There’s no steam wand for heating and foaming milk, but the Dolce Gusto system has its own way of doing that: drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes are made with two pods: one coffee pod and one special milk pod, used in the amounts specified on the pod lid. Drinking milk expelled from a pod isn’t as appetising as fresh cow juice, we think you’ll agree – but it’s less effort and less mess.
Not trouble free, as they all seem to jam periodically, but easily fixed. Per J-C, the problem is using very oily beans, which we do as we love very dark, heavily roasted Starbucks beans. The part that jams is the press mechanism. When it expresses the puck, it clogs and won't go back up. This seems to be a criticism for many of its machines, but it's hardly a deal breaker.
Like the Sage Express, Panasonic’s NC-ZA1 is a “bean to cup” espresso machine: it takes whole beans, grinds them and pushes hot water through them at pressure to produce a cup of coffee. That’s pretty much where the similarities end, however, because unlike the old-school Express, the NC-ZA1 makes almost the entire process automated – and controllable via touchscreen.
The Gaggia RI8762 is truly a great espresso maker and since it incorporates an auto frothing milk carafe, you can easily use it in order to produce rich milk that has a creamy and delicious texture that’s perfect for lattes and cappuccinos. Just like the original Anima, the Gaggia RI8762 features a ceramic burr grinder which you can set so that it uses one of the five grind settings in order to easily accommodate the blend and roast of your espresso. In terms of maintenance, the Gaggia RI8762 is very simple to clean and that is thanks to the fact that it incorporates the company’s patented removable brew group.
The Gaggia Brera is a great budget super automatic espresso machine that not only has a small form factor, but it’s also very well designed and looks great on any kitchen countertop. When thinking about it, the first thing that comes to the mind of those that already use it is convenience. For example, the water tank, drop tray and the dregs drawer are all within reach and can be easily accessed from the machine for simple, swift maintenance and regular cleaning.
Using the machine the first time was fun - it has lights that shine down on the cup for a very cool look. It is much quieter than our DeLonghi, and very fast to heat up and grind, brew, and dispense the coffee. The crema is very nice, and the coffee tastes great. The drip tray is easy to pull out to the front, and easy to rinse and throw away the grinds. The machine is plastic, which is ok, but the tray where the cup rests is polished silver metal, and has a nice heaviness to it. The J9.3 comes with a Jura milk container and tubes. We don't do a lot of milk drinks, so I didn't mind that you have to do just a bit extra to fill up the container and attach the hose. You could just put a hose into a cup of milk; you don't have to use the Jura container. It made a very nice latte, great foam. It was actually easy to clean and rinse, but you do have to take the time to be there with two cups - one with rinse water and another to catch the dirty water, then repeat. If you don't mind taking a couple extra steps and minutes, then it's easy. The J9.3 came with the Jura milk container.