A few months ago I received a weekly email from BlogHer with their picks for great deals and fabulous freebies, and one item caught my eye: the Share Senseo program. For just the cost of shipping, you get a free single-serve coffeemaker, free bag of coffee pods, and free pod canister. Since I’m the only coffee drinker in the family, I thought this might be worth a try. I applied for the program (yes, you have to fill out a questionnaire and receiving one is not guaranteed) and a few weeks later I received an email stating that a Senseo was on it’s way to me. For purposes of disclosure, I was under no obligation to blog about the coffee maker, so this review is written of my own free will.
The Senseo is supposed to give a European style coffee with a foamy crema layer on top, so the coffee is forced out under pressure rather than dripping. When it arrived, I set it up immediately and read the directions to make sure I didn’t break it on my first run. The machine has a water reservoir that attaches to the back and has lines showing you the minimum and maximum fill. The front has two small spouts where the coffee comes out. The lid raises up and you put a pod holder in the machine, then add one or two pods depending on how much coffee you want to make. The cup area will hold a regular coffee cup or larger mug, but it’s forward design will not accommodate all mug styles, so check your mug before turning on the machine.
The Senseo comes with two pod holders, a single and a double. Use the single pod for one regular size cup and two pods for one mug or two regular size cups. I tried various settings, experimenting with coffee output and flavor. The company sent the dark roast at my request, which I found fairly bitter. I prefer my coffee on the medium to mild side, not black, and for my taste using just one pod with my mug works well. The price for the coffee pods runs around $4.99 per bag of 16 to 18 pods at Target. That equates to just under 4 ounces up to 4.5 ounces, making this some pretty pricey coffee.
The one thing that really annoys me about the machine is the rule about not using loose ground coffee. I have my favorite types of coffee that I want to use because I like the flavor and because the pods are expensive, but Senseo does not come with a unit that allows that. It will only work with pods, and they have language in the owners manual stating:
“In order to avoid damage, use only SENSEO™ coffee pods that have been specifically designed for your SENSEO™ coffee machine for a pure, smooth taste.”
This type of recommendation is not unusual for these types of devices because they want to sell you coffee pods, but I did not want to give up my favorite coffee for the convenience of using this particular machine. I did some research and found some Senseo owners trying to make their own pods. I really did not want to go there. I also found refillable pods, but it seemed like the method had mixed reviews; people loved it or they hated it. After more research I found a third-party device called the CoffeeDuck which allows me to use my own coffee. It’s basically a one cup pod holder with a strainer lid that you lay on top of the coffee. You fill the holder with your favorite coffee then place the lid on top. It takes some practice to figure out the perfect amount to give the same results as a pod because the coffee is loose and not compacted like the pods, but it worked in the end and I use it every day. I also like the fact that it’s a permanent filter rather than disposable like the pods, making it a more environmentally friendly option. If you really like the pods and want to try other varieties, there are a number of websites that sell pods designed for the Senseo, just do a search for “Senseo pods.” I have not used any of those sites and cannot make a recommendation as to which are better.
I’ve seen various types of single cup coffee makers and have been tempted, but the price tag always kept me away. The Senseo line starts at $69.99 retail for the basic model, so this isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s not the same as an inexpensive 4-cup drip coffee maker. For a coffee maker that puts out a decent crema layer, which the Senseo does, this is a pretty good value.
[I received this free from the manufacturer, but I paid $14.95 for the shipping.]
The bottom line:
Pros: brews quickly, easy clean up, convenient
Cons: not all coffee cup shapes fit under the machine spout, must purchase third-party device (the CoffeeDuck or other refillable filters) to use your own favorite type of coffee
Cost: $69.99 retail for the basic model, shop around for better deals; coffee retails for around $5.00 per bag of 16 to 18 pods
Warranty: two years
Company Website: www.senseo.com
[An original post from Andrea Meyers: making life delicious. All images and text copyrighted, All Rights Reserved.]
[Disclosure: This blog earns a few cents on items purchased through the Amazon.com links in posts.]