The De’Longhi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio S Touch doesn’t take up much space and prepares drinks quickly. There’s a wide selection of pods available from both proprietary and third-party brands. The cow’s milk powder used in some of the milk-based drinks is an acquired taste and the espresso pods definitely need the aroma boost (if not a little more coffee in them). But there’s a wide selection of pods available from both proprietary and third-party brands, including some using plant-based milk powder – a relatively new concept in pod drinks. I had a better experience with pods containing plant-based milk powder and coffee. The coconut flat white had a creamy mouthfeel and texture with a pleasant lingering aftertaste. Meanwhile, the almond flat white had a smooth texture and a well-balanced flavour without the almond overpowering the coffee taste.
- Easy to use
- Wide range of pods available
- Customisable drinks
- Small tank
- Artificial milk taste
- Review Price: £109.99
- Pod coffee machine
- 272 x 121 x 281mm
- Milk via pods
- 0.8-litre tank
Pod coffee machines are known for being quick and easy to operate, and the De’Longhi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio S Touch ticks all the boxes on the speed and ease of use fronts. Since different brands have differently shaped pods, pod machines are based on the idea that you would buy into a specific system. While Nescafé’s Dolce Gusto range includes a variety of pods, there are also many third-party compatible pods available, from the likes of Costa, Starbucks, Mars company (owner of Galaxy, Maltesers, etc) and cheaper supermarket own-brands, such as Aldi and Asda.
Design – Small size also means smaller water tank, but it’s easy enough to fill
The footprint of Genio S Touch is small enough that it’s likely to fit the most crowded of kitchens. It’s only available in Space Grey with black and metallic accents, but this is a relatively modest colour scheme for any set-up. What is more striking, is its bright red cable, which I suppose adds a bit of quirkiness you’d be able to hide away if necessary.
The 0.8-litre removable water tank could be a little bigger. But you’re unlikely to notice it if you’re only making a cup or two at a time.
The machine also has an adjustable drip tray that could be placed higher when making smaller drinks to avoid splashing. Appearance-wise, the Genio S Touch is similar to the previous Genio S and Genio S Plus models in shape, but instead of a protruding round control panel, it features an integrated touch-sensitive display. It looks more streamlined.
The large green bars that appear on the touch screen let you choose the amount of water you’d like to use. While the machine is operating, the bars you have highlighted will turn off one by one, conveniently indicating the progress of your drink.
On the left, you will find the temperature icon with four options: blue, yellow, orange and red. This will blink as the machine heats up, which takes less than 30secs to reach the highest temperature. It will also blink when you’re trying to use a colder setting and the machine is too warm.
On the right, a bean icon with a plus sign represents Espresso Boost. This is recommended to be used only with shorter coffee drinks, as you will only be able to get a maximum of three bars worth of liquid (roughly 65ml) with this function activated. The “boost” works by pre-brewing the contents of the pod for about 10secs before carrying on with extraction – this helps to strengthen the coffee aroma.
Above the green bars, you’ll find the cup icon that will activate the extraction process. Below that, a “shower” icon will light up when descaling is due. This can then be used to activate the descaling mode.
Coffee quality – Coffee tastes decent, but could be stronger, while milk flavour takes a little getting used to
All the pods I used with this machine came with suggested water level settings, making my initial tests easier.
To my taste, an espresso boost was necessary for both espresso shots on their own and as part of drinks, such as latte macchiato. (The espresso pods could be a little more flavoursome.)
Using the espresso boost also seemed to produce better crema, as did longer extraction – water level two or three instead of the recommended one bar. The best crema formed on top of an americano: at about 0.5cm it was substantial enough for me to draw a line with the spoon without parting it. However, the presence of some small bubbles indicated it wasn’t entirely smooth.
To make a latte macchiato, two capsules needed to be used: first the milk one, and then the espresso one. While the milk came out pleasantly fluffed, with up to 2cm of foam, this foam disappeared quite quickly.
Flavour was the trickiest part, as both the latte and the café au lait I tried had that well-known Nescafé artificial milk powder taste. (Think little packets of Nescafé 2 in 1.) The latte milk fared admittedly better here, possibly because the coffee and milk were extracted separately – the café au lait comes in a single pod.
I had a better experience with pods containing plant-based milk powder and coffee. The coconut flat white had a creamy mouthfeel and texture with a pleasant lingering aftertaste. Meanwhile, the almond flat white had a smooth texture and a well-balanced flavour without the almond overpowering the coffee taste.
What impressed me about this machine was its speed. In addition to a fast heat-up time, the latte was ready in less than 1min30secs, with the milk pod taking 40secs, and the espresso one about 27secs with the boost function activated. Meanwhile, an americano took 50secs and an XL version only 1min5secs.
The Genio S Touch wasn’t too noisy either: it was mostly likely to spurt and hiss towards the beginning of an extraction, settling down fairly quickly. The highest noise level it achieved was 73db, according to the Decibel Meter app on my iPad.
In terms of temperatures, I found the orange level perfect for longer drinks (65-70°C) and the red level necessary for shorter drinks, such as espresso. However, the final temperature of your drink will always depend on the temperature and size of the cup.
Maintenance – Automatic descale alert and easy rinsing
A red “shower” icon will light up when a descaling is due. According to the manual, the machine needs to be descaled after every 300 extractions.
Whenever the machine is run with water with no drink pod inserted, the conical rinsing tool needs to be used. This tool, the water tank and its lid, the drip tray and its metallic rack are not dishwasher safe, but are easy enough to wash under the tap. The coffee pod holder itself can be washed in the dishwasher, although it’s unlikely it would get dirty enough to need more than a rinse.
The pods are not widely recycled yet, but they can be returned to Nescafé if you get free bags with your pod order from the Dolce Gusto website and drop them off at a CollectPlus parcel point.
Should you buy the De’Longhi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Genio S Touch?
If speed and convenience are the most important factors and you don’t mind a slightly artificial milk flavour, or are interested in the couple of plant-based options, the Genio S Touch could be for you.
But if you don’t care about having milk-based drinks, the Nespresso Pixie is an equally compact option with a wide variety of available pods. For milk fans, the Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno comes with a steam wand. Check out our regularly-updated guide to coffee machines for other recommendations, too.