Cafflano Klassic Coffee Maker - Review
27/04/2015 NB: we've updated the review with comments from the supplier (see below)
We launched the world's first all-in-one portable coffee maker, the Cafflano Klassic, a couple of week's back and thought it might be an idea to review it, seeing as we're an e-commerce site and customers are unable to handle the merch before purchase. For those that want to cut straight to the chase, here's the verdict: on balance it's a really well designed, beautifully engineered product, if you fancy a cup of joe on the go but there are a few caveats...
First off, what do you get? The Cafflano looks a little like an old-fashioned thermos and is comprised of 4 sections: a Drip Kettle, a high-quality ceramic Hand Mill Grinder with flip-out handle, a permanent Metal Filter Dripper and an insulated Tumbler, which all screw neatly together for portability.
The Cafflano is designed to be used with beans and these can be transported in the Grinder or Drip kettle. What it doesn't do is boil water so you'll need a kettle of some description to provide the H2O.
Operation is simplicity itself, you just unscrew the components, drop the Filter on top of the Tumbler, screw on the Grinder and add 10/15/20 or 25g of beans - there is a handy measure on the inside wall of the Grinder that'll give you the increments. You then flip over the handle and crank away. Once you've turned the beans to powder (or more likely a coarser espresso grind), you remove the Grinder, fill the Drip Kettle with 250ml of very hot water, add the detachable lid - which screws on to bottom of the pourer - and trickle on some water to swell the grounds. After around 30-45 seconds you pour on the rest of the water and leave to steep. In a few minutes you'll have a cup of hot java, which will stay warm for a decent amount of time in the insulated tumbler... longer still if you press the lid into action again to cover. So far so brilliant. However as I mentioned at the start of the review, there are a few niggles.
First, you have to experiment with the Grinder to find the best balance between coarseness and brew strength. You change the settings with an elegant notched wheel system which gives quite fine control and allows you to 'lock in' the selection. However it is a bit of tedious case of trial and error You unscrew the locking nut on the handle, remove it along with a washer and then twist the wheel clockwise (for a finer grind) or counter-clockwise (for coarser coffee). I initially assumed that this being a drip filter system, it would benefit from finely ground coffee and so started with the finest setting... it took me twenty minutes to turn 25g of beans to dust*. Through experimentation I arrived at around a 4 minute/20g portion/coarse(ish) setting solution. You could probably reduce this further depending on personal taste.
Cafflano: "Once you find the right grind size, you just need to turn small amount (one or two notches on locking wheel) for different coffee beans (light or dark roasting). Just a case of experimentation and fine tuning."
I found the most frustrating element though was the actual process of grinding itself. The Cafflano is quite light (good for travel of course) but it means you have to grasp it quite firmly to turn the handle and grind the beans - be prepared to use some elbow grease, especially for the finer settings. The tumbler is also quite tall and this gives it a high centre of gravity. Quite often the handle would stick a little and that would cause the beans to spill out of the Mill. Additionally the handle would occasionally fold back on itself as it rotated. Ideally it needs some sort of locking mechanism to keep it rigid.
Cafflano: "You need to get used to pushing down the handle naturally when grinding. In addition, for a single cup Cafflano recommends 15g of coffee beans which should take around 35 seconds (78 turns) to grind. The darkness of the roast will affect timings."
To be fair, the manufacturer suggests either gripping the Klassic between your knees as you grind or using the Drip Kettle to hold the Filter, as it's shorter and won't move around so much.
Once you get down to the last few husks, I did find that (without the weight of other beans on top) you do get bits 'spitting' out of the Mill. No biggie but wasn't quite as neat a process as I'd imagined.
Cafflano: "There was trade off on this. Our design concept was to make it as simple as possible for outdoor use. Of course we considered an 'anti-spitting' design but this is not 100% guaranteed to prevent the problem. The best thing is to grind slowly, especially when there is a small amount of coffee beans left in the grinder."
The Drip Kettle works well. There's a mark on the inside below the rim to show you where to fill to get the required 250ml and if you clip on the lid, it prevents the (by now not quite) boiling water from spilling out when you dribble the water on to swell the grounds. However if you use the DK to add the rest of the water, you need to grip it at the back and bottom... if you hold it round the middle and pour you'll end up with burnt fingers.
Cafflano: "This is another case where skill & knowledge will make a difference. Pour-over coffee doesn't require boiling water... somewhere around 85~92 deg. C is ideal. So you should wait around 30 sec (or more) before pouring the hot water from a kettle into the drip kettle. If you do use boiling water, please do not use the cover which keeps the temperature up inside the drip kettle."
So, in summary a terrific product; especially once you've fiddled around a bit to get the settings just so. The build quality is excellent and it looks great. It would make an excellent gift for a serious coffee lover who likes to travel or a desk jockey with a yen for a really fresh cup of the black stuff.
Let's hope the second generation includes a proper vacuum flask so it can be used as a legit. travel mug, not just as a portable coffee maker. If you do decide to buy one, the manufacturer offers some excellent operating tips here.
Update: we got in touch with the supplier about general grinding tips and this is what they suggest:
"Cafflano Klassic grinder can be used as a standalone grinder for espresso (finest) to very coarser for cafetiere/frenchpress, etc. However for the best coffee for Cafflano Klassic, we recommend to grind medium level (little bit coarser). We can tune this in keeping 3 minute brewing rule. For this, please keep 15g coffee beans (medium roasting for single cup) and grind medium level and measure 3 minutes for brewing completely. If water is not extracted in 3 minutes, you need to make the grinds coarser (turning the locking wheel counterclockwise). If you keep brewing over 3 minutes, the brewed coffee is over extracted and bitter taste comes out. Of course this is not fixed rule as there are too varied coffee beans of roasting grade. Please refer to user tip of this on Youtube linked below."
Cafflano Klassic – 3 minute brewing rule