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Café-filter for Philips Senseo Review

July 16, 2004

As I mentioned in my review of the Philips Senseo, I’d ordered a Café-filter from The Netherlands.  This device is designed and manufactured by LMTO Electronics, B.V., and is a re-usable permanent filter for the Senseo.

The unit is built in two pieces (you can see a picture on their site, above)—a dish-shaped bottom piece, and a lid that fits tightly on top.  Both the top and bottom have a reinforced mesh filter.  You can fill the filter with the ground coffee of your choice (8 grams, as per the instructions), place it in the “two cup” Senseo filter pod holder, and brew a single cup.

The short summary is that it works.  As usual, however, the devil is in the details…


The device works fine, mechanically.  Both pieces fit together well, it fits in the dual-pod holder properly, and stays in place (and closed) when the lid is clamped down and the Senseo puts pressure to it.  As advertised, it does brew a cup of coffee, from a grounds of your choice, complete with the Senseo “crema” head on it.

Operation

After taking the filter through the groundsless first pass advised in the instructions, I broke out some fresh Columbian beans, and ran into the first practicality issue—the instructions advise using 8 grams of coffee. In my cheap little blade grinder, trying to get any sort of uniform grind on that small an amount of beans is pretty iffy.  It’d probably work better to grind a more reasonable amount, and then measure out 8 grams of result, but then you start to defeat the merits of using freshly ground beans.  Of course, if you don’t grind your own beans, you’ll probably be happy with the standard coffee pods (although I suppose you could use this and a can of Folgers or something to lower the cost).

8 grams is a rather tight fit in the café-filter, but I got the lid on and brewed up a “single” cup (about 4 oz).  Everything worked fine; the top latched down fine, no leaks occured when pressure was applied.  The Senseo did it’s hissing and growling routine, and delivered a crema cup of Columbian Supremo.

Cleanup was fairly easy—remove the double-cup pod holder, remove the café-filter top, dump out the grinds, then remove the rest and rinse everything.

Results

Tasting it, I can tell you that I liked it substantially better than the pre-made pods.  Unfortunately, it was still on the weak side, at least for me.  The instructions advise that you can brew two cups at once using “espresso coffee instead of normal fine grated coffee”, which I presume means using a very fine espresso grind.  I did get a fairly fine grind, eventually, on the Columbian, but I suppose if I were to get a finer grind, it might solve the weakness problem.  From a practical standpoint, though, I’m not sure how much of a consistently fine grind I’m going to get from my grinder.  I’ll have to keep working with it. I’m sure a good burr grinder would handle it just fine, but at some point the degree of cost involved begins to get silly.

Obtaining the Café-filter

LMTO Electronics does not ship to the US.  At the time I first contacted them, they hadn’t worked out a way to do so, but they now have a partnership with Knives and Tools Online which will sell and ship to the US.  The cost of the filter is € 16.39, and shipping for me ran € 8.05, which comes to around $30 US, depending on the exchange rate at the time.  It took about 10 days to receive it from the time they started taking orders.

Conclusions

The café-filter does work, and produces a cup of coffee that (to me) is superior to that obtained with the standard coffee pods.  It’s still not what I want, but it’s close enough to being right that I think some experimentation and tuning might get it substantially close.  It will certainly be cheaper to use than the standard coffee pods!

On the other hand, the amount of work involved begins to make some of the Senseo advantages of a fast, good single cup of coffee a little academic.  It takes about as much work (measuring and grinding beans, filling the filter, dumping it out after) to use as the four-cup Barista Aroma, and only produces four ounces of coffee, instead of four cups.  Given that I tend to use a 16 oz mug, this is a little silly…

If you’re using it just to cut costs, and don’t want to grind your own beans, you’ll probably want to play with obtaining different grinds of coffee (either pre-packaged, or from one of the grocery-store self-grinders) to find something that suits you.  I’d expect that a normal automatic drip grind would produce very watery coffee.  I’m not sure just how fine one can go, but since they advise using “espresso coffee”, one assumes that it will work down to a fairly fine grind.

If you try this thing, leave a comment and let me know what you think—I’d be interested in comparing results.

See Also: Mo’ Bitter Brews – Philips Senseo Review

Related: Starbucks Barista Aroma Grande Review

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Comments

3 Responses to “Café-filter for Philips Senseo Review”

  1. Marion Eckstein-Landry on June 9th, 2005 6:00 pm

    Liked your review.  I got some of these pots in the mail for try out.  I didn’t really wanted to buy this mashine yet and tried to do some research and got to your website.  My problem is, I am from Germany, I can’t find a coffee mashine that brews hot enough.  We like our coffee “boiled”, that is…the water of course.  I actually have to preheat my coffecup in the microwave before I put the coffee in.  I only use German Coffee.  It’s sooo different than american.  So I thought the Senseo would be something for me, hoping that it would be hot coffee.  Unfortunately, the company only send me flavored coffee, which I really hate.  I opened the pouches and brewed them in my coffemashine, of course it’s not the same.  But I just wanted to try out the taste.  If you have any suggestions for a coffemashine who brews “hot” and I mean “hot” coffee, could you please let me know?  I would really appreciate it.  Thank you ever so much.  (also, your link to this coffee filter from the Netherlands didn’t work:-()

  2. Chuck Lawson on June 9th, 2005 6:18 pm

    Hi Marion;

    I’m not sure how easy it is to find there, but I recently went to a Starbucks Barista coffeemaker, and one of the things I most appreciated about it is that I measured the just-brewed coffee in the caraffe at 192 degrees farenheit, which puts it well into the 190 – 205 degree range that’s usually recommended for brewing.

    I’ve also heard good things about the brew temperature on the Japanese-made Zojirushi EC-BD15, which is sold by Amazon in the US—you might try their German site to see if they offer it also.

    If you want to go above this temperature range, and truly want “boiled” coffee, your best bet is probably to go with an “old-style” percolator.

    I’ve never been to Germany, but the community I grew up in here in the US had a large German immigrant population, and percolators were still much more popular with many of them than drip coffee makers, the last I knew.

    Best of luck finding your coffee maker!

  3. Darcy on July 5th, 2005 10:27 pm

    I lived in Germany for 15 years and got hooked on good European coffee. I have a SAECO full automatic Esspresso/Coffee machine. I roast my own Columbian Supremo green beans. This combination makes the best coffee I have ever tasted. I just bought a Senseo to take on business trips. I was hoping it would make a decent cup of coffee for the road when I can’t take my big machine with me. I bought the re-usable pods from Holland and used my own freshly roasted and ground coffee in the thing. YUCK!!! It’s dish water!! Not being able to adjust how much water goes through the Senseo is my problem. It’s too weak and I’m really disapointed that it won’t work for me. I unpacked it today and am putting it back in the box and selling at work tomorrow. (I hope! 🙂 )

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