Yum factor. The taste alone would be enough to sell this machine. Lucky for us it is also easy to use, beautiful, and well crafted. Everyone who sees it says, ďWow!Ē It raises coffeemaking to a whole new experience.
Negative Product Points
It only holds about 30oz (.9L) which is almost enough to serve 4 steaming 8oz mugs. You may have to run it twice if more coffee is needed. Itís a bit messy to refill the lamp, which is every 6 to 7 times itís used. It looses its bright shiny luster after about a week and needs to be polished regularly.
Buying the Royal was the biggest step I have taken with coffee. The biggest step before that was deciding to stop getting mochas so I could actually taste the coffee. I list my expertise as intermediate because I know a decent amount of coffee trivia, but Iím closer to the beginner stage on skill. Using the Royal has taught me I still have a lot to learn about coffee. Sometimes I feel like a chimpanzee next to the monolith.
Iíve had the Royal for 6 weeks and have used it about 5 days a week during that time. I havenít touched my no-name 12-cup coffee maker in that time. As in Jeroen Vriesendorpís review, most of my friends have commented on the Jules Verne/Captain Nemo looks of it. It really is 1840ís steam driven technology. When Iím making coffee for a group they all gather around to watch the magic. They are always startled by the gurgling steam noises and exclaim in surprise that the vacuum sucks the coffee back so quickly. The Royal pulls out subtle flavors from the beans, which makes my quest for good beans all the more important.
This is the most important tip on cleaning -- Make peace with scratches on the copper. Even with the gentlest handling, softest rags, and best polish scratches will still appear on the copper. The glass, filter, and inside of the pot are easy to clean with soap and water or vinegar.
Buy the fuel before the Royal arrives. You will want to use it as soon as you open the box. I had a hard time finding the right fuel so for a while I was using blue fondue fuel. I wouldnít suggest it. It turns out all I needed was to go to the hardware store to get the denatured alcohol. Refilling the lamp can be a bit messy.
Iíve enjoyed developing a ritual to get the best flavor. I started a notebook to keep track of the details of each brew, so I could repeat the best. What stands out immediately from the notebook is that I run the Royal at minimum capacity most of the time. The variable capacity (.6L - .9L) is a great feature of the Royal. I have yet to get what I would call a 10 (out of 10) for flavor with this brewer and I hold my blade grinder accountable. I know itís not providing the best grind for this or any coffee. My next step in coffee is to get a good grinder. The notebook also reminds me that Iíve used it to make 2 excellent pots of tea.
Here are some tips Iíve used to improve the brew. Pre-wet the grounds with approx 100ml of hot water. Stir the grounds once or twice while the glass is filling with hot water. Hold the brass counterweight up until all the water has left the pot (or until the glass is full). Let the brew sit for 2-3 minutes in the pot while the sediment settles to the bottom.
I am giving the Royal with a high Cost vs. Value because I feel my money was very well spent. I have not felt like I wasted a penny on this purchase. While it is expensive for a vacuum brewer, I also feel that it is cheap for an excellent home coffee experience.
Patrick Van Den Noortgaete was very responsive and nice to deal with. I had to wait almost a month for delivery bacause they were out of stock, but Patrick kept me informed the whole time. Read Markís detailed review for pictures of the excellent packaging.