Coffee machines are the unsung heroes at every office. They’re directly responsible for increasing employee productivity levels - possibly more than any other machine at an office. But do coffee machines really need to smarten up and operate from our phones? Nescafe thinks so, and sent us the Dolce Gusto Esperta which not only makes great coffee, but also comes with an app.
Pricing and availability
The Dolce Gusto Esperta Coffee Machine is priced at AED 749 (US$200) which is pretty good considering what you're getting. It comes in two colors- black or white, both of which look nice.
The Esperta is already available directly through the Dolce Gusto website or across retailers. There is a wide selection of over 30 types of drinks it can brew. Coffee pods range in prices and the number of capsules bundled per box.
Design and Features
The Dolce Gusto Esperta Coffee Machine stands out in design and doesn’t look like a traditional coffee machine. The bubbly, spherical look doesn’t necessarily serve any other purpose than to please the eye. Not everyone will be a fan of its looks, but it adds some flair to your countertop. It's also mostly made of plastic which is expected given its low price tag.
There’s a large 1.4 liter water tank that’s made out of plastic and can be removed to be refilled, or you could just pop the lid open and fill it up without detaching the tank. The tank sits on the back of the machine and is very accessible. At full capacity, it can serve six full cups of your favorite beverage.
The Esperta has a rather large base and houses a removable drip container that makes it easy to clean the machine. From the base, a curved neck extends to the top that houses the coffee capsules. Unlike other Dolce Gusto machines where the capsule container is open from the top, the Esperta completely encapsulates the capsule by snapping it in and sliding into place.
This prevents any steam from escaping the capsule after your coffee is done brewing and is certainly a nice safety feature. However, you can’t quickly dispose of a capsule - this is now a two-step process. About the only part of the Esperta that feels a bit flimsy is the plastic cover that slides down after inserting the capsule container, but the rest of the machine is well constructed.
Day-to-day usage and the app
At the top of the Dolce Gusto Esperta Coffee Machine are controls for powering it up, selecting the quantity of coffee and the hot or cold button depending on the drink you want to make. These buttons aren't backlit which makes brewing coffee before dawn a bit of a challenge.
Pressing the power button lets you switch between Espresso Boost and Delicate Brew modes. As their names suggests, the first one prepares a more intense shot of Espresso while the delicate brew gives you a more balanced and subtle flavor, which we particularly enjoyed when paired with the Starbucks Americano capsules.
The Esperta is the first machine under the Dolce Gusto brand that comes with an app for your iPhone or Android phone, and pairs using Bluetooth. This doesn’t always work, and the iPhone 11 that we used to test wouldn’t always connect to the Esperta machine. While that doesn’t prevent you from making coffee, it is a bit of a shame and pretty much represents the general state of the IoT industry.
When your phone and the machine are connected, the app allows you to automatically select the best setting for the type of coffee you want to make. You can customize the temperature and select between delicate or boost modes. The delicate mode can take over five minutes to brew, so to help with that you can schedule the drink to be made at the same time as your morning alarm - thus waking up to a nice cup of coffee.
You would obviously need to make sure that your cup and the coffee capsule are placed in the machine the night before which is a bit counter-intuitive for a smart product, but that’s the current reality. We’ll have to wait for robots running around our houses for a fully automated experience.
While the “smartness” of the machine is nice to have, we didn’t particularly find it usable or reliable. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the Dolce Gusto Esperta is a pretty good coffee machine that is affordable and makes great coffee - especially with its delicate and boost models.
There is a rather large selection of capsules to choose from, and with the recent Starbucks partnership, you are bound to find a flavor you will enjoy. That’s one major reason why we think the Esperta will make a great addition to any home or office.