It was a bit of a surprise when Ruslan Kogan decided to enter the home appliance market late last year. But there's something appealing about a $449 automatic espresso machine, so despite a lack of true barista skills, we got one in to caffeinate ourselves over the past month. The good news is that it works pretty well!
The Kogan espresso machine has all the hardware requirements you need to make yourself a nice cup of coffee. It grinds the beans, heats the water to push through the ground coffee and has a steam arm to froth your milk. All the machine's functions are controlled through the touchscreen LCD, with the exception of the steam arm, which has a manual control to manage the strength of the steam. After a few attempts, we had the Kogan making us creamy flat whites with next to no effort. But it wasn't all smooth sailing.
For a start, the machine is noisy. Sure, all coffee machines are noisy, but as one person in the office commented, "I felt like I needed to run from the Texas Chainsaw killer". The second was the act of frothing milk. All the actions of the Kogan espresso machine are customisable - you can select how course you want the beans ground, how much coffee should be in a shot, and what temperature you want the water. But there's one aspect you can control that was frustrating and that's the amount of time the steam arm will froth for.
Rather than just allow you to put it in steam mode and switch it on and off as required, you need to set a time period for the steam arm to be active and adjust the pressure as required. But if you set the arm for 40 seconds, you may not get the right temperature, but 50 seconds may not be enough. You may be frothing slightly warmer milk from one time to another. Having the ability to manually control the steam duration would be a much better solution. But other than that, the coffee tasted good (we were using beans from Coffee Alchemy) and on the whole the machine was easy to use and easy to clean. Given the astronomical prices some of these machines can climb up to, this is a bargain, given you can tolerate the noises and the fiddly steam settings.