The Seren toaster has no slots on the top and comes in a range of iMac-style colours. But is it really a 'revolution' in toasting bread?
Seren Toaster Review
Ease of Use
Cool, funky and fun - we liked it even though the toast wasn't perfect
The first impression that hits you when you unbox the Seren toaster is that it seems to be lacking an essential feature: slots to place the toast. Then it dawns on you – there are no slots on a side-loading toaster. Toaster technology has moved on in the past few years it seems.
The second initial impression about the Seren toaster – at least the one we were supplied for this review – is that someone on the Seren design team has fond memories of the original Apple iMac computer. This, the older ones among you may recall was available for sale in a range of bright, pastel colours like Blueberry, Indigo, Ruby and Snow.
This kaleidoscopic choice offered no performance benefits, but it did mean the limited beige colour palette of personal computing design was challenged. The toaster market used to suffer the same kind of issue – silver or white being the colours of choice. But now a visit to any shop selling toasters will find you presented with a dazzling array of red blue, white, cream, black and silver options to complement any kitchen interior.
The Seren doesn’t offer totally different products for each of its 4 colours: red, black, white and silver. Instead you can buy 1 of 4 removable covers that attach via magnets onto the front of the toaster. It’s a slightly wobbly fit that would have Apple’s Jonny Ive choking on his organic bagel – but it serves a cosmetic purpose from a distance.
The wobbly colour panels aside, the Seren isn’t a badly built toaster. The lines are clean and the design is simple and effective. The ‘revolutionary’ side loading tray slides in and out with a satisfying click and its button opens and closes the springy toast rack holder in the expected manner.
The pull-out tray proves surprisingly handy for a range of unexpected reasons. It provides an easy way to transport piping hot toast, buns or crumpets and deposit them on a plate without any scorched fingers. Pulling the tray out of the tray automatically cuts off the heat to the toasters. And last and by no means least – the tray is easy to clean, you can just pour crumbs away and run it under a tap. The smartest tech is sometimes just the simplest.
But what side loading access provides with one hand: convenience, ease-of-cleaning, all-round coolness; it takes away with the other. To use the Seren you’ll need at least twice its 38 cm length available on your kitchen work surface to allow the tray to slide out and be removed. The fact that the supplied electrical lead is only 1 metre long means that you may find it hard to position without an ugly extension lead. Not so smart.
Using the Seren toaster
It may sound obvious, but there’s no better way of reviewing a toaster than by seeing how it actually toasts. Our concern about the Seren toaster is that it only has one heating bar on each side of the unit, which can cause issues with not toasting bread evenly.
For our review we decided to toast 6 single slices of bread at each of the 6 settings on the toaster dial to see what kind of toast each one produces. To ensure some element of consistency we sourced our sample slices from the same loaf of Warburton’s Toastie thick sliced white bread.
We also allowed the Seren toaster to cool down after every test to ensure that pre-heating didn’t interfere with our results. This is what we found. Added commentary on the quality of the toast produced has been provided by my colleagues Sam Arojo and self-confessed ‘toast connoisseur’ Michelle Stylianou.
A recent life pro tip meme across the internet suggested that the dial numbers on toasters like ours actually corresponded to the number of minutes that the slice was being toasted. That has been thoroughly debunked in our testing as not one of the setting matched the equivalent number of minutes.
Notwithstanding the results, which are tabulated below. We had several other random observations about using the Seren toaster in anger.
- The 1 metre long power lead is far too short, especially if you need to move the toaster to gain access to the side loading tray.
- The slide-out toast tray means you can easily transport toast to the plate without burning your fingers.
- The open-ended designs could entice curious youngsters to stick their fingers in
- The repeated beeps when the toast completes are bloody annoying.
- The outside of the toaster stay cool enough to touch comfortably while it’s on duty
- Why oh why can’t you slot in the toast tray from either end of the toaster. That would have addressed the limited space issue immediately
- Cleaning the toaster is absolutely effortless: just empty out the crumbs in the bin, then run the tray under the tap. Did we say that already? Well as someone who’s spend far too much time trying to clean out crud from the bottom of a toaster, it’s probably worth repeating…
|Setting. No||Toast Quality||Team Reaction|
|Dial Setting 1||Very lightly crispy. Traces of light brown colour in patches. Inconsistent distribution.||“That’s not toast, that’s warm bread,” says Michelle.|
|Dial Setting 2||Definitely crisp throughout. Colour varies from white to light to middle brown. The toast holder is the culprit behind the streaks – a definite annoyance for Sam||Michelle’s verdict: “It’s getting there – but still not proper toast.|
|Dial Setting 3||Thoroughly crisp but the coloration is still noticeably uneven with one side of the bread more cooked than the other.||“I don’t like the fact it’s uneven.” says Michelle.|
|Dial Setting 4||The gridmarks look like white tramlines running through the centre of our toast. But the coloration is now more even and the texture is nice and crunchy – this is proper toast, guys!||“My favourite so far!”, says Michelle, who really fancies a piece of toast now, but is not allowed to eat the content.|
|Dial Setting 5||We’re approaching critical toast with some debate as too whether it is starting to burn or not. Texture is still fine.||Michelle felt that it would be ‘burnt for me’, Sam disagreed. “That’s absolutely fine”.|
|Dial Setting 6||Not vastly different from setting 5, as the dial seems to be designed to avoid black toast. The tramlines look even more obvious and the texture is now super crunchy and moisture-free||Michelle would have to scrape this hard but Sam thought itmight be OK with lashings of butter and strong coffee. I think it was edible, just.|
The Seren toaster is not the best toaster on the market at actually cooking toast, not by a long shot. The toast is cooked slightly unevenly and the spring-loaded toast holder leaves unsightly tramlines over the toast that’s produced. On other items, like hot-cross buns or crumpets, however, the toaster works perfectly well.
But it’s the x factor that the Seren has in spades that helps tilt opinion in its favour. It undeniably looks cool with its slot-free surface and it feels just as cool as well, thanks to the excellent insulation inside. The side-loading mechanism is a genuine innovation while the pull-out tray is both convenient and functional. It’s already become a focal part of the office kitchen, and has so far held up well to regular usage from an ever hungry mob of Shopomo staffers. So it’s a pretty enthusiastic thumbs up for this cool, side-loading surprise.