Italian coffee giants Lavazza have thrown their hat in the coffee pod ring to compete with the likes of Tassimo and the current champions Nespresso, but will the A Moda Mio serve up a quality crema or just leave a bitter taste in the mouth?
At just 20.5cm wide the Mio is pretty dinky for a fully featured espresso maker, especially as it features a steam arm for milk heating, 1-litre water tank and decent size used pod holder and drip tray.
As for styling the Mio is undoubtedly retro, but the cute curves, high-gloss two-tone finish in silver with red, black or white mean it will sit happily in the sleekest of modern kitchens. The plastic body construction isn’t the best – the Nespresso models we’ve tried feel substantially more robust – but it's sturdy enough not to look cheap.
Once filled with water and turned on it takes about 40 seconds to heat up ready for use. Pop your chosen coffee flavour in the flip-top slot, pull down the silver lever and push the button. A double espresso will take around 35 seconds, longer than both the Tassimo and Nespresso systems, and be warned, we only wanted a single shot, but the espresso button is manual, so it’s up to you how much coffee you want in the cup.
Sluggish speed aside the espresso tastes fantastic; rich, smooth, and equally as good as the Nespresso and on a par with the best restaurants have to offer.
While Tassimo and Nespresso both boast an impressive range of drinks and coffee flavours, the Lavazza has only four basic blends to choose from – light, medium, dark and decaf - all 100% Arabica beans.
But there’s more to the Moda than just espresso, you can also knock up a macchiato or cappuccino using the handy steamer. Usually the Achilles heel of budget coffee makers this steam arm was surprisingly simple to use and heated/frothed milk with a satisfying whoosh and gurgle. Our only niggle with the steamer is that the arm is about 2 inches too short and as a result most standard mugs were awkward to use, while the classic espresso cup fitted perfectly it didn’t hold enough milk for a latte or cappuccino.
The steam is controlled via a dial on the side of the machine, that can also be used to produce hot water for tea, but the water flow comes through such a narrow opening it’d be far quicker just to boil the kettle.
The Mio is easy to keep clean, the used pods fall automatically into a container and the excess water drains through into a separate drip tray. The whole unit pulls out as one making trips to the sink drip proof.
Coffee pods cost £3.59 for 16 from Waitrose, Tesco or www.lavazzamodomio.co.uk, that’s 22p per cup and, while not as cheap as a vat of Mellow Birds, you really do get what you pay for.
We’re chuffed with the Lavazza coffee machine. For under £120 it punches well above its weight in both looks and performance. The coffee is of seriously high quality, and if you consider the steam arm as an added bonus to a really good espresso maker you can’t fail to be impressed.
We admit that the casing it a touch plasticy and the machine lacks the clunk-click of more luxury machines, but the fact that the pods are available in supermarkets (unlike Nespresso) and the machine is child’s play to use (and clean) should mean more people get to enjoy proper coffee at home without unnecessary mess, fuss or expense.