Price: $359.99 (Amazon)
Rating: Strong Recommend*
I've become increasingly particular about how I make coffee at home. I'm still pretty easy going about the quality of a cup of good morning from a coffee shop or restaurant, but at home, I tend to geek out with a carefully concocted cup (two at most). This means starting off with freshly roasted whole beans (my current bean of choice), filtered water, a digital scale, a manual burr grinder, and an Aeropress...it's a morning ritual which doesn't cater to the "get caffeinated as quick as possible" mentality. But as one special agent professed, the measured process produces "a damn fine cup of coffee". Thus, I approached moving over to a one-touch automatic espresso maker with a bit of trepidation. Coffee in capsules? Bah! [Puts on coffee snob mustache]...
The DeLonghi Lattissima Plus Nespresso cuts a very handsome profile right out of the box, a machine moderne inspired appliance if I haven't seen one. The Ferrari red model we were given to test is a bit flashier than I'd normally chose (blue, white, and stainless steel are available), but perhaps the color could be seen as both a nod to the land of cappuccinos and a hint of the speed the system offers. At just 12.6 x 6.7 x 10.2 inches and weighing a confident 10lbs, the unit could easily be situated in a home office for easy access/use. The amount of steam produced while in use is minimal, and the benefits of a capsule based system aren't only operationally convenient, but also permits placing a beverage system on or near a desk and computer an option.
A wide range of cups or glasses can be accommodated using a slide out platform tray, which beautifully tucks inside when not in use. Just be sure when using the steamed milk frothing attachment to pull out the milk nozzle toward the cup. In the excitement of trying this feature for a first latte, I forgot to aim the nozzle, resulting in a foamy hot milky mess spilling across the machine and counter. The bright side of my misfortune is I learned how easy the Lattissima Plus is to clean when a spill or accident happens, requiring only a quick wipe and dry thanks to the removable tray design and a one-button. The milk container can be disassembled into four parts, the machine automatically indicates when descaling cleaning is required, and all removable parts are dishwasher safe for thorough cleaning. I came to appreciate this level of detail in the design, fit, and finish, where use and maintenance was clearly considered.
After washing out the 30 ounce water tank and milk system, getting the machine set up for a first cup of espresso, latte, or cappuccino is a straight forward plug-in process: after 30-40 seconds, depending upon whether the milk attachment is installed, 2 or 4 of the operation buttons up top will change from blinking to solid, notifying the user the system is ready to do your coffee bean bidding. Drop in a Nespresso capsule pod of your choice (the black colored pod Restretto roast proved to be my favorite) and you're only left to chose whether you want your hot beverage smaller or larger, with or without steamed milk.
I can already guess the criticism aimed at a machine like this because it's the very same opinion I have about capsule coffee: inferior flavor. And after using the machine through a whole set of capsules I can still say capsule-based systems aren't in the same league as a hand-prepared espresso made by a trained barista or even a solid home preparer with freshly roasted beans, a $30 burr grinder, and a decent espresso machine.
My first few cups were prepared without the milk frothing attachment, and although I wouldn't say I was disappointed, neither was I was ready to sing the praises of this red hot little number. But in combination with high quality milk frothed to a fluffy bed for espresso to be poured into, whatever resistance I had against using a capsule machine thawed considerably. Lattes and cappuccinos prepared with the Lattissima Plus were without a doubt satisfying, with adjustable frothing controls, and crema even discriminating espresso drinkers will likely appreciate. Initially, I was ready to award the Lattissima Plus a "Recommend", but over the span of a couple of weeks using the machine daily, and also considering the targeted customer (if you have a tattoo of intersecting arrows and a coffee cup anywhere on your body, just skip this review already!), this capsule system turned me onto the dependable balance of convenience and quality DeLonghi seems to have accomplished for the majority of coffee drinkers. If you're specifically looking for a capsule based system and have no interest/intention of learning how to properly grind and pack espresso, .60 cents a cup is a fair price to pay, and the Lattissima Plus is the epitome of "plug and play".
I'm still apt to make myself a straight cup of coffee using the manual Aeropress method, but if what I want is the more luxurious finish of a latte or cappuccino without having to leave the house and in an instant, I admit I'm now a fan of using this option. Even more so now I've discovered there are refillable and reusable pod capsules to pack with beans I've ground myself, satisfying my desire for more options beyond Nespresso's selection.
Pros: Convenient one-button operation is nearly dummy-proof, water heats up quickly, easy to clean (dishwasher space parts), space-saving counter footprint, decent crema and quite satisfying frothed milk.
Cons: Capsules are wasteful, ideal for 2-3 cup drinker, capsule system is not on the same level with traditionally prepared espresso-based drinks, wished there was a "just milk" option for mochas or hot cocoa.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was provided by manufacturer for testing and review purposes.