Kenneth Davids dubbed its predecessor, the Swiss made Odette, "something out of captain Nemo's submarine", which pretty accurately summarises most peoples first impressions - including mine. The Royal vacuum brewer works on the same principle as the Odette, but can be considered a much improved version of it. It is, by all means, the most extraordinary, most beautiful coffee brewer I have ever seen - both as the artisanal object itself, as in its remarkable brewing process.
Though a fully fledged vacuum brewer at heart, the side by side positioning of the two vessels, allows for a (semi-)automatic brewing process. As the hot water is siphoned to the brewing vessel, the counterweight lifts the boiler which gradually gets lighter. When all water has been shifted the lamp cover is released, which extinguishes the flame. Shortly after, the rapidly decreasing pressure in the boiler causes the brewed coffee to be siphoned back again.
The Royal is a beautiful machine to look at as it is, but it's this mesmerising, sheer magical, brewing cycle that makes using it a true feast. It is a magnificent show piece to have on a dinner table, but also fun when you're just treating yourself to a cup of coffee.
Apart from the stunning visuals, the Royal is a good vacuum brewer & capable of producing an excellent cup of coffee, or maybe tea. With its automatic action it is easier & quite a bit safer to use than other vac pots, since it's impossible to let the boiler run dry. Also convenient & certainly less messy is serving the coffee from a tap, instead of pouring it from a carafe. Lastly, because of the metal container, the coffee seems to stay warm a little longer.
There are a few points to note. First of all, the brew cycle is fixed & rather short - the total contact time of coffee grounds & water is about two minutes. To get a proper extraction in that brief period of time, it requires a rather fine grind. As is true of all other vac pots, a decent grinder should be considered essential. An associated problem is the filter contraption, which is just a metal sieve. This makes it impossible to clog, but might let some fines get through, depending on your grinder. However, most will settle on the bottom of the metal vessel after a short while & hardly anything ends up in the cup.
All these points are just minor issues though. For most, the main drawback of the Royal, I think, would be its price tag. It is rather pricy. There are obvious & perfectly acceptable reasons for that, the machine's quality & style, to name just some, & many coffee aficionados own espresso machines that cost at least twice as much, but all that still doesn't make the purchase a trivial decision.
So why would one consider buying this vac pot?
A first reason is that it makes excellent coffee &, unlike most other vac pots, it will make an equally good brew when used at only half its capacity. Apart from being the centre of attention on the table, the automatic brewing cycle makes it safe & convenient.
Another reason is the overall fit & finish. Soon as you see it, it is clear that it's made by skilled craftsmen from high quality materials such as copper & brass. Moving parts have a reassuring smoothness to them - giving the machine a definite sturdy feel. Instead of the commonly found fragility of most glass vac pots, or the slightly cheap plasticky feel of the Bodum e-Santos, the Royal is heavy & solid. This is a coffeemaker that will probably last you a couple of lifetimes, making it more of an investment - maybe even something of a family piece.
If you're not primarily interested in cluttering your place with all sorts of different coffee toys, and are just looking for one very good coffee brewer, the Royal is certainly one to consider.
All of these are possible considerations, many of which are also valid for the Cafetino. My personal preference, though, is for the more classical style of the Royal. It is an excellent vac pot, producing an outstanding cup of coffee, but beyond all that, the most compelling motive for me to purchase a Royal would be, because it simply is the most beautiful coffee maker on earth.
There is no second...