If you are the Spartan type who doesn't socialize much or even get out of the house much, take my advice - these brewers are not for you.
These brewers are as much about the show and style and panache as they are about the taste. These brewers are meant to be used at dinner parties. They are meant to be used in restaurants that want to exude class in their atmosphere, furnishings, and taste quality. They are meant for the true coffee aficionado.
The Cafetino brewer (pictured to the left) is the "budget model", if I can call it that, and at $200 is not a lean purchase decision by any means. You can find something that brews a better cup, but this unit brews a pretty fine cup of coffee and looks awesome doing it. On the previous page, I asked why buy a Jaguar when a Kia will get you where you're going? Because style, uniqueness, quality and desirability are big factors in most of life's purchase decisions.
I'm not really keen on rating the coffee produced by these brewers because taste is such a subjective thing, but this is a detailed review, and ratings of some sort are a must. To get our ratings, we conducted an informal blind taste testing with four people involved - three tasters and one person making the various brews concurrent to each other. The following ratings are compared to two benchmarks - a Melitta manual drip coffee maker, and a Hario Nouveau vacuum brewer. These tests were truly blind - we did not know which brewer produced which cup, and the same roasted coffee (with different grinds and dosage volumes to suit) were used.
|Balance Brewer Cup Quality|
Rounding up the thoughts
I think it's easy to say I've fallen in love with the look and operation of these devices. I've had better brewed coffee, but I haven't had a better time doing it. During my month-long evaluation, these balance brewers saw duty in two dinner parties and six "afternoon chats" with different friends and family, and the impact and talk was the same every time - utter amazement and delight at the "show" they got to see. The coffee was equally praised. During the informal scientific testing, my fellow testers really enjoyed the entire process, and "the show" was a big part of it.
The way I look at it is this way. You can go out and blow a grand on silverware place settings that will never see the light of day. You'll spent heaps of money on things like leather couches and expensive artwork that don't really serve any better purpose than to decorate your house and have something to keep the dogs off of. Or you can spend $200, $300 on these devices, get a work of art, and more importantly, get a work of art that is completely functional in a real way. The bonsu for you is that the coffee produced is pretty damned good.
Lastly, the promised note on pricing. I should make it clear that the following info had no influence on this review whatsoever, but I am pleased that Van Den Noortgaete has decided to offer special and exclusive pricing for both his brewers to anyone in the lower 48 US states.
Normally the Royal brewer has a MSRP of $600, and can be found for as little as $395 or $350 if you search eBay or American resellers of the product. The Cafetino has a MSRP of $295, and can be found for around $250 or so online.
But if you really want one, here's the deal Van Den Noortgaete has decided to offer:
The Royal in copper, both the modern and classic version, will be sold to readers of this review for $295, including ground shipping in the US, at least until March 15, 2002. (after that, it will still be $295 but shipping will be charged). That's an amazing price, and I'd like to thank the manufacturer for offering this special deal to CoffeeGeek readers and members.
The Cafetino is even cheaper: CoffeeGeek readers can get it for $195 delivered anywhere in the 48 lower US states.
If you would like to get these prices, they are only available through email. Please contact Patrick Van Den Noortgaete direct at firstname.lastname@example.org , mention CoffeeGeek and the special price to get in on these offers. For people interested in the product who live outside the US (or in Alaska or Hawaii), email the vendor and ask for pricing and shipping to your location. I'm sure he will do what he can. Keep in mind that you may have to pay duties and sales taxes on your purchase.