One of the latest machines to join the Nescafe Dolce Gusto family, the Krups Oblo is one of the more affordable models to use the popular coffee pod system. Launched along with the Jovia by De'Longhi, it’s the square alternative to the Jovia’s more typical curves and upright configuration.
At less than £100, it’s a good entry-level machine for quality coffee and what it lacks in bells and whistles, it more than makes up for with ease of use and drinks options. As well as favourites, such as espresso and cappuccino (made from a combination of two pods), you’ll have the option of making iced coffee, chai tea latte and hot chocolate as well as skinny and unsweetened drinks. There are more than 30 drinks to choose from.
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While some pod machines are tall and slim, the Oblo is shorter, wider and squarer. Not only does this mean it fits snugly under low wall cabinets, it can also be swivelled when not in use to slot lengthwise into a convenient recess.
Its compact footprint and curved back also makes the Krups Oblo a good choice for an unused corner. Four colours (Cherry red, Piano black, white and orange) means you can buy it to blend in unobtrusively with your kitchen or be the star of the show.
The Oblo is a manual machine, meaning you use the lever on top to decide how much water to run through each pod. While there’s a guide on each box of pods on the optimum ml for each drink, it can require a little practice to get this right – not ideal if you like your coffee the same every morning. However, on the flip side, stronger or weaker drinks are an easy option. There’s also no LCD screen or internal bin for used capsules.
Where it plugs in is a little limited by the short (80cm) power cord but it’s also bright red, so it’s easy to tell apart from other cables. This can be handy if several appliances use the same socket. Fortunately, it only weighs a light 2.5kg, so can be moved around the kitchen to suit.
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A quick start guide means you can be brewing your first cup just minutes after getting it out of the box. The water tank is an awkward shape, making it tricky to hold and fill to the line directly from a tap, but otherwise straightforward to remove and replace at the back of the machine. Its capacity is also limited at 800ml, meaning that if you’re making a round of drinks, you may find yourself refilling a few times.
To make a drink, simply pull out the pod holder, pop in a pod and slot back in before pushing the clip down. This pierces the pod, holding it in place while hot water is forced through at maximum of 15 bar pump pressure (the high pressure required for making full-bodied espresso). Other pods are designed so each drink is made with its optimum pressure.
Flick the lever on top either left or right (for cold or hot) and the Oblo will dispense your drink. Once the right amount of water has been run through, return the lever to centre and the pod can be unclipped in one fluid motion. From switching on, the machine’s thermoblock heats up less than 30 seconds, and recovers quickly between drinks.
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The coffee it produces is good quality with a respectable crema, while the ‘milk’ capsules generate a long-lasting froth. Nescafe Dolce Gusto’s ‘milk’ and coffee pods, however, do look the same from the top (the bases are white and brown respectively), so it’s best for bleary-eyed mornings to store them separately. A removable platform gives two positions for your cup with a lower one for tall mugs – but there’s limited width, so chunky cups may not fit below the spout.
After frequent use, the clip doesn’t always fully release, so it needs an extra nudge upwards before removing the used capsule. No container means emptying the pod into the bin manually, but it’s mess-free compared to the grounds from standard espresso machines. Cleaning up afterwards is as simple as rinsing the holder and wiping away any drips or splashes.
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Like any pod machine, you’re buying into a specific system, so it’s worth trying one out in store beforehand to check you like the drinks it makes before investing.
However, a two-year guarantee, £10 online credit and a starter pack of pods in the box definitely makes it worth a go. Follow-on packs of pods are also pretty reasonably priced from £3.68 for 16, so it’s not an expensive habit.
An easy-to-use and maintain pod coffee machine with a good choice of drinks, but its basic features may see serious coffee fans upgrading.
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