I’VE NEVER BEEN the type of coffee consumer who depends on someone else for my morning cup. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never turn down a free $7 caffeine fix from a noteworthy coffee shop, but this is one ritual I prefer at home and on my own. I’ve tried every device on the market in search of that perfect cup. My basement has become a coffee-appliance museum, filled with French presses, Nespresso machines, milk frothers, bean grinders, and various coffee makers of all shapes, sizes, and price ranges. There’s even an Aeropress down there, which I admit is still in its original box, unopened.
After years of experimentation, I began to realize that I was overcomplicating a simple process. When it comes down to it, morning caffeine rituals should be effortless and consistent. During one of my quarantine birthdays, my husband surprised me with the Terra Kaffe TK-01, a sleek and modern espresso machine that relegated my current contraption straight down to the museum archives.
The Terra Kaffe isn’t your typical espresso machine with levers, pods, capsules, thermometers, or portafilters. It’s a super-automatic, pod-free, bean-to-cup espresso machine that produces the perfect cup with only the tap of a button. My drink of choice is the Americano, but no matter your preference — an espresso, latte, cappuccino, macchiato, or even a drip-style coffee — this device can whip it up faster than you can count to 20.
Let’s start with the design. This is a machine that won’t be tucked away in the back of your cabinet. The aesthetically appealing box is flawlessly designed and resembles more of a computer than an espresso maker. The design is clean and self-contained, with only one attachment — a milk frother you can attach as needed.
Now to making that perfect cup. Terra Kaffe gives you complete control over your beverage with easy-to-maneuver temperature control, water firmness, grind size, and other customizable adjustments, all available on the device’s touch screen. After some trial and error, I found my ideal settings and tried my first Terra Kaffe Americano. My first thought was how smooth it tasted. The balance was spot-on — creamy yet crisp with the perfect ratio of water to espresso. The flavor was fresh, thanks to the grinder, which can work with both whole or pre-ground beans. Over the weeks, I came to appreciate the consistency in taste despite the change in beans. No matter the beans, my Americano stayed the same, which says a lot considering the quality of the beans I was using.
When it came time to try the milk frother, it was just as easy as pressing the latte button. You can even adjust the amount of froth with the simple turn of a dial. Like all technologically savvy products, there comes a time when something doesn’t work. Thankfully, Terra Kaffe has a customer service number where you can talk to a live technician, who will address your problem faster than I can brew a cup with one of my other apparatuses.
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Whether you are looking to save time, environmental waste, or money, this device will convince even the most pretentious coffee aficionado to rethink their clunky, barista-style Italian espresso machine. If the taste doesn’t convince you, the price point certainly will, as this machine is less than half the price of some of the best-reviewed espresso makers on the market.
I haven’t hosted many guests over the last two years, but the few who’ve passed through always compliment my fantastic coffee-making skills. I can no longer take credit, as my work is essentially button pushing and occasional machine cleaning. All the credit goes to Terra Kaffe.
In search of more elevated kitchen gear?
Elissa Polls Writer
Elissa Polls is the senior director of content production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Elissa has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.
Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.
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