Minimalist coffee machine design has surely reached its pinnacle with the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Lumio by Krups. With every inch of coloured plastic pared back to only what’s necessary, it’s the barely-there alternative to blocky appliances that clutter the worktop, and it takes up a minuscule amount of space physically and visually.
On a functional level, it’ll make both hot and cold drinks from Nescafé Dolce Gusto capsules, with water dispensed in amounts ranging from a petite 35ml ristretto to a generous XL size for those who like a longer drink. It’s available in black, red and white.
While it’s clear that a lot of thought has been put into the Lumio’s exterior, the design is a little hard to love for its lack of practicality.
The base and drip tray serve as a narrow plinth for an insubstantial circle of plastic that then supports the more complex head of the dispensing spout and the water tank at the back. Even more puzzling is the dispensing head, which is comprised of a separate clamshell-style capsule holder that’s inserted, and a cover that pulls down to lock it in place. This is the same mechanism as on its sister machine, the Dolce Gusto Colors.
The controls are more straightforward, with a roller to scroll through water-dispensing amounts and a flick switch at the back to choose between hot and cold.
As this is such a tall coffee machine, there’s plenty of space for glasses as well as oversized mugs to fit below the spout, and there are no restrictions on cup width. Other features include a removable drip tray that’s intended to balance on the plinth to bring espresso cups closer to the spout, plus a long, brightly coloured power cord to distinguish it from your other appliances, and a generous one-litre water tank.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto Lumio – What’s it like to use?
The Lumio and I didn’t get off to a good start. Having filled it and then started it on an initial cleaning cycle, no water flowed from its spout. There wasn’t a troubleshooting guide in the instructions, but after some searching online, I found that the machine includes a tiny needle secreted in the drip tray for clearing blockages. A quick poke around the nozzle and we were back on track.
One thing in the Lumio’s favour is that it heats up incredibly quickly and is ready to make a drink in seconds, which is perfect for busy mornings. However, the bulbous water tank is awkward to fill and can’t be topped up in situ.
I started by making a ristretto with a Ristretto Ardenza pod. I tried to balance a small cup on the drip tray on the machine’s platform, but it felt precarious, so I opted for having the cup lower down. Unfortunately, this meant small splashes of coffee on the worktop, although most of the drink made it into the cup. The coffee was strong and flavourful, but the crema wasn’t as thick and oily as it should have been.
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The Lumio had a good recovery time between drinks, making it useful for rounds of coffee. Next, I tried the Grande Mild capsule – a pod designed for longer coffee of around 180ml. A taller mug proved more practical than the espresso cup, with fewer splashes when dispensing and greater flexibility over the shape of the cup that could fit below the spout.
The coffee that was dispensed looked watery, however, and lacked a complex flavour. There was a good crema for a long drink, but it still tasted more like filter coffee than from a pod machine. The only clean-up required was a rinse of the pod holder and the splashes wiped away.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto Lumio – How good is the coffee?
While it may have been down to distance from the spout or the pods tested, the coffee brewed by the Lumio during this test felt like it lacked the Dolce Gusto system’s usual aroma and silky crema. Even adjusting the amount of water for the Grande Mild capsules didn’t produce an aromatic, flavourful coffee. However, the current range of 40 options encompasses everything from hot chocolate and decaf to tea and cold brews, and even a soy cappuccino, so it remains a versatile option for catering for a crowd.
Why buy the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Lumio?
It feels like the Lumio’s function has been sacrificed for the sake of design, with more fuss than needed when inserting and brewing from a capsule, and an awkwardly shaped water tank. It looks beautiful sitting out on the worktop, but the practicality of brewing an espresso, the cornerstone of any coffee machine, has been compromised by the balancing the drip tray, which makes it hard to get a small cup anywhere near the spout.
For long drink lovers, it’s a better proposition – a compact machine that doesn’t need refilling after every cycle and can accommodate the biggest mug in the cupboard. But the Nespresso Vertuo Plus produces far better long drinks, with its innovative centrifugal system.