Difficult to use with weak-tasting coffee, this is one machine to avoid
The Dualit Xpress is one of the smallest coffee machines we’ve seen – if you’re seriously short of counter space, the Xpress will look like an attractive option. The faux chrome plastic casing, however, does make it look a bit less appealing than other machines we’ve tested, and this isn’t the build quality we’ve come to expect from Dualit.
The only protrusion from the somewhat cylindrical design is the cup plate, which snaps into place at the front of the machine. This plate doubles as a drip tray, but it’s pretty shallow and will need emptying regularly.
The water tank slides into the main chassis and is completely hidden from view when it’s in place. It makes the Xpress look sleeker than some of the other machines that have external tanks, but it does mean that you can’t easily tell how much water is left in the machine.
There are two simple controls on the top left surface of the Xpress – a power button and an extraction button. Once pressed, they remain operational until you press them again. This means that the Xpress cannot be configured to switch itself off after a set period like most other capsule machines. The power button glows read when the machine is on, and the extraction button glows blue when the machine is up to temperature and ready to dispense your coffee.
Dead centre of the Xpress is a Dualit branded handle, which when lifted, reveals the coffee plate. This is where you place your preferred coffee holder before clamping it shut again and extracting the good stuff.
As its name suggests, the Xpress 3-in-1 can take three types of coffee: ESE coffee pods, NX coffee capsules and ground coffee. On the surface this makes it pretty versatile; however, in our opinion, you either buy into the convenience of a capsule system, or want the total control of grinding your own fresh beans – it’s unlikely that you’ll want to switch between the two.
The range of holders means you need somewhere to store everything, plus they make the machine harder to use
This added flexibility also makes the Xpress far more complicated to use than, say, the a Nespresso machine. With a Nespresso machine you simply open the capsule hatch, drop in a capsule and hit the extract button. But with the Dualit Xpress you need to decide what type of coffee you want to use, then find the right holder for that choice, then place the capsule, pod or grounds into that holder, then place the holder into the machine and finally clamp that holder into place before you can hit the extract button.
It’s also worth noting that although the Xpress is very small, you still have to find somewhere to store the various holders. Put simply, making a quick cup of coffee with the Xpress may not be as quick as you’d imagine.
A universal trait of espresso machines is that they make a lot of noise when extracting. The Dualit Xpress is no different, but as well as being noisy it also vibrates quite violently. In fact it vibrates so much that the espresso cup tends to dance around on the cup plate, and if you don’t hold it in place you risk your coffee missing the cup altogether (see the video below).
Another somewhat annoying trait of the Xpress is its completely manual operation. You need to manually stop extraction in order to dispense the right amount of coffee, but water takes a few seconds to stop coming through when you stop the Xpress, making it hard to get the right measure.