Our children have many names but there doesn’t seem to be any real consensus as to what we should call a coffee machine. Capsule machine, espresso machine for pods, coffee capsule machine? In any case it’s all about a coffee machine that produces a ready to drink warm drink by the simple pressing of one or more buttons. We have tests a number of models of capsule machines from three different price classes: budget, intermediate and premium. We have of course assessed the end results, how the coffee itself tastes, but we have also looked at many other aspects.
The size of the machine and how user-friendly the buttons and any displays are of course form the basis for how a coffee machine is perceived by the consumer. The idea behind a coffee machine is primarily to simplify making coffee and the process should therefore be just as simple and preferably also quick. We will therefore compare brewing times and heating times of the different machines. We will look at how the light and sound indicators work, how easy the machines are to clean and how many components they have. Is there a function for automatic power off and for low water level warning? Is there the option of setting the water volume yourself or to do any other fine tuning? How do the capsules work, is there a stand for them, has account been paid to the environment considering the fact that this is a disposable product? It is also interesting to see how large a range of other drinks are available for each machine, if milk is also available as a capsule, where the capsules can be purchased and the approximate price.
Some of the coffee machines have a milk frother, others do not. The power of the pump has also been shown to vary, the same applies to the temperature of the water when the coffee is brewed and of the finished product. The test was conducted by normal coffee drinkers together with a number of more committed coffee enthusiasts.
The Nespresso Pixie is without doubt the simplest capsule machine in our test. It is small in size and the design is industrially scaled-down, the machine will probably appeal to most people with its stainless steel details. But its minimalist size is no bar to the Pixie being a well-designed capsule coffee machine. The Pixie features the same smooth functions as the larger Nespresso machine, plus a number of other intelligent features. For example, the Nespresso Pixie has a white backlight that changes to red to warn when the water tank is empty. The cup stand is also very logical, can be raised easily when a larger cup is to be used and also acts as a drip tray. Overall, you very rarely need to look in the instruction manual when using the Nespresso as you intuitively know how to use it.
When the Nespresso Pixie is lit up you get a glimpse of the contents of the capsule container, with space to hold several capsules. To empty the container, take hold of the cup stand, pull it out and empty the capsules without any mess. The Nespresso capsules are made from aluminium and can be recycled without needing to be washed at your local recycling centre for metal packaging. The brewing process is so scaled-down that anybody can use the Nespresso Pixie, even granny can make a cup of coffee. But Nespresso also makes it easy to become a fervent coffee enthusiast, the rich and varied selection of capsules will be appreciated by the connoisseur. Nespresso’s coffees are characterised by their even, well-balanced tastes and their full aromatic fragrances, topped by a luxurious, full froth. In addition to the basic range, Nespresso regularly releases temporary coffee collections that can be wonderful taste sensations. If the availability of the capsules had been better, the Nespresso Pixie would have picked up full marks. All in all, the Nespresso Pixie is a very easy to use, smooth and affordable capsule coffee machine that meets our expectations with flying colours, and this is why we have decided to select the Pixie as the best in the test.
Purely in terms of price the Latissima Touch is one of Nespresso’s premium coffee machines and this is reflected in its design and features. The combination of good coffee and a built-in milk frother can make any coffee lover a very satisfied coffee drinker. Nespresso’s range of coffee is in al class of its own where the whole scale consists of well-balanced tones. With a range going from intense, roasted aromas to flora, wild tastes, you are offered a luxurious coffee experience with a consistently uniform character. With a detachable water tank and the same (not completely perfect) principle for the collection of used coffee capsules, all of the Latissimia Touch’s basic features work well, but it is in that little extra where the coffee machine shines. In terms of size, the Latissimia Touch is not much larger than the Nespresso machines without milk frothers, so still relatively company. We think this is worth noting as a plus, considering the number of household appliances that are to be found in most kitchens today.
If you always drink you coffee black, the Nespresso Latissimia Touch is an unnecessary purchase as one of Nespresso’s simpler models without a milk frother will suffice. The range of capsules is just as large as for all Nespresso coffee machines and we are calling for the option to buy the capsules in ordinary grocery shops and this would surely aid availability. If you mainly like you coffee in the form of a latte, you will appreciate how easily you can make your own with Latissimia Touch. And with real milk. The milk container can be detached in order to be stored in the fridge, which is practical and means that you can avoid pouring away any left over milk. If coffee is a priority expenditure in the household budget and coffee with warm frothy whipped milk a favourite, it is without doubt a Nespresso Latissima Touch that should have pride of place on the work surface. We therefore select the Latissima Touch as the best premium choice.
The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Mini Me is the coffee machine of all of the coffee machines in our test that has a form based on height. It doesn’t therefore take up much space in the kitchen, something that will be appreciated in most households. The design of the Mini Me stands out. Kaffemaskinen ser lite grann ut som en Fia med knuff-pjäs.xxx The Dolce Gusto Mini Me has a large range of capsules and can make both hot and cold drinks. With the Mini Me you can choose between 7 different water volumes and is shows on the capsule the volume of liquid that is recommended. A filter coffee is size 6 with 180 ml of liquid while an espresso barista is size 1 with 35 ml of liquid. A joystick that sits on top of the Mini Me is used to choose between hot and cold water and how much liquid is desired.
The Dolce Gusto performs very well for filter coffee. These capsules are perhaps the ones in our test that best approximate to a normal cup of filter coffee. There are tea capsules for those who prefer tea as well as for both iced tea and iced coffee. A wide range of coffee capsules is available offering everything from solid, rounded tastes to nutty, characterful tastes, with some of the best fragrances of the test. Adjusting the cup height on the Dolce Gusto Mini Me is simple, there are two positions and a tall tea cup also fits, which is not very common. The water reservoir is easy to detach and replace, however, it is made from smoke-coloured plastic, which makes it more difficult to see how much water remains. And if there is water remaining there any warning indicator showing that the water level in the reservoir is too low. The capsules are emptied manually after the coffee has been prepared. The whole unit can be detached so there is no need to insert the capsules manually and risk getting your fingers dirty or burning them. In summary, the Dolce Gusto Mini Me has many options, is easy to understand and does not take up much space on the worktop. These are exactly the types the qualities that we are looking for in a good coffee machine. Combined with great tasting coffee and the attractive price of both the machine itself and the capsules, we have selected the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Mini Me as the best budget choice.
The U C50/D50 is similar to the Nespresso Inissia in many respects. It is a slightly less expensive model and its functions are therefore more scaled-down. The range of coffee is just as good as for all Nespresso machines, even if, as has been said, the availability from the Nespresso webshop or brand stores is limited. The capsules are small and conveniently shaped. The container for collecting the capsules after use is less well-thought-out. Our experience is also that the Nespresso capsules belong to the group that leak the most after use. This involves additional cleaning and a greater risk of mess. Coffee can be brewed with the U C50/D50 without even having to press a button. When the capsule unit is opened by pulling back its lock a space opens into which the capsule can be inserted. Brewing is then started by closing the lock and the machine does the rest.
The advantage of the Nespresso U C50/D50 is its simplicity of use. The cylindrical water tank is easy to detach, you only need to lift up the tube. Its drip tray and water tank are intelligently held in place by magnetic attachments and the water tank can also be angled. The tree buttons, small, medium and large, make it an easy matter to start brewing your coffee and this meant that our test subject used the Nespresso U C50/D50 more often than the more expensive Nespresso machines. The end result, the coffee itself, is of course the same and we would only recommend mid-range Nespresso machines in preference to this budget model if there is an extreme lack of space on your worktop, and this is a good score.
No fuss is what Tassimo’s own slogan “coffee without a filter" is marketing and the Charmy T55 is just as simple as promised. The fact is that this is one of the coffee machines in our test that demands the least of the user. When the water tank is filled and the capsule inserted into place, all that is needed is the push of a button for the coffee to be ready. The Tassimo Charmy T55 controls itself during the brewing, but it is possible to press a button for more water if you would like a larger drink. The height of the cup stand is controlled by turning a lock. There is no automatic collection of capsules, which instead have to be removed manually and disposed of, with the risk of spillage and burning fingers. Tassimo’s basic range of coffee tastes is not that extravagant, but there is also a wide range of ready-to-drink coffees available. With Tassimo there is also the option to make tea and chocolate drinks. This is where Tassimo shines.
Bosch Tassimo Charmy T55 says that the ability to dismantle the machine into parts simplifies cleaning. Only the capsule container is difficult to access. The water tank is completely detached when filling. You need to be careful to insert the capsule correctly, if it is askew in any way a double hole might be made, resulting in a lot of mess to clear up. If you want milk in your coffee, there are capsules containing preserved milk with a very sweet taste. You can of course froth the milk separately if you want a more genuine milk taste. The Bosch Tassimo Charmy T55 is simple to use whilst the brewing if performed using a fairly complex system. There is a barcode on the capsule that decides for you what you coffee will be like. This therefore reduces the opportunity to make your own choices and to experiment with the coffee. If you are happy with the range that is available, the Bosch Tassimo Charmy T55 offers you a good cup of coffee, with the least effort on your part.
Nespresso is characterised by its wide product range - of both coffee machines and of capsules. Inissia C40 is a mid-price-range coffee machine that looks significantly more expensive. Purely in terms of design, the Nespresso is spot on in its expression and you need never be ashamed of having one of their coffee machines on your worktop. Inissia C40 does not take up much space and the cup stand can be adjusted with the minimum of fuss for firstly a small and then a larger cup by opening and closing a lid. The water tank is detachable. The water tank can be a bit difficult to remove, but that in the big picture that is just a triviality It also tends to be a little messy in the container where used capsules end up, so it’s a good idea to ensure that this space is regularly cleaned.
As regards the taste, it is of course a matter of personal preference. The advantage of Nespresso machines is that there are many different types of coffee capsules to choose from and it’s hard not to find something that suits your own taste. The disadvantage is the limited availability. The capsules cannot be purchased from ordinary food shops and only from Nespresso’s own brand stores or alternatively online. If you remember to stock up in time then this is no problem. But if you run out of coffee on Friday afternoon it could be a long wait for a refill. So provided that you are a coffee drinker who is able to plan ahead, you will not be disappointed with the Nespresso Inissia C40.
The Tassimo model Joy T43 is, just as the Charmy T55, in a wallet-friendly price class, without having compromised on quality. The Joy T43 feels solidly-designed and the functions are well-thought-out. The spacious water tank is easy to access and no special trick is required to detach it for filling. The height level of the cup stand can be adjusted, but needs to be pulled free from its position with a risk of the drip tray splashing if you are not careful or unfamiliar. The actual system, the fact that the coffee machine has a barcode reader that reads the instructions on capsules and then makes the drink accordingly, also feels as part of the idea behind making coffee uncomplicated. Sometimes the human factor has to come into play and sometimes the Tassimo Joy T43 needed a nudge in the right direction. For example, we occasionally had to rub the bar code reader clean in order for the machine to locate the capsule and start making the coffee.
The Tassimo Joy T43 is quite large, perhaps a little too large taking into consideration the scaled-down functions. There is no button to select the size of drink, this is instead already programmed into the barcode of each capsule. If you want to increase the volume of liquid, there is the option to keep the button depressed when it begins to flash yellow at the end of the brewing process, but this means standing by the machine, watching it and pressing the button at exactly the right moment. The options for the individual are not that great, this is why the Tassimo Joy T43 is most suitable for somebody who already likes the range of coffee and other drinks that are currently available. However, for those who are used to being able to adjust their drinks according to their own tastes, the Joy T43 may be seen as being a little tedious.
The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Stelia is a capsule coffee machine with a higher price tag, but with a very unique profile in its design, the Stelia looks like it has been taken directly from the kitchen of the Jetson family. Half of the Stelia is a coffee maker, the other half is an interactive art installation in your kitchen. In contrast to Nescafe’s other machines, the Stelia only has one physical button. The other functions are controlled via a touch display. The display is of very good quality, very sensitive to finger movements when you wish to adjust the volume of water or whether a hot or a cold drink is to be made. The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Stelia requires no manual contribution in perforating the capsule, for a lock to be pressed in, etc., which is the case with the other coffee machines offered by Nescafé. Even perforation is automatic when the brewing process begins.
Getting hold of both the capsule holder and the water tank of the Stelia is somewhat undefined. The water tank has to be lifted up with the fingertips and easily becomes incorrectly balanced when it is filled. However, the water tank can also be opened from the rear and filled using a water bottle. The Stelia’s combined cup stand and drip tray are also tricky to get hold of. More clearly defined handles would have been positive moves. The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Stelia has a fairly small standing base and does not therefore take up much space despite the fact that it is based on length instead of on height. The Stelia is one of the coffee machines in our test that produced coffee of a lower temperature after brewing, which means that if you add cold milk to your coffee the drink could be perceived as being on the border of being lukewarm. However, the capsules from Nescafé retain good quality with a good and naturally full-bodied taste of the coffee.