Home Icon
woolworths-caffitaly-s14-review-09

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.

Rather than adopt the Nespresso clone mentality taken by the machines produced by both K-Mart and Kogan, the Woolworths machine uses the Caffitaly system, which is shared in this country by Map, leaving you more beverage selections than just the Woolies home brand and Gloria Jean’s options, and even opens purchase options up to stores including Officeworks.

For this review, we purchased a Woolworths Medium Roast rated in the middle for strength and a Gloria Jean’s “Smooth Classic Blend” that airs closer to being a light taste than a heavy and bold coffee.

Running it through on both the double espresso and long black settings, we found both blends to be reasonably bitter. The crema looks nice, but elicits an almost burnt smell, rather than the welcome aroma of good beans.

The coffee on offer is better than filtered coffee, but not up to the quality that either the Nespresso or Nescafe Dolce Gusto machines put out, and we certainly didn’t think we were receiving cafe quality espressos from this machine, compared to the premium coffee we’ve experienced from other capsule-based machines.

For the $99 price, we’re not totally surprised, and after opening a capsule and seeing how it worked, we’re more inclined to say that from a design point of view, the Caffitaly competes more directly with the Nescafe system than the one from Nespresso, since the coffee “brewing” takes place in the pod in both systems with a series of small plastic filters.

That said, you will be able to find hot chocolate and tea-based capsules for the Caffitaly in the Map pods available at other retailers, something Nespresso machines just can’t do.

You may find that every so often the spout spits or drips in a large bubble, which is a little off-putting, but tends to go away quite quickly.

We’ve actually never seen this before, so when it happens, try to ignore it.

Coffee capsules go in here.

Caffitaly’s claim of “automatic ejection” for the pods isn’t quite spot on, either. It’s more of an ejection method based on “waiting for a bit, then nudging the machine, and then tilting it like you would a pinball machine so that the pods fall into the spent container.”

We certainly wouldn’t call that automatic, and while it’s not difficult, it’s something to be aware of, so don’t be alarmed when they’re stuck in your pod bay door.

Conclusion

At just under a hundred dollars (or $79 if you happen to be one of the Woolworths card holders), it’s a hard price to argue with, especially against the $229 and $299 machines we normally receive from Nespresso and Nescafe.

Certainly, this is an area few major appliance makers will touch: it’s cheap and attempts to lock you into a system, and since so many of us drink coffee, it could make an easy gift for someone with a love for the stuff and isn’t too picky about quality.

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

Latest reviews

  • Review: DeLonghi PrimaDonna Elite coffee machine

    DeLonghi’s latest machine may have a name deserving of people who fancy themselves over the top, but its quality speaks volumes enough that its actually deserved.
  • Review: Benq WiT LED desk lamp

    Benq may not be a brand you typically associate with lights, and we know it best for monitors, but your next work light could come from some neat R&D…
  • Review: KEF M400 headphones

    A brand synonymous with excellent audio, KEF is at it again with a pair of on-ear headphones that aim to bring audio to a compact and fashionable package. Does…
  • Review: Amazon Kindle Oasis

    Electronic books have already delivered a future where we can bring all of our books with us, but the next development will be one of super thin tablets that…
  • Review: Acoustic Research M2 (ARM2) media player

    While the phone has overtaken the conventional media player, those of us with special needs and high resolution audio are embracing a new generation of media devices, and Acoustic…
  • Review: Husqvarna 136LiHD45 Hedge Trimmer

    If a guy who rarely enters his backyard can use a hedge trimmer, it’s a winner, and that means Husqvarna’s battery powered 45cm trimmer wins the gold, ticking the…
  • A phone with a difference: LG’s G5 reviewed

    LG’s quest for the ultimate flagship phone has been all about constant evolution, and for its 2016 attempt, we’re seeing the best one yet. Is it enough to unseat…
  • Review: Telstra Tough Max

    Telstra's Tough Max isn't like your ordinary phone, because if you need something that feels like it has been made for Australia, this may well be it.
  • Review: Apple iPad Smart Keyboard for 9.7 inch iPad Pro

    One feature on the iPad Pro can only be used with style of accessory: the dock connector, and it can only talk to keyboard cases. Right now, Apple’s Smart…
  • Review: Aftershockz Bluez 2S Bone Conduction earphones

    Imagine if you never had to wear an earphone again and could just hear the music in your head. That doesn’t have have to be a dream, because the…

“How do you stop yourself from being caught out by these scam artists?”

Read More

Tell us…

Will you be installing an ad blocker on your smartphone?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

“There’s certainly no doubt that you can find a bargain, but like always, you get what you pay for.”

Read More