I have a brand new coffee machine with me today, it’s from Hotel Chocolat, they’ve collaborated with Dualit to make their first Nespresso coffee machine.
Like most Nespresso-based machines, this is small, compact, and will hardly take up any real estate on your kitchen worktop. To the front of the machine, the outlet of course, and below that is the drip tray and used pod collector which pulls out the front. The outer casing of the machine is plastic, as are the removable components for easy wiping and washing in the sink. Above the outlet, two buttons, both for single or double shot, and these illuminate to let you know when the machine has warmed up and is ready for use. To the very top, the drop location for the pod, which is opened by pushing the lever up. To the very back, the clear water tank, which holds 700ml of water. There is no inline water filter, so if you’ve got hard water in your area, use filter water. To the right-hand side at the very bottom, the power on switch.
Set up was very straightforward, get it out the box, make sure the removable parts are all in place, fill the water tank up fully and then fully flush the machine. If you refer to the instructions, it recommends you flush 5 shots of clean water through before making your first coffee. I flushed a whole water tank full, just to remove any chance of having that new, plastic’y machine taste.
Spec-wise, there isn’t much info provided. We’ve got that 700ml water tank, single and double shot options, with the single option delivering a 35ml shot, the double a 70ml shot. Those are the default settings but these can be adjusted if you wanted a stronger, weaker shot and it’s a matter of pressing specific buttons in order, to adjust the dose. Also provided is the Podcylcer, its a very crude contraption where you insert your used pod, push down hard to break the seal, allowing you to remove the coffee grounds and recycle the aluminum pod. It may not seem a lot but 2/4 coffees a day, that could be well over 1000 pods a year that would be better off recycled than in a landfill. Coffee grounds too, good for your compost I’m told.
The machine is very quick, very easy to use and I would recommend putting the pod in and pulling the lever down before putting your cup under the outlet, as the lever does need a little force and I did end up wobbling the machine a few times. A single shot took about 20 seconds, double a little longer. The shot comes out very smooth and direct, it doesn’t make a mess or splash. Temperature-wise, the single-shot comes out at about 51/52degrees C which isn’t that hot, I didn’t have to blow it or leave it to cool, I can drink it straight away. Add milk to it, which brings the temperature down even more, so bear that in mind. As for milk, there is no option for milk either via the machine or pod form, I’m fairly certain Nespresso doesn’t do milk pods, or at least I’ve never seen them. Either add cold milk straight from the fridge, warm it up somehow or maybe if you’ve got one of the Hotel Chocolat Velvitisers, you could get some frothy milk from that.
A word on the pods I used, they came with the machine, there is currently an offer on that when you buy the machine, you get 180 pods of your choice. There are five to choose from, one decaf and then four normal, all with different flavors and beans. I went for “The One”, the mid-range, classic tasting coffee with hints of milk chocolate and caramel, or so the box says. It was quite nice, not overly bitter, very smooth to drink, a tiny bit of crema on top, and pleasant to drink on its own as a shot or with a splash of milk.
After you’ve made your drink, the pod stays in position until you make the next one. When you pull the lever up, the old one goes down into the container, allowing you to put a new pod in. The container can hold about 10 used pods.
There is an auto-off / standby feature and to turn it back on, push either of the buttons, they will flash stating the machines warming up and you can then make another coffee.
Cleaning is important and there is a timer built into the machine. The lights will flash quickly when turned on, differently from the normal warming-up effect. This means the machine needs to be cleaned and you can follow the instructions on how to de-scale.
The machine itself costs £149.99, which includes the 180 pods, which if bought separately would set you back £60 on their own, making the machine cost £90. Use a discount code as we did, that’ll bring that down even further and I think we ended up paying £130 all in after various discount codes. At £90, which is comparable with the rest of the market, there is an array of machines between £70 to £100 just for coffee, you’ll need to spend a fair bit more for something that offers milk as well.
Overall, a very easy-to-use, good-looking coffee machine that delivers a nice coffee, at a reasonable price.
For more info, head over to the official Hotel Chocolat website.