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Braun Tassimo

Personal Coffee Maker Turns Writer into a Caf-fiend


By —— Bio and Archives--October 8, 2007

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I may never drink instant coffee again. Not that I do anyway, much, except under emergency conditions, but thanks to the people at Braun I’ve become convinced that individually packaged coffee and tea, and the hardware to brew it, is one of the better inventions of the early 21st century, second possibly to any breakthroughs in cancer research that may happen.

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Now, I’m no connoisseur of coffee, just a guy who works at home and enjoys a couple of cups of Joe in the morning—but who generally does without because I’m too darn lazy to calculate how many scoops are sufficient for the third of a carafe that’s enough to act as jumper cables for my heart. The brain doesn’t work before the coffee hits, either, and I figure that if I have to figure out how to make the coffee first I might as well just go outside and bark at the moon for a while.

Then they sent me a Tassimo unit and a selection of their little coffee and tea packs. The occasion was the release of the Gevalia Morning Roast and Twinings Chai Tea Latte packs, about which I could care less—I like my coffee cheap, generic and black—but the concept of which intrigued me enough to fill the Tassimo’s little reservoir in anticipation of a quick cup of morning glory.

And by the great Gods of Virtually Instant Gratification didn’t it work?

The company says they released the morning roast T Discs (the little individual “software” packets) in response to consumers’ desire for a larger cup of coffee in the morning, though it’s undoubtedly also in response to a perceived need for more sales—isn’t that why one goes into business in the first place? But you can get a lot more than just trendy specialty coffees and teas—I found myself drawn to the coffee aisle of my local grocery store once my freebies ran out, coming home with packages of Maxwell House and Nabob, and ignoring stuff like Seattle’s Best (on principle), as well as Jacob’s, carte noir and Mastro Lorenzo, whoever he is.

It’s clearly a classic example of “the Gillette syndrome,” where they practically give away the razor and thereby get you hooked on buying the blades, and buying them, and buying and buying.

I really need to invent something like this…

Alas, it isn’t as if they give away the machine. Tassimo’s web site lists it at $170 U.S., which buys a lot of instant coffee, though on the other hand the quality of the Tassimo’s coffee blows instant right out of the mug.
The system comes with its own water filter to ensure that only pure water is used to brew your beverage (which is pretty well anything that requires hot water and is sold in T Discs). It sits in the bottom of the clear plastic reservoir which mounts and dismounts easily for refilling.

The company says each T Disc, which of course is designed to work only with the Tassimo, contains a precisely measured amount of coffee, tea, chocolate, or concentrated milk, and is sealed to protect the precious flavor inside. Well thank goodness for that!

When you insert the T Disc (it’s very easy), the machine supposedly reads its bar code, calculates the amount of water needed, brewing time, and temperature required to prepare the perfect drink.

Or so they say. All I know is that, once you get the green “go ahead” light, you press the big round button then wait for a moment (during which the machine makes noises like it’s relieving itself) and retrieve your Cup of Wonder. T Discs are only meant for to be used for a single cup, but I fooled the machine sometimes into letting me get a second cup out of them, at the cost of a weaker—but drinkable if you don’t care that much—drink. I never tried wringing a third cup out of a T Disc; you might as well just nuke a cup of water.

I also cajoled some family members with less curmudgeonly tastes to try T Discs such as creamy latte and frothy cappuccino and they thought that, while they were no comparison with the real deal, they were better than the ones made by other such systems they’d tried.

I guess that’s a compliment.

Besides being great for the home or home office, the Tassimo would also work well in a small office environment, letting the worker bees individualize the first inalienable right of corporate benefits—“free” coffee. Once the boss has sprung the cost of the machine from petty cash, everyone else could either kick in for the cost of the T Discs or bring their own favorite flavors.

According to the Tassimo web site, a 14 pack of Nabob Classic Colombian T Discs sells for about $7, or 50 cents a cup—not cheap but cheaper than Starbucks (and the staff isn’t out wandering the streets when it’s supposed to have its collective noses to the computer monitor). Naturally, the more exotic stuff costs more.
Which means that my two cups a day, even if I broke down and used a whole T Disc for each one, would work out to a greenback a day, which isn’t bad considering the convenience and the taste.

I hope they let me keep it.


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Jim Bray -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jim publishes TechnoFile Magazine. Jim is an affiliate with the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and his careers have included journalist, technology retailer, video store pioneer, and syndicated columnist; he does a biweekly column on CBC Radio One’s The Business Network.

Jim can be reached at: [email protected]

Older articles by Jim Bray


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