Capresso CoffeeTEC Digital Coffee Maker – Review
October 11, 2005
Are you looking for all the bells and whistles? Do you want a machine that not only makes coffee correctly, it does it with style? Do you like steamed and frothed milk in your coffee, but not quite enough to go to an espresso machine? If so, then the Capresso CoffeeTEC may well be your dream machine.
Weighing in at 12 lbs, complete with stainless steel thermal carafe, goldtone filter, a milk steamer and a digital timer, the CoffeeTEC is probably the Cadillac of the drip brewing stable.
Well, it’s priced like a Cadillac too — at just under $200, the CoffeeTEC ain’t a cheap drip brewer. On the other hand, it’s priced considerably less than many “toy” espresso machines, and can very competently deliver an excellent cup of coffee or coffee & steamed milk drink.
Most importantly, the CoffeeTEC brews at the correct temperature — most consumer coffee makers brew at less than optimal temperatures, producing weak, sour and acidic coffee. Secondarily, the CoffeeTEC is designed to brew at the SCAA-recomended dosage of two tablespoons of ground coffee per 6 oz cup. Since the CoffeeTEC brews 50 ounces, this means you want just over 16 tablespoons of coffee. Using less coffee will not produce a weaker brew as much as it will a bitter and overextracted brew (if you want a weaker cup of coffee, brew at the recommended level and add a bit of hot water to dilute the coffee instead).
So, the CoffeeTEC makes proper coffee — and now on to the goodies, which this thing is loaded with.
The CoffeeTEC comes with an excellent stainless steel thermal carafe. This is important — unless you’re brewing a pot for a group that will drink it all as soon as it’s finished, you’re going to want to keep the coffee warm. The choices are either a hotplate (which will burn the coffee and make it undrinkable quickly), or a thermal carafe. The CoffeeTEC’s carafe does a more than adequate job of keeping the coffee warm (providing you warmed it by pouring it full of hot water before you began brewing — this is the secret of getting the best from a thermal carafe), losing only around 8 – 9 degrees per hour sitting at room temperature.
Also included is a permanent metal filter — “gold tone” and not SwissGold, but still adequate for the job at hand. The water reservoir is removable, and can either be taken off to fill, or filled in place on the machine.
As mentioned, the machine is a 10-cup machine (for various definitions of 10 cups, of course), but it does have a “short cycle” button that allows you select between 3-5 cups, and 6-10 cups.
The most unique feature about the CoffeeTEC is of course the milk steamer. The machine actually includes a small (and relatively quiet) vibrator pump that can be used to steam milk, either from the (included) 32 ounce milk container, or by using an attachment, direct from a milk carton.
The steamer does a surprisingly good job, maintaining a full head of steam for over 3 minutes, long enough to produce the largest latte. A “froth control” dial controls the final temperature of the steamed milk.
Of course, number one with a bullet, this thing is spendy. Not as expensive as a lot of toys, but it’s pretty much at the top of the heap when it comes to drip brewers.
It also takes up a fair amount of counter space, at 11″ wide, 12″ deep, and 14″ high, plus you still need to have clearance to get to the reservoir, steam milk, etc.
My only other concern is that the additional complexity of all of the bells & whistles offers that many more possible points of failure. Fortunately, the machine does come with a 1 year limited warranty, which should offset this somewhat.
If you want both good coffee and steamed milk drinks, yet don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a quality espresso machine, this could be just the machine for you.
Coming at it from the other direction however, if you aren’t particularly interested in steamed milk, the Zojirushi Fresh Brew produces just as good a cup of coffee if you add a SwissGold filter and also has an excellent thermal carafe.