The xenomorph of coffee machines
I’m not a particularly big fan of aliens, but I certainly am a fan of hot, caffeinated drinks. The Nescafé Dolce Gusto Movenza manages to combine the two into a fancy, fold-up coffee machine that looks a liiiittle bit like a xenomorph – or if you prefer, ET.
Don’t let the alien comparison put you off: it’s a lovely-looking machine that would be right at home in a boutique hotel in Hoxton. Nescafé kindly sent me the black version to try out in my kitchen, and it looks even better in real life.
Closed, the machine looks like an exotic egg. When you turn it on, the top part rises automagically out of the base to reach its full height. On the black unit, that base is actually more of a dark charcoal grey, etched with textured lines that give it the appearance of being 3D-printed. Even the power cable is cool, standing out in a bright lipstick red that makes it a feature rather than an annoyance.
The head has touch buttons for operation, which are fairly intuitive to use. It’s a pod system, using the standard Dolce Gusto options, but unlike competitor Tassimo the pods don’t use barcodes. That means the machine doesn’t know which pod it’s using, and therefore you have to tell it how much water is required. That’s a little bit annoying when you’re used to just inserting the pod and pressing the button. It’s only one extra step, but if competing machines at a third of the price can offer it, it does seem like an oversight.
Still, all the pods are clearly marked with the correct level of water, so it’s not taxing. The levels look kind of like signal bars, and you just tap the correct number of bars on the machine to match the pod. You can experiment with different amounts if you like, but they’re designed to taste best with the amount on the pack.
Bear in mind that as with many pod machines, the amount of beverage you get is preeeetty small. You might want to double up. It’s absolutely fine for using with those fancy tall glass mugs you get in expensive cafés, but if you’re using a standard mug, it’s going to fall short or well short, depending on which drink you’re making.
The water tank, hidden in the base, is relatively generous at 1 litre and makes the whole thing nice and weighty when it’s full. It’s easy to remove and refill: you just pull it out at the back, fill from the tap and click it back in.
The choice of pod flavours is excellent. There’s hot and cold, basic and fancy, coffee and tea – although sadly no English Breakfast (which Tassimo has). Nonetheless, you’re undoubtedly spoilt for choice, with a huge range of different types of drinks, plus brand names.
Some of my favourites are the refreshing Nestea Lemon, the weird-but-it-works Tea Latte, the smooth and creamy Latte Macchiato, and the sumptuous Chococino Caramel. The machine can go up to 15 bar pressure, and does a good job of frothing up the milk too. I haven’t tried all the flavour options yet, but the more popular ones are available in lots of supermarkets, with the full range on the website. The machine comes with a £10 discount on pods, which should get you two boxes.
Pod prices are about average: most of them are £4.49 for 16 pods. Depending on what you choose, that’ll get you 8 or 16 drinks: the two-pod drinks (usually ones with milk, like Cappuccino) cost more per drink than the more basic ones (like Americano, which only needs one pod). That might sound expensive, but considering a takeaway coffee is about £3 these days, even 8 drinks seems good value in comparison (though of course you don’t get as much liquid, nor your name misspelt on the side).
It’s harder to argue for the value of the machine itself, because the Movenza is very much designed to be an artistic sculpture that makes coffee, rather than a workaday pod machine.
The RRP of £179.99 is pretty solidly out of budget for most people, but it’s usually a lot cheaper on Amazon – often under £100. That means it’s directly competing against mid-range Tassimos like this one (which I have, it’s fairly good) – but it’s so much prettier.
Ultimately, which pod machine is right for you will come down to how important design is, and which set of pods contains the drinks you want. There’s Tassimo, Dolce Gusto and the fancypants Nespresso, each with their own flavours, high points and downsides. They also each offer a range of machines at different price points (and with different tank sizes – the cheaper machines have tiny tanks that’ll drive you crazy).
If you’re after something sculptural, different and a teeny-tiny bit extraterrestrial, the Dolce Gusto Movenza might just rock your homeworld.
Main image: Nescafé