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Woolworths’ $99 coffee pod machine reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 6:04 pm 29/11/2012

The first attempt by Woolworths to push into the growing coffee pod market, the Caffitaly takes a European machine and brings it into supermarkets for an inexpensive price, hitting below the $100 price tag that so few manufacturers have tried to reach.

Features

Imported from Europe, the Woolworths coffee capsule machine is actually made by Caffita as the S14, designed in Italy for the Caffitaly system of coffee pods, which is available in Australia from both Woolworths, Gloria Jean’s, and under the MAP brand of pods from Officeworks, Target, and Harvey Norman, among others.

The boxes include 16 pods and retail for between five and eight dollars, and are mostly based on coffee blends, but can also include types of tea and hot chocolate.

The black Caffitaly S14 is a reasonably bulky machine, almost as big as a real coffee machine and the pricey Nespresso Maestria.

Caffitaly’s S14 machine is built with a 15 bar pump, the same rated amount of pressure on offer from the Nescafe Dolce Gusto machines, but under the 19 bar pump the Nespresso machines are rated for.

The S14 weighs roughly four kilograms and features a water tank capable of holding 1.2 litres of water, as well as a spend capsule compartment which should hold roughly 10 capsules. You will have to empty it from time to time, as spent capsules still have coffee grounds in them and will grow mould.

At the back of the unit, there is also a small hatch to allow you to refill the water tank in case you don’t want to pull it out.

There are three buttons on this coffee machine for three sizes of coffee, and there is a lone plug coming out of the appliance for powering it.

A milk frother is also available, though it does not come with the Caffitaly S14 and can be purchased as an accessory.

Performance

In the past year or two since we started taking a good hard look at coffee machines, we have become familiar with a variety of the appliances, trying various systems, all of which cost over $150.

So when a $99 machine comes along, you have to wonder if it can really take on the competition.

Aesthetics are a matter of taste for everyone, but if there’s one thing we can say about the S14, it’s that it is no small machine, nor is it one that had the backing of a big design firm behind it: it’s big, black, and reasonably bulky.

Larger than both the Nespresso U and Nescafe Gusto, it comes close to matching the $799 Maestria in size, although it omits much of the style, going instead for a very generic appliance look in black, accented with a chrome handle and cup tray.

Despite this rather generic look, it is reasonably sturdy, even thought it has been built out of plastic, and won’t fall over if you lean on it or push slightly, so that’s a positive thing.

Like all other pod machines, the use of the machine is simple: fill up the removable water tank at the back, switch the machine on, pull back the pod door lever, drop a pod in, place your glass or mug under the spout at the front of the machine, close the level and lock the pod in place, and then hit what size coffee you’d like to make.

Three sizes are available: A or “single shot espresso” (30ml), B or “double shot espresso” (60ml), and C’s “long black (roughly 200ml).

Alternatively, you can program the buttons to release the amount you want most, by holding the button down while the coffee is dispensing, so you can make the button for double shots release a little more, if you don’t really care much about doubles.

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Price (RRP)

$99

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Very inexpensive; Sturdy machine; Part of the MAP system, which itself produces more than just coffee-based drinks;

Product Cons

Machine isn't small; Not the best coffee blends; Pods don't always fall to the spent container, and you may have to nudge the machine;

Ratings

Overall

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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