With a shape inspired by the rebound of a drip of coffee, the Drop is an undeniably striking-looking machine.
Its introduction brings the total number of Nescafé Dolce Gusto automatic and manual machines to eight, and along with its sister launch Stelia, it boasts touchscreen operation – an improvement on the control buttons found on previous automatic machines.
Available in silver, white and red, it uses Dolce Gusto capsules to make more than 30 different drinks, has a built-in descaling alert, and even includes a separate waste capsule bin to dispose of them afterwards.
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For anyone who’s tired of the "could be a stereo speaker" design of pod coffee machines, the Drop provides a refreshing alternative. Its round base means it isn't a unit for being squeezed into a tight corner – but then, why would you want to? This is a machine deserving of the spotlight.
The base conceals the Drop’s water tank, hinted at by a slim, clear fill-level panel on the front, and a subtle lip underneath to make removing it easier. It’s necessarily compact, holding a mere 800ml, but does at least come with a hinged lid to prevent spills to and from the tap. The base is also home to a height-adjustable drip tray, big enough to accommodate the widest of mugs, and a bright orange power cord.
To operate it, you first touch to select how many bars of water you’d like it to dispense through each capsule – you can either follow the recommendation on each, or make it weaker or stronger – and then choose either hot or cold water.
Great for time-poor mornings, the Drop heats up quickly from switching on. Inserting a capsule is simple – it fits neatly into the holder at the top of the machine, which slides back in smoothly. Unlike previous incarnations, you don't need to pull down a clip to pierce the pod; the machine does this automatically.
There’s also no need to supervise the amount of water dispensed, since it will only run for as many bars as have been selected. The machine retains the last bar setting used, even if it’s switched off, making it ideal for a round of drinks or habitual coffee drinkers.
I started by making a Latte Macchiato, using a combination of a white milk pod and a black coffee pod. Assuming that I’d need to set the cup lower down, I arranged the platform on its lower level. However, when the milk and coffee were dispensed, the height made them splash, so the higher position would have been advisable.
However, the resulting drink was fantastically frothy and a good volume (220ml) for the cup. Having the capsule bin nearby on the worktop also proved useful, preventing multiple trips to the kitchen bin.
Mounting the platform to the higher level, we made an espresso. This filled the cup easily and resulted in an aromatic drink with an impressive crema. Finally, I finished by making a Chococino – a chocolate and milk-based drink – in the large cup. This time, I kept the cup on the higher level, and as a result there were minimal splashes. The hot chocolate was pleasantly creamy although needed some stirring to combine some of the chocolate mixture that had sunk to the bottom of the cup.
Rich, smooth and always perfectly brewed, the Dolce Gusto pod system really does make great coffee, complete with a silky crema. The espresso is full-bodied, while the choice of other drinks, such as cappuccinos, cold beverages and teas turns the Drop into more than just a coffee machine. The milk pods aren’t to everyone’s taste, but they’re undeniably handy when fresh milk isn’t an option, providing the perfect finishing touch to the milky drinks.
While there’s a host of more compact machines on offer with larger water tanks, the Drop’s sleek aesthetic and sheer ease of use should be enough for it to charm its way into your home.
Given the ever-expanding range of drinks options on offer, it’s great for a household where everyone's choice of morning cuppa is different – as long as you don’t mind the frequent refilling.
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Button-free, mess-free and with a design that never fails to attract attention, the Drop is one of the best incarnations of the Dolce Gusto system to date.