In this post I wanted to explore some really cool looking coffee makers and accessories, for people like me who love coffee and stuff that looks cool.
Looks like a bottle opener, is in fact an espresso maker!
I took notice of this strange looking machine thanks to some reviews online including a video from Todd Carmichael of La Colombe coffee roasters.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a bottle opener, or maybe a nutcracker, or a hand bell, or strange torture device from the middle ages. It is in fact an award winning espresso maker! What the heck??
I have to say, it does look cool! It comes with a chrome portafilter, you add the coffee, tamp, insert the portafilter into The Rok, add hot water, and press the arms down in order to create the pressure.
I actually really like the look of this machine. It does appear to be a very manual affair, which I see as a pro and a con at the same time, depending on the circumstances I suppose. On one hand, you can use this machine anywhere as long as you have access to a kettle, and there’s no electronics to potentially go wrong or to learn how to use. On the other hand, as it’s all manual there’s probably more skill involved in order to make a great espresso with it. I would imagine that since the extraction timing is all manual, this is where there could be potential for under or over extraction – but having said that, being so manual also gives you complete control over the extraction time too, which is surely a big plus, so I’m a bit confused at the moment, I’ll have to try it and review it, then I’ll know for sure.
See the video below to see The Rok in action – or click here to grab one on Amazon for just over a hundred quid (great Christmas gift idea!).
Coffee brewing awesomeness for under a fiver!!
I’ve already reviewed the V60 here, so I won’t go into much detail about it here other than to say that it is a very cool coffee maker, and if you’re a coffee lover you just don’t have an
excuse not to have at least one of these – they cost a fiver! They’re a pourover drip filter coffee maker, and they make a lighter slightly more herbal type coffee than other brewing methods.
You can get the V60 in various styles and colours, the Hario ones are available in white, clear red and brown plastic and three sizes, they also sell a ceramic one available in red, white and brown which are more expensive.
You’ll need a pack of filters, and make sure you buy the corresponding filter size for the size of v60 you go for, they’re only about a fiver for a hundred filters though so it’s not expensive.
I use my v60 a lot, it’s one of my favourite brewing methods, and one of the things I really love about it as well as the coffee, is that cleaning up is so simple, just lob the filter in the bin and rinse the v60, or empty the filter into the compost – or if you’re weird like me freeze your waste coffee grounds…
One of the best things ever made, anywhere, ever, by anyone…
Obviously I can’t talk about cool looking coffee stuff and not mention the oracle! I have recently been trying out this espresso machine thanks to Sage by Heston Blumenthal for trusting me with it for a week and for actually trusting me to (reluctantly) give it back, and not only does it look cool, it is in my opinion one of the best things ever made, anywhere, ever, by anyone…
I have written a very detailed Sage Oracle Review, so I won’t write another one here, but I’ll go over the details briefly.
The oracle is an automatic manual espresso machine, which as someone pointed out to me on facebook, appears to be an oxymoron. I do understand this comment, as I wasn’t sure what this actually meant before trying out, but I get it now from using it for a week, it’s essensially an assisted manual, in that the tricky bits are done for you so it is virtually impossible (from my experience) to make a bad coffee. The grinding, dosing, tamping, extraction timing and milk texturing (including precise milk temp) is all done for you with the Oracle. It feels and looks like using a manual espresso machine, so when I’m using it I feel like a Barista, but everything is much more simple than it would be if I was having to use my own nonexistent Barista skills in order to make the espresso.
The hopper is full of beans (so to speak) so when I get to the machine and want an espresso, I just put the portafilter into the grinding thingymabob, turn to the right then back to centre, and it grinds the perfect amount of coffee and tamps it. I take it out, put it into the group head, press the button for single or double espresso or long black (strength and size of long black can be set in the settings), and that’s that. Bang the porta filter out into the knock box after, and it’s ready to use again. If I’m making a Latte or Cappuccino for instance, then I’ll have the milk steaming at the same time. The automatic milk steaming is brilliant, just set it to auto and come back when that great wooshing sound stops.
The only negative thing about the oracle is I can’t afford it… It isn’t cheap at just under fifteen hundred quid (best price I can find for is, and my favourite place for ordering anything due to their great system for refunds and replacements etc) is Amazon, and they’re on offer at the moment there but it’s still not within my budget unfortunately. They also do the Barista Express which I do have my eye on actually, but it’s still too much for me at the moment at just under £500, maybe sometime in the new year I’ll stop spending every penny I earn and then some, at which point maybe I’ll be able to justify buying one of these. It doesn’t have all of the automation, which means that some skill is required, but part of me likes that as I would actually like to develop some Barista skills, and I do have an ambition to run my own coffee shop in my retirement, which will be a loooooong time from now though so I do have plenty of time to learn!
Pourover dripper with coolness consisting of not just looks, but also design, reducing chance for user error.
The Kalita wave is a pour over dripper, similar to the V60, but with a different design that includes a flat bed with three holes in order to give the dripper more control over the flow rate and therefore the extraction. In other words, in theory the Kalita Wave makes it harder for the user to screw up the brew, and lends itself towards consistency regardless of the user.
I’ve not yet tried the Kalita wave, but I have ordered one today from Amazon, and I’ll review it as soon as it arrives. I do like the look of it, it seems that you can get hold of the filters a bit cheaper than the V60 filters, and they start at about a tenner, so for that price why not! I like the look of the glass version as well as the metal one, but the metal one will last longer in our house…
More control over the pour, and no electric required.
These kettles are perfect for using drippers such as the Kalito Wave, V60 & Chemex, as the quirky looking long spout (technically known as a gooseneck, I believe) gets you right into the top of the dripper. If you use a standard kettle, you’ll find that it’s not quite as precise, it’s a bit of a clumsy affair with my electric kettle.
What I like about these also is that they’re stove top (although they also do an electric version), and that means that if like me you have a gas hob, you can brew up without resorting to using pans on the hob, which we had to do a few weeks back without one of these, when the power was out on our street for several hours…
Regarded by many as the holy grail of coffee brewing, and makes big quantities.
Chemex is a pourover dripper, as are the V60 and Kalita wave; however, if you listen to real coffee geeks to whom for many Chemex is the holy grail of coffee brewing equipment, they’ll usually protest that the although Chemex is a pour over dripper, that the similarity ends there. Chemex has been around since the early 1940’s, so it’s not a new brewing process.
As with the other pourover drippers, there isn’t one universally accepted technique, and if you watch the many YouTube videos on this process you’ll see people weighing coffee and water, using really precise methods when it comes to pouring, and it looks like a cross between science and art. Personally though I believe that with all of the coffee brewing techniques, you can be as simple or as complex as you want to be, and while the really coffee connoisseurs might be able to tell the difference, the majority of people probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between an amazingly perfect coffee made with one of these methods or one which is slightly over or slightly under extracted. If you have a very well developed coffee pallet and you want to be able to master a technique which gives you repeatable almost perfect results every time, then fill your boots & get as technical as you want, weighing and timing – for me personally I’m not quite that fussy, and my coffee pallet isn’t quite so developed, so I’m happy to just bloom, pour, drink.
WALL.E and R2D2 both fancy the ass off this machine, and I can see the attraction!
This a really cool looking grinder, even bordering on sexy (I may need help). From my experience so far with Sage by Heston products, I have no doubt whatsoever that this product will be incredibly smart, well made, and will do the job perfectly, and I would buy one of these without hesitation having used the Sage Oracle for a week.
I’m considering buying one, as I’d like to use one grinder with all of the different espresso machines and other coffee making machines I’m going to be reviewing, and I haven’t seen a grinder that I think would be more perfect than the smart grinder pro. I’m a bit skint now though, with it being nearly Christmas, so this will probably have to wait a few months.
Why it’s called the “SMART” grinder by the way, is that it not only grinds, but it automatically adjusts the dose! This is what I love about Sage products, as with the oracle they have really thought about using the very best of technology to help to aide the home Barista as much as possible and take out some of the room for user error.
It’s a couple of hundred quid, which certainly doesn’t make it a cheap coffee grinder, but the old saying “you get what you pay for” is true here in terms of the technology and undoubtedly also when it comes to the build quality, and I can say that confidently without having physically used this machine, from my experience with the oracle. One of the things I’ve come to realise from a lot of the reading I’ve been doing about the various coffee brewing methods, is that the grind is really important, and that freshly grinding your beans makes a positive impact on the coffee too over buying already ground, so I definitely need a grinder (I had a cheap one, it broke a while back), and since the grind is important I think it would be foolish of me to buy a cheapo grinder. This is what I’ll be saying to my wife when I’m trying to justify the purchase, and yes I know it needs a bit of work as a sales pitch especially since my wife doesn’t drink coffee! 😉
Proper coffee on the go!
This is one cool looking machine, and a cool idea; make proper coffee, anywhere, any time, and take it with you, anywhere… The idea is that you can brew coffee (perfect coffee, says the designer, not under or over extracted) in the Oomph and then just pick it up and take it with you.
You put in the ground coffee, add the hot water (to the fill level), let the level rise in the outside chamber, top up with water, then press down to add the pressure, done – one portable cup of allegedly perfect coffee. I say allegedly because I’ve not tried it, it isn’t yet available to purchase, although I have seen a review from a coffee pro who sang its praises no end.
If you want to be one of the first to own The Oomph, just head to their kickstarter campaign and select one of the packages. At the time of writing their kickstarter campaign is doing very well, they’ve raised over £12,000, so hopefully these portable coffee makers will be delivered in April.
Update, Oomph SMASHED it with their kickstarter campaign, they didn’t just achieve it, they achieved 234% of their goal, raising a whopping £61,000! This is fantastic news for anyone like me who backed the campaign, as we should get our Oomph around April time.
Want one free?
I have two Oomphs pre ordered, which will be some of the first units available, one is for me – and one is for one of you! Oomph are going to send the other one directly to one lucky coffeeblog readers! Just follow @ukcoffeeblog on twitter, and watch out for the tweet which will come soon to tell you how to be in with a chance to win one. Also if you add this blog to your favourites, and check back in a few days, there will be a post which gives you the details.
Yes, this is the same Aerobie that make the flying rings! Quite how they went from inventing that to inventing a coffee maker, I’m not sure ;-).
This is an interesting looking device, and I have been meaning to get hold of one to review it. I’ve finally ordered one on Amazon, and I’ll review it next week once I’ve used it. The overall brew time including everything is probably a minute or so less than with a cafetiere, and similar to brewing with a V60 or Kalita wave (depending on the brewing technique you use of course), the speed of cleaning looks very fast, as you just push the puck of coffee grounds out & give it a rinse. I can see there are two methods, the standard brewing method and inverted, and most people tend to go for inverted now from what I can gather, I’ll try both of course and let you know which seems to be the best. The standard method seems to let some weaker coffee drip through before you’re ready to plunge, which I would think would weaken the taste, so I’d expect to prefer the inverted method but we’ll see.
I’ve also watched youtube videos in which people are using the aeropress to make decent looking (and tasting according to the people making the videos) espresso, with crema, by putting another filter on top of the ground coffee and tamping first, before adding a small amount of water. I love the idea of being able to make an espresso with such a low cost coffee maker, and I can’t wait to try it out.
At first I thought there seemed to be lots of bits to lose, but from watching the video reviews I realise that some of these bits aren’t needed. The big black funnel thing isn’t really needed although you can use it if there’s not a good fit with the aeropress and your mug, and the big paddle thing is just for stirring so you can just use a spoon, a wooden chopstick, anything really. There’s one video where a guy uses a chopstick to stir and leaves some of the pouring until after he’s stirred so he can pour that onto the chopstick and wash it at the same time, clever!
You can grab one of these on Amazon for under £26 including the carry bag to keep all the bits in.