Espresso machines, are they still hot? Yes, so long as we're not talking about the extravagantly priced, ultimate machines for discerning palates. In the espresso market, what is selling nowadays are the $100-range small quantity espresso makers. One reason is the increase in small households; another is that these espresso makers offer simple to operate systems without necessarily sacrificing style.
Getting a maxi share of the market is the Espresso Mini ($110 or less) from Krups. Since it was introduced three years ago, this little machine now has a 60% market share of all espresso machines sold in the United States, according to Mary Bragg, vice president of Brady Marketing, which represents Krups on the West Coast. Available in anthracite black, high gloss metallic silver, white or bold red, the espresso/cappuccino maker is favored for its uncomplicated system and sleek Euro-design.
But there's something brewing from Krups that's expected to get even hotter than its Espresso Mini. Unveiled at last month's San Francisco Gourmet Products Show was the Cafe Presso ($159).
'Real Hot at the Show'
"It's the first time that we have sold out our entire production for the year to retailers," Bragg said; "it was real hot at the show."
Going one step beyond its popular predecessor, this innovative electric espresso appliance will also make regular drip coffee. And at the same time, if desired. Speed is no problem. Both functions are equally easy, particularly for beginners. The machine is compact and comes in a contemporary matte black finish with silver accents.
Made in Solingen, West Germany, Cafe Presso features an espresso unit that makes two to four cups of full-flavored espresso. Ground espresso is first measured into the filter holder, then water is poured into the boiler container. With a flip of the switch, espresso covered with a layer of foam or "creme" comes out in a matter of about two minutes. The unit has a removable overflow grid and comes with its own heat-resistant glass carafe, or if you elect to use your own espresso cups, you may use the clip-on cup adapter provided. The fast steam action froths milk in seconds for cappuccino .
Pulsed Through Ground Coffee
The other half of the Cafe Presso is an eight-cup electric drip coffee maker. Water is heated to an ideal temperature and is pulsed through the ground coffee. The coffee system offers the convenience of the Stop and Serve feature, pioneered by Krups. No more drippy mess or spills. When the carafe is removed, the brewing cycle stops for a quick one- or two-cup serving, then it resumes automatically when the carafe is replaced.
The Cafe Presso also has a double walled filter holder, to prevent loss of heat during brewing as well as for maximum aroma. The hinged water container lid and swing-away filter are great, too, allowing for easy filling or removal of coffee grounds.
With all these functions in one, the harried coffee drinker certainly can't get impatient with the Cafe Presso. "The big benefit is to have just one piece of equipment on your kitchen counter that will give you a choice of coffee, espresso or cappuccino," Bragg said.
The Krups Cafe Presso is available at Bullock's, the Broadway and Robinson's.