UPDATE: There has been a recall on certain Tassimo products since this article originally appeared in MoneySense magazine. Bosch Tassimo T46s with date codes beginning with FD and within the range of FD 8806 through 9109 are among the products being called back for safety reasons. Please visit http://www.tassimosafetyrecall.com/Brewer_Check.HTML for more information.
Addicted to the coffee at your local boutique brew house? Chances are your wallet’s thinner than you might like it to be. Splurge for a cup every day and you could be looking at a $700 expense by the end of the year.
Why not substitute this expensive habit with a single-serve coffee maker? Pop a coffee pod into the device, press the button, and within a minute or three you have a freshly brewed cup for a fraction of the cost.
There are numerous single-serve brewers on the market and, of course, they’re not created equal. Although designed to do the same thing, their bells and whistles vary considerably. Less-expensive models generally have smaller water reservoirs, for example, and they lack features such as auto shut-off, multiple serving sizes, and electronic displays. Top-of-the-line models have adjustable temperature control, manual brew strength settings, and programmable clock-timers.
But that doesn’t mean the most expensive machine is the best value—especially if you calculate the ongoing cost of the coffee pods.
Here’s our review of four popular models to get you started on finding the right price-feature combo. We’ll leave the final taste testing up to you.
Bosch Tassimo T46 ($120)
Despite a price well below some of the others we considered, the T46’s feature list is quite long, including auto shut-off, auto-clean, and manual brew strength. What’s more, it’s the only single server we looked at that produces specialty coffees such as cappuccino right out of the nozzle.
It’s true that Tassimo doesn’t provide as large a menu as its rivals: there are 25 varieties of Tassimo T Discs, compared with 200 kinds of Keurig K-Cups. But the ability to make a fast latte offsets that drawback for would-be baristas. T Discs are also less expensive than K-Cups ($0.49 versus $0.72), making the Tassimo’s year-long cost assessment the lowest of the group.
Keurig Elite Brewing System ($120)
The Elite is the same price as the T46 and it has one substantial advantage: using an adapter, coffee aficionados can brew blends that are not on the K-Cups list. So for people who have a favourite blend from the local coffee roaster, the Keurig may be the best choice.
While the Elite offers two mug sizes, it’s still relatively low on features. And while the machine is inexpensive, its yearly costs add up: of the 200 pods the Columbian pod costs $0.72.
Bunn My Cafe ($150)
The Bunn is practically feature-less, save for the “pulse” setting, which the manufacturer says lets users make the beverage stronger than normal. It lacks the array of choices offered by Keurig, and with its high price ($150 for the machine, $0.55 per pod), My Cafe presents one of the poorer value-for-money options.
Cuisinart SS700 ($170)
The SS700 has all of the bells and whistles, including an LCD display and multiple serving sizes. It also boasts a giant 2.4-litre water reservoir—and a giant price to match: it’s the costliest of our group. Developed in conjunction with Keurig, it takes K-Cups, and so it offers the widest coffee selection. But the price puts it in a different class, and given customer complaints that the machine isn’t built to last, it’s something of a disappointment.
Verdict: Of the four coffee systems we researched, it’s the low-priced Tassimo that wins.