Lavazza roasts and blends coffee – it is pretty good at that. It also makes a range of reasonably low-cost coffee machines like the Lavazza Jolie and Milk for a quick milk coffee hit. Is it any good? For a capsule machine, it is worthy.
GadgetGuy does its share of coffee drinking. To feed our caffeine habit, we are partial to testing the odd coffee machine and beans thrown our way. In fact, there are 271 results for the word coffee on our site, including our gold-standard guide, The tech behind good coffee that helps you to understand the science of the perfect cup.
In the guide, among many coffee secrets, we state
Sorry, Pods are pathetic – yes. Inside that aluminium and plastic pod is 5-7g of something. That includes ground coffee, instant coffee, caffeine (or not), carbs, fat, sodium, flavourings, and unspecified extenders. Generic pods cost from 33-70 cents each, ranging from an equivalent of $66 to a massive $140 per kg of beans. Pods have one advantage – you can buy a variety to suit different coffee drinkers, including faux coffee drinkers that want a flavoured hazelnut, Creme Brulee, etc. In no way are Pod machines as complex or powerful as proper coffee makers – pod, hot water, cup and maybe frothed milk.
So, when Lavazza offered us a $ 199 ‘pod machine’ to review, we silently grimaced and said – sure, send it over while sipping barista-grade coffee from the latest uber-expensive Jura and De-Longhi automatic coffee machines.
You will have to read to the end of the review to see if we still stand by our previous statement. Hint: Let’s just say the Lavazza Jolie and Milk coffee machine may just have softened our stance.
Before we get to the machine, we need to explain the coffee. You see, it is just the vehicle to make a cup, and on that basis, it is pretty fool-proof.
Lavazza doesn’t use the Nespresso Pod system. Instead, it has a unique Lavazza A Modo Mio pod system. Its ‘Made in Italy’ pod is aluminium, vacuum-sealed, holding up to 7.5g of tamped coffee.
Now we know that many ‘pods’ are full of fillers, extenders and artificial flavours. Lavazza assures us that the only thing inside its pod is ground coffee made from ethically sourced Arabica and Robusta roasted beans. Some are blends and some single origin.
We received a nine-pod tasting pack with intensity ratings from 7 to 13. Intensity depends on the beans used, blend, roast and the grind. You need to understand that some are better with milk, and some are better as Espresso.
The price ranges from $8.50 to $11 or about 70 cents per pod.
A pod can produce either a 30ml (Espresso/Ristretto) or 60ml (Lungo) extraction. We quickly found for milk coffee that it is far better to have a 30ml mixed with more milk than a watery Lungo 60ml with less milk. There is science in using pods too.
The primary tester (my wife) likes Flat White (let’s not even mention the skinny lactose-free milk she prefers), so she was looking for good intensity without bitterness and the milk maker to heat that to at least 60° with little froth. It does.
We settled on Lavazza Crema E Gusto Classico strength 12 at $11 for 16 pods (69 cents each). Now some consumer advice – $91.67 per kg when the same beans per kg cost $22 and makes 133 x 7.5g (17 cents per extraction) in a ground coffee machine. If you drink a lot of coffee, you can buy a decent semi-auto ground coffee machine pay for it in <600 cups.
With due respect to Lavazza and other pod makers, it is akin to an inkjet printer that uses ink that cost more per ml than the finest French perfume!
But it is all about convenience. No doubt the Lavazza Mio pod system is that – and you will find a pod flavour you like. But remember, these only work in the Lavazza coffee machine range.
The Jolie and Milk $199 is the Jolie Plus and an external heated milk/frothing container
Desea $299 will make Espresso or milk coffee in the same glass mug (uses similar tech as the Lavazza Jolie and Milk)
SMEG $349 puts an Italian brand and price on the Mio pod system – 30 or 60ml extraction
Fantasia Electrolux (and Plus) adds three milk recipes using a separate coffee and milk system in the one device
First impression – cute
Well-made, smallish footprint at 222mm (W) x 217 (D) x 331 (H) x 3.7kg and totally uncomplicated. No need for a degree in coffee-making for this.
It has a power-on button that doubles as a Lungo selector and a 30ml button. It takes cup sizes up to a maximum of 110mm in height. These are not large cups but remember; pods are all about portion control.
The removable water container holds 600ml. If you want to top up with extra hot water, push the 30 or 60ml buttons again before removing the pod. You can also program it to deliver whatever extraction size you wish.
The milk container is about 180ml. It uses magnetic induction to heat and whisk the milk. It is a matter of finding the right amount of milk to suit the cup size. You can press the milk button once for foamy cappuccino milk or twice for a flat white. You can also long-press for cold foamed milk. Don’t store the milk container in the fridge, and don’t reheat leftover milk.
The power cable is .8m, so it needs to be close to a power outlet. It uses a maximum of 1250W, so don’t overload a 2400W power point with a toaster.
Coffee – plenty of variety
As we said earlier, you need to sample the nine pods to determine what suits you. While we started making 60ml extractions, we found later that 30ml makes a far better cup (for us). I suspect that the 10-bar water pressure gets almost everything out of the pod on the first extraction. Crema on top is excellent.
For milk coffee, we suggest 10+ intensity coffees. For Espresso (black), you can go to a lower intensity to avoid any potential bitterness. There are Decaf pods that make pretty good black coffee.
Milk – just the right temperature
In our coffee guide, we discuss milk types. The heater/frother reaches about 60° – reasonably good for most milk. Yes, you can use it with Almond, Oat and other faux milk (not tested). It can produce lots of froth for Cappuccino and just a tad too much for flat white.
Our only caveats are to be careful of the whisk – it looks a little fragile, and please keep the milk container scrupulously clean but be careful not to scratch the interior.
Maintenance – low
As milk can curdle easily, it is vital to clean the milk canister and whisk after each use. It must not be submerged or placed in a dishwasher – the bottom has an electrical connection similar to an electric kettle base. We use a Dishmatic handle cleaner and carefully rinse the container and lid.
The spent pods fall into a holder, and there is often some water in that. The unit will require occasional descaling.
Wake up, stumble to the machine, grab a pod, put in some milk and within a few minutes, you have a satisfying one-shot coffee to start the day. Minimal clean-up and no messy grounds to get rid of.
This review is for the Lavazza Jolie and Milk. All the Lavazza models are equally simple. If you are an astute shopper, you will get the Lavazza pods on occasional special at Woollies or Coles.
We won’t let our inherent dislike of pod coffee colour our review. Of course, that is after deciding which pod suits us, albeit those pods are expensive.
Would I buy one? For convenience, yes. Is it better than a $1 petrol station cup? Absolutely. Will it replace barista-made coffee? No, but at <$1 cup with milk, it saves you $2-3 on a barista one.
Given the price and Lavazza quality, it scores very well as a manual coffee machine.
Lavazza Jolie and Milk coffee machine
The Lavazza Jolie and Milk is a good low-cost Mio pod machine that makes a great cup of black or milk coffee.
Value for money
Ease of use
Simple to use and Idiot proof - you can't make a bad coffee
Choice of Cappucinno or Flat White milk
Pods are expensive compared to ground coffee and beans