Krups Dolce Gusto Mini Me review

It’s fair to say that Nescafé is the most recognised brand of
instant coffee on the market, whether in its classic form, Gold Blend or
whatever. It therefore comes as no surprise that Nestlé would apply its
most famous of brands to its Dolce Gusto capsule-based coffee system.

While Nespresso is Nestlé’s capsule system for coffee connoisseurs,
Dolce Gusto is, as the Nescafé branding would suggest, aimed at
consumers looking to step up to real coffee from instant or filtered
beverages. That positioning is further enhanced by the fact that you can
buy Dolce Gusto capsules in the supermarket, while Nespresso capsules
can only be obtained online, or from the Nespresso boutiques.

Stylish and funky

As you can see from the photos, the Dolce Gusto Mini Me is a
pretty funky looking machine. In fact, the whole Dolce Gusto range of
machines have that same organic, rounded style to them, which will
undoubtedly add a bit of cool to your kitchen.

dolce_gusto_mini_me_side_view_0

While the Mini Me may look aesthetically cool, when you get
up close you’ll see that it’s actually quite an insubstantial and
plasticky affair. Of course most budget counter top coffee machines are
predominantly plastic, but the similarly priced Nespresso Inissia looks
and feels like a far higher quality item. In its favour, the Mini Me is
fairly compact and should suit even the smallest of kitchens. There’s
also a decent array of colours to match your existing décor – you can
choose from black, indigo, grey or red.

Getting started

The Mini Me comes fully assembled in the box – the only
thing you need to do is remove the 0.8L water tank from the rear and
fill it with fresh water. The plastic cup stand, which doubles as the
drip tray can be positioned at three different heights, depending on
whether you’re making a short drink, such as an espresso, or a longer
drink, such as a latte.

dolce-gusto-tray-heights

Controls have been kept to a minimum, but that doesn’t mean that the
Mini Me isn’t versatile. The power button is located on top of the round
head of the machine – pressing it will initiate the warm up, leaving
the button to flash red until it’s ready to extract, at which point the
button glows green. There’s a sliding selector that runs along the front
fascia of the head, which allows you to dictate the exact amount of
water for your drink. One of the cleverest aspects of the whole Dolce
Gusto system is that printed on each capsule is the correct volume
setting, so you should never make a mistake.

dolce_gusto_mini_me_controls_0 

Finally, at the back of the head is a lever that can be
activated either right or left – pushing it right will initiate the flow
of hot water, while pushing it left will unleash cold. When the
selected volume of water has been dispensed, flow will automatically
cease, and the lever will return to its central position.

Coffee quality

Getting down to business involves lifting the clamp that’s
integrated into the front of the head, which then unlocks the capsule
tray. You then pull the tray completely free from the machine and insert
your capsule of choice. When you’ve slid the occupied capsule tray back
into the machine, you simply push the clamp back down, at which point
you’ll be greeted with a reassuring pop as the capsule is punctured,
ready for extraction.

You then just select the correct volume and push the lever
to the right. The Mini Me is fairly loud during extraction, but not as
loud as the Nespresso Inisia. There’s also a degree of vibration, but
not enough to make the cup dance around on the drip tray like the Dualit Xpress 3-in-1.

Using the standard espresso capsule, the Mini Me produced
surprisingly good results. The coffee hit the cup at around 61C, which
is as near to perfect as you’ll get from a budget counter top machine.
The espresso was delivered with a creamy, golden brown crema too, which
hints at the smooth taste awaiting you in the cup.

dolce_gusto_mini_me_espresso_0

To be perfectly honest, we weren’t expecting the best
results from the Mini Me when it came to flavour, but we’re big enough
to admit that our preconceptions were unfounded. The Mini Me produced
espresso that’s smooth and rich, with just the right hint of
bitterness. Admittedly the Mini Me can’t compete with the Inissia when
it comes to flavour, but that’s probably as much to do with the
difference in capsules as the difference in machines. Ultimately, your
choice of espresso flavours is far more limited with Dolce Gusto
compared with Nespresso.

Milk drinks 

The Dolce Gusto coffee system differs from every other type
of machine we’ve reviewed, because even though it can create a dizzying
array of drinks, it doesn’t use milk. You see Dolce Gusto is all about
the convenience, and is aimed at consumers who don’t want to worry about
filling milk jugs, washing them out afterwards, and making sure that
unused milk goes back in the fridge.

So, instead of using milk to create your drink of choice,
you simply slap in a milk capsule and let the Mini Me rehydrate it for
you. There’s no doubt that this method makes things far easier and
quicker, but there’s also no doubt that the resulting drinks don’t taste
anywhere near as good. If you’re looking to make a cappuccino, you
first have to slap in the cappuccino milk capsule, set the correct
volume and let the water flow. You then need to drop in the cappuccino
coffee capsule and do the same.

The drink we ended up with wasn’t anywhere near as bad as we
feared it might be, but it wasn’t great either. While being just about
palatable, it was overly creamy, and left a distinct aftertaste in the
mouth. What we found interesting was that while regular coffee drinkers
really disliked the powdered milk drinks served up by the Mini Me, those
that rarely drank coffee, or generally preferred tea, quite liked the
cappuccinos and lattes that it produced.

dolce_gusto_mini_me_milk_drinks_0

On the whole, though, we found the Mini Me to be adequate
when producing espresso or lungo drinks, but wouldn’t really want to
subject ourselves to anything involving the milk capsules if at all
possible.

Conclusion

The Dolce Gusto Mini Me looks like a very versatile machine
on paper, and it can produce a surprisingly decent cup of espresso.
Unfortunately, the use of powdered milk capsules means that fans of
cappuccinos and lattes could be disappointed in what the Mini Me offers
up. Things look even worse for the Mini Me when you factor in the £99
MSRP, which makes it £10 more expensive than the excellent Krups Nespresso Inissia.
However, you can pickup one a Mini Me from reputable online retailers
for between £50 and £60, making it a far more attractive proposition.

Even factoring in the bargain online price, we can’t help
but think you’d be better off going down the Nespresso route. And even
though the Inissia doesn’t have a milk option built in, you could always
treat yourself to an Aeroccino at a later date and enjoy real
cappuccinos, with real milk. 

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