For anyone in search of a new coffee maker the Nescafe range 'Dolce Gusto' is a brand that would be hard to miss. Popular because of their ease of use and very simple 'pod' based system they have proved a huge hit and currently have 6 different models currently available – we are sure more will follow!
The Nescafe Dolce Gusto Oblo is one of the latest in the range and sits between the 'Circolo FS' and 'Drop' models. The Oblo is certainly very aesthetically pleasing. Its sleek, modern case and curved design make it leagues away from previous bulky and box shaped designs coffee makers had in previous years.
But aesthetics aside we were curious what made this model different from the previous models made by Krups (manufacturer of the Dolce Gusto machines). After all, the pods are common to each device so the taste of the drink produced should be very similar if not the same.
Let' start by taking a quick look at what this machine can do.
Dolce Gusto Oblo: A Quick Overview
Like its predecessors the Oblo features a 15 bar pump system which drives hot water through the coffee to extract the most flavour. This helps create a good espresso and smooth coffee.
Whilst the pressure cannot be adjusted on the machine itself the pods used play a role in regulating the pressure, and the output pressure depends on the contents of the pod used. For example, the pod containing the coffee requires higher pressure, but the pod containing the milk would need lower pressure. The pods regulate the pressure automatically to make sure your drink is made correctly each time – without any intervention on your part.
The drawbacks of the pod system are that they often require two pods to make anything other than simple coffee or espresso. So, when you buy a pack of 16 cappuccino capsules, for example, it will only make 8 drinks because you'll need one coffee and one milk pod per drink made. And, whilst this is down to personal preference, I am not a huge fan of the taste of the drinks they produce. They are very tasty, but also quite sweet (particularly the cappuccinos) so, to me, are not hugely 'authentic'.
But, to be fair, this is a machine made for pure convenience and speed so this is obviously the compromise which needed to be made to deliver that promise. In fact, the range of pods available is huge and you can get anything from hot chocolates, lattes and cappuccinos right through to fruit teas.
Rather frustratingly the Oblo still has a small water tank at 0.8l so don't be surprised if you find yourself needing to refill it regularly.
How to use it:
If you've owned or used any of the Dolce Gusto range before the operation of the Oblo will be very familiar to you. Turning the machine on automatically starts the heating process. During this time the power button will flash. After around 40 seconds it will turn solid green, indicating the machine is ready to use.
Next the locking handle on top of the unit needs to be lifted up and the capsule tray removed. Once a capsule is placed in the tray it can be reinserted and the locking handle pushed down. On top of the machine is a small level which can be moved left or right to produce a cold or hot drinks. Once your cup is full the level needs to be moved back to the middle to stop the dispensing process.
The exception to this is when creating a drink which requires the use of two pods. In this case the machine needs to be stopped part way during the dispensing process and the pod swapped out.
The problem with this process is that Nescafe requires that an exact amount of water is used for each part in order to get the flavour of the drink just right. For example, to make a good cappuccino you need 200ml of milk from the first pod and 40ml of coffee from the next pod, and it can be quite difficult to judge this amounts consistently and with any degree of accuracy. This means your drinks can sometimes be a little variable in flavour.
Although making a drink might sound like quite a long process it is actually very simple and very fast. You can make two drinks, from switching the machine on, in under two minutes. The Oblo also features an automatic 5 minutes shut off timer to help save energy when the machine is not being used.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Unlike the full blown bean-to-cup coffee machines the Oblo doesn't come with an automated cleaning cycle, but this is only because it doesn't really need one. In fact looking after the Oblo (or any of the Dolce Gusto range) is incredibly easy.
Because the pods contain the coffee grounds and other drink powders etc, very little, other than hot water, comes into direct contact with the machine. This means it requires cleaning less often. That said, you can run a descaling cycle to clean it. This is a similar process to making coffee but uses a Dolce Gusto descaling sachet mixed with the water and then running the machine for 45 seconds on hot and then 45 seconds on cold.
Occasionally a minor blockage can occur around the injector pin which penetrates the capsule, so Nescafe have included a cleaning pin to clear this. Although if you're ever in a pinch I've found that a paper clip can do the job very well – just be careful this will probably void the warranty!
Verdict: What We Think About The Nescafe Dolce Gusto Oblo
Despite the new case we can't really see anything significantly different that has been introduced with the Oblo. In appears to operate exactly as its predecessors have and still comes with the same niggles – such as small water tank and slightly artificial tasting drinks.
This is a machine of two halves and it clearly aimed at the convenience end of the market and to that end it does it job exceptionally well. It is fast and simple to use and a breeze to maintain.
Next: Melitta Caffeo Bistro