A blender is an essential kitchen appliance. Without one it’s near impossible to make sauces, soups, smoothies and blended iced drinks; but the quality of this produce also has to be consistent and this is where blenders differ greatly. The Optimum 9200A Next Generation, as the name suggests, is an upgraded model with a more powerful motor and design changes. It aims to execute all kitchen and commercial blending tasks efficiently and quickly with its 2,611 watt motor. So over the course of the past three weeks we’ve been putting it to the test.
As blenders go the Optimum 9200A Next Generation is well thought out. The rugged plastic base, available in white, black, silver and red has a retro shaping. This is in no way a bad thing and it fits in well with the famous KitchenAid appliances in style. It’s lightweight for easy handling, but isn’t an offender for vibrating around as rubber grips on each corner keep it grounded. The base body is compact enough, without the jar equipped, to store away in a cupboard or underneath a countertop, and the cable can be manually wound into the base; definitely a neat feature and one we’ve never seen implemented on a blender previously.
A facelift has been applied to the control layout and functionality of the Optimum 9200A Next Gen, to modernise it. This really strikes the right balance for commercial and home usage as the controls are straight to the point, featuring an on/off power button and a continuous slab of buttons under plastic so that food debris and liquid can’t interfere with their functionality. This also assists with the cleaning, making the front easy to wipe. The top row of the of six buttons are inbuilt timers, with 20, 35 and 45 seconds respectively, and these modes systematically increase their speed as the timer counts down. The bottom row of buttons allow the user to choose a desired speed of blending with slow, medium and fast to select from. On the right is a large pulse button. The control setup is functional and straightforward enough for both home and commercial usage and we have no complaints about it.
It’s easy to look at different blender models and just compare them on motor speed, but jar design is just as important, if not more. A poorly designed jar will leave irritatingly lacklustre results and discourage the activity of blending, due to things like the jar lodging produce or the blade spinning without actually doing anything. But rest assured, Optimum have got it right for the most part. The roundness of the BPA free polycarbonate 2L jar prevents produce getting trapped in corners, but doesn’t bring about an empty vortex of air as Optimum have incorporated four protruding triangular ridges evenly spaced inside, effectively acting as buffers for the contents. Due to this we rarely needed to reach for the supplied tamper tool, that inserts through the rubber lid of the jar, when making produce like smoothies. We did experience a bottleneck through the fact that the jar tapers narrowly toward the bottom, because this sometimes leaves larger ingredients trapped against one another just above the reach of the blades. We also found that the six blades were a boundary in trying to remove substances like sauces and humous from underneath with a spatula or spoon. One noteworthy inclusion are the written litres, cups and ounce measurements printed on the sides of the jar, which we made use of continually.
Performance & Results
We’re big fans of the Blendtec Designer 725 blender with its single blunt blade, but it may appear that our love affair with this simplistic blade design has a challenging contender. The folks at Optimum have installed a very different six stainless steel (comparatively sharp) blade system, consisting of four blades pointing upwards and two facing down. What this design manages to achieve, in collaboration with the jar design, is unexpectedly fast vortex blending. The first time we ever used it was to blend some homemade vegetable soup; we pulsed it twice for a combined two seconds and it was done. The texture was smooth throughout, without a large lump of vegetable to be found. Also, because the Optimum 9200A Next Generation blender can whizz as fast as 44,000 rpm, it can actually heat up soups/sauces, or make similar things from raw vegetables at such speed to the point where they're steaming in under three minutes. Continual activities can cause friction where the gasket breaks down incrementally on blenders until they may begin to leak, but the Optimum’s jar has a rubber gasket that didn’t get noticeably hot after this kind of prolonged usage.
Of course, we needed to put the 2,611 watt carbon brush motor through its paces with more intensive challenges. So we made humous, Starbucks Frappuccino styled drinks, smoothies, cake mixes, brownie mixes, icing, pancake/waffle batters, cookie doughs, sauces, soups and the most challenging of them all, bread dough and frozen banana ice cream.
As you can see from our photos the results were very positive. The humous has a full body that is creamier than shop bought and we’re big fans of making hasty cake/brownie mixes and pancake/waffle batters too. We did continually note that with thick and sticky mixtures, like the brownie mixes and doughs, the tamper tool is a necessary to effectively draw the ingredients down to the blade: It’s well designed though and allows full 360 degree movement around the jar.
Smoothies made at home are surging in popularity and we’ve made a large variety of them in this blender, particularly those that are fruit and vegetable based, the results of which we have been very happy about. The motor on this blender, primarily coupled with the timed modes, has no issue chopping through ice and other hard ingredients, with an outcome of an exceptionally uniform smooth quality. One smoothie we enjoy regularly and have found to be a good test to see just how smooth a drink a blender can attain, is a peanut butter based one. We use two tablespoons of organic chunky peanut butter for this drink, and what makes it interesting is that some blenders manage to combine all the other ingredients, which are milk, cocoa, honey and ice, but fail to actually cut down the peanuts within the liquid of the smoothie to a level of fineness where they don’t get stuck in the back of your throat or in your teeth. In this test we faced off the Blendtec Designer 725 blender against the Optimum 9200A Next Generation blender: both blended for 45 seconds and both managed to break down the peanuts, so the smoothie was evenly consistent and buttery. We were wholly satisfied from both results and they looked pretty much identical too.
Making smoothies and juices are this blender's biggest strengths, but it also has some weaknesses. We've established that we’ve made a variety of different produce within the 9200A Next Gen, with doughs in particular forming together with just a few pulses and all the ingredients being properly combined. Not unexpectedly we needed to use the tamper tool to guide the mixture in these cases, but annoyingly the inbuilt circuit breaker triggered nearly every time we pulsed, being seemingly a little too sensitive, although it is easily reset.
Both the lid and jar are dishwasher safe. But if you’re in a hurry, filling the jar with warm water and washing up liquid, then putting the blender onto the 45 second blend mode, will effectively clean the blender after something like a simple smoothie. However a thorough manual clean will be needed for thicker substances.
The flagship ability of the Optimum 9200A Next Generation blender is in making smoothies that achieve a high standard of consistency at speed, thanks to its capably powerful 2,611 watt motor and jar design. It also pulls off a palatable price tag in comparison to offerings from Blendtec and Vitamix at £429 (currently on sale at £329), which comes standard with a respectable six year international warranty.