Coffee! It’s that time again when I get to try out a coffee machine and this time, it’s the new Genio S Plus machine by De’Longhi / Dolce Gusto. We’ve tried a few of these types of pod coffee machines before, with varying results but looking at this one, it’s got a number of features that should make it quite a versatile and top quality machine. Let’s take a look.

Features

  • Uses Nescafe Dolce Gusto pods
  • Automatic water output control to match pod
  • Upto 15bar of pressure
  • Espresso Boost adjustment
  • Temperature control (hot and cold beverages)
  • XL mode for bigger drinks (travel mugs)
  • 2yr guarantee

The coffee machine is a lot smaller than I thought it would be and I thought I’d need to make some space for it on my kitchen worktop but in fact, it’s one of the most compact coffee machines I’ve tried. Size-wise, it’s 27cm tall, 12cm wide, 27cm deep and weighs under 2KG.

Its appearance resembles similar Dolce Gusto products, with the pod section and controls at the front/top, outlet below that, and then a 0.8L water tank at the rear. It’s mostly made from plastic, or at least the outer casing is, with a removable clear water tank and drip tray. It’s got a glossy black finish to it, so it will show fingerprints and dirt but it’s easy to wipe away and clean.

The controls sit at the top of the machine, at the front, where you lift the lid to input your pod. There is no display, just a number of buttons that illuminate and a large silver rotary switch. That rotary switch increases or decreases the output volume of water and you should set this to match your pod. If you look on your pod, it will say water output 2 out of 7 for espresso or 6 out of 7 for a milky coffee. You don’t need to stick to those outputs, they are recommendations and best suited for that specific pod. Other controls include the ‘go’ button to start the machine, the espresso boost button, and a button to scroll between varying water delivery temperatures.

Before using the machine for the first time, you need to run the machine several times to purge that new, plastic taste away. The instructions detail this and they recommend flushing an entire tank of water through but I found this to be not enough. The first cup of coffee wasn’t great because it had that plastic taste to it. I then flushed 3 or 4 tanks full of water through instead, which did eventually remove that taste.

Using the machine is very straight forward, just fill the water tank up and insert your pod. You then have to select the correct water volume output to match the pod and your temperature. If you’re going for hot, the temperature button will flash red, meaning it’s warming up, so don’t hit go until the lights solid. Once at temperature, hit the go button and watch your drink be made.

At the hottest temperature, my coffees were coming out between 65-70C, which is pretty hot. Hot enough for me to think “I’ll leave that a minute”. I got a box of Cafe Au Lait, which has a volume of 180ml and for that to go in my glass cup, I had to remove the drip tray.

As for making a cold drink, it’s not like one of those cold coffees you get in the shops. My cold coffee came out at about 35C, which is lukewarm and I guess the idea is you stick a couple of ice cubes in and that’s your cold coffee done. That works for me, as sometimes I’d pull a shot of espresso from my own machine, stick an ice cube in, it would melt almost instantly, and then I’d need to add my milk and more ice to get it cold enough to drink. With this, the coffee comes out cooler, making the whole process quicker and easier for me.

I was skeptical about the espresso boost button but the difference is night and day, or it was for me anyway. Hitting the boost button before going, will change the brewing process, resulting in a lower volume, richer espresso, with a much better crema. Less liquid but a better extracted, flavorsome shot, utilizing that 15bar of pressure available. One problem I found while making just espressos, once finished, the pod would continue to drip into the cup or drip tray until you remove it or it dries up. Not ideal and the drip tray isn’t all that deep either, and does fill up quickly.

As for maintaining the machine, it’s very easy to remove the drip tray and water tank to clean in the sink, while the rest can be wiped down with a cloth. There is a small indicator light next to the XL light, looks like a shower symbol, that’s the descaling button and when the machine needs it (based on time most likely), it will illuminate and you should put a descaling tablet into the tank and flush the water through. That’s all detailed in the instructions.

There are an array of pods available, coffee, tea, hot chocolate etc from Nescafe and brands such as Starbucks. They are plastic pods, please recycle them and if you wanted to, there are metal refillable pods available on the market now. Grind your favourite bean or get ground coffee, pop it in the metal pod, use it, clean it, help the environment.

The Genio S Plus is by far one of the best Dolce Gusto pod machines we’ve tried. It’s compact, yet it will make 2,3 or 4 drinks with one full tank quite quickly, it’s easy to use and it’s versatile. The cold function is a bit of a gimmick and you’re limited by the size of the cup you can use under the outlet, a larger travel mug will not fit, which may be problem for some.

At the time of writing this, it currently retails for £69.99 which I think is a great price. For more info and to purchase, head over to the official Dolce Gusto website.