Tassimo Take Two

Image credit: WeGraphics

Tassimo Take Two

Tassimo BrewBack in 2006 Brotherhood of the Bean did a review of the Tassimo pod coffee system. It held the special distinction of being the lowest rated item to ever be reviewed earning a 2/5 rating, and if I recall, was really more like 1.5 out of 5.0. You can understand my hesitation to go anywhere near Tassimo again.

Tassimo was on the brink of announcing something big, something no other pod coffee system could claim to have — Starbucks Coffee pods. And since it had been a few years, I thought they might have improved the system since my last time seeing it here in the Brotherhood of the Bean test center.

And I have to admit, I was rather interested in seeing what the Starbucks pods from Tassimo would taste like in the Tassimo. With Green Mountain Coffee buying Keurig, it seemed about par for course that Starbucks would get into the pod coffee game, its surprising in fact that they didn’t venture into the pod system market already. Too much time spent putting independent coffee houses out of business I guess. But I digress…

The box that arrived from Tassimo was huge - “Did they really make significant changes to what I remembered as being a generally small pod coffee system?” I wondered. Not so I would soon find out. What they had done was create some very eye catching, and big packaging for to showcase the Starbucks union.

Tassimo Box

The intended effect was obviously to help you envision the Tassimo in your kitchen. It was a nice touch that they included what is a very heavy duty Starbucks coffee cup. Surprisingly enough, I found myself scratching my head at their choice of coffee cup to include.

The Tassimo was and still is designed primarily for the stock run of the mill coffee cup. The included Starbucks cup is larger than what can fit in the default space provided by the Tassimo. To use the cup, one must remove the cup holder as if it was a tall cup. While not a big deal, I just found it slightly ironic that the cup included didn’t fit the stock configuration.

Big deal you are thinking, just take the stock holder out and put it in big cup mode. Right on I would say, except for the fact that the pedestal that is used for normal sized coffee also serves as a reservoir for the system to drain its cleaning water into.

Take out the pedestal, and there is no place for the water to go. The unit is obviously designed to brew a large cup, and then immediately put the pedestal back for the cleaning cycle water to clear. In my opinion I think Tassimo would have been better served either making the cleaning process a manual event that is initiated with a control panel, or something that is triggered after the use of a dairy creamer pod.

Tassimo DrainageAfter making 4-6 cups of coffee, the pedestal was filled with this much water drainage.

Its certainly not a deal killer by any means, and I commend Tassimo for striving to keep a clean system, but for myself, and understand that I realize this is entirely user specific, most of my cups that I use would require that I remove the pedestal.

With Tassimo’s built in bar code scanner I would think this might be a possibility for future versions to include. Use a Tassimo dairy creamer pod, automatically have the system clean itself.

Speaking of the bar code scanner Tassimo makes good use of it to let the system know exactly how the coffee, tea, etc. should be made. The downside is of course, that Tassimo controls exactly how much coffee should be brewed. Thankfully there is a manual mode.

Size does matter, the smaller your coffee maker is, the less room it has to hold water, the less room it has for heating elements, etc. This equates to two things:

  • More Frequent Reservoir Refills
  • Longer Wait Times Between Cups of Coffee

As such the Tassimo does require more frequent filling and does take longer in between cups of coffee than any of the other pod coffee systems we have reviewed to date. In a multi-coffee drinking household this could become irritating over time.

Brew ViewOne of the things that I liked about the Tassimo was the clear view into the viewing chamber at the top. Unlike most pod coffee systems, the Tassimo pods are put in upside down so that the bar code reader can read in the appropriate information.

Functionally it serves as a way to watch and see when the pod has fully drained. I didn’t find that to be particularly critical to the brew process, but it is interesting to watch.

So, how was the Starbucks?

That’s really what you are after, you can admit it, its alright. The offering of Starbucks pods will no doubt boost Tassimo’s sales immensely. Untold legions of Starbucks drinkers with little time to brew a full pot of their blessed brew will be happy to hear that the Tassimo Starbucks pods deliver, single serve Starbucks is here for the masses.

Brew a cup and it smells like Starbucks, my wife — an admitted Starbucks fan – swooned. It was rather disturbing to be honest. I was reminded of countless cups of over roasted coffee consumed in Starbucks with my wife (strictly my opinion).

The key is the user of a larger pod for Starbucks than Tassimo uses for some of its other coffee pod selection. Tassimo appears to be using a pod that is similar in size to that used for their non-dairy toppings (for cappuccino, etc.).

The use of the larger pod affords the Starbucks coffee pods additional volume that directly translates to a fuller, stronger coffee. In the limited size, and fast brewing world of pod coffee systems, more coffee is never a bad idea.

Ultimately, the coffee a system brews should play a large part in the decision making process. Pod systems are a bit of an enigma when it comes to what they can do, because the choice of pods they offer are much more restrictive than using a traditional coffee pot.

Despite its drawbacks, Tassimo is the pod system that offers Starbucks. If you are a die-hard Starbucks fan, this pod system is for you — because its the only pod system that can give you Starbucks (aside from using say the Keurig K-Cup, which is a manual process).

I’d like to thank the fine people at Tassimo for giving Brotherhood of the Bean the opportunity to have a second look at the Tassimo and sample their new Starbucks coffee pods.

comments powered by Disqus