Coffee pod machines generally cost more than a hundred bucks, but Lavazza thinks it has found a solution, with a machine that costs just under a hundred and offers the convenience of easy coffee. Is Lavazza’s Simpla the simple solution you’ve been looking for?
Not quite small, but certainly nowhere near as big as some of the coffee machines we’ve seen, Lavazza’s Simpla is designed to be a simple and modern take on how an inexpensive instant espresso (we call it “inspresso”) machine could be.
The machine features many of the regular parts that competing pod machines include, such as a water tank (1.2 litres), capsule slot, spent capsule draw and drip tray, and a capsule loading and pressing lever, though this last one isn’t always on other machines depending on how automatic the machine is.
Lavazza’s Simpla also includes a pressure pump, a necessity for a coffee machine, and while Lavazza doesn’t specify what size pump the Simpla uses, it’s likely we’re seeing a 15 bar pump, just like it is on other Lavazza coffee machines available locally. A thermoblock inside the unit also promises to heat the water and keep everything hot.
Operation is handled through two main buttons, with one for power and one for the control of coffee, with a power switch on the back of the Simpla coffee machine.
Lavazza’s Simpla coffee machine is plugged in using a supplied jug plug, which needs to be plugged into both the machine and the wall to keep the machine powered.
A hundred bucks doesn’t get you much in the coffee world, not unless you’re interested in a drip filter that you can get down at your local department store. Even Nescafe’s capsule machines rarely hit below the $100 belt, unless you count the odd deals you can get around the holidays.
Lavazza’s answer to this is an entry to its A Modo Mio capsule system called the “Simpla,” a machine that’s a little bigger than most of the budget offerings out there from competitors, and offers a pod-based coffee experience for people who don’t want to spend too much dosh.
It’s also an espresso experience for someone who wants to buy capsules from their local supermarket, rather than going into a specialised store like how Nespresso works, as Lavazza’s range of nine coffee pods can generally be found at most supermarkets in Australia.
The machine is relatively easy on the eyes, and ours was dressed in white and black with silver parts accenting the front, top, and sides of the unit.
Setting up the Simpla is just as easy as finding the pods, though, and you merely need to plug the jug plug into the unit, with the other end into a power socket.
Filling up the extra large water tank will also be useful, and this comes in two parts, with 1.2 litres able to be stored in this section.
A main power switch at the back will turn the unit on, and then it’s merely just a matter of pressing the power button on the top of the unit, bringing the machine from standby into the “on” setting.
The only other button on the top will start blinking, and when this espresso button stop blinking, not only will a sound play, but it’s now that you’re ready and hot enough to make the first cup of coffee.
From here, you simple insert your pod into the bay up top, close it, and then pull the big silver handle down into place, and press the espresso button.
Once this is done, the machine will whirr into action, the thermoblock heating the water pushing through the machine and the punctured capsule, with the coffee being pushed out into a glass below.
Good luck, though, if you want more than an espresso to drink, because even though the Lavazza A Modo Mio system does have a single “long” variety in its pods, the design of the Simpla is such that it’s impossible to put anything bigger than an espresso glass between the chin drip-tray of the machine and the spout.
Other machines let you remove the chin or move one of the trays out of the way, but if you do this on the Simpla, it will just reveal a drip tray, which depending on how much you use your coffee machine, may either be filled with water, coffee drops, or just black plastic.
Either way, you can’t put your coffee cup here — not safely, anyway — and if you want to make something longer, you’ll either need to remove the drip guard or hold the mug there yourself.
But that’s nothing compared to the one huge flaw we found with the Simpla, and this stems from how simple the Simpla is to use.
With only one button, the Simpla should be a cinch to use, and it is, except for one big issue: when you press the button, rather than measure an espresso sized amount of coffee and pour that length for you in the cup, the machine will keep going until you press the espresso button again.
Now most people don’t know the correct measurement for an espresso (hint: it’s around 50ml), and since most espresso or coffee glasses don’t have that measurement printed along the sides so you can measure it yourself, it’s highly likely you’ll either press the button too early and get too strong a length, or press it too late and find you have too diluted a cup.
Lavazza actually calls this a “manual-dose coffee button” in its marketing material, saying that it “allows you to choose the amount of coffee you would like,” which is all well and good, but since espressos are made with a certain length in mind to make the coffee taste good, a cut off switch would have been more logical than a “manual-dose coffee button.”
After further testing, we found there was a cut off switch, but it was only for around 110ml, which is the long or “lungo” coffee, which only one Lavazza A Modo Mio pod caters for.
Given that this machine is supposed to be easy to use and for novice espresso drinkers, we’re not sure why there’s no cut off switch for an espresso, since that’s most of what Lavazza’s coffee capsule range caters to.
Lavazza’s $99 machine does manage to find a place in the coffee world, providing a not too expensive way for coffee novices to get an easy cup of espresso. It even comes at around $100 less than the nearest Nespresso machine.
That said, the hundred buck price does come with a flaw of its own, and if you do end up with this, make sure you watch the machine while you’re running an espresso through it, otherwise you might end up with more mess and less taste than you bargained for.