Looks-wise, this cute machine is practically crying out for its own role in a Pixar film: anthropomorphisation? It's half-way there - with sections that resemble a head, body and feet. The machine is predominantly made from plastic, most of which is a bright, shiny red. There are accent-colour sections of matt-black, a clear water tank (allowing you to keep an eye on the level of fluid remaining), whilst some of the more hard-used elements (the lid, the handle for the capsule holder, and the drip tray surface) are made from metal.
The machine takes hardly any time to set up, most components are already in place and simply need strips of security tape removed. Before first use, the machine requires a flush through with clean, cold water. This doesn't take long. For filling purposes, the water tank just lifts from the back of the device. Then, you're all set to make your first drink.
The machine is straightforward to use, with only a few steps required: fill tank, switch on, wait for a standby light to turn green, flick a switch to turn on water flow, allow this to reach your desired level, and switch the water flow back off. There's even an option to choose between hot and chilled drinks. The drip tray at the bottom is adjustable and can be clipped onto the front of the machine at three different levels to allow for differing cup/mug sizes while causing minimum mess.
Good though this is, it's not entirely without its drawbacks. For instance, whilst the pods themselves come with suggested measurements for the amount of fluid required to make the 'ideal' drink, this machine does not incorporate a measured dose system for water output (as e.g. Senseo, Tassimo or even Dolce Gusto Creativa machines do). Nor are there any kind of measuring guidelines on the water tank. Combine this with the fact that most cups and mugs don't include inbuilt measures, and there may be a bit of trial and error needed before you find a decent balance. The absence of an auto cut-off also means that you can't really afford to get distracted part-way through making your drink e.g. by a ringing telephone. And decaffeinated coffee pods - of any sort - aren't among the more widely available varieties: some of the pod styles available online include decaff variants... but these aren't always available beyond the Dolce Gusto site.
Handily, there's a box of 6 pods included with the machine, so you can try this out when you get it... though it's worth noting that this only makes up to 4 drinks, as 2 of the varieties (Latte Macchiato and Cappuchino) require both coffee AND milk pods.
- Attractive styling - Decent size (the water tank holds more than enough for a couple of mugs of drink) without taking over your workspace - Easy to use - Pods are widely available - Includes taster pods, allowing you to test out a couple of varieties before committing to larger boxes - Adjustable height drip tray
- Pods are not cheap, and their plastic design does seem a bit wasteful - This isn't a measured-dose machine - Decaff. variants are harder to find
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