The Krup’s Nespresso ‘Gran Maestria’ Coffee Machine

Nespresso-Gran-Maestria

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. I am mad about real coffee. I bore my friends senseless about aroma, strength, intensity and crema. The fact of it is, I am old school. I love the process of grinding beans and brewing a fresh cup of espresso the old fashioned way, and bless it, my Baby Gaggia is like family to me.

The thing is, and this is a very big thing, it’s a messy business, and there are irritating downsides. The machine takes a while to heat up, the steam nozzle often gets clogged, the coffee gets stale pretty quickly, the old coffee grounds stain the sink etc. But nevertheless, that aroma gets me every time.

So, is there really a better way? Can I embrace new technology and go over to the dark side? Nespresso transformed the coffee world when it launched its innovative pod system. Suddenly, everyone’s a coffee expert, waxing lyrical about Grand Cru, Ristretto, Arpeggio, Lungo and host of other romantic sounding words harvested straight from an Italian dictionary. What’s more, my proud collection of coffee beans has been eclipsed by an endless array of gaily coloured pods all promising varying degrees of wonderment, beautifully presented in displays that are an art form in their own right.

All well and good, but as they say, the devil is in the detail, or in my case, the tasting…

The Gran Maestria Titanium, Nespresso’s newest creation made specifically for Krups, sits proudly astride my kitchen unit, all sleek lines of grey and black; its green ready light appearing in a matter of seconds. On the left side is a cup warmer tray, a great idea, because good coffee tastes even better from a warm cup. On the right side another marvel; the aeroccino jug, producing perfectly frothed milk in under a minute to suit your cup – be it latte, cappuccino, or cold frappuccino.

I raise the central pod arm, drop in a pod, select how much coffee I want dispensed and the magic begins. Each time, and let me be clear about this, I had many cups in the name of research, the coffee was a bull’s-eye.. Always the right temperature and always producing a delicious crema to die for. The empty pods conveniently disappear into the waste chamber, all clean and tidy.

There are downsides of course. At around £475 this is no cheap date, the pods are only available from Nespresso which work out more expensive per item than ground coffee (although there will be other suppliers who will produce pods as the Nespresso patents expire) and you can only deliver one cup at a time. But for any lover of fine coffee, this is well worth the investment. The pods ensure your coffee stays roasted fresh and there’s no mess.

Are there alternatives? Tassimo is a similar system which uses T-Discs and there’s Senseo and its Pad (like a tea bag) owned by respected coffee supplier Douwe Egberts. They are similar in many ways, but don’t match up to Nespresso’s pod system for freshness and usability.

For me, I’m hooked, and my old Gaggia is officially consigned to history.

Gran Maestria Titanium £475 www.nespresso.co.uk

Video: The SodaStream Revolution Drinksmaker

Sodastream Revolution

If you’re old enough to remember the long, dark days of the seventies then one of the brighter moments back then was getting a glass of effervescent action from a SodaStream. The home drink-making machine was one of the gadgets to own and although it’s retained a cult following ever since, the SodaStream has been forgotten by many fans of fizz in the years since.

At one point in time the SodaStream was very big news though*, being available in around 50,000 retail stores in 43 different countries around the globe. The secret to its success was that the gadget allowed you to make your own carbonated drinks in the home, meaning that plain old tap water could be magically transformed into a glass of fizzy liquid, flavoured or otherwise, in a matter of moments. In the seventies, that seemed like a very big deal indeed.

The SodaStream was also quite green, removing the need to buy endless bottles of fizzy refreshment at the shops. As a consequence, its makers suggest that each reusable carbonating bottle has saved the environment from an estimated 1000 waste bottles and cans a year, which isn’t too shabby. There are in excess of fifty different flavours available for this device too, with a healthy edge provided thanks to a range of sugar-free flavoured essences, natural ingredients and fruity flavours. Just a shame then that the device itself ended up looking a little naff.

Now though, the humble SodaStream has been given a new lease of life, in the shape of a fully automated and very funky-looking model called the SodaStream Revolution. It’s a cool looking bit of kit too, with some advanced technical features that’ll boost your fizzy drink-making moments. If time is tight, then the new model features one-touch activation, a natty LED that displays fizz levels and a snap-on bottle attachment mechanism. As a result, those fizzy liquids have never been pumped out faster, or more efficiently.

You can choose from two different colours, with the Titan Grey model proving a little more appealing to us than the plain Silver finish, while the usability factor gets extra kudos thanks to the new ergonomic design. This revamped fizzy drinks maker really has been well and truly brought into the 21st century. Better still, it’s also as good as ever at saving on needless waste. So, next time you need the perfect dash of fizz for a G&T or endless glasses of soft drinks for a kids birthday party, bring on the Revolution.

The SodaStream Revolution is available online now and from QVC selected retailers priced at £149.99.

UPDATE!

The LG team has now had a chance to get ‘hands on’ with the Sodastream Revolution. All in all it’s a great product, although it’s much bigger than we expected and the carbonating process can be quite noisy at times. The process of picking your carbonation level is straight forward as was the setup – although the power connection being located in the base (rather than side) made it a bit fiddly to connect. Check out our video below where we unbox and then demo the Revolution:

* Update: The company was keen to clarify that these days the numbers are even more impressive: “The current figure is even larger SodaStream products are available at more than 60,000 retail stores in 45 countries around the world.”