Frankly, coffee terminology is something that has always foxed me. I am the sort of person who enters one of these Coffee parlours and gapes at the complex list of names and then splutters, ‘One coffee please! ’
‘Will it be a cappuccino or a latte or any of our other variations?’
‘I don’t know. I just need good strong tea bag style coffee.’
I invariably get smiles and the guy at the counter indulgently says, ‘Our cappuccino is what you will love.’ And then the discussion veers off to the sizes and after more confusion, I just walk to a beckoning chair and he gets me a large cup of cappuccino.
I love coffee.
I also love cappuccino.
And now I am literally in love with this new wonder in the market: Philips Intelia Automatic espresso machine with integrated Milk Carafe. This one is a one touch Espresso and Cappuccino machine with Saeco’s latest Latte Perfetto technology and costs just Rs 74,995.00.
‘What?’ you will undoubtedly shout.
I’ll ask you to take a chill pill, drink a glass of cool lemon juice and listen to what I have to say. Ever since I started frequenting these coffee parlours or lounges or whatever they call themselves, the realisation of good coffee began. I now never opt for the wedding-wala coffee or the station-wala coffee or even the instant coffee that I once loved having at home. Even at home I have ground filter coffee and love brewing a cup for myself whenever the coffee bug invades.
But this machine that I am talking about, is 256x340x444 mm in size, weighs 10.8 kg, has a coffee bean capacity of 300 gms, and a water tank capacity of 1.5 Litres.
‘Will it take us very long to understand this complex machine before we actually brew a cup and drink?’ asked Specky, my wife, with apprehensive eagerness written all over her face. This is what happens when you have a large machine in your home and want to get on with using it faster than you can blink.
The manual that comes with the machine is easy to understand and because we are in the habit of reading together, we got over with understanding this tech-wonder in less than 10 minutes. Yes, we timed it.
So we knew that we had to pour the coffee beans in the container above, fill the water tank with water and the milk carafe with milk… the rest is just switching it on and letting the descaling process prime the machine. (Saeco designed this espresso machine to automatically clean its coffee circuit with water upon starting up or switching off of the machine, this delivers a great, fresh taste with each cup of coffee. Regular descaling prolongs your espresso machine’s life) Once that is done, we simply tapped the button that said ‘cappuccino’ and (presto!) one cup of frothy cappuccino was there in seconds. Yes, the first time the machine made all those gurgling sounds and sent out bursts of translucent steam we missed a beat… but then in later cups this process is actually charming. You almost want to write a rhyme on…
The steam that gurgles out in style
Before it spouts a coffee-ish smile!
Yes, the romanticism of having a cappuccino with real froth is unbeatable and I must admit that our coffee consumption has gone up. But it isn’t as if our tea-bags and tea-leaves are on leave… this machine can give you froth alone, if that is what you want… and a tea-bag will give you ‘ekdum mast chai’ with froth! What else, man?
We did learn a lot about the machine as the days went by… and the first thing that we loved to encounter was the cleaning up of the machine parts. This wasn’t as difficult as it may seem… the side panel opens easily and I was able to click open the brewing group to be cleaned by rinsing under the tap. The dump box too can be slid out and the residue thrown in the bin. The entire cleaning process takes less than 5 minutes. The machine automatically stops after serving 10 cups and the digital indicator encourages you to initiate the cleaning process. Once done, the indicator happily shows the signs that you can now go ahead with more cups of your favourite cappuccino.
This machine, by the way, ensures grind granularity through 5 settings, from the finest grind, for a full bodied espresso, to the coarsest, for a lighter café crème. It serves you authentic Italian coffee perfection without burned taste because of the 100% ceramic grinders it has. The quick heat boiler prepares your cup faster than expected… and the froth is impeccably exquisite!
‘What else?’ asked Specky.
‘What else?’ I repeated not knowing how to respond, but nevertheless, said, ‘This machine brews coffee according to your personal preference as it has an innovative memo function to adjust the coffee length, strength and temperature. The dual chamber technology is what gives dense, long-lasting milk froth at the ideal temperature from a constant splash-free flow of milk.
Specky smiled and said, ‘I know all this. I was just joking. But listen, how do we justify the cost?’
‘Taste,’ I said, ‘and flavour. The overall experience. The ease.’
‘That’s not enough, she insisted, ‘I need some objectivity here. My logical brain doesn’t accept a coffee machine that seems so expensive.’
‘Right, so if I go to any of these lounges for a cup of cappuccino, I travel at least 5 kms which means a litre of petrol gone. The cappuccino itself is around 150 and the total time it takes us can be anything from an hour to more than that. A simple calculation tells me that each cup had outside costs me around 250. This means a mere three hundred cups of cappuccino would mean the machine is ours for free forever!’
Specky smiled, jogged with her thoughts that were calculating, and said, ‘Hmmm… this also means that if the two of us have to go out every day for just one cappuccino each, the machine cost can be offset in less than six months.’
‘Brilliant,’ I replied and smiled saying, ‘Another cappuccino for me, please!’
More details on the machine can be accessed here.
27 October 2013