on September 1, 2011
I owned a NESPRESSO maker (model C101) for six months because my wife being French swore by them. Never owning a pod based coffe maker, it made wonderful espresso for the time it was in our possession. I had fair expectations for what it could do given it was such a small compact machine but I always found the espresso (even the strongest pod) a little weak. Also, I found the pods difficult to locate and often I would purchase in bulk from ebay to get a deal for a pod that was often coming in around 90 cents a piece. But since I had nothing to compare it to I didn't venture out to locate greener pastures.
I had little to complain about UNTIL i went into a coffee bean location to purchase something before work (to be frank I don't enjoy their in store coffee and was there due to limited options). They had a demo CBTL KALDI S04 for customers to sample SO instead of ordering a coffee I decided I would try the machine first and if it was miserable then I would purchase my typical americano from the cashier.
Well I can only tell you I was STUNNED. The coffee was strong, the creme thick and the double shot setting was plentiful (at least a third more than the Nespresso machine) and was just as good as any thing I would have purchased.
I can only generalize but most American's, and clearly I enjoy a stiffer and stronger cup and this machine provides you with such a coffee both in espresso form and coffee form.
Additionally the pods themselves are very convenient and are about 40 cents a piece and can be found in store and bulk buying isn't required and if you order 40 dollars a more a month from the subscription service they offer free shipping.
DON'T order the teas for this machine. To be honest, the machine doesn't understand the idea of steeping. You can't pressure brew tea. I've tried chai and Moroccan mint and they're tepid and tasteless.
I've tried all strengths of the espresso pods and they're all excellent. The coffee pods which are not espresso are good but are not as exception as the espresso and all brew hot but not scalding nor luke warm. I do recommend using a small metal cup or a small thick walled porcelain cup. A large cup dissipates the heat much faster, something I found happened with both the machines.
The only down side is the lever is sometimes very difficult to pull but that is the only down side.
And to clarify I use my at least 4 times a day.
on September 9, 2013
I ordered this directly from the company after reading all the good reviews, but the machines I got never worked.
The first one didn't prime, but when I contacted CBTL and held the phone up to the machine, it was clear that something was really wrong, because it was very loud, and she immediately put in an order to return the machine. Fine, did that on Friday, and after some wrangling with a different representative, I got them to send a new one out immediately. I got it today, started it up, followed the priming procedure. It didn't prime (but was much quieter than the first machine). I tried several times, then back to CBTL customer service, who remembered me from Friday. We tried to prime it several times. It will not prime, so thus, will not work. The representative admitted that "a few" machines had this problem and that they're working on it. (But I got two????) I also asked if the Americano machine was any better with the priming and the answer was no.
Bottom line? This machine still does not work. Now the representative is willing to get me a THIRD machine and test and prime it herself and send it out, which I accepted, but honestly, I'm thinking maybe I should just say "no thanks" and get my money back and buy the nespresso I had also considered.
I'll also update this review if I get the third machine and what happens.
I'd kind of like to give this no stars (because two machines that don't work) but I can't, and I suppose CBTL deserves one star for having responsive customer service (I don't understand the people who say they aren't getting an answer; I've never had a problem). (SEE UPDATE BELOW....I now would give this zero stars if possible)
UPDATE: CBTL promised to send me out a tested machine that had been properly primed as was ready to go on Monday sept. 9th. They said I would get an email about this. On Weds., with still no word, I called back, and discovered that regardless of said promise, no such shipment was under way, and customer service said they simply "could not" do that, and did not believe that I had ever spoken to a tech person on Monday. They also suggested I just did not know how to use the machine (though I had been talked through the priming--which did not work--with the same tech rep. twice). I was so annoyed by this, and by the fact that two machines did not work, that I decided to return the machine and the coffee I'd bought for it for a full refund. They did agree to this.
But here's a warning for everyone: besides the fact that two machines did not work, and that I received promises from CBTL that were not fulfilled (they also said they'd process a refund as soon as they saw my return was with UPS, and they did not do so), they also admitted that there was a "problem" with the priming system, and that machines were being returned for not priming, AND that this was a known problem, and was true of this machine and the Americano, and that they were "working on it." Of course, when I mentioned that to the customer service rep, he denied it, but that's what I was told and that was my experience.
I'm sorry I never got to try the coffee from this, but I would NOT RECOMMEND this machine, because I think there is a high chance you will get something that simply will not work at all. If you do buy it, make sure to get it from a place you are certain you can return it, because there's a good chance it won't work at all.
Guess I'll try the nespresso....
on January 6, 2013
I received one of these in Dec 2011 as a gift so I've had mine for about a year now. At first I was skeptical, but over time I've come to appreciate that the CBTL Kaldi makes a great cup of coffee or espresso.
But, there is one fatal drawback. There is something faulty in the water level detection system that causes the water out light to come on even when the tank is full. When this happens, the system beeps and the coffee fails to be forced through the capsule - basically nothing happens except the "alarm" system. I called CBTL customer service about this issue 6 months ago and they recommended cleaning it by running a cup through the system without a capsule. They also said that the machine doesn't like producing the tall espressos and that is sometimes the cause of this issue (they seemed to aware that the issues exists). I stopped doing tall espressos and started cleaning the machine about once a week as advised and for a while the issues seemed to happen less often. When it does happen, all I can do is repeated push the button for the coffee desired until the machine finally starts to work.
I've been home more recently and have been using the machine more often...and as I use it, the issue gets worse. Now it's so bad that whenever I want to use the machine, the water out light comes on, the machine starts beeping and there is a frustrating 5-10 minutes of repeatedly pushing buttons before the coffee comes through the machine.
So....for now two stars, because I am EVENTUALLY able to get a cup of coffee and when it does work it is good. But I'm calling CBTL to see if there is a resolution to the problem. The machine should really last longer than 1 year! I'll report back.
UPDATE 1/9/2013 - CBTL has offered me a new machine, which I can go to their corporate office here in LA and pick up! Back to 4 stars!
on April 22, 2013
I love how the coffee (mainly the espresso) is far superior to what I got out of my former Keurig machines.
Recurrent problem (solved): Sometimes the machine would make loud, unhappy noises while brewing espresso, as if "laboring" over getting the water pushed through the capsule, and then it would stop (sometimes after no coffee came out, sometimes after just an ounce or two) and warning lights would blink. I would be unable to get the handle to lift i[ to start over, so I'd just keep pushing buttons until it started again, squeezed out another ounce, then stopped and warning lights blink again. This seemed to happen with random boxes of capsules. Very frustrating. Customer service (very responsive) said sometimes the grounds in the capsules become tightly compacted and the machine has a hard time forcing the water through. She suggested I knock the capsule against the counter several times to loosen it up before inserting into the machine. Well, that didn't usually solve the problem BUT I think I've found the solution: instead of banging the capsule on the counter 20 times, I hold it between both my thumbs and forefingers, rotating the capsule while pinching and squeezing in from the top, bottom, and sides, all the while "feeling" the grounds inside sort of crunching and seeming to loosen up. Haven't had a problem since I started doing this.
Another tip: if you like the espresso pods' taste but want it less strong, DON'T use the brewed coffee button to get the larger volume--customer service tells me the machine is not designed to force the water through on the more tightly packed espresso pods when on the brewed coffee setting. Instead, after pushing the short or long espresso button the first time and getting the coffee, leave your cup in place and push one of the espresso buttons again.
on August 14, 2012
We have had problems with two of these. First one: Sent it back to CBTL at about 6 months for repair. Repair fixed electrical issues But later and now it only works with considerable effort in trying to get the handle to lock down.
The second one has developed a leak within 4 months. Sent back for repair under standard warranty.
We also got the extended warranty on this one.
Functionality: 5 Stars. Taste: 5 Stars. Reliability: 2 Stars. Service: 4 Stars. Our usage: 6-8 caps/day.
I spent a good bit of time looking at various capsule brewers. The Europeans do ONLY espresso - Nespresso. The Keurig does ONLY coffee. The CB&TL does both. It will also do tea though we won't do that with it. This machine is used in a music school by the faculty and makes between 12-15 servings/day. I also installed a beneath the sink reverse osmosis water filter for it. Instructions say - you must use filtered water. So far, and this is about 3 weeks into it - it is doing great. The cost for capsules is a bit high - $.60 at the local CBTL (compared to $.65 on Amazon and Texans now pay sales tax!) but better than Nespresso. A bit more than Keurig at Costco. Importantly - it is simple to operate and maintain. So if you want both Espresso and Coffee - this is the one to buy. No Cons at this point...
on September 26, 2013
I find it hysterical that CBTL believes they have a "customer service" department - they should rename it "We Don't Care About Our Customer Satisfaction Service Department."
I have purchased machines twice (shame on me, I should have learned the first time) from CBTL and both times the machine was faulty (both time the Kaldi Single Serve Machine in piano black). The most recent purchase was an urgent need so I paid $25 to have it sent to me over night. I received the machine, attempted to prime it, talked to their "customer service" rep and it was determined by her that my machine needed to be replaced. Fine, I can handle that as long as you send the replacement out today for over night delivery tomorrow, which is what I paid for. No can do. I asked for a Supervisor who also said that was not going to happen - that it I would not receive a replacement until next week. I tried to explain why I paid for the expedited shipping and was told again that his hands were tied.
I asked if the company was doing well enough that they could turn down a $125 order from a customer and was told again "there is nothing I can do ma'am."
Buyer beware. Two machines, both non-functioning upon receipt. Buy a Keurig.
on March 5, 2012
I am very impressed with the CBTL machine and coffee capsules. I had a Tassimo for many years that I liked (as well as other coffee and espresso makers before that) and I am elated that I found such a great replacement! The Tassimo was good but since their move between Braun and Bosch, and the rise of Keurig, I don't think Tassimo will be around much longer.
I was seriously looking at Keurig, which others in my family own. I was also looking at Nespresso. In the end, CBTL is the way to go. The price is great. The Kaldi model produces amazing coffee and espresso. It is simple to use and is very clean and elegant. The Nespresso options were way too expensive and only do espresso. I tried Nespresso samples in stores and CBTL is just as good if not better. I also think CBTL does a better job with espresso than Keurig. Keurig makes a good cup of regular coffee, but if you want really good coffee AND espresso, definitely go with CBTL. K-cups and CBTL capsules cost about the same, but I give end product quality points to CBTL.
I'd also recommend CBTL's milk frother. I've made lattes, mochas, chai teas and steamers--all of them taste like the expensive coffee shop versions for a fraction of the cost. I can't say enough good things about the CBTL products. I hope they start making Keurig nervous!