Sep 6, 2012

Rants About Home Appliances. I Still Love Aldi Though.

Whether you're hard at it for work or being a lady of leisure at home, confrontations with technology are unavoidable.  They're probably more painful when you're at home because you're not expecting to have to swear at and strangle home appliances whereas it's somehow perfectly acceptable to be so up front with your work computer / photo copier / microwave.

In the last 24 hours I've come to blows with two kitchen appliances and with a third to unpack (my clothes steamer), I think I need some time apart from electric homewares.  I was going so well putting together Baby SSG's pram as well.

This morning's drama revolved around my new fangled multi function cooker.  It took 15 minutes to brown my ingredients in said cooker but half an hour to work out how to get the lid to seal.  We finally got there but who knows if I really set the thing to slow cook after all that fighting.

It was only last night that Mr SSG and I sat down to Balsamic Beef With Chickpea Salad from the Aug/Sep 2012 issue of Donna Hay magazine.  It took 15 minutes to cook and the only electricity involved was the overhead lights and the television in the background.  It was a delicious meal and at no point in the preparation was a single kitchen appliance's life at risk from me.

Since my slow cooker drama, I've had a nice hot shower, done some yoga and had morning tea.  I now feel ready to talk about yesterday's domestic appliance incident and how it took me 3 hours to make a cup of coffee.

It all started over the weekend when I was reading the back cover of New Idea.  As you do when you realise that you really do have 3 weeks straight of down time in front of you, starting now, in fact.

It was the New Idea featuring Ada Nicodemou and her new baby boy on the cover.  It was such a lovely interview, quite a few people in Australia have been following Ada's life over the last few years.  It's just so nice to see that she's come through all the dramas and setbacks with her husband and now their little boy.  I don't know quite what to make of  the Lisa McCune article though but that's another story...

Anyway.  Back to the back cover.  The famous Aldi Expressi is being restocked.  And not only restocked, it's a new 2013 model.  I've been wanting to buy one for months but never seemed to be able to find one on the shelves in the 3 Aldi stores I've been stalking.  The price is $10 more than the previous model (from memory) but still, at around a third of the price of a Nespresso, it's a deal too good to ignore.  I'm not exactly a coffee connoisseur at the best of times and decaf is all I drink at the moment so my options are limited whichever brand of pod machine I get.  The big selling point for me with the Expressi is that there are hot chocolate pods available as well.

Looking at the Aldi website, decaf and chocolate are new additions to the range of pod flavours.  There is also a chai variety but I've not seen this as widely available.  There are 10 brews of coffee and each has its strength marked on the pod and on the box.

Expressi pods - $5.99 for 16, Expressi milk frother - $24.95.
Not wanting to miss out this time, I made a stealthy trip to Aldi the day before the official release date to see if there was any chance of picking one up early.  I think the staff had heard it all already by the time I got there because they would only say that the machines would be on the floor and on sale from September 5.  No ifs, ands or buts.  Still, I did get the Expressi forther and my decaf and hot chocolate pods so it wasn't a mission entirely in vain.

The frother is stainless steel, double walled and has a 250ml capacity.  Its cordless and has a base that plugs into your electricity source.  There's only one button to press to turn on the unit.

The lid is clear plastic with a rubber rim that detaches which you're supposed to religiously clean separately after each use (umm, I haven't done this yet and I'm still alive).  The coil inside the lid is the frother attachment.

While the attachment that comes inside the unit heats with minimal froth.  Markings on the wall of the unit show minimum and maximum fill capacity.  The included instruction manual provides hints about how to make cappucinos and other milk based coffees.

Just using the heating attachment produced a good amount of froth for me.  It took around a minute to get the milk heated (when heating the minimum amount of milk).  My only gripe with the frother is that milk does appear to burn at the base.  Not a biggie, it just means that you need to clean the base very thoroughly and wipe down firmly with a paper towel before using it again.  For my purposes, I'm happy to put up with this inconvenience.  I'm not sure how this compares to the Nespresso units.

Meanwhile,  I battled with the Expressi machine proper.  Now that's a story...

Wednesday September 5 dawned bright and clear.  Armed with the skills I learned from my assault on Marni for H+M in London, April 2012, I set out early for my local Aldi.  The competition was less intense.

The crowd arrived minutes before store opening as opposed to days and there were plenty of Expressi machines for us all.

Mission accomplished.

And 1000 count cotton sheet sets.  How could you go wrong paying $89 for a flat and a fitted sheet as well as a pair of pillowcases.  The cotton is heavy yet soft and the design is neutral enough to find a home with most bedroom decor styles.

The detail and the finish were impressive at that price point as well.  My set are now up on the line and I can't wait to change the bed linen this weekend.  The things I look forward to whilst on staycation.

Now it's time to talk about the saga of the Expressi.  I think it's just me and coffee pods.  It doesn't matter what brand I use, I can never get a pod to puncture first go.  I remember going through a whole carton of pods in a hotel once when I was trying to get the room Nespresso machine to work....

Front on snap of the Expressi 2013 edition with a litre of permeate free, non supermarket home brand milk for size comparison and political purposes....

Out of the box, Aldi's Expressi is pretty sleek.  The unit comes in black or silver, but only silver was available at Top Ryde.

The area of placing your preferred mug is height adjustable for larger mugs.  All you need to do is remove the black height adjuster (left in my photo) and place the metal grate over the new base.

Pod shute and power button on the top of the Expressi.

A view from the top and the source of all my coffee pod angst.  The lever system is like a Nespresso and the hole for the pod is pretty self explanatory with regard to which direction the pod should face on insertion.  How hard could it be?!?!?!?

The button interface is simple and self explanatory.  You can program cup size but I was beyond this by the time I made my cup of actual coffee as opposed to hot water.  The bottom button is for the rinse function.  The well written manual is easy to follow with good diagrams.  There is a section about descaling and cleaning which I didn't look at too closely.  I'm not sure what to do about descaling fluid but there is a contact email to get more information about where to buy it.  Perhaps a reader might be able to help?  I use filtered water with mine so perhaps this will reduce my maintenance schedule from what is suggested.

The unit from behind, water holder and power cord.

The movable components slot in and out easily.

Everything is to be handwashed, not put in the dishwasher, as per manufacturer's instructions.

As I was saying earlier, it took me 3 hours to get this precious cup of decaf.  For some reason, I couldn't get a pod to puncture after 5 attempts with my first machine.  That's right, I went back to exchange my machine the day I bought it because of this.  Aldi was very obliging and thankfully with my second machine, it only took me 3 attempts and I've had a hot cup of coffee on two consecutive days now!

There is some noise with the machine on (see the video below for reference) but coupled with the smell of hot coffee, it adds to the theatre of 'making' your own coffee in the morning.  You'll have to excuse my obsession with theatre and food.  I'm reading Dearie, a Julia Child's biography at the moment and it is all about theatre.  I'm loving the book, actually.

Reviews of the previous model have noted that the coffee comes out luke warm but I did not have this problem with the 2013 model.  I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of my decaf.  It's way more complex and satisfying than instant (as it should be) but actually tastes better than many of the cafe decafs I've had.  As you can see, my frothed milk stayed frothy through all the drama with the pods.

Despite all the dramas (most of which are operator dependent), I'm really happy with my Expressi.  It delivered a quality of coffee I'm more than satisfied with at a price that I was prepared to pay.  I like that hot chocolate and chai are regular flavours in the range.  I found the machine to be well made and easy to clean with a comprehensive instruction manual.  Aldi have a 2 year warranty on both machines.

Before I end this mammoth post, I wanted to share this cute video by a lovely Kiwi man showing us Aussies how to time the use of the Expressi frother and coffee machine.  He sounds like a character and though he is using the older model coffee machine, the timing issue still holds true.  It takes longer for the milk to heat and froth than it takes for the coffee to be made.


  1. Gosh you put so much effort into your posts!

    Love the sheets. Mine are staying in their packaging until I move.

    TDM xxx

  2. We have the Aldi coffee machine too - I always have issues with it (the pod falling through, not puncturing)...but Dave is a Pro at it. If you want to know where to get Chai Latte or Hot Chocolate pods from let me know.

  3. I'm going to get that Dearie book too - I hope I can download it from Amazon - the Kindle is a gadget that frustrates me no end, particularly when books cannot be downloaded to Aussie gadgets. Grrr.

  4. What_Sarah_Did_NextSeptember 6, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    We have an Expressi machine too and I absolutely love it. Especially now you can buy the Chai Latte pods! I've had the pods fall through a few times but usually when I'm in a hurry - if I take my time, it sits in there just fine. :)

  5. We have a Nespresso, and I love it! But I honestly would have been as happy with the Aldi machine. I didn't know it exsisted till it was too late.

  6. We have a nespresso that S loves but my patents have an expressi and it's just as good. The frothers sound exactly the same though and I always have to clean it thoroughly then wipe with paper towel.
    Keep enjoying the staycation X

  7. I had trouble with my Expressi machine at first but it was just the way I was placing the pods. After a few goes I don't have that trouble anymore.

    With descaling, I have read from others that you shouldn't bother with the Delonghi descaler they recommend from Harvey Norman as it's about $30 for 4 descalers. Just buy some citric acid and mix it in with water and run it through your machine. Although since you use filtered water, I would assume you would only do it once every few months. I also use filtered water and I've had my machine for 2 months now and have never had the bitter taste come through. Although I will be descaling some time soon :)

  8. CIn
    Thanks for that tip about citric acid.

    SSG xxx

  9. Hi Sarah
    You're right, I think the pod issue is because I tend to rush things when it comes to getting a coffee.

    SSG xxx

  10. Mel,
    Yes, you can get it on Kindle. That's how I read it. So sad I've finished reading now.
    SSG xxx

  11. Will do!

    SSG xxx

  12. The Aldi milk frother makes too much froth.
    With all milk frothers I have found that I need to heat the coffee cups by filling them with boiling water, so that the coffee remains hot for some time. I also use the twin skinned latte cups which keep the heat in longer.
    I have had a couple of these Aldi frothers and the first one I returned because it made way too much froth and not enough milk. This time I bought their new 500ml model that has around double the milk capacity.
    I still found the same issue with the larger model. Filling the unit to the frothing line I could not get enough milk to make 2 x 250 ml cups.
    If you fill it even slightly over the line you get a messy overflow.
    If I use the heating stirrer instead of the whisk it makes no froth whatsoever.
    So I decided to modify the whisk. I removed the spring, exactly the same way as you remove a key from a key ring.
    I cut 2 pieces of spring around 10mm long and placed them on the ring opposite each other for balance. They need to be placed right next to the hub so that it all clips back together.
    This time it made way less froth and much more milk.
    We do not like much froth (Half way between a Latte and a flat white).
    So I reduced the spring lengths to 5mm instead of 10mm.
    The machine now makes the perfect amount of foam for us.
    The Aldi machine in my opinion works way better after this mod.
    It now works perfectly. I have kept the leftover spring in case I ever want to make shaving cream again :)

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