Rated By Jennifer
The Bosch company out of Germany spearheaded the Tassimo T20 and its unique line of gourmet beverage maker products. Its innovative design receives a lot of special attention in this review as well as the respective coffee pods known as “T-discs”. The Tassimo T20’s beverage maker’s specialty is exactly that, specialty hot drinks.
The Tassimo T20’s claim to fame is a special type of bar-code technology built within that scans the different codes that are on the different T-discs so it knows just the right amount of pressure, water and length of time is needed to create the right flavor and end result, so consumers don’t have to bother with interrupting brew cycles or wondering if a little more/less water should be added, which can be annoying for some people.
Table of Contents
The Tassimo T20 in general is a nice size and not gawky when considering counter space. Approximate Measurements:
11″ (height) x 7.88″(width) x 11.75″ (depth)
Weight: 5.6 pounds (it is a real lightweight compared to other units)
What makes the Tassimo T20 unique?
- Exclusive to Tassimo, this model uses “Intellibrew”™ technology in which the bar codes present within the differently flavored T-discs are read by the brewer to know how much water volume, pressure, temperature and time to put in, ensuring that correct ratio of everything is in sync.
- Flavor options from the Tassimo line include mochas, lattes, macchiato, espressos, cappuccino, and yes, hot cocoas, decafs, and tea!
- A line of special optional accessories like color inserts to complement your decor
- There is a special cleaning T-disc included that is easily stored in an opening at the back of the device.
- The T20 has an adjustable front stand that flips, to accommodate a cup or travel mug on a dime.
The T-Discs Explained
To the left is a closeup of one of these famous T-discs, the “bread and butter” of the Tassimo T20 as well as its other related models. New T-discs have two different bar codes on each side as well as another line of code which “tells” the machine how much pressure, water, etc. is needed for the particulars of that T-disc flavor.
Since “gourmet” drinks have a certain chemistry to their makeup, it stands to reason that an approach like this is pretty innovative for getting the ingredients in each type of drink “just right”.
There are also “just plain coffee” varieties too that the T-discs come in ;when I look at the packaging I find that even though the T-discs are always the same size regardless of type, different coffee types are made to produce different drink sizes, in addition to the help of the bar code.
Buttons and Controls
On the front right side is the control panel and a little further down is the on/off power switch. The big round button is your center of control altogether…push it to start brewing after you’ve set up your mug and disc, also you can push this button to “pause” brewing, or push and hold to dispense more water; this feature gives you a good bit of control over how strong you want your resulting beverage to be.
Above the “big round button” are the indicator lights, which are viewable more in operation mode; the green cup icon tells you that brewing is in action and the white one next to it signals a complete cup. Below these are Clean/descale and Add Water indicator lights.
The T20 has a 51 oz reservoir which is about mid-range sized and should last through an average number of brews (roughly 6-7) before refilling. It will hold about 12 cups of water. The reservoir is more visible from the side and back of device.) The water tank has a lid that locks and unlocks to allow for refilling; it seems to segue into the back of the machine with a pocket near the top where you can maneuver it in or out.
- Tassimo T-Discs, flavors and quantities may vary by location
- T-Disc Storage Drawer by Nifty
- Tassimo T-disc Carousel
- Colored inserts that fit into the brewer’s interior to enhance its appearance; these are available in teal, yellow and brown and also include the stand part as well.
Tassimo T20 Consumer Reviews and Ratings
Getting the tasty, European coffee experience at the push of a button has been a very satisfying experience for a good number of gourmet aficionados, I have discovered! No joke.
What owners liked the best was the fact that the T-disc technology’s way of syncing up water, temp, and pressure together, has made the resulting taste, temperature and consistency great, without all of the guesswork. Truth is, the “one size fits all” approach does not bode well with gourmet coffee as there are so many different flavor nuances to be considered. On average, most all drinks took about a minute to a minute and a half to be ready to go.
As a cautionary mention; the T-discs get very hot in the process so it is VERY important not to attempt to remove the T-disc until the orange light on the right side of the front, appears. Something to keep in mind if you ever want to attempt a consecutive stream of brews (Like when company comes and they all want a delicious creamy hot drink.)
The best features altogether:
- The tray that’s seated inside resembles a “bowl” shape, has another nice feature other than the fact that it comes out completely, to accommodate different cup sizes.
- Inside the open clearance area there are 2 grooves that enable the tray to be re-positioned a little higher, which is great if you are using little bitty cups, such as is common for espresso and other specialty drinks.
- The cleaning/maintenance process is virtually a breeze. It has an automatic cleaning feature, but you do need to be on top of the descaling routine; regardless. It’s made pretty cut and dried if you use the yellow cleaning disc made specifically for the Tassimo product line.
- This unit also has one other great benefit in which you are allowed to pause the brew by hitting the round button in which a little more water flows through the t-disc enabling the “little more” that may be necessary depending on desired taste.
- This machine and the line itself are intended with the exclusive use of T-discs.
- The T-discs themselves are a little harder to find (except online) and a little pricier than K-Cups.
Ease of Use
Well I know I’ve given the spiel about the bar-code technology but there is also another cool thing you can use with the T20: There are flavor discs sold as “kits” meaning they also include the milk portion disc in addition to the coffee disc that are made exclusively for the Tassimo.
The milk disc gets inserted first before the coffee disc. A different amount of pressure from the pump froths the milk and from what I have seen, when executed right the milk crema floats to the top nicely.
Cleaning and descaling look simple too. Bosch sells reusable cleaning discs for this purpose; although this unit comes with one you may need a replacement eventually. They are yellow /orange and have the same hockey puck shape to them. It’s recommended to use it about once a week.
It is important to stress, however, that the manufacturer site states the importance of using the special yellow T-disc or descaling tablets – a whole other ball game in that vinegar is discouraged as it could void the warranty. Additional info is explained here.
Also the barcode reader should get a periodic wipe-off as well to ensure it keeps doing its job. I’ve seen instances where consumers have had a brew failure resulting when the bar code reader didn’t go into effect due to not inserting the T-disc correctly. Unfortunately, you cannot remove it and start over because once you close the compartment, the disc gets punctured and you can’t proceed with the brew without a mess happening.
OK, here is the not-so-good news presented in honest Love-To-Sip fashion. I’m seeing the price has gone up somewhat (last year it was in the “under $100” range ) and the listing is showing the pre-owned units only. The second piece of “bad news” is that the white version is no longer carried. I contacted the seller who informed me that the possibility of more whites being back in stock was uncertain.
Aside from the unit itself you’re probably wanting to know about the T-discs and related paraphernalia: On average the individual T-discs are at least 50 cents higher than the K-cups when looked at from a regular-use vantage point. How much this would affect your budget might depend on how often you might see yourself using it.
Is the Tassimo T20 For You?
If your bread and butter is the “gourmet” style of hot coffee beverages (cappuccinos, macchiatos, lattes, pretty much anything creamy and rich; the stuff of after-dinner indulgences) and not so much standard fare coffee, then this may be the right kind of machine for you.
Espresso making is a specialized skill and a product like the T20 creates a shortcut to getting there if what you enjoy most is specialty beverages.
Now if you just like regular old joe every day and feel you can “take or leave” the fancier coffees, the expense (or effort of locating) the T-discs, it may be less appealing in the long run.
All in all, I think this is a great machine; it’s just those two flies in the ointment, the white version has gotten scarcer and the overall change in price; compared to the unique accessories which appear plentiful.