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Delonghi dolce gusto genio s review: Does this affordable coffee machine deliver?

·7-min read
The Delonghi dolce gusto genio s gives you more than 40 different drinks at your fingertips (iStock/The Independent)
The Delonghi dolce gusto genio s gives you more than 40 different drinks at your fingertips (iStock/The Independent)

An Italian family company, DeLonghi boasts a strong history in coffee; it launched the first Bar line of machinery in 1990, and now offers everything from traditional espresso pumps to hi-tech super-automatic bean-to-cups.

Now its the partnership with Nescafe has created the latest pod machines. But with so many other coffee machines on the market producing such fresh, authentic espresso, why look at this type of model?

The key here is consistency and reliability. A pod machine takes the guesswork – well, any work – out of making your favourite hot drinks at home. Though other coffee kits may offer higher functionality, this can come at the cost of convenience as well as to your pocket. With pod machines there is no tampering with intensity, temperature or other parameters: the real benefit of using an automatic pod machine is that it follows the exact specifications of the beverage every time.

Of course, with Nespresso, Tassimo, Lavazza and Dolce Gusto all offering accessibly priced and ostensibly similar pod machines, it can be hard to sort the wheat from the coffee chaff and find the machine that best suits your needs, so it pays to do your research before you commit to buy – but the DeLonghi Nescafe dolce gusto genio s is a good place to start.

The genio s is a low cost machine in terms of initial outlay, but think about how much coffee you tend to drink and weigh up the cost of the pods accordingly. Nescafe Dolce Gusto pods are plentiful in terms of choice and availability – there are over 40 varieties to choose from at around 40p a pop – but happily many other independents and big brands like Costa, Starbucks and supermarket own pods are compatible with the genio s machine, giving you a world of choice.

We put the genio s through its paces to help you decide if it’s right for you – here’s our honest verdict.

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DeLonghi Nescafe dolce gusto genio s

Buy now £59.99, Currys.co.uk

  • Weight: 2kg

  • Water tank capacity: 0.8l

  • Dimensions: W12.1 x H27.3 x D27.6cm

  • Cable length: 80cm

  • Colours: White

  • Guarantee: Two years

Design and features

Aesthetically, the genio s is stylish and quite fun looking, with its curved lines and sleek rounded head. The diminutive size means you can take your pick of where to house it, working equally well on a shelf, worktop or under a low-ish cupboard there is no height issue with the top opening like with many similar machines, or any awkwardness in accessing the water tank at the back of the machine. The genio s is only available in white, which looks smart and modern accented with the black interface and cup rest, but other models in the genio range come in a few other colours.

The genio s can create over 40 beverages, from coffee to hot chocolates, teas and cold brews, with the Nescafe dolce gusto branded pods, though of course many more varieties are available using compatible pods. As one of the “milky machines”, a big pull of the genio s is that it makes all the popular coffee shop lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos etc – not all pod machines do this. While there are not any customisable features with the genio s, it does offer an XL option for drinks, which is useful for making longer coffees to take out on the go.

DeLonghi claims the genio s can create beverages in under 30 seconds thanks to its 15 bar high-pressure pump, which it says perfectly extracts the maximum flavour and aroma from each coffee pod, delivering a luxurious, crema-rich coffee. As with all pod machines, the clean up afterwards is minimal; all grounds are designed to stay in the pod for a mess-free coffee every time.

It also features a descaling alarm, and auto-shut off after one minute.

Performance

The first use requires a quick clean, which the picture-led instruction booklet guides you through fairly simply and then you’re ready to go. Unlike other brands we’ve tested, DeLonghi do not include the dolce gusto capsules you need to use your machine in the box which feels a tad miserly, so do pick up some pods before your delivery is due. Choose from cafe au lait (an easy-drinking, well-rounded everyday choice), americano bold morning (sweet, strong and intense) and more, then simply insert the pod into the genio’s rounded head and slide the top down to close. You can then choose to customise the size of your coffee by turning the easy-read dial and press play to brew: it’s simple and not too noisy, though we found we couldn’t fit our travel cup into the designated cup space, which is certainly not “XL”.

Read more: 8 best coffee grinders for the perfect espresso

The coffee itself is perfectly good for a pod machine: we rather enjoyed the flavour of the americanos which tasted fresh and full-bodied as any manual espresso, though the fun of these machines is all in the experimenting so you can search out your own personal favourite go-to coffee.

In terms of the milky drinks the machine allows, these of course are inbuilt into the pod, so can’t possibly compete with a freshly frothed cappuccino from your favourite barista, but if you’re a latte addict with no time or interest in steaming your own milk with a separate machine or steam wand, then this machine could be up your street. The milk is well steamed and achieves that lovely velvety micro-foam bubbles, but the taste is not perfect. We found the more indulgent pods such as caramel latte macchiato did a good job of disguising any lack of fresh milk flavour.

The streamlined design of the machine does not allow for a capsule bin, which is slightly irritating as it means you have to remove the last coffee pod before brewing your next beverage, but provided the capsule is cooled and you’re not having to serve up several coffees at once, this is fine and not at all messy, so seems a fair trade off for the machine’s compact size.

As with most capsules, recycling remains a point of contention. Nescafe’s dolce gusto pods can only be recycled in partnership with Podback – you can find more local details here, though we were surprised and disappointed to find that kerbside collections were not available to our north London postcode, so do be prepared to send yours away for proper recycling. Check other branded capsules for their recycling suitability.

By registering your machine with the dolce gusto club you’ll become eligible for offers, samples and discounts so this is definitely worth doing if you decide to purchase.

Buy now £59.99, Currys.co.uk

The verdict: DeLonghi Nescafe dolce gusto genio s

The DeLonghi Nescafe dolce gusto genio s is very much an entry level machine, both in terms of price and in functionality. Having said that, it does what it can do fairly well. We like that milky drinks are possible and are so mess-free, and if you’re not too much of a coffee snob these are likely to satisfy your craving for a deskside cappuccino while working from home very well. Its plus points are how little worktop space it requires, its portability (you can easily take this on your staycation) and its ease of use which would be difficult to simplify. Anyone looking for more functionality, look to the s plus or the s touch for extras like espresso boost for that big caffeine buzz, or for temperature adjustments.

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