This is an old review. This product was quite new and innovative at the time. I also normally only write about white goods. I wrote about the Tefal Quick cup because I had bought one myself, and wanted to give an opinion on it.
I saw the Tefal Quick cup on the Gadget show, and then later on breakfast TV. I was attracted to it because it saves energy. They say it is 65% cheaper than a conventional kettle. It isn’t clear if this figure is derived by comparing boiling a filled kettle, or by only boiling a cupful of water in a standard kettle (I suspect the former). If it is the former then it’s an unfair comparison. However, just as importantly (to me), it saves a lot of time. It can deliver piping hot water within 3 seconds, and I can make a mug full of tea in less than 15 seconds – having only heated the exact amount of water I needed.
I must be getting more impatient as I get older because a constant annoyance to me is how long normal kettles take to boil water. They are also very noisy whilst doing so. I get annoyed too at how you can’t easily boil exactly the amount you need so you always end up heating some of the water for nothing. This water then just cools down in the kettle waiting to be boiled up again next time. Modern kettles have got better at allowing you to boil smaller amounts, but it’s still difficult or impossible to boil just exactly how much you need with a standard kettle.
Boiling water before the Quick Cup
When using a kettle I’d switch it on and wait. The noise was so loud that I couldn’t hear the portable TV or listen to the radio in the kitchen. It seemed to take ages – even though I was only boiling a partially filled kettle.
Boiling water the new way
My new method is simple. I get a mug from the cupboard, drop in a tea bag, place the mug under Quick cup and press the red button. The Quick cup can be programmed to deliver a specific amount of boiling water so no need to watch it. I then either watch and marvel, or walk away to do something else like fetch the biscuits.
I can literally have my tea mashing in a mug within 33 seconds of walking into the kitchen – and yes I did time myself. What do I do with the extra time? For the moment I use it to feel smug, liberated even. In today’s frantic world this fleeting feeling is not to be sneered at.
A perfect solution? Is the old kettle in the bin?
Not really. I would definitely recommend you consider buying a Tefal Quick cup, but it’s not necessarily going to replace the kettle (which I did think would be the case before buying). It isn’t perfect either so I have a few negative comments too.
The Quick Cup’s pros and cons as I see them
Here are the pros first –
1: It is very fast. I can have a mug of tea mashing in the cup within around 30 seconds of walking into the kitchen.
2: Tefal claim it uses 65% less energy than a standard kettle.
3: It dispenses cold water too.
4: It has a built in filter which may be beneficial in areas with hard water or funny tasting water.
5: It’s very good for making coffee because surprisingly it doesn’t actually boil the water although you’d never guess from looking at the steaming water dispensed. The temperature of the water is nearer 90 degrees. This is close to the perfect temperature for coffee. (Using boiling water burns the beans giving you a bitter taste). Some also argue that boiling water is bad for tea.
6: A Quick cup is arguably safer than a kettle with regard to small children although both should be kept well out of their reach. A freshly boiled kettle poses a burn risk and the nightmare scenario of a child pulling one over itself. With the Quick cup, the water inside is always cold. Hot water is only dispensed when the red button is pressed.
Here are the cons –
1: If you have hard water you will may need to keep buying new filters for it. However, if you do have hard water you are probably used to such things. You may even see the inclusion of a filter as a positive advantage.
2: It’s still noisy – as noisy as the kettle. The noise comes from pumping the water up into the heating chamber and out of the spout. However, the noise is just for about 20 – 25 seconds. You may disagree, but this is preferable to me than the constant drone getting louder and louder of a normal kettle over a much longer period.
3: If you wanted cold water just after dispensing boiling water you need to run the cold for a few seconds first because hot water would come out for the first second or so.
4: The dispenser spout is high enough to place tall glasses underneath (presumably for soft drinks) but it’s too high for a cup or even a modestly sized mug. This means if you just place the cup or mug under and press the red button you get some splashing of boiling water that misses the cup (unless you hold the cup under it). The splashes are small but can reach several inches. The problem is worse when the container is running low on water or has just been refilled and air gets pumped in with the water. They normally evaporate fairly quickly but it can need wiping up.
5: This one isn’t a disadvantage for me, but to remain balanced it needs mentioning on the cons list. As the temperature doesn’t reach actual boiling point, it’s possible for some tea-drinkers to be unhappy. However, I love my tea, and it tastes fine to me. It is definitely not quite as hot. If you normally find tea too hot to drink without letting it cool down for several minutes first this could actually be an advantage. One way round it (if required) would be to pre-heat the cup first by dispensing about a quarter of a cup full of hot water. Let it stand for a minute then empty it away and mash the tea in the now hot cup as normal. This results in a hotter cup of tea at least in the sense that the cup is nice and hot and there’s less loss of heat to the cup. Unfortunately though this not only wastes a small amount of extra energy and water, but it increases the time taken to produce the tea.
6: A child pressing the red button would get scalding water dispensed. I wouldn’t keep one where a child could use it. This advice applies equally to a kettle of course, and to be fair, a Quick cup is mostly safer as it is never hot like a freshly boiled kettle. If the child were to pull the Quick cup over itself the only water inside is always cold. The potential danger is only present if a child is either big enough, or has something to stand on in order to press the red button. So on balance you could easily argue that a Quick cup is much less of a danger than kettle.
7: If you occasionally use a kettle to take somewhere else you’ll need to keep the old kettle on hand. The Quick cup would be no use for filling up the screen wash reservoir on your car, or filling a bucket with boiling water etc.
8: The instruction manual advises that to use the least amount of energy you should switch the Quick cup off at the socket when not in use. This isn’t a bad idea in that switching most appliances off at the socket is a good safety precaution, but with kettles in constant use few of us do. I’ve noticed when left on at the socket, you can feel warmth around the red button on the top which shows it is consuming some energy. This energy usage is likely to be very minuscule, but still, when buying because you want to minimise energy “wastage” it bugs me a little. I normally do turn it off at the socket but often forget
9: The Quick cup doesn’t always deliver the exact amount of water and sometimes it delivers short (never the other way round though which would be very bad). To program how much to dispense you press both buttons, the light flashes; you then press and hold the red button and let go when the desired quantity is dispensed. Pressing both buttons again sets this amount. It usually remembers this amount quite well but occasionally it falls short and needs an extra few seconds press of the red button to top up. This is the limitation of delivering water for a specific amount of time because the water flow isn’t exactly the same each time especially if the container has just been refilled and some air gets into the system.
10: Please read the comments added to this review for details on a few other anomalies
Too many cons?
For me, the first two pros carry much more weight than any of the cons so I am still pleased with the Quick cup and think it was a good buy (as does my best mate who was so impressed when he came round that he bought one himself). As long as you understand exactly what you are getting, and you mash lots of tea and coffee but would like to do it much quicker and using substantially less electricity then it’s a great complimentary kitchen appliance.
Hopefully it will develop into a product with a few less cons although many of them could be described as minor. It is a new product though, and reliability is yet unknown.
Hot & cold water in 3 seconds
Uses 1/3 of energy of a standard kettle
Filter – Cleaner, clearer water
Capacity – 1.5L removable water tank
Manual or automatic flow
Note there’s a new deluxe Quick cup out, which has several improvements and looks a bit better.
Update: April 2011
Here’s a comment I just added (to the comments below) which some may find interesting.
I’ve just swapped my Quickcup for a Morphy Richards Meno One Cup, which apart from three specific annoyances I’m quite pleased with. On balance think it’s better than the Quickcup. I’d love to find time to review it, hopefully I will eventually.
It differs from the Quickcup in that it actually boils the water before dispensing it, but it is only supposed to boil cupfuls at a time with the ability to adjust the amount for small cups to large mugs. It’s quieter than the Quickcup, which has a very annoying constant pumping and steaming noise throughout its operation, and it looks considerably more stylish.