When it come to coffee, I take things rather seriously. I love my coffee. My java. My second love in life. Having given up diary for Lent, I was forced into shifting from my favourite Double Shot Skinny Latte from Vida, into a period of discovery where I had to develop a taste for black americanos and substitute milk. Then I was provided with one of the newest coffee machines on the block to test – the Nescafe Circolo with the Dolce Gusto pods.
To put my coffee drinking habits into perspective, I am a regular customer at various Vida’s in Johannesburg and Cape Town (and I am still rather annoyed that Umhlanga has yet to get a Vida) – so much so that as i walk in, the guys shout my order even before I get to the counter. A shout out to the guys at the following Vida’s: Greenside, Hyde Park, Rosebank, and Greenpoint. I have two Vida cards with an accumulative credit of around ZAR750. In addition to my love for Vida, I own three pod coffee machines – one lives at my desk in the office (CaffeLuxe that uses the Vida coffee pods), one in my bedroom (the Nespresso using the Nespresso selection) and the third in the Kitchen – that being my Lavazza baby that has served me so, so well.
So yes, I know my coffee, and know exactly how I like it, and when the Nescafe Circolo and Dolce Gusto pods arrived, I was rather excited to try yet another coffee brand, and had high expectations for a brand that has had more-or-less a firm grasp on the market. And yes, my expectations were met!
The Circolo is wonderful little automated coffee machine, with perhaps the most significant feature being the design of the machine itself. Designed by Delonghi, it reminds me of what a Star Trek portable replicator may look like – circular with a central place where your food, or in this case, your coffee would magically appear. The process for making your coffee is pretty simple. Turn on the machine and wait 15 to 20 seconds for the water to heat to the required temperature. Lift up the silver lever which gains you access to the tray in which you place your Dolce Gusto coffee pod. Slide the tray back in, secure it with the lever, select the amount of coffee you need through the wheel dial, and then press the red button. Out comes the coffee – rich and hot.
In terms of ease of use, its pretty simple, however, possible the only thing that I wish the Circolo did that the Nespresso and Lavazza machines do, is collect the pods in a catch tray after use. The Circolo requires you to remove the pod from the tray and throw it way after each coffee – which can get pretty annoying if you have to make 3 to 4 coffees as a time.
The coffee is delicious, and possible has something to do with the pod system. The Dolce Gusto pods are considerably larger than the Nespresso and Lavazza pods; possibly to hold more coffee, get the pressure just right, and allow for the correct water flow through the coffee itself – factors that ultimately determine the final taste. I did feel a bit guilty with the amount of plastic I was using and throwing away each time I made a coffee – but I then remembered the hell I went through when I used one of the biodegradable pods in one of my other machines, which promptly disintegrated while still in the processing chamber. Also, it seems my sense of environmental responsibility it directly related to the amount of coffee I drink – so one offsets the other (at least in my reasoning).
All in all the Nescafe Dulco Gusto pods with the Circolo is a great coffee system. It produces a fantastically strong and smooth coffee, with multiple flavored pods, using a an award-winning industrially designed machine with futuristic overtones. Something more to consider is the cost of the machine and pods. The pods sell for around R79,95 for a box of 16 available through Makro and Pick ‘n Pay, while the Circolo can be bought from DionWired for ZAR2300.00.