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Published on May 17th, 2011 | by Greg

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Mr. Coffee and VillaWare: Simple and Sexy In The Kitchen

Moth­er’s Day is past, but Fa­ther’s Day is fast ap­proach­ing. Not to men­tion that it’s wed­ding sea­son, and there are prob­a­bly a few new grad­u­ates out there in need of a gift or two. Once you’ve got­ten or giv­en sil­ver­ware and dish­ware, the obli­ga­to­ry blender and mi­crowave, you still need a few more things to out­fit your kitchen prop­er­ly. We’ve got a twist on the ev­ery­day es­sen­tial cof­feemak­er, but al­so an item that shouldn’t be over­looked. Af­ter all, who doesn’t love a good waf­fle?

For caf­feine ad­dicts, one im­por­tant qual­i­ty in a cof­fee mak­er is con­ve­nience. We’ve talked many times about var­i­ous pod sys­tems- es­pe­cial­ly our fa­vorites, the K-Cup sys­tem from Keurig that fea­tures roast­ers and brands like Diedrich, Emer­il, Cari­bou, and Green Moun­tain. One nice thing about these ma­chines is that you can grind your own, per­haps us­ing an ex­cel­lent grinder like the Baratza on our shelf, and use any cof­fee in a clean­able fil­ter bas­ket. A down­side, though, was that some of the ma­chines are fair­ly large, meant for com­mer­cial or of­fice use. For an in­di­vid­u­al at home, these ma­chines can be overkill- which is why Mr. Cof­fee of­fers their own Sin­gle Serve Brew­ing Sys­tem.

It’s fair­ly sim­i­lar to the unit avail­able di­rect­ly from Keurig. Ours was sil­ver and black, but we hear that red and white op­tions are com­ing soon. The unit looks good next to most small ap­pli­ances, but isn’t shiny enough to pick up fin­ger­prints. The han­dle sys­tem is a bit dif­fer­ent from oth­er K-cup brew­ers, but al­lows the unit to fit in­to a small­er space. It heats up (and re-heats) slow­er than oth­er Keurig brew­ers, but aside from that, of­fers the same qual­i­ty brew. Of course, the wa­ter reser­voir is much small­er, and it re­quires a bit of fi­nesse at first, as you need to pour in­to the back of the unit and it is not re­mov­able. On the up­side, it’s qui­et. But the biggest down­side is that you are re­strict­ed to a sin­gle size of cup to be dis­pensed. The de­fault hap­pened to be our nor­mal cup size, but the var­i­ous op­tions we know well from oth­er ma­chines were es­pe­cial­ly handy for some lighter brews as well as teas. If that doesn’t both­er you, and you are look­ing for a Keurig cof­fee ma­chine, this is the cheap­est avail­able at un­der $60- a bar­gain for what con­tin­ues to be the best sin­gle-serve sys­tem on the mar­ket.

One of the best things about nicer ho­tel break­fasts are their waf­fle mak­ers. You know- the ones where you drop in some pre-made bat­ter, close the lid, flip the en­tire tray over, and a timer counts down to a per­fect waf­fle? We’ve al­ways want­ed one, since the ad­van­tages were ob­vi­ous. VillaWare ac­tu­al­ly man­aged to im­prove on the idea, and their Bel­gian Flip Waf­fle Mak­er is the best one we’ve used. It man­ages to beat out units cost­ing much more, and looks nicer than many. In fact, when asked the like­ly pric­etag of our lat­est ap­pli­ance, oth­er writ­ers guessed more than dou­ble the ac­tu­al cost.

For starters, it looks and feels pret­ty classy. The shiny chrome and black is ac­cent­ed by a large pow­er but­ton light, which glows nice­ly. The on­ly cheap-seem­ing part is the drip tray, but the rest of the unit is stur­dy, hefty, and sol­id. Open­ing the grid­dle sur­face feels smooth, as does ro­tat­ing it. Though the pow­er cord is a bit short, the tem­per­a­ture set­tings of­fered plen­ty of room for ad­just­ment de­pend­ing on which type of waf­fle you want. We tried a cou­ple of bat­ter recipes, and made a cou­ple of dozen, and are now deeply in love. From first to last, each was con­sis­tent, per­fect­ly made and the non­stick sur­face re­leased them pret­ty eas­i­ly. Clean-up was sim­ple, and the unit nice­ly beeps not on­ly to in­di­cate a waf­fle is done, but al­so to let you know when it is heat­ed up and ready for the next one, as well as dur­ing ini­tial heat-up. Rarely do we find a new de­vice that we want to use ev­ery day, but this is one of them. And at $80 or so, it’s a bar­gain.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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