To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Panasonic NC-ZA1 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £500
inc VAT

At its new low price, the NC-ZA1 is a bargain, making excellent coffee automatically

The NC-ZA1 is Panasonic’s first espresso machine. Rather than starting simply with a manual machine, the company has decided to go the whole hog with a full-on automatic machine that even froths and pours your milk for you.

Taking on the big coffee machine manufacturers with such a complex product is rather brave, but it’s fair to say that Panasonic has done a great job. As soon as you open the box and see the product, its range of bundled accessories and the weighty manual, it’s clear that this is a high-quality coffee machine.

It also looks great, and is surprisingly compact, barely taking up any room on your counter. It helps that the trip tray is spring-loaded, sliding out of the way when you don’t need it, saving even more counter-top space.

In its default out-of-the-box state, the coffee bean hopper sits flush with the top of the coffee machine. The NC-ZA1 arguably looks better like this, but Panasonic also ships a Bean Container Extension. This sits on top of the machine and doubles your coffee-holding capacity. For us, we’d take the convenience of being able to load more coffee beans over slightly better looks.

Panasonic NC-ZA1 In it’s default state, the NC-ZA1 has a bean hopper that sits flush with the top; you can add the included Bean Container Extension on top if you want to increase storage

As this machine can also steam and froth milk, you need to attach the clear plastic milk hose. You clip one end of the hose into the NC-ZA1’s front, pocking the other end through a hole in the left-hand side of the coffee machine. The idea is that you can then put the hose into a jug or cup containing your milk, without needing a dedicated milk container. While this gives you convenience, it looks a little ugly having a hose dangling out the side of the machine. Either an extendable hose that retracted into the case or hiding the hose at the rear of the machine would have been preferable.

Panasonic NC-ZA1 The milk hose is a little ungainly, hanging out of the side of the coffee machine

One way to neaten everything up is to buy the Milktank. This is a milk container designed to look like the NC-ZA1. It looks great sitting next to the espresso machine, but it’s hard to find online and is expensive.

Before you get started making coffee there’s one last stage: setting your water hardness level. The NC-ZA1 ships with a water hardness tester, which you just dip in cold water from your tap; you then use the results to set the water hardness level in the machine, helping the NC-ZA1 deliver perfect espresso in all areas.


That out of the way, making coffee couldn’t be easier thanks to the NC-ZA1’s touchscreen display. This quickly shows you at a glance the drinks options available: espresso, long coffee, cappuccino, latte and just hot milk.

Panasonic NC-ZA1 The touchscreen interface makes it easy to choose the type of drink you want to make

Once you’ve selected the type of drink you want, you then get further options. For espresso/coffee, you can choose the strength (five steps), volume to dispense and the number of cups you want to make (one or two). For milk-based drinks, you get all of the coffee options, plus the option to adjust how much milk foam the machine will produce and the ration of milk to hot water.

So you don’t have to adjust the settings manually each time, you can save your favourite settings in a programme, recalling them anytime you want your favourite drink.

Pages: 1 2


Dimensions (HxWxD)335x195x410mm
Maximum mug height
Water capacity1.4L
Pump pressure19 bar
Cup warmer?No
Milk frothingYes (automatic)
Number of boilers1
Coffee typeBeans, ground
Adjustable grindYes
Adjustable strengthYes (5 steps)
WarrantyOne year RTB

Read more