting the mustard I need something that will do the trick w/o costing an arm and a leg.  The MiniPresso fits the bill.  Small, portable, fairly lightweight (unless you're literally counting ounces for your pack and even then, maybe worth it) and creates a damn smooth brew with some impressive crema.  The big factors here are fine-tuning the grind, HOT water,  a solid thumb-tamp before the pump and really tightening down all the attachments so the pressure is at its highest potential.  Nail those, and you just scored yourself a sweet shot for around $60.00. THAT's hard to beat.  It's ever-so-slightly intimidating to figure out the first time, but after a few trials, it can be done in less than 5 minutes - put espresso in, tamp, pour hot water in, pump away (5-8 primer pumps and 10-20 actual pumps).

minipresso camping

Drawbacks for me - i'm terribly impatient so for my double shot fix - i'd have to do this twice and for a latte' i'd have to steam some milk - not a big drawback but worth mentioning.  Finally, you can't expect a $10,000 Italian machined espresso - you just can't - but it's great given its size and price.

I see this as the perfect on-the-go espresso maker - i will absolutely take this camping or use at the office or home for a 3p pick me up - but it won't replace my morning latte.  8/9 planets for me!

Paul (aka Pour-Over Paul): The first thing I like about the minipresso is how compact it is. Sitting about as tall as a pint glass and about as wide as a sausage, this mini coffee maker makes a delicious shot of espresso. Grounds go into a mini portafilter that resembles an oversized thimble and fits snugly into one end of the machine. On the other end, a water reservoir cup is filled with hot water. I like mine just off the boil. The piston comes out of the side of the machine which you then pump. After about 5 or 6 pumps, you feel the mini espresso machine pressure up and espresso starts to slowly extract with every pump. If you time your pumps smoothly and consistently, you can actually get about a 20 second extraction. Although it comes with a mini plastic shot glass, I like to make the espresso into a clear glass so I can watch the crema develop which starts happening almost instantly.
minipresso shots glass

Although I do not typically drink espresso shots, it makes a very tasty and drinkable shot which I have had many times now. I also sometimes pour hot water over the shot and make an Americano if I want it to last longer.

Scott (aka Chief Beverage Maven): You can’t help but to think ‘submarine’ when you see the MiniPresso, especially when the piston is released.  It’s basically a nuclear submarine for espresso that nearly fits in your pocket.  I’ve tried a number of portable espresso makers, and I’m typically disappointed.  Not the case with the MiniPresso.  I did have to read the directions, which I hate doing, but once I did, it all made sense.  I had to calibrate the grind a few times, but once I dialed it in, it made amazingly solid espresso.  I’m an Americano guy, and I travel a lot.  I usually travel with an AeroPress – which I consider to be a happy medium between French Press and espresso – I’m now going to bring the MiniPresso with me (which hopefully the TSA will not confiscate), and start making actual Americanos right in my hotel room.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only thing those cheap%$!# coffee makers in hotel rooms are good for is making hot water so I can use my own coffee and coffee maker of choice to make an outstanding Americano regardless of where I’m at.   8 Planets

TR (aka Sud Bud):  What set my axis spinning:  The end result!  I was shocked how easy it was to make a great shot of espresso without having to spend a fair chunk of change for a machine that requires a plumed-in water line and electricity!  The look of mystified bliss in the bleary eyes of my wife when I cranked out a shot for her at 6 am before work was worth the price of admission right there.   Pouring a second shot into a clear glass, this hand held beauty laid down the Creme and the layer after layer of velvet richness that is a great espresso shot.

At right around $60 this is a piece the serious espresso junkie cannot be without.  In fact, it will probably cause them a fair amount of consternation that they spent as much as they did on that fancy home machine a few years ago. Black Hole Factor: One trick pony. I love a good espresso shot, but this is not the device to be making quad shot Americanos for a group of co-workers or friends. 9 out of 9 - Celestial Perfection
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