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I am a horrendous coffee addict. I drink upwards of 8 cups of instant every day, topped up with about 3 or 4 strong espressos. I shake constantly and find coherent sentences a struggle. I wake up, smoke and drink coffee within the space of the first 5 minutes. Every day is a caffeine induced Groundhog Day. My wife likes non of this, feeling my life might be better served if I looked at it in a drug-free state for at least short stretches, but I tried it once and wasn't impressed. She looked…..different.
As such, a coffee machine is an important part of the kitchen itinery. I'm also a tight-arsed get and won't spend money on quality, having trained myself to be impressed by the mediocre and possibly the most non-noticing person you could meet. All of which bodes well for the Russell Hobbs machine that sits on the worktop. In my view, a fine machine that feeds my addiction for a cost of only £40. Sure, it's life will be short due to overuse and poor build-quality but its life will have been a full one.
This is an espresso machine with a steamer nozzle featuring 15 bar pump pressure Steam nozzle 1.2 litre capacity Removable water tank Detachable drip tray
Yes, I did nab all that off the website. If you think it's dull then you should have seen the bits I deleted.
Looks -------- It ain't going to win Miss Esspresso Machine 2008. That's a bit unfair, it's not that bad but in an age when quality is represented by shiny chrome, this black and grey affair looks dated and dull. Well, that's Russell Hobbs for you, the people who invented beige toasters with even beiger leaf detail. The grey colour is, I think, meant to be chrome coloured. But it fails to impress. It looks grey. The design is described as compact but that too stretches the imagination just a little too far. It takes up the same footprint as a toaster and stands about 35cm tall.
How it all works --------------------- The machine has a sizeable reservoir which, when full, will serve about 20 espressos. This is filled through a weird flip contraption which sits atop the machine. You slide it sideways and a gap appears in which to pour water. It seems to be overly complicated and a simple hole would have been perfectly satisfying. Story of my life. The holder for the coffee twists on and off with a removable insert in which to put the coffee. It then simply twists back on as tight as you can to ensure the pressure remains high. A simple ON button gets the water heated and when ready, in less than a minute, another button forces the hot water through the coffee and into the one or two cups below through the two small nozzles. If you like it frothy, which my wife does, the sauce, then another button heats the water for the steamer. This will take just over a minute to make sure the pressure is high enough. Twisting the large round control on the top of the machine releases the steam through the nozzle into your awaiting milk. The pressure of the steam can be adjusted by how much you turn the control but Christ knows why you wouldn't want it full blast.
Anyway - that's how it works. Christ that was boring.
The results. --------------- Great to be honest. An awful lot of the quality for a coffee machine will be down to the coffee you use but I reckon this machine will give you as good a chance of a good cup as your going to get for the money. The coffee comes out at a good temperature and has a good crema with lavazza - in other words it has a creamy brown froth that floats on top. The steamer is not the most powerful in the world. This runs at 15bar pressure which is pretty normal for a small domestic machine but you can get higher. The nozzle froths the milk well but I did once have a machine where they had put a lot of thought into the design and it was better.
From start to finish, with milk, will take you about 4 minutes, which is quite a while if your shaking is getting bad. That's why I always have instant first thing in the morning.
So pretty perfect? ------------------------- Well, I wouldn't go that far. The drip tray is a bit shallow and inadequate and needs a bit of emptying. The nozzles through which the coffee escapes get a bit clogged and need cleaning out with a fork before every use - a 2 second job but a pain nonetheless. The decal on the front to show you what the buttons are rubbed off within about 2 months. Other than that though, it has been issue free. It does look as if it will capitulate to failure eventually though - the build quality just doesn't look anything special but so far, so good.
More info can be found at: http://www.russellhobbs.co.uk/15_Bar_Pump_Espresso_qp_95.html
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