Mugshot road-tests the Lavazza Fantasia capsule coffee machine

Lavazza Fantasia capsule coffee machine

Last year Fairfax Media reported that Australians were drinking 3 million capsule coffees a day, with world sales of capsules about $10 billion a year and growing.

The latest local entry in this market is the Lavazza Fantasia (pronounced “fun-ta-zee-a”, with the stress on the “zee” – say it like that and you’ll not only sound Italian, but the coffee might taste more authentic).

The Fantasia claims to offer “a real Italian cafe experience at home”, but a real Italian cafe experience ranges from an autostrada truck stop to classic Rome roastery Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe, so it’s a broad brief.

The attractive, sleek machine (RRP $399) is finished in solid plastic with retro Bakelite styling in red, black or cream. It comes with a sample selection of Lavazza capsules, ranging from Dolcemente to Divinamente, reflecting increasingly stronger flavours. The capsules retail at supermarkets and electrical goods stores for $11 for a pack of 16 – 70 cents each.

The machine has simple touchpad operation, with the choice of a short or long black extraction.

A short black – 30 millilitres – of the Appassionatamente blend (the red capsules, “strong, dark and full-bodied”) has a sweet, nutty aroma and a pleasant acid bite in the cup, without any particularly identifiable fruit flavours, and a toasty finish. Like all capsule coffee, it’s light on body, although it has a nice, honeycomb-coloured crema.

A long black made with the Caffe Crema Lungo capsule, presumably intended for long blacks, is mildly flavoured, with a slightly creamy mouth-feeling, and not particularly over-extracted, even at 100 millilitres.

The machine has a milk frother and three froth settings – small cappuccino (70 millilitres of milk), large cappuccino (120 millilitres) and latte (170 millilitres) – as well as froth intensity adjustment. It steams the milk through a tube and swirls it with a whisk-type thing, mimicking the vortex that a commercial steam wand makes.

The cappuccino will please lovers of traditional froth, rather than specialty-coffee types who prefer finer, more integrated microfoam. The frothing doubles the volume of the milk, making a milky brew with a couple of millimetres of froth on top and a temperature of 60C to 62C, a bit like a shopping-mall cappuccino, and better with one of the darker roasts for a more intense coffee flavour.

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