≡ Menu > Menu

NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Review

krups-nescafe-dolce-gusto-0

The NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto is a beverage brewing system brought to you by Nescafe and Krups. That’s sure a mouth full, isn’t it? After unboxing the thing and setting it on the kitchen counter, my spouse took one look at it and named it “The Coffee Duck”, but for the review I’ll stick with calling it the Gusto. What it is is a system combining a Krups-built simple to use one cup at a time brewer with a  capsule-based beverage system by Nescafe. Yikes, still a mouthful! Its a dead-simple system to make a single cup of coffee-house class drink, minus the barista, the mess, and for the most part, the danger associated with espresso machines, milk foamers, coffee grinders, etc. Once you get the hang of it, the Gusto actually does what it claims.

Unboxing

The review unit I received was the “starter” retail package:krups-nescafe-dolce-gusto-0-a

All the bits in the box except one are fairly important… and the one bit that wasn’t (the saucer for the cup) arrived in several bits thanks to my UPS guy. Once you dig it all out you’ll have a pile something like this:

krups-nescafe-dolce-gusto-1

It’s nearly foolproof, but I’ll give it a go

There are currently eight beverages you can make with the Gusto. The review included a second box containing one each of the seven flavors available at the time – a few weeks later I received a sample of the newest flavor “Cappuccino Ice”. I’ll come back to the flavor choices in a bit, let’s focus for now on how it all works.

Each beverage uses one or two capsules. If the beverage has a milk component, you’ll use two capsules to make it. If not, you just use one.

krups-nescafe-dolce-gusto-2

So, for example, the very popular with my daughter “Latte Macchiato” uses two capsules. You buy these things in a box of 16 capsules. Most likely you’ll be buying them online – I’ve kept an eye out for them at my usual grocery stores, and they’re not stocked there. You can get them at Amazon and other online retailers. At Amazon, a three-pack box goes for $25. You can find single boxes for $8-$9. Those of you with good math skills have worked out by now that a cup of joe via this system runs you $.50 for non-milk single capsule drinks, and $1 for the two capsule ones. If you’re getting your drinks at a place with a guy or gal foaming the milk, this is actually a little less expensive, although its not quite as inexpensive as you might think. More on that in a bit!

Each beverage comes with instructions on its box. The Gusto also includes a manual showing how to make each beverage, but it seems like the instructions don’t match exactly. For best results, go with the instructions printed on the capsule box. Each beverage recipe breaks down into something like this:

  1. Fill the Duck, er, Gusto with water. You can make 3-4 cups with one tank of water. The tank is the self-contained clear plastic that makes up the body of the Duck.
  2. Press the Power button. It turns from Red to Green when the heater is ready. This takes just a few seconds from dead cold, so usually its ready to go by the time you finish the next step.
  3. Insert a Capsule in the tray. The tray is the “beak” of the duck. Flip up the release (the duck’s eyes) and pull the tray out. Insert the first capsule in, push down the release, and you’re ready to go
  4. krups-nescafe-dolce-gusto-3

  5. Now for the tricky bit. Assuming the power light is Green, you’re ready to brew. You use the shifter on top to shoot screaming hot (or unheated, for cold drinks) water at high pressure through the capsule. Sadly, you’re in control of how long that water goes, and here’s where some practice makes perfect. The supplied cups are important, because they’re sized right for the beverages (which are small!) and they include subtle hints as to how much of each capsule you should add. Using the glass to make the Macciahato, you dispense latte/foam (the light capsule) to the top of the handle. Then you add coffee (the dark capsule) to near the rim. Overfill either, and you get a watery, weak drink.
  6. Once you’re done filling a capsule, flip up the release, pull the tray, and dump the spent capsule into the supplied bin. The capsule is HOT and still has liquid in it, so some care (and adult supervision) is a good idea.
  7. If the beverage uses two capsules, do the same routine with the second capsule, dispensing the right amount, to the next mark.

Hit those marks exactly, and you get this:

krups-nescafe-dolce-gusto-5

Not only is that visually appealing, but it has one of the best foam tops I’ve ever gotten at home:

krups-nescafe-dolce-gusto-6

It also passes the taste test. Yummy.

Coffee for everyone

As the reviewer, I carefully made each of the drinks supplied in the sample set. Since I wanted to be able to sleep sometime in the next few days, I enlisted the spouse and teen to help with the taste testing. After a few tries I could get repeatable results using the clear glass supplied, but it’s actually easier to use a measuring cup to get the exact amounts, and then dump the cup into the final beverage container. The system is simple enough that my teen and her friends can use it, and it’s sure convenient.

The first few attempts showed a problem with taking a European product to the US market. I don’t know about you, but my coffee only comes in one size. Really really big. Grande. Super Size. Whatever you call it, it’s some honking 16-20 ounce monster. The Gusto cranks out beautiful Euro-sized 6-8oz drinks, or a wee drop (2 oz) of espresso. You can merrily push 16 ounces of hot steamy water through the capsules, but all you’ll get is a fairly horrible glass of hot brown/white water that will leave you jumpy and disappointed. Either scale back your size, or make it a double. Even if you double the capsules you’ll be paying just $2 for your 16 ounce Macchiato.

Skinny? Decaf? Diet?

Finally, another potential weakness of any capsule-based system is that you’re forced to use what they sell, and nothing more. Currently for the Dolce Gusto that’s:

  • Caffe Lungo (your basic coffee, black) and
  • Caffe Lungo Decaf
  • Cappuccino (1 shot of espresso and 6 oz of foamed milk – 3.5g fat, 10mg cholesterol, 80 calories)
  • Cappuccino Ice (1 shot of espresso and 6 oz of foamed milk – 3g fat, 10mg cholesterol, 110 calories)
  • Chococino (hot chocolate! Non-caffeinated – 6g fat, 15mg cholesterol, 150 calories)
  • Espresso (1 shot)
  • Latte Macchiato (1 shot of espresso, 6 oz foamed milk, 4g fat, 10mg cholesterol,  90 calories)
  • Mocha (1 shot of espresso and 6 os of hot chocolate, 5g fat, 10mg cholesterol,  120 calories)

Not much here for anyone counting calories other then espresso or caffe (ie, the non-milk beverages.) I would hope they would consider “skinny” and “skinny – sugar free” versions, or even just selling milk systems separate from the espresso shots.

Parting Shot

Here’s the bottom line. I’ve had a nice Krups dual coffee/espresso/foamer sitting on my counter for several years. I make a pot of coffee a few times a month, and I’ve steamed milk exactly three times with it. I’ve still never quite brought myself to attempt the espresso side of it. The Dolce Gusto has been in near daily use by at least one of the three of us, including the teen and her posse of friends. We’ve long since burned through the review capsules and now get a regular shipment from Amazon.

The thing works. It’s simple, its instant gratification, it’s easy to keep clean, and it delivers any one of those eight styles of beverage any time you want going from cold start to steaming drink in less then a minute. Once you get in your head that 8 oz is a reasonable size for a coffee, it’s pretty much perfect.

 

Product Information

Price:$149.95
Requirements:
  • Opposable thumbs, AC, Water, Desire for caffeine
Pros:
  • Good quality coffee, Easy, Fast, Clean, Drinks taste and look good.
Cons:
  • Limited beverage choices, Small beverage sizes, Prone to user error during brewing.

{ 26 comments… add one }

  • Fred October 20, 2009, 8:42 am

    Nice, but I’ll stick to my Nespresso. What else?

  • Daniel October 20, 2009, 12:07 pm

    I looked at getting one of those machine, but the cream is some processed stuff!! not great for you! so I have to stuck with my Nespresso Lattissima which makes the perfect Latte!

  • Gardenwife October 20, 2009, 12:28 pm

    I can’t get past the duckishness. That and it’s not real, fresh milk of my choice. I don’t like the idea of reconstituting milk.

  • John Schettino October 20, 2009, 12:45 pm

    Daniel, the “creamer” packets are pretty benign, actually: “Milk Capsule (Nonfat Milk, Milkfat, Sugar, Soy Lecithin)”

    The Cappuccino ones do have some more interesting stuff: Cappuccino Capsule (Sugar, Nonfat Milk, Milkfat, Soluble Coffee, Coconut Oil, Soy Lecithin, Maltodextrin, Artificial Flavor, Modified Starch), Milk Capsule (Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Coconut Oil, Milkfat, Sodium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin)

    Check the ingredients on the site though, and for the most part it’s just milk and sugar.

  • John Schettino October 20, 2009, 12:48 pm

    Gardenwife, indeed it’s not fresh milk. No way around that, you’re trading easy to make (and store, the capsules don’t go in the fridge, they go in your cupboard) over fresh but hand-steamed milk. I found it to be ok taste-wise because it’s part of a coffee (or coco) drink. I doubt a glass of just the milk would be really satisfying!

  • Allison Peltz October 20, 2009, 6:16 pm

    My name is Allison and I work with Dolce Gusto for the social outreach efforts. Thank you for taking the time to do a detailed review and getting your whole family involved.

    In regards to skim options, we are always working on new flavors and this kind of feedback is very helpful to us. A new smooth, everyday cup, Caffe Americano, is being introduced later this month. As new flavors become available, I will be sure to let you know.

  • Andrew Baker October 20, 2009, 8:01 pm

    It reminds me of the aliens from “the 5th element” maybe the 5th element is Coffee.

  • Valcon October 26, 2009, 5:51 am

    There will always be people to whom this is a fine concept. It’s convenient and not-so-bad-tasting.

    However, I’ll stick with my automatic espressomachine (with grinder). Cheaper to use, better coffee, real crema (out of the oil of the beans, not a fake foam surrogate, and very easy to clean. It also produces nice “normal” coffee, and with the steam pipe it’s quite ease to make creamy foamed milk for cappuccino.

    I’ve already managed to talk a couple of my friends into switching from a Senseo to an automatic espresso machine. They al wondered why they didn’t switch earlier…

  • AC January 5, 2010, 9:48 am

    I’ve got an auto espresso maker at home that works well, but this seems perfect for the workplace, at least for me as I just drink espresso.

    If there’s a discount on bulk purchases of the pods (100 or so) then it would make good sense.

    As for being “forced” to use what they sell, there’s nothing to prevent you from buying a small electric frappe whip (under 20 bucks) to froth up some skim, etc. It’s more “trouble” perhaps, but that’s the trade-off for customizing. Besides, it’s far less expensive a solution than the Nespresso products, no?

  • Zuesel April 2, 2010, 11:52 am

    I’ve been wanting something small like this. I spend a fair amount for Starbuck’s caps every week.
    I really want to get this little darling duck but the availability of sugar-free is keeping me out of it. :(
    Unless Nescafe comes up with sugarfree flavoring, if I buy it, will just look pretty but dead on my counter top. :(

  • Rob Haldane December 12, 2010, 11:26 pm

    I have read the reviews and it seems like there has been no new flavours added in over a year. Where is the french vanilla cappuccino and the hazelnut. I need more flavours!!!!!!!

  • Lori February 13, 2011, 9:11 am

    I just bought a dolce gusto machine. Not liking the limited flavours, but love the machine. Thinking of returning it for the Keurig with a lot more flavours. I like french vanilla coffee and it looks like it is only available in the US.

  • Marc August 31, 2011, 4:19 pm

    BULK! BULK! BULK ! BULK! COMON! Nescafe rep, tell em you’re killing your customers by selling them in boxes of 16! and 8 drinks for the latte! It’s ridiculous, Nespresso does it in bulk, why wouldn’t you?!?! It’s not because we’re buying a cheaper machine that we are dumber!

    other than that it’s great

  • Susie September 2, 2011, 11:58 am

    Asking for some information on making the coffee. I just bought the machine and am making the coffee like it says, but it just doesn’t really have a taste to it, not sure what I am doing wrong. Should I be adding some additional sugar and milk on my own?

  • Christine December 22, 2011, 2:29 pm

    I initially enjoyed this machine – that is, until I needed to get customer support from Nescafe. They do not seem to care about customer satisfaction at all! Do yourself a favour and buy a different brand of machine.

  • Beverly Irwin January 5, 2012, 9:54 am

    Don’t buy this machine! This product does not turn out a good cup of coffee. It is very weak and you use too many pods trying to make the perfect cup. The real kicker was when I tried to return it they told me I had exceeded the 30 day limit. I ordered on 11/29, gave it as a Christmas gift on 12/25, the offices were closed for several days during the holidays making it impossible to return. That is poor customer service. So I am stuck with a Worthless DOLCE GUSTO!

  • Stef January 5, 2012, 9:59 pm

    I’ll buy it from you if interested!
    Stef

  • Les Toreadors September 20, 2012, 11:50 pm

    Thank you for the detailed review and especially to the ‘real world’ commentary that followed over the next two years.

    It appears the Dolce is becoming somewhat popular in Asia now but as the reviews and comments say above, it’s a product that offers great convenience and is easy to use but at the expense of very limited recipe availability.

    A big bummer is the inability to customize recipes to individual taste and serving size and also possible wastage within each pod.

    Note to prospective local buyers: Do not be sold by advertising hype – go online to see the reviews first!

  • Rochelle December 21, 2012, 11:04 pm

    the cartridges becomes waste. hope i can trade it with new cartridges for a lesser price. you know, to reduce waste… hope it may be recycled or something. like cola and milk bottles.

  • coffeemom June 29, 2013, 6:42 pm

    I have a box of cappuccino right here in front of me and the milk pod is just milk powder, sugar and soy lecithin, along with the coffee pod (coffee.) There are no chemicals, hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors as there are in K-cup lattes and other K-cup milk based beverages. The only pod systems with just dried milk are Starbucks and Nescafe. Starbuck’s pods cost much more per cup of coffee, though, and their coffee is over roasted, too. The dolce gusto machine gives a great head of froth too, and at 15 bars of pressure, makes a decent espresso for an instant machine.

  • gayle September 30, 2013, 9:30 pm

    Bought machine on closeout sale @ krogers $25 down the drain. No way to get coffee except to order. Oh well…

  • Kim October 27, 2013, 3:33 pm

    Which machines have the pods that you fill with your own coffee? Not the gusto, I assume.

  • Catdog December 13, 2013, 4:58 am

    Nice simple machine to use , replacing a grinder and espresso machine with convenience and repeatable results, hope more flavour options come soon. Recommended addition to any home

  • Tenkat99 January 7, 2014, 10:49 pm

    I have one of these at work and at home. Came across by pure chance. A neighbor had won both machines as a door prize & sold them way cheap.

    The skinny cappuccino is tasty & I add a smidge do Splenda to sweeten. Love the foam & froth!

    Definitely need to get used to smaller serving, but as the initial reviewer said, you can double up.

    Bought one for my sister when she moved 30 miles away from any coffee house. She loves the caramel macchiato and her kids adore the cocachinnos.

    I order from Amazon for cheaper prices AND you can get flavors from Europe not offered here. Same cost and free shipping.

  • Stevo88 January 25, 2014, 6:31 am

    I didn’t like the supplied “milk” capsules either ; very sickly. So I purchased a milk frother (electric whisk) for less than £5 ($7) from the UK outlet called ARGOS. It takes 2 AA batteries. I use semi-skimmed cold milk which can be frothed right up then heated in microwave for 20-30secs. Hot milk will not froth, not sure why. Do not attempt to drink frothed milk straight out of microwave as bubbles contain hot steam (ouch!). I then add the espresso or whatever from the duck and quickly whisk again. It sounds like a lot of hassle but after a few attempts you will produce a quality drink very quickly. Also less fat content.

  • sherry kotz February 6, 2014, 11:14 am

    I love this coffee. But this morning when I was making it ,I looked at the milk coming out as I always do, something else came out of the milk. .It looks like a dead moth. I am so sick to my stomach over this. I am a very clean person. I run hot water every time I use my coffee machine.
    This has never happened
    over the 3 years of using this coffee machine. You could see the legs separating with the milk because milk is so white. I don’t know what happened .Maybe the dry milk pod was old. The expiration date isn’t up yet though. So ,my advise is to look first. Going to contact the company and probably find a new type of coffee to drink with regular milk . I will say that I never had an issue with Dolce Gusto until now. And drink this tasty coffee everyday .It is awesome!!

Leave a Comment