Recently, I was contacted and given the opportunity to review and test out a free sample unit of the new NesCafé Dolce Gusto machine. With a normal latte costing about $3 nowadays, I’ve been curious about what one of these machines would be like to have at home, so I was excited to give it a whirl. The NesCafé Dolce Gusto is a single-serve coffee machine. I guess a similar one would be the Tassimo one. Basically, you put in a little capsule into the machine, turn a lever, and out comes instant cappuccino! So here’s how it went down:
First, after opening it, in addition to the machine, I found that it also came with two glasses, one for taller drinks, like a Mocha, and one for smaller ones, like an cappuccino or regular coffee. The machine itself is a little larger than I expected- but it’s not HUGE- about the same size as a normal coffee machine. For some reason though, I thought it would be smaller- but overall, I really liked the design. (It kind of reminds me of a little bird!) Anyway- I started with a Mocha (my favorite). You fill the back part with water, and turn the machine on. In less than a minute- the power light flashes from red to green, indicating that the water is hot and ready to go. The speed was pretty impressive. You then put in the capsule. For a Mocha- there are two capsules needed. One for the espresso part, and the other, I assume for the milk part- They were colored accordingly. There is a little chart/diagram on the box to indicate the suggested proportion of how much you put in, but you can control the proportion (ie. if you like a stronger drink, you can put more -or less- as you like.) This is all controlled by how long you leave the lever thing on. You just slide the lever/knob thing to the red circle (there are three positions for the lever. One is Red, for hot drinks, then in the middle is the off position, then there’s a blue one for cold drinks)- and then the water goes, passes through the capsules, and the drink starts pouring out. After that- voila! instant Mocha- complete with frothy top! It was actually really easy and the taste was yummy and authentic- just like one from the coffee shop. There was a sample set of flavors that came with the box (see here for the list of flavors) and over the next couple days, I tried the other ones, all of which were pretty good. The only one that I didn’t really care for was one called “Choco-chino.” Personally, it tasted to me like one of those powdered hot chocolates. eh. Overall, it’s really quite convenient. The boxes of capsules go for about $8.49, and you get 16 capsules in a box- however, depending on what kind of drink/flavor you get, that 16 can equal 16 cups or 8 cups (if you get a Mocha, it takes two capsules to make one, but a Cafe Americano only takes one capsule)- still, that comes out to be much cheaper than a normal cup from a coffee store chain. So all in all- really impressed with the speed, ease, and taste!
Now, here are my gripes. The first thing is the capsules. The size of the capsule made me think that maybe you could get two drinks out of each- but unfortunately that’s not the case- (i tried, but when filling the second cup, it got too watery too quickly)- There just always seemed to be a lot leftover inside after one cup. Also, I noticed there wasn’t a recycle symbol on it- so I asked the NesCafe contact about recyclability of the capsules. She explained it best-“I can appreciate your concerns about recycling the pods, we hear that a lot. Nescafe Dolce Gusto is a global brand. You might be reassured to know that the capsules are recoverable through packaging recovery schemes in Europe, called green dot organizations. These do not exist in the US, so in part one reason we can’t be recycled is the recycling capabilities / infrastructure specific to the US market. In general, Nestlé is committed to reducing the environmental impact of packaging, without jeopardizing the safety, quality or consumer acceptance of its products. The company strives to reduce weight and volume of materials; lead in the development and use of renewable resources; support the recovery of used packaging and decrease waste and use recycled materials, where appropriate.” So, sadly, no- in the US they aren’t.
The only other gripe would be that the flavor capsules are not as easily available at your local grocery store. They are however, available online and at Sur la Table, Macys, Bloomingdales, and Bed Bath and Beyond. Luckily, I’m a mall rat, so I guess that’s not really a problem for me- but for someone who lives where those stores aren’t local, then that could be a little inconvenient. Oh, I should also note that the machine itself retails for $149.99- (and there’s currently a $30 rebate offered online.) I believe that makes it a little more expensive than some of its competitors. Anyway- I’ve had the machine now for a few weeks and have enjoyed using it- especially on the weekends. I think it’d make a great gift (or even a little gift for yourself)- I’m curious if any of you have one of these self serve coffee machines at home or have considered getting one? If you have one, do you like it? good experience with them? bad?