Featured at the House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year event in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, the new Tassimo Hot Beverage System by Bosch fits into both the kitchen's overall theme of user-friendliness and the consumer's modern desire for convenience with class. The brewer is featured as part of a line of new kitchen products that are being showcased as a "new benchmark for kitchen design," according to a recent news release from Kraft Foods.
At first glance, the upgraded version of the Hot Beverage System looks a lot like the original, but there are some features on the new model that distinguish it from its earlier versions. A single cup sits on a platform underneath a spout, and when you press the brew button on the front panel, your cup of whatever-you-desire is out within a minute. But what happens between point A and point B? Let me break it down for you.
It all starts in the back of the machine, which looks a lot better in the newer version, because of a hideaway power cord. Here is where the water reservoir for the machine is located, which has a handle and can be easily removed. Tim Hanlon of Aspen Marketing Services was proud to point out that these features, as well as the hidden compartment for filter discs in the back of the machine, are among the elements that were adjusted in the "2.0" model after listening to customer feedback and identifying the specific needs of customers.
Once you fill your machine with water, what happens next? How much water do you use? How hot does it need to be? These questions can be answered in two words: Tassimo Discs (dubbed T DISCs, for short). If you never used the original Hot Beverage System, then let me explain: each T DISC is a plastic cup filled with a premeasured amount of coffee, cocoa, tea, or shelf-stable milk, and is topped with a bar code that identifies its contents. When the T DISC is placed inside the machine, smart technology reads the bar code and automatically calculates how much water to use, the brewing time, and the temperature needed to brew a perfect cup. Lattes and cappuccinos require two T DISCS, brewed separately.
Since tea, coffee, and milk need to brew at different temperatures, you're guaranteed a perfect beverage every time. And if you feel the water reservoir while the machine is working, you'll notice that it's at room temperature: since the machine uses flow through heating technology, it saves energy by only heating water as it's needed. After brewing is finished, you can open the top and throw out the T Disc. Since the mess is almost completely contained within the T Disc, the inside of the brew dome is still remarkably clean.
In a country where freedom means everything, it's not prudent to judge a coffee-lover by their cup style. Whether it's half-caff, nonfat, venti, vanilla, or black, there's one thing about coffee that everyone can agree on: we love it. And we drink a lot of it. Our love for it is so great, in fact, that we're willing to fork over as much as $5 for a cup of it. That sets an annual coffee budget at $1,825.00 for the daily drinker.
But what about the important deal-clincher: what about flavor? In the sticky 90 degree heat in the House Beautiful Pavilion, I braved a cappuccino (for the good of the blog! Remember the blog!) and in less than two minutes, the machine had made a surprisingly authentic-tasting cappuccino (with a decent, although somewhat short-lasting, foam top).
When the machine is made available in specialty and department stores and select grocery stores in September of 2008, it will cost you $139.99 for the Suprema model, which features a chrome finish and water filtration, and $99.99 for the regular model. The T Discs range from $4.49 to $10.99, depending on what you buy, and come in packages of 8 to 16 T Discs. Cappuccino and latte sets come with 8 coffee Discs and 8 milk Discs each, and cost about $9.99, which puts the cost of my two-minute cappuccino at just less than $1.25.
If you just can't imagine your morning without the Starbucks pit stop, think of it in terms of cost-benefit analysis: the price of Starbucks coffee from the Tassimo Hot Beverage System comes in just less than $0.92. That, along with the added bonuses of avoiding the incomprehensibly long lines and the grumpy precoffee patrons is, at least by my definition, priceless.
If you want to see a video of the machine working, you can find one here.