March 12, 2010

Review: Caffè Americano capsules for Nescafé Dolce Gusto

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It had never dawned on us that we reviewed the Nescafé Dolce Gusto system a while back but had completely forgotten to follow-up with reviews of the individual capsules which were available for it. Well readers, rest assured that glaring omission has now been resolved starting with this very review. From its quirky "alien duck thingy" looks to its professional quality 15-bar pressure (which produces incredibly rich, frothy drinks) to its fully manual controls & 100% no-mess cleanup... we love just about everything on this machine and we love the variety of its coffee capsules even more.

We decided to start with the most basic of all capsules, Nescafé's Caffè Americano, which is actually a recent addition to the lineup as it appeared online & in stores only within the past several months. A quick gander at Wikipedia reveals that an Americano is "a style of coffee prepared by adding hot water to espresso, giving a similar strength but different flavor from regular drip coffee". We didn't have any of the cool Nescafé color-coded mugs seen on the packaging and certainly wouldn't mind if the kind folks at Nescafé would send a few our way the next time they have an overstock *cough*. So, all shameless begging aside, pardon us for using a plain 12oz glass mug instead. We decided to limit the amount of water to approx. 8 or 10oz as to not dilute the coffee too much.


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Billed by Nescafé as a medium roast with "smooth, mild flavor", we would tend to agree. Aroma was earthy with notes of molasses & dark chocolate, plus we were pleased to see that even this "basic cup of coffee" had a nice little bit of crema on the surface (all thanks to the 15-bar pressure, we're sure). Flavor was exactly as expected, that of a toned-down, smoky espresso but definitely not to the point where it seemed too watered down. We now understand how restraining one's urge for a bigger cup can help improve flavor in some circumstances, as adding a full 12oz to fill our cup would have resulted in a tepid serving of coffee-scented water. The key to a good cup here is not going overboard with the serving sizes.

Acidity is obviously not as strong as a standard espresso, yet you can still taste sour notes primarily in the aftertaste. Still a pleasant balance overall which results indeed in a smooth profile that isn't too strong but isn't washed-out either. Body is dark with unique reddish hints of burnt sienna when held to a light source (the crema layer adds to the muted effect). Mouth feel, which we were expecting to be watery, actually turned out to be surprisingly silky smooth & we suppose this will vary from user to user as you experiment with different serving sizes.

  • Aroma – 8 – Earthy, with hints of molasses & dark chocolate.
  • Acidity – 8 – Mostly present in the aftertaste (which is a bit sour), yet the addition of extra water to this espresso-style brew helps mellow things out considerably.
  • Body – 9 – Dark until held to a light source where the crema layer helps project a reddish-brown or unique burnt sienna color.
  • Flavor – 9 – Just what an Americano should be... not too heavy on the taste while not too watered down to destroy the espresso flavor lurking underneath. If kept in the 8-10oz range, very well balanced. Nice smoky espresso flavor overall.
  • Mouth Feel – 8 – Varies depending on the amount of water you use. 6oz would be thick, 8oz-10oz can be smooth & velvety to light & silky. Ours came out in the "smooth & velvety" category.
  • Coffee Drinker – Since you manually control the amount of water that ends up in the final drink, this can range anywhere from casual strong coffee drinkers (6oz) to casual coffee drinkers who like something with a bit of a strong taste (10oz)

Overall Rating: 87 - Good


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We find the manual aspect of the Dolce Gusto is like throwing a bowling ball into a minefield of mouse traps. You're bound to set off more than one outcome depending on the brew size you select. This is a first among the single serve coffee world... you and ONLY you control the outcome of your drink. No other machine (to our knowledge) offers this level of customization. As a result, any of our Dolce Gusto reviews will be guidelines only in order to give you a basic idea of what the capsule can produce.

Each user experience will be ultimately different and heck... we LOVE that! Why? Because if you don't like the drink, you can keep tweaking it until you get it just right. Some will argue that other single serve machines can be setup, albeit more difficultly, to produce "customized" results as well, but it doesn't get any simpler than pulling and releasing a single lever... you don't even have to keep your finger pushed down on it during the brew process.


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The #1 thing we ADORE about the Dolce Gusto? The no-mess cleanup. The dispensing spout is built-into each capsule, so there's virtually no gunk build-up to clean-out. The worst you may have to do is use the included tool to clear blockages in the water needle, but we've been using our machine for months and haven't run into that problem yet. Overall, we feel this is a decent alternative to your conventional-drip coffee each morning and since you control the output, it may even taste better too. Definitely worth a try.

Nescafé's Caffè Americano capsules will work in all Dolce Gusto models and are available in 16-pack boxes for $8.49 USD at Nescafé's www.dolcegustostore.com or Amazon.com. They're also available for $8.99 CAD at Nescafé's www.dolce-gusto.ca or various grocery stores across Canada.

Read how we review and rate single serve coffee and other single serve coffee beverages here.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at March 12, 2010 7:44 AM

Recent Comments

My Dolce Gusto just broke after 13 months of light use. I had issues with the needle clogging and requiring a pin to clear it. It never brewed quite hot enough for my taste but I did absolutely fall in love with my version of an Americano NOT Dolce's...once again not Dolce's! Mine might not be as big (oz) as there but it is more true to a real americano I brew when I have time on the weekends with my QuickMill Anita HX Expresso Machine.

With the Dolce I use an espresso capsule. First warm up the cup and the 2 oz shot glass...just run some hot water thru the Krups. Then a pop in the capsule and brew 2oz of Espresso, pour it into the pre-heated empty cup and using the dolce dispense another 3oz of hot water. It is smooth, never bitter, rich, with some nutty notes. It is my favorite single serve cup yet! I also like the Hot Cocoa, Mocha, and the Latte. I didnt overally like the americano, I actually like the Cafe Lungo better but niether I found to be as good as my version of the americano.

One note the Hot Cocoa, Latte, and Mocha never really came out as hot as I would have liked them. Unfortunately but that is just how it went. BBB actually took it back...I had my receipt and they were wonderful.

The machine is good but lacks control. It will not stop brewing when you are pulling a shot when it has reached its designated size...so you can have some consistency issues. I could never make the hot cocoa or the mocha the same every time. I had a Tassimo and I would still say the Dolce was better. Less variety as well as harder availabilty but what it did do compared to the same tassimo counterparts it did better. Tassimo did do it hotter but the coffee and drinks just didnt have the taste!

So since I need my coffee fast in the work week AM I went back to a Keurig (Cusinart) and use my Anita for the milk and hot cocoa stuff (Forth or steam Chocolate milk with the steam wand...WOW it is really good!) The Cusinart is decent and pulls a good consistent cup o joe but I still miss the Americano my way in the Dolce...rich, more character and I could drink it cold and love it too! Too bad! I guess I might have had better luck with a Nespresso Machine. If your Dolce Works great...stick with it and try one of my Americano style drinks with an espresso capsule. I think you will like it! It is far different than just pulling a long shot (5oz) straight you have to pull 2oz dump the spent capsule and pull 3oz of hot water...it is pretty darn good!


Posted by: Eric at March 17, 2010 2:23 AM
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