Sunday, November 06, 2005

Cool Crip Culture -- Product Review #2.75

I love coffee, and am hooked on the good stuff. I like it pretty strong. I have a coffee maker that makes about 4 cups (mugs) of coffee at a time by drip, into a thermal carafe. It makes good coffee, but I always end up wasting some because I don't generally drink 4 cups all at once, and it just isn't as good reheated. I know you're supposed to be able to make just a couple of cups at a time -- but it's difficult to get the coffee/water balance just right unless you make a full pot.

So, I was pretty psyched when I heard about the single cup machines when I started seeing them advertised about eighteen months ago. I don't know that they've caught on, but I love mine. It is very crip friendly.

Crip Usage

I'm lucky that my current abode has a lot of counter space. I would, however, keep this on the counter even in a limited counter space situation because I use it almost every day, and often twice a day or more. You can also make a cup of tea with it.

So, you fill up the water tank and place it on the back of the machine. I've heard that you'll get leaks if you overfill the tank, so I haven't tried overfilling. Hence, no leaks. After I determined that I loved the machine, I bought the larger water tank that's available, so I don't have to fill it as often.

The machine comes with a one pod and a two pod holder. All of the single cup makers define one cup of coffee as 4-6 oz. I define a cup of coffee as at least a 12 oz. mug. So I pretty much always use 2 pods, and get a nice strong mug of coffee.

You can, however, get a mug of medium-strong tea out of one tea pod.

All of the removable parts of the machine go into the dishwasher (top rack), so no excuses to let it get groady.

I have a rolling office chair in my kitchen, from which I do most of my cooking, though I can stand if I absolutely need to.

So, I plunk myself down in the chair and push the power button. The power button flashes until the water is hot. Solid light means it is ready to go. While the light is flashing, I open the top, pull out the pod holder and load it up. You do have to be careful about making sure the pods are stacked right in the 2 pod holder so that you get a good seal when you clamp the lid down. (I read reviews of people complaining about leaks here, too, but I've found that if you use the parts correctly, no surprise leaks.)

You put a mug under the spout and push the two cup button to get your mug of coffee. Steam is forced through the pods and you get a layer of foam on top, which I happen to like.

OCD Shopper

I researched the hell out of these machines when they came out. I had bought a regular thermal carafe maker a couple of years ago, despite finding lukewarm reviews about the machine, and HATED it. So, I thought I would try to avoid another shopping mistake.

Melitta also makes a pod single serving machine, and I think a couple of other makers do as well. I can't say that the other machines are bad, only that this Senseo one by Phillips is really great, and I've been using it for about a year with no problems.

My Favorite Pods

I like really strong coffee, and the only pods I've found that are strong enough for me are these:

Obviously, you don't want to buy a ton of them until you try them out. I've found the Douwe Egberts brand everywhere, from Longs to Safeway. I believe Home Cafe pods are also compatible, but be sure to double check. There is also a website called if you feel adventurous.

Through Amazon, I also found a brand of tea that makes pods that fit perfectly in the single pod holder:

My guess is that most round tea bags would fit, but I haven't experimented much.

Take Away Message

As long as the water tank is filled (I have short arms and my counters are a little high, so I really need to stand up to fill and load the water tank), I can sit and make myself a great cup of tea or coffee with this machine. I keep my mugs in a lower cupboard with a pull out shelf, so I don't have to stand and reach for cups, either.

Everybody has to find the best way to do things for themselves -- and there is often a lot of trial and error involved. The point is that you need to be creative and willing to try new things. Sometimes, you might make a mistake and buy a tool or try a method that doesn't work at all for you.

If that happens, ditch it and start over, but incorporate what you've learned. And remember that the most expensive way isn't necessarily always the best.

If you're doing the math, I figure that each cup of coffee costs me about 50 cents. I have spent 3 times that at Starbucks for just coffee. And when I was making coffee by the pot, the per cup cost was probably less, but I wasted a lot of coffee...

Drink long and prosper.

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