Got myself a Bialetti cappucino/latte set this week. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed. Check out the results for yourself:
It comes with a milk frother cup, which worked out really well.
Check out my Amazon review:
I'm a pretty "average" coffee drinker; I'm not so into it that I'm going to be roasting my own beans anytime soon. On the other hand, I've also had my share of watered down and bitter tasting sludge water once in a while from national chains as well and I can appreciate a good cup of coffee.
This little device seems like a good middle ground. Not so steep in price that you feel like you need to be a coffee snob to really appreciate it, and yet it produces an above average cup of cappuccino. You can certainly spend a lot more on a coffee preparation device, but there's no guarantee that you're going to get results that really justify the extra cost.
Compared to some devices I've used in the past, I would list the key pros of this one as:
1. Very easy to clean. The frothing cup has a non-stick coating and it's easy to rinse out. The percolator is pretty easy to assemble/disassemble once it's cool. All the parts are easy to remove and rinse clean. The coffee grinds are very easy to remove as well (one of my main concerns).
2. The frothing cup works GREAT. I was a bit tepid to try it out with some organic skim milk, but it worked out great! I set about 3/4 cup of milk over very low heat until I saw a bit of steam coming off the cup and put the plunger over it and within 10-15 pumps, I had a nice, thick, frothy mixture (even with skim milk!).
3. Paired with some Illy coffee, the coffee came out very, very well. Perhaps the best coffee I've had in quite a while. No bitterness and, to my surprise, even with the fine grind of the beans, the coffee was pretty much free of grinds.
4. To my surprise, I was able to get a bit of crema! Yes, it's possible even with this relatively cheap device (there are a few videos on Youtube demonstrating this).
A few things held this combo back from being a 5 star product:
1. The directions are TERRIBLE. No suggestions on the amount of grinds to use (yes, to some degree, this is really dependent on your personal taste, but at least give me a baseline!). There's also no suggestion on the grind to use either (I ended up using a fine grind Illy). There's no measuring cup and at least on mine, there were no water level markers on the inside of the percolator. I ended up filling it about 3/4 of the way to the valve. As for grinds, I ended up using a bit more than 2 tablespoons and it seemed to work out well for me.
2. Unless you're standing next to the thing the whole time, there's really no way of telling when it's done; you really have to kind of stand there and watch it. With enough usage, I assume that you'll get the time down, but it would be nice if had some mechanism to alert you when it's done.
3. At least on my gas stove, it takes a while to heat up. Compared to a drip machine or other electric percolators I've used in the past, this device does take a bit more time since you can't really use high heat on your stove (unless you have an electric one). Since the base is rather small, you have to use it over a smaller burner and even then, you may have to use a rather low heat setting. All of this means that it takes a while for it to heat up. While this might contribute to a better tasting coffee, it also means more time.
All in all, I think it was well worth the $40 some dollars I paid for it. It's a great weekend companion; it's very satisfying to wake up on a lazy Sunday morning and make a cup of cappuccino for the wife and I and sit back and relax, without having to get dressed and rush out into the cold winter air. It's probably not ideal for every day use as it is a bit more time consuming and there is a bit more cleanup involved compared to a paper filter drip machine. But then again, if your working life is busy and hectic, it might be just the thing you need to slow down for a moment and enjoy a hot cup of cappuccino!