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Woolworths Espresso Maker

Q: I have seen an Espresso maker in Woolworths, (their own brand) for £40 reduced from £80. Has anyone got any comments to make about the quality of the machine and the coffee it makes?

A: I think you are right David.........They are selling them here on the West coast for $131.00 Can. approx 63 GBP! I think they are mfg. in Australia. Hi, having owned a Cafe Roma myself, which I got for AU$99 in stainless steel - so not that different to the UK special price - here are a few observations: Portafilter: Very lightweight aluminium with plastic 'crema disc' insert. If you use the machine for a while and then check under the plastic, you may be horrified by what you find. Filter basket is held in by little plastic tab which must be held with your thumb as you bash out the used grounds, and even then the basket might end up in the bin. Filter baskets: Pressurized, so from the inside the basket looks like a normal one, but there is an extra layer underneath with only one tiny hole, in order that the brewed coffee can shoot through the tiny hole at high velocity, bash into the 'crema disc', and thereby create something looking like crema. Steaming: Remove the frothing sleeve, get used to the "thump thump thump" as water is squirted through the thermoblock, let it run into a cup until the steam is relatively strong and dry (up to 60 secs or so), and keep the wand surfing on the milk surface throughout and you can get microfroth. Quite different to (and slower than) the 'stretch and spin' approach on a more serious machine. This brings me to the bigger point: I don't think the Cafe Roma is in fact much of a training tool for learning the skills of Espresso production. The basket design means you can't do much with tamp and grind, the artificial crema means crema is not much of an indicator, steaming requires a different approach as above, and so on. I think a better choice (if you're interested in making Espresso a bit of a hobby) is to get the simplest/cheapest machine which makes Espresso in a more conventional way. As in with regular: Filter baskets, some mass to hold heat, a pump, and a boiler. On the other hand, if this is all you can afford now, you probably won't have much trouble getting your 'investment' back if you get this and upgrade later. I was lucky enough to use mine then sell it for a profit. Mmm... I'm thinking a grinder first, possibly the Rocky or even a Mazzer Mini if funds allow... followed with something like the Silvia rather than one of the cheaper Gaggias, or even a Gaggia Classic. It will certainly be interesting to compare my cheapy machine with a grinder capable of clogging it up. In a way, it's that age old question - which comes first, the chicken or the egg. I'm guessing the Espresso is particularly in the 'grind' - perhaps even more so than the machine. Mind, nice if both can be afforded together and is one way of avoiding glaring mismatches and a bonanza of mistakes... Machine-wise, I'm not sure that my simple needs of perhaps one or at the very most two Espressos or Cappas per day - (multiple heart bypass et al) - would support something like one of the Giotto...