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I LOVE coffee and have been thinking about getting one of these machine for ages!!! The first notable thing is the look of this machine. It looks great in itself and will enhance the look of your kitchen no end. Stylish design, black and silver colours and not too big either, which is great. Obviously, there is a fairly decent selection of 'pods' that can be used in conjunction with this machine. Straightforward drinks like 'expresso' use single pods but others require 2 x pods. Very ease to use. Simply add cold water to the machine, flip the switch and in no time at all (easily less than a minute) it produces piping hot water which is then run through the pod straight into your cup for a great coffee of your choice. This machine holds enough water to make about 4 cups of coffee at a time which should be more than enough. Buyers should be aware that when the machine is doing its job, it does make a bit of a noise. Nothing that will induce a headache but far from silent. Another positive thing is the aroma that comes from this machine, just like a proper coffee shop. Lovely!! My only gripe with this machine (and others like this) is that every drink requires a different amount of liquid to be poured into your cup. This can be a pain if you are having a drink that requires 2 x pods. When I want a drink.....I just want a drink!!! I don't want to be getting out measuring jugs to put 70ml of this and 30ml of that into a mug. That said, when you get used to it, it serves up a great coffee.
Having previously owned the original Tassimo machine I really wanted a coffee machine for my new house and decided this time to try the Dolce Gusto Melody 3 (made by DeLonghi rather than Krups - EDG420.B). Priced at £69.99 in November 2012 it's was one of the cheaper DG machines (although I now see it's closer to £100) but still looks very stylish with its ball like body and head (although this one is a little bulky). Available in black and a deep blue, I went for the blue. Setup of the machine is very easy although the Quick Start instructions are all pictures which guide you through the initial cleaning and setup, preparing a drink, troubleshooting, cleaning and descaling and could have benefitted from a little description to go along with the pictures. At first I couldn't get any water to come out the machine but switching it off and on again and holding down the power button seemed to fix that. I wondered how the water was supposed to go through the pod then realised there's a pin to pierce it. The main thing I was disappointed with compared to the Tassimo is that that the DG is manual so although it tells you on the box/on the pod how much water is to be used for each pod, you have to guess how much 200ml and 40ml (for a cappuccino) should be and switch the water flow off yourself whereas the Tassimo uses the barcode system and automatically knows when to stop itself to create that perfect cup. To be fair though they do have a diagram on the pods to show how full you should fill the cup but I have cups of all sizes so it's never really accurate. The capsule bin provided with my machine is also the wrong shape - I received a square one whereas the picture shows a rounded one. This square one doesn't sit properly on the rounded base and when initially cleaning the machine and having to use the bin which had to be filled with cold and hot water I found the hot water would splash out but I wanted to keep a hold of the lip just in case it did fall off the base. Thankfully the hot water wasn't scalding hot. Filling the water tank is very easy although it feels a bit flimsy but it won't take a huge amount of water so it doesn't get too heavy. It's very easy to change the water from cold to hot although I've only ever had hot drinks and it seems to heat up the water quicker than the Tassimo does. The drip tray can be placed at different heights depending on the cup size e.g. Espresso Intenso 40ml or Cappuccino 240ml which is handy to reduce the splashing. One thing I have noticed compared to the Tassimo though is when the water level gets very low, there is no automatic shut off on the DG - it will continue to try and filter water through which can lead to some spluttering and could end up damaging the machine as it continues to try and heat the water. The Tassimo would always shut off mid flow if the water level got too low. There were 6 pods included free with the machine which was very handy to try out a few of the flavours as they're not that cheap so I received Lungo, Espresso, Latte Macchiato (2 pods) and Cappuccino (2 pods). The only T-disks I'd really buy for the Tassimo was the Cappuccino and the only thing that disappointed me initially was that the Cappuccino pods were sweetened. I found from the first attempt at making one that the sugar would quickly sink to the bottom so it became very sweet towards the end of the cup. One of the leaflets provided gives you information about each pack of pods including whether they are sweetened or unsweetened so I ended up going for the Skinny Cappuccinos after that. After having a Tassimo Milka last Christmas it made me realise how plastic those drinks taste compared to the DG (and it is definitely not down to the Tassimo being new as it is nearly 5 years old now). The DG pods with milk are creamy but you still don't lose the taste of the ground coffee. I do wish though that the DG would know how much water to put in each as I can sometimes make them too milky or too strong with coffee. Cleaning the machine is very simple as the drip tray, water tank and pod holder can all be removed from the machine. You do have to keep the capsule bin handy to do this to fill the bin with water to clean the machine through. I do like that it comes with the bin though as there's one inside the other with holes so the used pods can be discarded and can drip dry so they're not leaking in the bin. Quite a few of the pods end up full of water - not a good idea to squeeze them if taking them straight out the machine as they are rather hot! One thing that my boyfriend really likes is the water, although hot, always leaves the drink drinkable without much blowing to cool it down compared to a kettle boiled coffee which seems to take much longer. The Tassimo is very similar although I always found I had to drink them very quick before they got too cool. The Dolce Gusto really gets them just right and as I'm not a fan of black coffee, I will often add milk to e.g. the Lungo (long espresso) and even that doesn't cool it down as much I would have thought so I still don't have to drink it straight away. I can be a bit lazy when it comes to using the machine and quite often I'll just switch it off without removing the used pod (bad I know). For some reason this ends up causing a lot of trouble than removing it straight away as when you lift the silver top to remove the pin from the pod, it always gets stuck. This is never a problem if removing the pod straight away and I just know that one of these days I'm going to end up snapping the pin. At just under £4 for a box of pods they do vary in value. Basically each box provides you with 16 pods BUT e.g. with the Cappuccino you get 2 pods per drink - one coffee and one milk so really you're only getting 8 drinks out of it. Compared to instant coffee it is poor value - you can get 20 x Nescafe Cappuccinos for £4 but at the same time you could easily pay £2-£4 for one Cappuccino at Starbucks or local coffee shop. Tassimo pods seem to be a bit more expensive at the moment compared to DG pods (usually was the other way round) but I can honestly say that the DG pods taste far better than the Tassimo pods and of course, instant coffee so I don't begrudge paying a little extra and see it more as a treat. My local Tesco and Sainsbury's don't stock a lot of varieties though so usually end up hunting out new (well new to me) flavours in larger stores. The Melody 3 isn't quite as all singing and dancing as I would have hoped but if I did accidently break this one I would definitely replace it with another DG machine. It looks nice (you may want to consider a different machine if you don't have a lot of space) and it makes a great cup of coffee fast. I don't like the fact that it is manual but that's just me being lazy/wanting to multitask. I do love that it makes a hot cup of coffee which I don't have to drink straight away and although the local supermarkets have a low selection of pods, still have the varieties I do like. Pods are mid priced between instant and buying from a coffee shop so I do see these as a bit of a treat. As it's priced at the moment, I wouldn't spend £100 on it - I would wait until it comes closer to the £70 mark again.
Short name: DeLonghi EDG420