Cafelat Robot Review

Cafelat Robot Review

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The Cafelat Robot espresso maker undoubtedly stands out from the group due to its quirky science fiction design. But you don’t want me to let you know that; you’ll be able to see that for your self. You’re studying this assessment to learn how nicely it makes espresso — and simply as importantly, how nicely it makes espresso when in comparison with its rivals.

So learn on as we do a deep dive into the main points of this intelligent little brewer. We’re going to cowl the way it works, how nicely it really works, how lengthy it lasts, and the way it stacks up in opposition to the competitors.

Spoiler alert: put together to be impressed.

Summary: Cafelat Robot

  • Manual lever espresso machine with distinctive retro design
  • Brews pictures of espresso in addition to machines many occasions its worth
  • Durable and long-lasting with no plastic parts

This has grow to be my go-to machine. I find it irresistible. I exploit it day by day for my espresso pictures. After the preliminary dialing of beans, this machine has been capable of extract nicely balanced, flavourful espresso.

– Customer

The Full Cafelat Robot Review

If you need to brew top-of-the-line espresso with out dropping hundreds of {dollars}, a guide lever machine just like the Cafetlat Robot is the best way to go (1). It does away with any extraneous components, like a boiler, pump, milk steaming system, and digital controls. So the one belongings you’re paying for are simply what it’s worthwhile to make nice espresso.

Cafelat is a coffee firm based mostly in Hong Kong. Longtime espresso professional, Paul Pratt, based it. Pratt labored his manner by way of each side of the coffee {industry}, starting as a barista and finally establishing himself as a well-regarded technician for high model La Marzocco. 

He determined to discovered Cafelat over a decade in the past and put his years of experience into growing a line of barista equipment. Soon the corporate’s success led him to think about greater and higher issues, and in 2018 he launched the Cafelat Robot on Kickstarter to appreciable acclaim (2). It could have been a danger, however it has since grow to be the model’s flagship product (3).

So what makes this little machine so distinctive? Why is it beloved by novices and coffee nerds alike? Well, that’s what we’re right here to debate. 

Keep studying for an in depth breakdown of every part there may be to know in regards to the Cafelat Robot espresso maker, from its funky design to its upkeep wants.

Cafelat Robot Review
  • Design
  • Brewing Capacity
  • Cleaning and Maintenance
  • Build Quality
  • Value for Money

Design 4/5

You can’t discuss in regards to the Cafelat Robot with out first speaking about its distinctive and playful look, which ends up from Cafelat’s collaboration with Danish artist and designer Karina Mencke (4). It has a classic science fiction really feel that’s completely in line with its title. 

Like any novel design, it has confirmed a bit divisive. Some detractors declare it appears to be like too “cute” or “infantile,” however total, most customers are enthusiastic in regards to the retro look. And in accordance with firm founder Pratt, the lovable look isn’t reflective of its critical capabilities.

Do not be fooled by the toy-like cutesy Robot appears to be like. The Robot means enterprise and is able to pulling espresso pictures like knowledgeable machine.

Of course, aesthetics are totally a matter of private style. It’s as much as you whether or not you suppose the Robot will match properly in your kitchen. Though to assist on that entrance, Cafelat does supply it in a sequence of enjoyable colours. If you may have a penchant for inside design, you’ll respect the choices. You can discover it in a vibrant blue, a daring purple, a muted cream, or the stylish retro inexperienced. Initially, it was additionally supplied in plain polished aluminum, and you’ll nonetheless discover a few of these older fashions in good working order if that’s extra your look.

How purposeful is it?

When it involves the performance of this design, it’s much more spectacular than the aesthetic. We’ll discuss in regards to the workflow in additional element after we cowl the Brewing Capacity under. But basically, although it’s a tad uncommon, it’s handy when you get the dangle of it.

I particularly appreciated this design as a result of Pratt opted to make use of the industry-standard 58 mm filter basket diameter. True, the chrome steel baskets that include the Robot are uncommon of their depth, however the usual diameter makes it simple to buy equipment like dosing cups, tampers, and funnels. And in truth, the added depth is handy for dosing. It’s simpler than common so as to add grounds with out spilling, and you’ll even grind instantly into the basket with out the everyday mess of floor coffee.

The Tiny Quirks

A couple of minor design quirks that I wouldn’t thoughts seeing addressed in future iterations of this machine. For one, the realm on the base between the 2 assist legs is comparatively slender, making it practically unimaginable to squeeze in a scale. It’s simple sufficient to weigh the water as you add it to the portafilter, however this requires some trial and error to dial in and shouldn’t be crucial. Most espresso fanatics favor to measure the burden of ready espresso when brewing.

For two, it will be good to see an adjustment to the form of the Robot’s “arms.” Pulling a shot doesn’t require you to be a health buff by any means, however it does require a little bit of muscle. The system with two arms quite than a single lever, which you see on rivals like La Pavoni and the Flair, is much less intuitive, and the design of the arms doesn’t assist.

While the wrench-shaped arms undoubtedly add to the distinctive look of the Robot, they aren’t that comfy to carry, particularly should you’re attempting to exert a variety of pressure. According to the corporate, they had been precision machined to carry the tamper, not a barista’s hand — arguably an odd selection. Cafelat is nicely conscious of the difficulty, so Paul Pratt designed a set of aluminum “mittens” that slot over the wrenches and make them extra comfy to carry. This is a intelligent answer, however the mittens actually should be included with the acquisition quite than bought individually.

One thing more

A last minor criticism is that the place and angle of the stress gauge imply that it may be difficult to see as you’re pulling a shot. Pulling a shot takes sufficient bodily pressure that it’s not at all times sensible to be craning your neck to view the gauge, so it will be good to make its angle adjustable.

Brewing Capacity 4.5/5

There’s no must beat across the bush right here: the Cafelat Robot brews unimaginable espresso. It’s definitely on par with espresso machines many occasions its worth. The solely caveat is that you just’ll need to work for it. 

When I say “work for it,” I don’t simply imply you’ll need to push the levers, though that can be true bodily. I imply, you’ll need to observe your workflow and dial in your shot. This machine does little or no for you

However, suppose you’re the kind of one who enjoys the passion of espresso, and also you respect having whole management over each side of the method. In that case, you’ll in all probability discover the observe to be a giant a part of the enjoyable.

In distinction to a typical automated or semi-automatic espresso maker, the Robot coffee maker has neither a boiler nor a pump. So you want a separate sizzling water supply, sometimes a kettle, to interchange the boiler. And you want your biceps to interchange the pump in producing 9 bar of stress.

The entire operation of the Robot is exclusive, even in comparison with different guide espresso machines. It all revolves across the portafilter and filter basket, which basically doubles because the brewing chamber. This is why the partitions of the filter basket are so tall.

To brew coffee, you place the filter basket within the portafilter, add finely floor coffee, and tamp as regular. Now issues get somewhat bizarre. You then place the dispersion display screen on high of the puck of coffee and add near-boiling water. Finally, lock the portafilter into the machine and pull the shot. 

Luckily, maneuvering a portafilter filled with sizzling water into an espresso machine sounds more difficult than it’s. You’ll grasp it rapidly.

What Else?

The basket holds between about 10 and 20 grams of coffee in an effort to pull a single or double shot with this brewer (5). But remember the fact that the extra coffee you pack in there, the more durable will probably be to press the levers manually.

As you press down, you’ll be able to monitor the stress utilizing the stress gauge hooked up to one of many Robot’s arms. There is a mannequin with out a stress gauge if you wish to save a bit of money, however I feel it’s a worthwhile splurge. And coffee professional and former World Barista Champion James Hoffmann agree.

This one does have a stress gauge so you’ll be able to see how a lot stress you’re making use of in actual time, which is form of good.

In truth, one of many coolest issues about guide espresso machines is which you could experiment with stress profiling, for which with the ability to monitor the stress in real-time is essential (6). By adjusting the stress utilized throughout pre-infusion and pulling the shot, you’ll be able to coax totally different flavors out of your coffee (7). This is one purpose these machines are so standard amongst coffee fanatics.

Now let’s speak about thermal mass, which tends to be a difficult side of the workflow for machines with out boilers. In one thing like a typical E61 machine, sizzling water circulates from the boiler to the group and the portafilter, making certain it’s all on the identical temperature. But there isn’t any such system on the Robot or different lever machines just like the Flair. So in case your sizzling espresso is available in contact with a thick piece of chilly metal, it’s inevitably going to lose a few of its warmth. And we don’t need that.

Now, some excellent news.

Fortunately, the components of the Robot that contact your espresso, the bottomless portafilter and filter basket, have very low thermal mass. If you add just-off-boiling water to the brewing chamber, you’ll get an ideal temperature espresso without having to preheat something. This is a big benefit over the Flair, which requires you to preheat a number of parts in sizzling water.

An exception, nevertheless, is if you wish to use the double spout quite than the bottomless portafilter, which you’d do should you wished to tug two single pictures on the identical time. The chrome steel spout attachment is sturdy and well-made, however this additionally implies that it has important thermal mass. If you propose to make use of it, let it soak in sizzling water first to keep away from cooling your cup of coffee.

Finally, a fast chat about gentle roasts: the Cafelat Robot espresso maker can undoubtedly do a positive job of extracting a light-weight roast, particularly given its stress profiling capabilities. But be ready to place in barely extra work. Light roasts are denser and more durable to extract, so they’re sometimes given a finer grind and brewed at the next temperature. So, on this case, you in all probability will need to pre-heat all of the Robot parts. Additionally, bear in mind that the finer grind means you’ll want a bit extra muscle to tug the shot.

Cleaning and Maintenance 5/5

A uncommon 5/5 rating right here as a result of there may be nothing to fault on this class. 

As in contrast with an automated espresso machine, cleansing and sustaining the Robot is a bit of cake.

After brewing, slowly press the levers right down to get the remainder of the water out of the basket. Or, merely take away the basket and decant any extra water into the sink. Remove the dispersion display screen, then knock the puck into your knock field or rubbish. The puck pops simply out of the well-made baskets, leaving minimal residue. Just a fast rinse of the basket and display screen, and also you’re able to go once more.

If you’ve used a softer stress profile, you may need a bit sloppier of a puck than you’d with an automated machine with a 3-way solenoid valve, however it’s nonetheless nothing price complaining about. After cleansing out the basket, it’s so simple as a fast wipe of the machine’s base and the underside of the piston. There is nothing to keep up on this machine because the design is so easy and the parts so nicely made.

This is in stark distinction to electrical machines with teams and boilers, the place it’s worthwhile to fear about backflushing and managing scale construct up.

Build Quality 4.5/5

The Cafelat Robot may be very sturdy, which isn’t any shock on condition that it has so few parts in comparison with a conventional espresso machine. Each Robot is hand constructed and completely examined earlier than it leaves the manufacturing unit.

The base and physique are constituted of die-cast aluminum, which feels sturdy whereas not being fairly as weighty as chrome steel. The remaining components — the portafilter, filter basket, dispersion display screen, and lever arms — are all chrome steel. This machine comprises no plastic and has only a few breakable components.

The most fragile materials concerned is the FDA-approved silicone which is used for the drip mat on the bottom, the gasket, and the piston seal. Silicone is a brilliant selection as a result of it’s waterproof and, crucially, not delicate to adjustments in temperature. However, should you do handle to break the gasket or seal, you’ll be pleased to know that back-ups of those components are supplied with each buy.

The Screen

One attainable fault level is the dispersion display screen. This is inevitable as screens, by definition, must be skinny and filled with holes. So you do run the chance of bending or warping it should you press too exhausting attempting to get the final drops of water by way of. As of 2021, Cafelat has added a small rubber tip that’s supposed to forestall bending, however I might nonetheless deal with the display screen as essentially the most delicate a part of the entire operation. Fortunately, should you do harm your display screen, they’re bought individually and are cheap to interchange.

The Portafilter

As I already talked about, the portafilter is the business normal 58 mm diameter, which turns out to be useful when buying equipment like a tamper. That mentioned, the Robot is bought with a pleasant heavy metallic tamper that’s nicely suited to the additional deep baskets.

The included filter basket is a single wall basket, which is critical for pulling essentially the most scrumptious pictures of actual espresso. However, it does require that you just even have an honest grinder or entry to coffee that has been correctly floor for espresso (8). If you favor to purchase pre-ground coffee that may be a bit coarser, Cafelat does supply pressurized filter baskets bought individually that may assist you to pull an honest shot even with out the right grind.

Value for Money 3.5/5

The Cafelat Robot is superb worth for cash. The solely purpose it doesn’t get high marks right here is as a result of it caters to a really particular area of interest of shoppers.

There is little doubt the Robot can pull a shot of espresso to rival machines many occasions its value. 

But it does require you to do all of the work, by way of heating water and making use of stress, and it doesn’t supply any technique of frothing milk. 

If all you need is an unimaginable shot of espresso, and also you don’t thoughts the guide workflow, you’d be hard-pressed to discover a higher worth than the Robot. However, should you’re curious about milky drinks or favor a extra hands-off morning routine, you’ll find higher methods to spend your cash.

The fundamental competitor to the Robot might be the Flair espresso maker, so I feel it’s price making a quick comparability. The Robot is a little more costly than the Flair Pro, however it avoids two major consumer complaints with the Flair. 

  • First of all, the Flair has a big thermal mass within the brewing chamber, requiring the additional step of pre-heating all of the parts. 
  • Second, the Flair Pro will not be the usual 58 mm diameter, making it difficult to purchase equipment. 

The newly launched Flair 58 solves each these issues, however it’s pricier than the Robot (9). Another apparent competitor is the Rok, which can be a bit cheaper than the Robot, however I might argue that it’s considerably much less refined in its design.

In normal, one of many issues that make manual espresso makers such nice worth is that little or no can break. So not solely does the Robot value little or no, to start with, when put next with an electrical machine, however it must also final for much longer and require no costly service.

Do Not Buy the Cafelat Robot If…

You like milky drinks: This is the apparent one. Sure, you’ll be able to pair your Robot with a separate milk frother, however in all honesty, should you love a morning latte, you’re higher off spending your cash on one thing with a steam wand. Indeed, should you respect correct espresso, you in all probability additionally respect correctly steamed milk, which you’ll by no means really get from a frother.

Unfortunately, this requires you to up your finances considerably should you nonetheless need a fantastic shot of espresso. Both the Bezzera Strega and Profitec Pro 800 are lever machines with steam wands, however they’re simply 5 or extra occasions the price of the Robot. Alternatively, you’ll be able to go for a compact semi-automatic machine like the favored Lelit Mara or Rocket Apartament, that are extra on the order of three occasions the fee.

Another nice choice is the Breville Bambino Plus. You’ll lose a bit in coffee high quality as in contrast with the opposite choices, however it’s an automated espresso machine for about the identical value because the Robot. For latte and cappuccino lovers, it provides an distinctive automated milk frothing system.

You need one thing extra transportable: The Cafelat Robot doesn’t require an influence supply, making it technically a transportable espresso maker. But it definitely hasn’t been designed for that choice. The Flair espresso maker, however, was constructed with portability in thoughts. It disassembles rapidly and is even bought with a pleasant little carrying case.

If you’re searching for one thing much more journey pleasant, for a tenting or mountain climbing journey for instance, there are many smaller and lighter choices, although they gained’t produce the identical high quality of shot. Take a take a look at the Wacaco Nanopresso, Oomph 2.0, or the underrated UniTerra Nomad

You need one thing with a boiler: If needing a separate kettle to boil water in your espresso looks like a trouble, or if maneuvering small metallic cups filled with boiling water very first thing within the morning earlier than you’ve even had coffee looks like a recipe for catastrophe, I perceive. The Robot will not be for you. Luckily, there are some comparatively inexpensive guide espresso machine choices that preserve the boiler however nonetheless lack a pump.

Italian model La Pavoni has been round for many years, and their repute is basically constructed on their attractive and sturdy lever espresso machines. Two of the preferred are the Europiccola and the Professional, that are basically the identical design besides that the Professional has a bigger capability. Both embrace a small single boiler for heating the water, making for a simplified workflow as in contrast with the Robot.

The Verdict

If you’re searching for really scrumptious espresso that you just don’t need to pay an arm and a leg for — and you don’t have any curiosity in milk-based drinks — the Cafelat Robot is the machine for you. It can pull a shot of espresso to rival any high-end home machine at only a fraction of the fee, offered you’re prepared to do a number of the work.

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  1. Caffeine Magazine. (n.d.). The fall & rise of the lever espresso machine. Retrieved from https://www.caffeinemag.com/articles/the-fall-rise-of-the-lever-espresso-machine
  2. International Communicaffe. (2018, May 22). New espresso guide coffee maker launched with Kickstarter marketing campaign. Retrieved from https://www.comunicaffe.com/new-espresso-manual-coffee-maker-launched-with-kickstarter-campaign/
  3. Bryman, H. (2017, July 13). Cafelat Robot Espresso Maker to Blast Off Later This Year. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2017/07/13/cafelat-robot-espresso-maker-to-blast-off-later-this-year/
  4. Danish Design Review. (2015, September 10). Ten Principles of Good Design. Retrieved from http://danishdesignreview.com/weblog/2015/9/10/ten-principles-of-good-design
  5. Korhonen, J. (2019, July 22). Creating the Perfect Espresso Recipe. Retrieved from https://www.baristainstitute.com/weblog/jori-korhonen/july-2019/creating-perfect-espresso-recipe
  6. Grant, T. (2020, July 29). How Flow Profiling Affects Espresso Extraction. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/07/how-flow-profiling-impacts-espresso-coffee-extraction/
  7. McKeon Aloe, R. (2020, March 21). Pressure Pulsing for Better Espresso. Retrieved from https://towardsdatascience.com/pressure-pulsing-for-better-espresso-62f09362211d
  8. Grant, T. (2021, May 17). Grinding for espresso at dwelling. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2021/05/grinding-for-espresso-at-home/
  9. Bryman, H. (2021, March 19). Flair Espresso Reveals the Flair 58 with Full-Size Heated Group. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2021/03/19/flair-espresso-reveals-the-flair-58-with-full-size-heated-group/

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