I was extremely excited to be approach to try out this little beast of a coffee machine. It seems that I am getting down in the industry for being something of a coffee addict – and perhaps that its true. As I write this entry, I am nursing a rather bruised nose and forehead having walked into a sliding door, which is a result of not having enough strong coffee in the morning to kick-start my day (my fault completely). Now as coffee machine’s go, there are many on the market ranging from the entry level coffee machines available at Vida (which are okay’ish), all the way up to the amazing installed coffee machines available at Caffe Tazza D’Oro in Pankhurst, and a variety in-between all promising the a-grade coffee beverages available at leading coffee shops and restaurants – but few actually deliver. I am very happy to report that the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Mini Me Genio takes home coffee-making (pod style) one step closer to the barrister level.

Power Buster - the little coffee machine that could!

Power Buster – the little coffee machine that could!

The thing with home automated coffee machines, particularly those that use pods, is that the art of coffee making is replaced by the one-touch automated process of the machine. there is so much that goes into making a great cup of coffee, and anyone who has attending a barrister competition will tell you, the slightest change in the pressure and temperature of the water during the process of making a coffee can dramatically change the taste of the end product. Therefore, coffee purists who hate the concept of automated coffees will fervently state that it is sacrilegious to state that a coffee machine that completely replaces the human process and what’s more, relies of pods to determine the pressure press of the coffee pack, can not ever create a coffee that matches up with a barrister.

And I would agree, but the likes of Nescafe, Nespresso and Lavazza are getting damn close – and further, as much as I wold like one, I simply can not afford to employ a full time barrister in my kitchen, and I simply do not have the time (and frankly, the patience) to do it myself. So, for now at least, I will have to just be happy with the coffee that comes from my automated pod-using coffee machines.

But, back to the Mini Me. A while back, I reviewed a previous version of one of Nescafe’s coffee machines, and Will I was rather impressed with that model, the Mini Me is a noticeable improvement for various reasons.

NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Mini Me 5

To start off with, and perhaps the most important aspect of the Mini Me, is the new two pod process – yes, you heard me correctly – two different pods! Why? Well, Nescafe understands that their audience is not content to drink the same beverage day after day, and even the most dedicated of Latte drinkers will want to change it up a bit. Further, they understand that its rather damn difficult to get a rich and delicious taste to a coffee beverage if your machine is only capable of producing pod espresso’s with an additional milk brother for the foam finish. That process is rather long and messy, and Nescafe has realised that in the same way hat we use a pod for the caffeine, we would also use a pod for the milk and froth – and even start including flavours in this mixture.

So it’s not just the machine that Nescafe has looked at, but also the pod use process and varieties – so two good reasons to consider Nescafe in your next coffee machine purchase.

Easy enough to use.

Easy enough to use.

If you are like me, and believe that instruction manuals are meant for people who can not figure something out for themselves, then the process of using the machine and the two pod system can be a bit complicated and frustrating. But once you get the hang of it, its perfectly manageable.

Each pod has a bar marking on it indicating the setting that the machine should be put at when making the particular type of coffee selection. So, for example, the Espresso Intenso indicated 2 bars, so all you do is set the lever on the Mini Me to two bars to correspond to the pod, and press the button. The setting them understands the pre-set requirements of the particular pod, and will be able to produce an espresso according to the intended outcome for that variety. The two pod system comes into play when you want to get a tad more adventurous with the Mini Me. Following the same process, you would select your desired coffee, follow the same process as outlined above, but following the completion of this process, you would them follow a similar process with the desired “milk” pod.

The result is a rich and creamy (and flavour-optioned) cappuccino or latte that is both fun to make (if you have got rather tired with standard pod coffee processes), but a articular taste that ropes you in from the first sip and draws you back time and time again. It is very easy to see how this little machine can become a firm favourite if you, like me, have more than three different types of coffee machines in current use.

Great new coffee flavours that kept me coming back for more and more.

Great new coffee flavours that kept me coming back for more and more.

As with the last review, my concern is still with the size of the pods. They are huge – possibly the largest of all the pods available, and so use a create deal of plastic. While the coffee is fantastic, it does make me a little uneasy using these pods, as I wonder how bigger my carbon footprint is getting using these size pods. And what’s more, I now use two pods – effectively doubling my footprint as well as my guilt. But for those would are less paranoid than I on matters such as these, then it should’t be a problem to overcome the guilt with the first sip of you vanilla latte.

Nescafe’s machine designs remain, in my opinion, firmly grounded in the future. While the Nescafe Circulo looked like something to be found on Star Trek, the Mini Me is reminiscent of  the love interest of the lovable Wall-E robot. I am not sure how great its design would go in, for instance, my mid-century styled home, as its design is very conspicuous. But, once again, if you are not hung up on things like kitchen styling, then its design would be incidental.

The Nescafe Mini Me Genio retails for around ZAR1900.00 from Dion Wired online, and a box of 16 pods will get you back around ZAR80.00. Incidentally, that’s ZAR5,00 a pod, while Nespresso’s pod pack of 10 will set you back between ZAR63.00 and ZAR80.00 – being between ZAR6,3 and ZAR8,00 a pod – depending on the flavour selection – so, even though the Nespresso pod is possibly far more environmentally-friendly, its still considerably more expensive pod-for-pod than Nescafe’s. However, remember to double that to ZAR10,00 a coffee if you are using the two pod system.

Overall, the Nescafe Mini Me Genio is a great little coffee machine that brings variety back into the pod coffee making equation. Its price point is well suited for those who demand more from their coffee experience, and the extended coffee varieties will certainly extend this experience even further. Rest assured that while the machine and pod process may have been updated, the quality of the coffee has certainly not been forgotten or sacrificed.