A neat, stylish and well-designed machine
I recently tested the new Nespresso Decaffeinato capsules (which I thought were very good). You can see that review here.
Although my own Espresso machine has an add-on accessory for Nespresso capsules, it’s fiddly and OK for occasional use only.
For the purposes of reviewing the Nespresso capsules, I wanted to make sure that I used a machine that was specifically designed for Nespresso capsules. This was to make sure that I was testing the coffee as it was intended to be brewed.
I tested the capsules on a De’Longhi Nespresso Lattissima+, in a rather stylish red colour, and I wanted to tell you how I got on with the machine in the review below.
This is a rather neat machine, and occupies less space that my current Espresso machine. Actually, I thought my Espresso machine was compact, but the Lattissima+ was slimmer at about 17cm wide, and it was not as tall either. It also has a cable tidy underneath so that you don’t have excess cable on the bench, which is a neat touch.
The milk holder/frothing attachment (holding about 1/3rd litre) sits neatly within the confines of the machine and simply plugs into the front. It is easily detached to store in the fridge (as it contains milk). I liked the simplicity of that design and it shows that the use of the machine has been thought through with the everyday consumer in mind.
The water tank holds about 0.9litre and is mounted on the rear of the machine.
The machine heats up quickly (in about 40 seconds), and sports a power saving mode where it switches itself off after about 9 minutes (their documentation says this is energy A-Class). This is useful in these days of environmental awareness and squeezed household budgets, and I wish my usual Espresso machine had that feature. And although I didn’t test this, the power-saving time can apparently be programmed from its default of 9 minutes. Actually, I think 9 minutes is fine as it heats up quickly anyway so it’s not like it will keep you waiting!
The machine can accommodate two cup sizes: smaller cups sit on the upper drip tray whilst a taller cup or glass is accommodated by sliding the upper drip tray into the machine. There is a lower drip plate which needs to be wiped after use as it doesn’t hold much ‘drip’.
It has four pre-programmed coffee settings: Espresso, Lungo, Cappuccino and Latte Macchiato. This is really convenient if these are the styles you like. The Latte and Cappuccino buttons are disabled if the milk container is not attached – another neat design touch.
You can program the amount of water it dispenses for each particular drink (it can be set to deliver 20-300ml), and you can also separately program the amount of milk and coffee that is delivered for Cappuccino and Latte Macchiato.
Of course, given you can program the machine to deliver your preferred blend of coffee and milk, you can make what Latte mix you prefer.
However, if one family member prefers Macchiatto and another prefers straight Latte, it can be done I suppose, but not as an automated ‘single button press’. You could use the program buttons in a sort of “manual mode” for each drink, I guess.
I am hoping that someone from De’Longhi will read this and provide an update using the comment box at the bottom of this post.
I personally prefer Espresso, Lungo and Americano, the last one requiring the use of a kettle as there is no way to add plain hot water. The use of a kettle somewhat negates the power saving claims of the machine.
Now, I know it’s lazy of me, but sometimes when using my usual Espresso machine, I can just let the machine run on to make a 10oz Americano. I know that’s not how you are supposed to do it but it works for me.
As you can program the amount of water dispensed for each particular drink (it can be set to deliver 20-300ml), you can dispense the coffee as you like it. But as for the Latte mixes, I’m not sure that this is the most convenient way to regularly switch between Espresso, Lungo and Americano if you have a range of family preferences.
For Espresso, I like to warm the cup, but this otherwise convenient little machine doesn’t sport a hotplate, so cups have to be warmed separately.
Noise, or lack of
In operation, the machine was quieter that other machines I have tried, despite it boasting a 19-bar pump.
Apart from its good looks, what strikes me is the ‘user-focussed’ design. The machine has clearly been well thought-out from the perspective of how a consumer will use it on a day-to-day basis. This machine just works well and is easy to use with some nice touches.
Apart from the design touches mentioned elsewhere, on particular example worth mentioning is the way the rear-mounted water tank works. On every coffee machine I have owned, removing the rear-mounted water tank (to fill it) was a pain. They were awkward to the extent that I usually resorted to using a (clean) frothing jug to fill the tank.The De’Longhi has a simple but fantastic design for this task. Simply – the lid of the water tank doubles as a handle. This makes it easiest machine I have used to fill with water. Lift the tank out by the lid, fill the tank, and then use the lid to replace the tank. This works very well and is a delight to use.
Using the machine
Using the machine is easy enough. From pressing the power button, it is ready to go in about 40 seconds.
Open the big silver lever at the top, drop in a Nespresso capsule, close the lever and it’s ready to go. Operating the silver level again deposits the spent capsule into the waste chamber. A simple mechanism that, again, works well. Just remember to eject the capsule, so that the machine is not sitting with spent grinds.
Again, this is very straightforward. Add the milk into the container and plug the container into the front of the machine. You need to point the little steam nozzle at the cup and you are ready to go. The milk frother allows you to decide the frothiness of the milk via a rotating selection knob.
In the same way as making Espresso or Lungo, making a Latte or Cappuccino is a one-button operation. Press your chosen style button and the machine first dispenses the frothed milk, and then adds the coffee. Once the machine is programmed to your preferences, all you need to do is to press one button and watch!
After making milked coffees, you need to hold a cleaning button down for 10 seconds that purges residual milk (into a separate cup or container). It’s a pity that cannot be part of the automated cycle but I suppose it is better to separate the purging process as you don’t really want it purging into your drink.
I won’t make much comment on the coffee. Suffice to say that the machine worked just fine and the combination of machine and capsule worked well. As you would expect with a capsule system the coffee flavour was good (and consistently good). You can read my separate Nespresso capsule review here.
Given the Nespresso capsules are self-contained; there is no need to deal with used grinds. The drip tray(s) and waste container are easy to empty and clean.
Hygiene is clearly important to De’Longhi (and the consumer!), and so they (De’Longhi) clearly explain how to disassemble and clean the milk container and frother. They also recommend a twice-weekly clean in the dishwasher. It doesn’t say what to do if you don’t happen to have a dishwasher, and I think putting the small, lightweight frothing components into the top tray of a dishwasher might by tricky. Again, I am happy for De’Longhi to add tips at the bottom of this post.
I usually make perhaps one or two milked coffees each week. So for me, the cleaning schedule for the milk frother is too onerous and so I would probably use a separate frother.
However, if you usually drink Latte or Cappuccino, then this machine offers real convenience, making the preparation of these drinks simple and straightforward.
There is a separate de-scaling nozzle that is neatly tucked away underneath the milk container position. This nozzle replaced the milk container when descaling. Usefully, the machine tells you when it needs to be descaled and has a descale program.
If you and your family members like a mixture of Cappuccino, Latte, Espresso and Lungo then I think this machine is definitely worth considering. It’s neat, has a very well thought-out design, and looks good. The programmable one-touch programs mean that anyone can make a consistently good coffee to their taste.