review of
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved

     Paul Pratt is well known in the coffee community, and his products reflect his dedication to quality goods that do the job intended, stand up to abuse, and look good sitting on the counter. In 2009 Cafelat was honored with the best packaging award at the SCAA exhibition in Atlanta.
      As in years past, I got to spend some time talking to Paul on the 2010 Anaheim SCAA Exhibition floor, and was able to procure some of the items that his company sells. I have been using them daily for about ten weeks and so I offer my observations to you.

Tubbi Knock Box
      While a little garbage can on top of the counter is less than romantic, that is really all that a knock box is; a dust bin for spent coffee from an espresso machine. But there is more to it than just its basic function. A quality knock box should:
- Be quiet, even when being pounded by a 58mm portafilter in the hands of the most steroidal barista.
- Be easily cleaned
- Stay put on the counter when in use
- Not damage the counter's surface
- Last for a good long time
     In the relatively limited amount of time I have used the Tubbi I can say that it fulfills all the above requirements.
      The crossbar is very well padded with a rubbery material that effectively quiets the pounding while absorbing just enough of the force to knock the puck out without rebound that can cause coffee splatter. Inside the crossbar is a stainless steel tube. While the crossbar assembly ( the covered bar and end caps) is replaceable on its own, it would seem that it will most likely last long enough in home use that replacement will likely never be required.
      The tub is made of ABS, and the bottom has a non-skid surface so if kept clean it keeps the Tubbi in place. A nice feature so that an errant push won't slide it off the counter. And speaking of cleaning, dump the spent pucks in the trash bin, and give the whole thing a quick rinse in the sink and all the coffee debris comes right off.
      Tubbi is approximately 5 inches across at its top, so it doesn't need a lot of counter-top real estate, and it easily holds about 8 or 10 pucks, or maybe a few more if you top it off. Its street price is about $28. A larger size with approximately twice the capacity is available for about $40.

Splat Mat
(tamper shown not a Cafelat product)
     Ok, I admit that whimsical is not one of my personality's standout features, but I decided to go ahead and give the Splat Tamping mat a try. The wrap-over design protects the counter, and the mat itself gives a no-skid surface upon which the portafilter can rest. The wrap over design is equally excellent with spouted or bottomless portafilters. The barista can push the portafilter right up to the counter's edge without fear of damaging the counter or the scratching the portafilter. The low level of compression of the material is just enough to be comfortable to use, yet does not detract from the feel of the tamping action.
      As with the Tubbi, a rinse under the faucet with hot water, and the mat comes clean. A wipe of the towel and it is ready to go.
      The Splat mat is one of a few of the mats offered by Cafelat- the Splat selling for about $15.

Espresso Machine Brush
      While this Cafelat item carries one of the less creative names, it just might end up being your favorite tool. So simple in design and use, I really don't have to do any more than share the above image and say, "Goodnight, folks!" but I will anyway.
      Lock the brush into the group just as you would a portafilter, press upwards a bit, and run it back and forth as if locking and unlocking a portafilter, and just like that, the group gasket and surrounding area is scrubbed. I usually run some hot water over it just before use, and in severe conditions you would wet it with an espresso machine cleaning solution, but it is a simple, and elegantly-designed tool that does the job far better than the traditional styled brushes. Since this one arrived I haven't even used the old style brush.
      The Cafelat Espresso Machine Brush is sized to it 58mm groups. It comes boxed with a spare set of brushes as seen above and sells for about $16 with additional spare pairs of half-circle brushes for about $12.
      I hope to be able to review more Cafelat items in the future, but if these three items reflect the quality and usefulness of the rest of the Cafelat line, I don't think you can go wrong with Cafelat products.