If your only reason for not buying a coffee machine is a lack of space, the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS by Krups is here to fill that cup-shaped hole in your life. It’s just as capable as bigger pod machines, won’t break the bank and doesn’t demand a kitchen declutter to make room for it on the worktop.
- Makes hot and cold drinks
- Accommodates wide mugs
- Small water tank
- No strength indicator
- Compatible pods only
- Review Price: £49.99
- 0.8-litre water tank
- 15 bar pump pressure max
- H28 x W14 x D27cm
When kitchen or office surface space is short supply, you need a coffee machine that can tuck almost anywhere. Enter the Piccolo XS. It’s Nescafé Dolce Gusto’s smallest machine to date – sleek, modern and surprisingly affordable for a machine that can make both hot and cold drinks.
This includes hot chocolate, iced coffee, chai tea latte and even Starbucks-branded beverages. For existing fans of the Nescafé Dolce Gusto pod system, you’ll find everything you love – it’s still easy to use and keep clean, just in a more compact package. While if you’re yet to be a Nescafé Dolce Gusto convert, its budget-friendly price and range of more than 40 drinks is a great reason to try it.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS by Krups – What you need to know
- Coffee test: The espresso it made was aromatic with a visible crema. However, it’s prone to becoming bitter if dispensed for too long.
- Milk frothing test: There’s no frother for fresh milk. Its milk pods produce a foamy topping, although it’s sweet and doesn’t taste like fresh milk.
- Ease of cleaning test: A cleaning insert enables simple purging and descaling, plus it has a dishwasher-safe drip tray and pod holder.
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Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS by Krups Design – Small worktop footprint and easy cleaning
The designers definitely weren’t kidding around when they tagged this tiny drinks machine with its XS name. Taking it out of the box makes you wonder, ‘where’s the rest of it?’ The Piccolo XS is a mere 14cm wide and 28cm tall, taking up less space than a kettle and fitting into a compact kitchen without seriously impinging on available worktop area.
While it may share its name with Nescafé Dolce Gusto’s Piccolo, one of its other small pod machines, and has a passing resemblance, it’s not just a miniaturised version. For starters, the Piccolo XS actually squeezes in a larger water tank than its big brother – 800ml instead of 650ml. This doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re making several drinks over a day, it equals at least one less refill. Realistically, you’ll still be at the tap more than with a tank that’s a litre or more, but for its size, 800ml is a pretty generous capacity.
The Piccolo XS’s shorter stature, however, does mean there’s more of a limit to the height of mugs that can be dispensed into directly. Tall latte glasses, travel mugs and reusable coffee cups will be a tight fit below the spout, although no restrictions at the side makes it ideal for wide mugs. There are also only two cup platform heights. This meant there were more splashes when brewing into large, wide mugs.
It also still has the same issue as the Piccolo when it comes to how much water to dispense for each pod. Those familiar with the Nescafé Dolce Gusto capsule system will know that each pod comes with a bar guide of how long each needs to brew for: typically espresso needs one or two bars duration, while creamy and longer drinks specify more. However, the Piccolo XS doesn’t have a bar display – there’s just one lever for water that’s pushed right for hot drinks and left and for cold. On the plus side, this means you can make coffee that’s longer or shorter, but it’s harder to replicate drinks.
The Piccolo XS took more than 20 seconds to be ready to brew from waking up (shown by the light on the side flashing red), plus a few seconds between each pod. This meant it wasn’t as convenient as some pod machines – where you can insert a pod and set it to start brewing as soon as it’s warm. However, one of the better features is its auto-off eco mode, which activates in only five minutes, making it an excellent energy saver.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS Performance – Versatile, convenient and ideal for making café-style coffee, but its milk pods won’t be to everyone’s taste
When you take away grinding and tamping coffee beans and frothing milk, the majority of the potential mess a coffee machine can make goes away too. That’s the appeal of most coffee pod machines and the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS is no different. It also packs in 15 bar maximum pump pressure for making espresso – the Starbucks pods I tried brewed beautifully rich shots with an aromatic crema.
However, the fact that there’s no guide to how much water has run through means the espresso can go from naturally sweet to slightly bitter in seconds. Another bugbear is that moving the lever back towards the centre doesn’t stop the flow immediately, so you can end up with a little more coffee than intended.
The Starbucks pods I tried were two-part drinks (ie one capsule for espresso and one for milk). However, while the coffee could easily pass for that from a café, the milk taste tends to be quite sweet and creamy. The foam was pleasingly frothy and held its bubbles well, but the flavour didn’t resemble fresh milk.
I also sampled Dolce Gusto’s hot chocolate two-part pods and felt that the chocolate was a better partner for the milk and produced an indulgent drink. The only downside here was that chocolate can hang around in the spout, so it needed a purge using the cleaning insert afterwards.
Should you buy the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS by Krups?
While its limiting water tank size means it’s probably not the best fit for long coffee drinkers or making several rounds, where the Piccolo XS will come into its own is for solo households, couples and home offices. It’s ideal for espresso, making two or three large mugs in a day or being on hand for a relaxed weekend brunch. Beyond its compact size, what’s most appealing is that it’s a good mix of functionality and affordability – a perfect first coffee machine for those who aren’t sure how much use they’d get out of a bigger, more expensive model.
If your only reason for not buying a coffee machine is a lack of space, the Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo XS by Krups is here to fill that cup-shaped hole in your life. It’s just as capable as bigger pod machines, won’t break the bank and doesn’t demand a kitchen declutter to make room for it on the worktop. A dinky drinks machine isn’t for everyone – the repeat refilling required for two or three people over a day could prove annoying – but if all you need is a few shots of espresso to take on the day, followed by a hot chocolate before bed, you’ll find it’s true that good things come in small packages.
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