Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Renato's Brewing System for Coffee, Tea, and Espresso

Anyone who knows me would tell you that I'm a total freak for gadgets. I adore cooking gadgets most of all, but I can get a little giddy about a new lawnmower or power tool, too. When someone sends me a new cooking gadget to test, I'm happy as a clam.

How happy are clams, anyway? Has anyone heard a clam laugh, or even giggle?

I like testing new gadgets even if I already have something similar, and even when the gadget isn't the perfect fit for me or my kitchen. It's just so much fun to set them up and see how they work. Wheeee!

So when I got an email about Renato's new brewing system that's just now on Kickstarter, I ignored the perfectly find coffee maker on my counter. And that other one stored in the garage. And ... well, there might be one more. Does a French press or espresso pot count? Nah, I don't think so.

But I ignored all those and said, sure, send me this thing.

And they did. And they sent pods, because it's a pod-eating device.

Okay, so it doesn't actually eat the pods, but you insert them in the machine, and they disappear. Later, they emerge in the discard container where you can leave them pile up until it's convenient to dispose of them.

It's different, that's for sure. No need to remove the used pod right after brewing.

I really liked the design of the thing. It's a square box-like device and most of what it does is hidden from view. You see a few buttons and the place to set your cup, and you see the liquid coming out, but that's really about it. It's clean look, in shiny black.

It makes three sizes of beverages. One is and espresso shot. One is espresso lungo. And the third doesn't really have a name yet, but it's a larger amount, like you'd use for brewing tea (they sent me green tea, but they have other options, as well.)

Since what I got was a prototype, the manual left out a few bits of details, and a few things were a little fiddly, but I've already been told that all of those are going being buffed and polished before the final units ship. But first, they're raising funds on Kickstarter. So you get your chance to order one of these things for your very own kitchen.

One downside to this device is that you need the proprietary pods, but they say that they're cheaper than those other guys who make pods. To be honest, I haven't compared prices, but it seems like people either love the convenience of pods or they refuse to use them. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground. So, this uses pods. You drop them into a hole, push down the lever that's over the hole, and you choose your size of brew. And off it goes, sending coffee or tea or espresso right into the cup that you remember to set under the spout.

Or, it goes into the drip tray because you forgot the cup and you grumble.

Grumble, grumble.

There's a swing-around tray that holds smaller cups closer to the spout, or you swing that around to give you room for a larger cup, like if you're going to fill a cup with steamed milk, for example, and it's not going to fit in that shorter space.

The water reservoir seems like a reasonable size. Big enough so you can brew a lot of shots before you have to refill, but not so huge that it's taking excess space. The reservoir removes from the unit for easy filling and washing, but since it's just holding clean water, it shouldn't need a ton of attention. The drip tray and the container for used pods pulls out so you can empty and clean those.

So, should you kick-start this thing?

I have to say that the espresso I brewed was good (as was the green tea) and it was super-simple to use. Since the pods disappear, you don't have to remove and replace them with each brew, so you can just keep adding pods and brewing more coffee if you're serving a bunch of people. So that's convenient. Of course, you eventually have to empty it, but it's all in one place so you just dump it into the trash, give it a rinse, and you're back in business.

I received a prototype to test at no cost to me.

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