Capsule machines have taken the mess and fuss out of brewing coffee so it was only natural that their evolution led them down the path of being more convenient in other ways. Controlled by a smartphone, Nespresso’s first-ever connected machine, Prodigio is a thing of beauty. Compact and well-designed, it connects to a smartphone app by Bluetooth to provide extra functionality.
It’ll tell you when you’re running out of coffee so you can order some more via the app, notify you when it needs descaling or the water in the tank is low and when the capsule container is full. But perhaps more importantly, you can prepare coffee from the comfort of your bed or sofa or at the dinner table when entertaining, either straight away or by setting a timer.
At first glance, the Prodigio looks mightily similar to a few other Nespresso machines but there are subtle design differences. One is the water tank. While compact machines have often suffered from small tanks squeezed laboriously into an otherwise sleek shape, the Prodigio’s has a deceptively generous capacity packed into its cylinder-shaped tank.
The base it sits on also accommodates the power cable and the whole rotates through 180 degrees. This means the tank can sit at either side or at the back, giving flexibility on where the machine is plugged in and its worktop footprint – tucking the tank at the side is particularly useful if you’ve only a shallow space.
Related: De'Longhi PrimaDonna Elite review
On top there are a few manual controls, with three cup size buttons – ristretto (25ml), espresso (40ml) and lungo (110ml), a slider to open and close the capsule insertion cover and a maintenance light that shows if it needs water, capsules emptying or descaling.
The machine is switched off by holding two of the buttons, or it’ll go into energy saving mode after nine minutes, which can be extended to 30 minutes. The volume of water dispensed for each cup size can be programmed to be more or less or you can top up your brew within 10 seconds of dispensing. Another handy option is being able to change from one cup size to another while dispensing, which is handy if you’ve pressed the wrong button. The whole thing comes in two colours: Silver and Titan.
Unlike other coffee machines, the first task with the Prodigio is pairing it with the app via Bluetooth. This took four attempts and we also needed to create an account for the app (which enables you to buy capsules) but once it was done, we were ready to start making coffee.
While water amounts still need to be set using the manual buttons, brewing can be done directly from the app. From switching on, the machine was ready in about 25 seconds. Once we’d inserted a capsule and closed the slider, we selected the Brew Now button on the app, placed a cup under the spout, chose an espresso and then the Start Brewing Now option.
The app then went to a screen, explaining a little about the type of coffee size. There was no discernible delay between using the app to brew and using the buttons. Once it had finished, the machine released the capsule into the internal bin automatically and the message on the app changed to one about enjoying your coffee.
Next, we moved onto a lungo brewed by using the scheduling function. The cup platform flipped up to accommodate a larger mug and the process was much the same except that it started by itself at the time we’d set.
Another place the app comes in useful is when it comes to troubleshooting. Instead of leafing through the manual, there are links to easy-to-follow, step-by-step videos for the Prodigio, from getting started to descaling.
You’re sure to never have a bad cup – the coffee brewed from the Grand Cru capsules is consistently smooth, with a velvety crema and rich flavour. There’s around 21 capsules on offer including special editions that range from intense roasts to flavour infusions, such as caramel and chocolate, plus four decaffeinated capsules. Milky drink lovers will have to upgrade by £40 to the Prodigio&Milk package that comes with an Aeroccino3.
Related: Smarter Coffee Machine review
It’s hard to see how you could ever tire of the Prodigio – it delivers great coffee, can be set to brew a cup that’s ready when you are and makes sure you’ll never run out of anything. In fact, it has so much extra functionality that it’s easy to overlook all its other fantastic features – a neat size that’s built to fit almost anywhere, minimal styling and effortless operation, making it a perfect package for a nation of coffee lovers.
Related: Best Coffee Machines
Smart in more ways than one, the Prodigio is the compact, clever, capsule coffee machine you’ve been waiting for.