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Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
Dualit DCM2X 84440 Espresso Machine Review
As it states in my bio, I adore coffee. I don’t drink or smoke anymore, but coffee remains a vice for me and one I’m not in a hurry to give up. For a few years now I’ve used machines like Tassimo to enjoy ground coffee but in single serving form. I’ve no issue with things like French press coffee or Turkish coffee makers but I do find that they take time to make and often don’t work too well in single serving form. I do use an Aeropress while travelling but, though it makes good coffee, it tends to use a huge amount of coffee to do that. So single serving machines like Tassimo were my go to for the most part. The problems with those machines, for me, are cost, environment impact and reliability. In terms of cost, the Tassimo machine was working out at about 25p per serving and, for the amount of coffee I drink, that got quite costly. The environment aspect is pretty evident, single use plastic capsules that cannot be easily recycled, yes, it’s possible but only if you find the right place to do it, which I never did. Finally, reliability, I went through 4 Tassimo machines in just over 4 years. Some were replaced under warranty, some not. I came to the conclusion that the extra convenience was no longer offset by the extra cost. So when we moved I decided to get just a simple espresso machine.
When I started looking at Espresso machines I was immediately confused, you can pay anything between about £150 and £1500 for machines that range from natty looking worktop efforts to sprawling temples for the worship of the bean. Thankfully, before I got too perplexed, I received instructions along the lines of ‘I want some worktop space left’ and ‘We just moved house so don’t spend silly amounts’. With that guidance in mind I went for the ” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>Dualit DCM2X 84440.
The Dualit is a nice, simple unit that does what an espresso machine should, pumps steam through coffee grounds. There is the facility to pump steam through a nozzle or hot water so that the machine can be used to make flat whites or cappuccinos. The machine comes with 2 coffee nozzles, one for traditional ground coffee, another that is shaped for use with Nespresso style capsules, should you wish to do that. I did try that a few times but, while the coffee was good, it was a bit of a faff (you have to puncture the capsule manually) and it doesn’t address the issue of expense.
Looks wise the machine is great. It’s not super huge and so does not take over the counter top, but it does have quite a minimal cool chrome look. Controls are really simple, switch it on, wait for the ‘heating up’ light to go out and turn the switch to start the flow. It’s a little noisy on initial start up when the pump primes but not sufficient to wake the family when I have my post run espresso in the mornings. In use, the machine can get a bit grotty but that isn’t a huge issue as is comes apart easily for cleaning. I tend to wipe down the chrome with normal counter spray and while it does leave some streaks it looks fine.
I find the coffee that it makes is excellent. At first I was not sure if going to an espresso only diet would be restrictive but I don’t find myself missing longer drinks, I do find that I tend to drink water when I am thirsty and espresso for taste. I found it enjoyable experimenting with various blends, to see which was my preference. I came to rest on Lavazza Italian blend, nice, oaky and bitter without the weird citrus edge a lot of coffees have.
Downsides to the machine are few. The drip tray fills pretty easily due to a steam overflow that runs at the back of the machine. If you don’t keep on top of the drip tray it can appear as though the machine is leaking, it’s not but at the end of the day you still end up mopping water off the counter top. The solution to that one is to empty the drip tray frequently. Another thing to be aware of is form factor. With the drip tray in place you can get an espresso mug in place but nothing bigger. If your aim is to make Americano, first, have a word with yourself, second, be aware you’ll have to pour the shots into your cup before polluting it with your hot water. Finally, I would avoid using the Dualit made filter papers. I did this for some time and found that with finer grinds (i.e. espresso grinds) the paper created too much resistance and resulted in the machine producing just a dribble and retaining hefty back pressure (the machine puts out 15bar). It’s true to say that the grounds should not be tightly packed, but even when not, the papers caused an issue more often than not. The simple solution for me was to stop using them after which the coffee was produced without incident.
All of these points are minimal though. The key thing is that the machine produces cups of really good espresso with absolute minimum hassle. It looks great on the counter and is easy to keep running in fine fettle. If you want a machine that makes great espresso you will have to pay a lot more than this (and give up substantial amounts of worktop space) to do any better.