Part of a range of compact coffee machines launched this year that are compatible with Lavazza's A Modo Mio capsules, the Fantasia is the largest of the four. It also packs in the most features, with 36 settings to enable a perfectly tailored cappuccino, lungo, espresso or latte, from the amount of coffee in your cup to the frothiness of the milk foam.
However, it’s more than just a coffee machine. Thanks to its detachable milk jug, it has the capability to froth both warm and cold milk to a smooth creamy texture, making it ideal for indulgent hot chocolates, milkshakes and cappuccinos. Plus, if you want to expand your repertoire, it also comes with some drink recipe ideas, from iced cappuccino to cioccolata and espresso Viennese.
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While there are a number of coffee machines that incorporate a milk-frothing function that’s more than a wand, cappuccino and latte addicts will be familiar with the regular washing that’s required to keep the parts that come into contact with hot milk spotless. Where the Fantasia differs is that its ‘plug and play’ milk jug, lid and steam pipe can all be popped in the dishwasher after use.
In the same spirit of convenience, a container inside the machine collects up to 10 used capsules, so the Fantasia doesn’t have to be emptied on a daily basis. A generously-sized water tank also makes for only occasional refilling, although we’d like it if the lid was hinged instead of being separate. There’s also a descale warning light, the ability to adjust your machine to your area’s water hardness and the option of a water filter for the tank.
Smart features haven’t been prioritised over the exterior design. The lines are smooth with graceful curves, if a little oddly shaped towards the rear, where the width of the water tank extends beyond the body. Its drinks options are controlled via an array of touch-sensitive buttons, and its drinks platform can be set at three different heights to suit your cup, although wide mugs are a bit of a squeeze. The cable length is also versatile at 80cm, meaning it can be located almost anywhere in your kitchen, and it’s available in three colours, Rubin Red, Creamy White and Ebony Black.
Drinks platform at lowest position
Drinks platform at highest position
Slightly slower to heat up than comparable machines, the Fantasia is ready to brew after around 35 seconds – however if you want your coffee faster, there’s the option to select your drink during pre-heating and it’ll start dispensing straight away.
The touch-sensitive buttons helpfully light up the available selections, for example if the milk jug isn’t attached, the options for milk aren’t illuminated. Using the buttons requires a little practice, as they can be a little temperamental, although regular use makes this easier. The glossy finish is also prone to messy fingerprints, but this is easily resolved by keeping a soft cloth to hand.
A Modo Mio capsules are inserted at the top of the machine, a slim lever rotating backwards to reveal a capsule-shaped slot, then forwards to perforate and lock it in place. There are two preset coffee amounts to choose from – espresso or lungo – but both of these can be altered to suit and saved for next time. We opted for espresso, which dispensed quickly and efficiently. Once finished, the lever can then be rotated back again to release the used capsule into a container inside.
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Next, we tried frothing warm milk for a cappuccino. Using cold milk to fill to the line marked on the jug and connecting to the machine, we selected the extra foam option and the Fantasia used steam and a whisk to transform it to a generous amount of velvety hot foam in around 75 seconds. It poured out smoothly, creating an authentic cappuccino. Rinsing the parts, we also used it to froth cold milk, which was faster but no less creamy. If left unused, the machine will switch itself off after nine minutes but this can be set to 30 minutes if required.
The A Modo Mio capsule selection might only span 10 blends, one of which is decaff, but each of them tastes just as good as freshly ground when dispensed from the Fantasia. The coffee we brewed was excellent quality and came with a thick aromatic crema, smooth taste and plenty of depth, perfectly topped by warm milk foam.
The Fantasia is one of the smartest capsule machines we’ve seen, removing the need for powdered milk capsules or a cleaning routine that borders on the obsessive. While it costs slightly more than a basic pod machine, the number of features it boasts makes it incredibly good value. It's a little limited is by choice of capsules, but given the array of drink options provided by the Fantasia, this is a minor quibble.
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A clear hot drinks hero, as the perfect blend of convenience and choice, the Fantasia is hard to beat.