Today, a Tassimo coffeemaker arrived in the mail. I don't know how we ended up with it. Schmutzie knows, and periodically reminds me why we have it, but there's no room in my brain for those kinds of facts. So once again, thirty minutes after finding out the whole back story on this machine, I am befuddled by the Tassimo. Which is serving us delicious coffee and creating its own landfill of waste with every cup.
The Tassimo came in three boxes. First, a featureless cardboard box containing packing materials and another featureless cardboard box, which fit snugly around the proper Tassimo box. Our kitchen is littered with boxes, which now contain alert and curious cats.
Anyway, here's our new Tassimo, with a little plastic soldier in a wine glass for scale.
If you don't know what a Tassimo is, it can best be described as a coffeemaker for people who are insufficiently impressed with their current state of home coffee technology. Filter drips? Auto shut-off timers? Indicator lights? Screw all that. With its barcode scanner, mode dial and 'T Discs' of ground coffee/ tea leaves/ powdered milk/ hot chocolate/ beagle snouts, the Tassimo is a brave new step in the wrong direction for kitchen gadgetry.
The Tassimo is an impressive device that mildly resembles an espresso machine in form and function. Hot water is forced through a portion of coffee grounds, which comes in a dedicated packet called a T Disc. The T Disc has a barcode that provides your machine with instructions to produce the desired cup of coffee. It's a coffeemaker that encoded a barista.*
Tassimo doesn't produce a good, great, or even the best cup of coffee. It makes optimal coffee. Actually, it brews your optimal drink. The entire concept behind the Tassimo is embedded and readable in that one phrase: your optimal drink. Why does it have a built-in water filtration system? Because hard water can interfere with the brewing of your optimal drink. Why does it have a descaling program? So as not to screw with your optimal drink. Why does Tassimo produce more waste than any other coffee brewing device I know of? It's all got to do with that drink of yours and how it should be optimal.
Over the last decade or so, kitchen implements have taken a turn for the artisanal. Sure, there's some fancy tech in your toaster, and maybe your gas range shuts down and calls the police if it detects a hot-knifing in progress, but the thrill in kitchen tools has rested in their Luddite flair, their cast-iron will to simmer, their alchemy of metal and precision curvature. The balance of each implement, the way in which that ice cream scoop just slides right in to that frozen block or that hand held grater is just so damn geared to that block of Parmesan, bespeaks the expertise of its maker. Good kitchen tools provide a pretentious but satisfying experience, a sense of connection to old traditions. Even if you grew up eating casseroles from recipes off the back of a Bisquick box.
Tassimo gives you precision, but the thrill comes from the other end of the field. There's a utopian guilelessness about the machine, a promise that the classy world of cafés and bistros can be yours at the press of a button. It's going for that European classiness (even though it reminds me most of those automatic coffee machines in Australia that spit out flat whites on demand). It's like a Star Trek replicator in a Kitchen of Tomorrow. Except the kitchen is straight out of 1972, and the Bistromatic2000 One-Button Coffee Brewer is right next to the fondue pot and the electric wine muller, and the first guests are just about to arrive for a sophisticated evening of melted cheese and mutual groping. Get Your Orgy Started The Optimal Way, With Tassimo!
I recommend the little Starbucks T Discs. That is one smooth, erotic brew.
*And now that barista is trapped in the electronic landscape of the Tassimo, forced to battle light cycles on an infinite neon grid.