Customer Reviews: CBTL Kaldi 9905 Single-Cup Brewer with Espresso, Coffee, Tea and Milk Frother Bundle, White
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on January 27, 2012
So I had a Tassimo T65 which I enjoyed immensely, and I thought that I had the perfect machine for making both coffee and espresso based drinks. I was sorely mistaken, this setup (machine + frother + vanilla/chocoloate powder) is in a another league of quality for making both brewed coffee and espresso drinks.

Even though I was happy with my Tassimo setup, I had some gift cards to burn and I thought that I would buy a Keurig, just so that could participate in the selection of coffee that I see everywhere. But I started reading customer reviews, expert opinions and started to think twice. What ultimately steered me away from Keurig were the abundance of reviews where the same people had gone through multiple machines, I did not want to put up with that much hassle.

If you think that the CBTL coffee/tea selection is small, take a stroll by Bed Bath & Beyond. Oddly enough, they have more than what is even on the the CBTL website. I only buy the capsules from Amazon though, because they're much cheaper among other reasons why I love Amazon. The CBTL capsule selection seems to be growing fast. BB&B even had the CBTL items showcased in the isle, so either they have a good marketing department, their products are selling very well, or both. My guess is both.

I was tempted to get the CBTL Americano machine instead of this Kaldi, because the Americano can handle bigger cups and I found an awesome deal on another website, but my top concern was quality and longevity of the unit, and based on the reviews I believe that the 'get what you pay for' adage applies here. Plus, this is a nice package deal with the frother. The water reservoir size is not a concern for me because I don't like to leave same water in the machine for more than a day anyway.

My only concern about the CBTL setup is that it uses a plastic filter inside the capsule instead of a paper filter like the Tassimo. That probably means that the coffee has higher levels of Cafestol, which can contribute to high cholesterol. I am waiting for CBTL to get back to me on this.

CBTL customer service was very polite (and honest). They went to their experts to get the answer about Cafestol. The conclusion is that their plastic filters *do not* filter it out. To be fair, neither does any other machine that makes real espresso.

I presume that CBTL must use the plastic filter because the paper filter will not withstand the 15 bars of pressure to make espresso.

The Cafestol would not concern me if I was a moderate coffee drinker. My plan now is to use a Keurig or Tassimo for my frequent brewed coffee, and the CBTL for espresso and occasional brewed coffee (because it does taste better).

I had a problem with the coffee capsules dropping all the way through to the waste bin when being inserted. It was resolved by using my finger to work the spring loaded mechanism that catches the capsules as they are being dropped in, one side was stuck. A minor annoyance but worth mentioning.
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on July 20, 2012
Used to have a Tassimo. Considered a Keurig. Neither makes anything even remotely close to espresso. Came down to this or a Nespresso machine. Coffee snobs will tell you that you can't make "genuine" espresso with capsules. They'll tell you the coffee isn't as fresh as if you roasted and ground the beans yourself. Both of these are true. Neither matters to most of the population. We aren't seeking perfection in the morning, we're seeking "close enough" without a lot of hassle.

The espressos are fast and easy, and very consistent. There are a few different varieties available, and they vary from very intense to moderately intense. There's some crema on top, not just a bubbly foam, and you can in fact see the coffee oils on the surface. Taste varies by individual. I like the Italian, the Premium's OK, and I'm meh on the Continental. Just got the Intenso and Carnivale and haven't tried those yet.

Brewed coffee out of here surprised me. It's better than a Tassimo/Keurig, and just as easy. I find that the default 8oz size is a little weak for my tastes in some capsules, but you can always adjust the volume by the cup, or program it in as the default if you prefer. This machine really does both espressos and brewed coffee well, not just passably, which is amazing. If you like flavored coffee (I know, another sin to a purist), there's some really nice options here as well. Butterscotch Toffee produces an amazing smell, and the CBTL flavored coffees actually taste like coffee with an added flavor in the background, not a cup of artificial flavoring that masks the taste of the coffee.

Tea? It makes tea, but really, should anyone care? Tea needs to steep, and this machine can't do that. The tea is perfectly fine, nothing special, and nothing awful. But why would you want to pay $0.60 per capsule (or more) for tea? That's 5x-10x the cost of even expensive teabags, and a teabag is about as easy as it gets. I wouldn't recommend any single-serve machine for tea. The cost/value proposition doesn't make any kind of sense.

The milk frother does a good job of frothing milk, but note it does NOT steam it. It heats it and whips it (amazingly, it whips skim milk into a wickedly-thick foam that lasts for a whole cup). There is a slight difference in the taste; steaming milk affects the lactose and makes the milk taste sweeter. You won't have that, you won't have microfoam, but you will have a very close approximation that's a single-button push away. Cleanup isn't quite as simple for the frother because it cannot be immersed in water. You have to use a sponge/cloth to clean it; it has a non-stick interior at least. My frother is still working fine after 4 months, but it doesn't seem as well-built as the Kaldi itself.

The capsules are Caffitaly capsules. CBTL is just the first to bring them to the US. Any Caffitaly capsule, from any country, will work in this machine, which is in fact a CBTL-badged Caffitaly S04 model. Tall cups won't fit, and you'll need to either remove the drip try while brewing (which is fine, it isn't hazardous to you or the machine), or transfer from a smaller cup into a larger one.

The biggest negative here is that, as with most single-serve systems, you're looking at a serious negative environmental impact. The capsules are a plastic shell, with TWO plastic filters inside, covered in a foil. The coffee (according to CBTL) is shipped from here to Italy, packaged, then shipped back. You can disassemble a capsule and attempt to recycle it, if your municipality actually takes uncoded plastic. CBTL, as a California-based company, should be ashamed of themselves. When I talked to them, they told me they were "working on" recyclability. Work faster, CBTL. It's worth noting that CBTL's main competitor here, Nespresso, uses 100% aluminum capsules which are easily recycled--everywhere.

Don't worry about the somewhat limited variety of coffees and espressos. There are enough to find one that you really like, and for the most part, that's what you'll normally be drinking anyway. CBTL has also introduced new varieties over the past 4 months, so they're not stagnating. By the way -- the included capsules aren't a sampler pack with 1-2 of everything they make as you might hope. Instead, it is (or at least was) 6 sleeves of 10 capsules each, 2 espressos, 2 coffees, and 2 teas.

- Fast and consistent espresso shots.
- Makes a good cup of brewed coffee.
- Super easy to clean - just run a cycle without a capsule, done.
- Capsules available at several local retailers, as well as Amazon.
- Uses any Caffitaly capsule, so you're locked into the format, but have many suppliers.
- Doesn't get any more convenient, and the quality is great.

- Capsule coffee isn't for coffee snobs, period.
- Taller cups don't fit.
- Milk frother isn't real steamed milk, doesn't seem as well-built as the Kaldi.
- Capsules cannot be recycled in many municipalities.

If you can handle the recycling issues in some reasonable manner, love coffee and espresso, and don't have the time (or thousands of dollars) to invest in fancy grinders, espresso machines, and/or coffee roasters, this product is highly recommended. If the capsules could be recycled easily, it'd be a 5-star review.
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on January 18, 2012
The first thing we did when we got this machine was try the coffee... other reviews we read said that the expresso was great and the coffee was just ok... honestly some of the coffee bundled with the package was really great and when we got the French Brew it was excellent! (if you like strong coffee)...

Here's the thing... if you want a Keurig and a Nespresso machine, this CBTL is an amazing option, the cup choices are somewhat limited but from the choices you do get there are some really good ones.

The CBTL Kaldi is half the size of my old Keurig machine!!! I couldn't imagine how much counter space would be taken up by a Keurig and a Nespresso Machine.

You can order the CBTL cups on Amazon and I also found them at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
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on March 4, 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 was also impressed with 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!
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on March 10, 2012
I've been pleasantly surprised to find a similar machine in my hotel room in Dusseldorf. Loved the taste of CBTL Italian espresso, came back home and found this set on Amazon. It takes about a minute for the machine to warm up, and about 30 seconds to brew a cup of espresso. My fully automatic Saeco needs 2-3 minutes to warm up, 30 minutes to brew, and then there's cleanup (including the brew group). With CBTL cleanup is simple, I just throw out the used capsules and wash the drip tray. With time a selection of capsules will get better, apparently the Caffitaly system used in CBTL coffee makers is extremely popular in Europe.
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on June 18, 2012
There's not much else i can say, but WOW, this thing is the best. I can make a variety of coffee bean coffee's and espresso as well as tea's. Some will say that this doesn't have as much of a variety as the keurig machines, this may be true but we have a keurig at work and i use it frequently. The coffee's from the CBTL just taste better, most of the keurig blends taste very similar to each other. The CBTL has a growing variety of drinks, and you can purchase cups at target and bed bath and beyond. FYI it seems the cups are a bit cheaper than keurig as well. My frother did stop working, but the CBTL customer service was excellent and they sent a replacement promptly. I've been using this machine everyday for about 3-4 months its working great. Would highly recommend if you can find a good deal.
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on March 6, 2012
I have to say this really impressed me.. I was originally looking at other machines. but somethng made me take a good look at this. I think it is because I really love CBTL drinks at their stores... well.. in the store this will cost you over $250 to buy this machine and frother and coffees, but this was super low price.. wow.
So I ordered it on Saturday and it showed up on MONDAY! Wow... that was quick.

It works great.. great drinks... and easy to use. Super happy with the purchase.. GET THIS.. it is soooo cheap will not last at this price.
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on March 21, 2012
I have tried and owned all the coffee machines for the past a few years, the regular drip, senseo, manual espresso machine, Keurig, tassimo ( my wife was really mad at me), this cbtl is by far the best of all, espresso taste so good, so easy to make, and I got the best deal, coffee maker with milk Forster plus 60 cartridge of coffee tea and espresso for only $98. The only complain is the choice of coffee and espresso are not as many as Keurig or tassimo. Try it you won't be disappointed.
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on March 10, 2012
I've been looking for so long, mostly in all the wrong places. I've tried drips, "grind and brews," K-cups, and the delicious but messy French Press. Each has had it's benefits, but also serious drawbacks: lack of taste, incredible mess, pump that stops after 9 months, cleanup galore. For years I've admired the Nespresso, sleek and simple, but the cost and availability just put me off. Then last week I was stopped in my tracks by a CBTL display at a local store. When I went home and investigated, I was hooked. I could have coffee, tea, espresso, cappuccino, lattes, and more, all for less than the price of the Nespresso machine alone. Still, I wasn't crazy about the CBTL machines I saw at the local retail shops. They were function rich, but a bit plastic for my money. A little more research and I found the Kaldi. This machine is simple, space-saving, and solid. The price for the kit (machine, milk frother, and coffee/espresso/tea sampler) was only $250, not cheap, but a great deal for the package (cheapest Nespresso machine alone is $249!) I tried it!

1. Package for the price is unbeatable.
2. Kaldi is solid, and looks great. Moving parts are metal and rubber, no plastic handle or buttons.
3. Great sampling of coffees, teas and espressos.
4. Frother makes all the difference, awesome lattes, cappuccinos and more.
5. Cleanup is a breeze: machine holds 10 used single-cups, rinse frother and dry with paper towel.
6. Speed: latte in 3 minutes, including warmed milk/soy
7. Taste: delicious. The Kaldi has two separate pressure settings (automatic), one for coffee and one for espresso. This ensures that your drinks are hot, and the extraction is matched to the beverage. That means you get a REAL espresso drinks with beautiful crema.
8. Customization: Although the machine comes with 3 preset sizes, you can customize them to your exact specifications by holding down the size button until your preferred amount of beverage is dispensed. Bingo, next time it will automatically fill to your specifications! Now that's a high-end feature not available on ANY other coffee machine that I'm aware of.
9. Designed in Italy.

1. Single-cups are about $.50-.60 each, which is still high, but much cheaper than a trip to your local coffee speciality store. (And the more people catch-on, the cheaper these cups will go buy one people!)
2. Cup space. The other models feature more room for larger mugs and travel cups, but the Kaldi doesn't offer as much room. A standard cup of coffee fits great, but not much larger. However, if you're making a larger drink like a latte, you only use the machine to "pull" a shot (standard or long by the way), so you're actually mixing the beverage away from the machine anyway. Pour your warmed milk into a tall mug and drop in your espresso. This is really not a big deal.
3. Beverage selection is small, but absolutely adequate. Bed, Bath and Beyond actually has more varieties available than are listed on the CBTL website!

Overall, this is a fantastic machine and the price is incredible. It beats our former Keurig (which we loved until it stopped working) hands-down for flavor, real espresso, and build. Don't miss out on this deal. At this price, its worth buying even if you love your current beverage maker... buy one and then find somebody to sell your old machine to!
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on March 18, 2012
I got the Kaldi 9910 bundle last week and am fairly impressed. I have found that I like both the coffee and espresso better than what I have had with Nespresso and Keurig machines. I have only tried the milk frother once so far, but I thought it did a nice job. The machine itself is fairly compact, which leads to the two main reasons this unit did not receive a full five stars from me. FIrst, it only holds small coffee cups. I would rather be able to brew a single larger cup than two small cups. The other drawback is the size of the water reservoir. If you are using the machine only for espresso shots or you are only brewing a couple of cups a day, then the size is adequate. Otherwise, you might find yourself always filling up the reservoir. It is just big enough for four cups of coffee or tea--or just big enough for my wife and I to each have a large mug of tea or coffee. The final drawback is the tea selection. My wife only drinks tea and there currently only appears to be four types available.

Overall, this is the best capsule coffee/espresso machine that I have tried and I would recommend it.
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