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Lavazza Deséa review: Tasty coffee without the hassle

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
190
Inc VAT

Stylish, capable and extraordinarily easy to use; a great way to make tasty coffee with a minimum of effort

Pros 
Easy to use
Stylish design
Low maintenance
Produces great coffee
Cons 
Not ideal if making coffee for a crowd
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Pod-style coffee machines are ten a penny these days but when a company with the standing of Lavazza gets involved you have to sit up and take notice. And if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious than most, then this could well be it: the Deséa’s stylish, elegant design stacks up nicely alongside designer machines from big names such as KitchenAid and De’Longhi.

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Lavazza Desea review: What you need to know

The Lavazza Desea is a premium model aimed at people who want great coffee without the hassle of a manual machine.

It works like a Nespresso machine but uses Lavazza’s own A Modo Mio coffee capsule system. The choice of third-party coffee varieties is more restricted with A Modo Mio than with more widely adopted systems like Nespresso or Tassimo but with more coffee per pod (around 7.5g vs 5g) than the standard-size pods from Nespresso, you get a stronger coffee hit per capsule.

The Lavazza Deséa also comes with a milk frothing attachment, although unlike other systems the milk is prepared in the mug the coffee is made in, instead of in a separate milk jug or carafe. This keeps the complexity and the washing up to a minimum.

Lavazza Deséa review: Price and competition

The Lavazza Deséa is what you might call a mid-priced machine. It’s £190 from Amazon, which is a good step up from entry-level capsule machines, of which there’s a healthy selection under £100.

Our favourite low-cost capsule machine is the Deséa’s baby brother, the Lavazza Jolie Plus. This costs around £76 and doesn’t froth milk, but can be bought with a separate milk frother for around £110. If your preferred capsule system is Nespresso, the Krups Inissia (£60) is the machine you want but this, again, doesn’t come with a milk frother built in.

Step up in price and there are even fancier Nespresso machines to choose from. The De’Longhi Lattissima Pro is our favourite here for its sheer versatility and costs £270 – it creates cappuccinos at the touch of a button. For those who don’t mind putting a bit more effort in, the Nespresso Creatista Uno by Sage (£249) includes a milk frothing wand just like on premium espresso machines.

Lavazza Deséa review: Design and key features

None of these machines are quite as elegant or ingenious, however, as the Deséa. It is slim and unobtrusive, and its measurements of 145 x 380 x 280mm (WDH) mean it occupies very little countertop space, so it’s perfect for compact kitchens where space for gadgets is at a premium. It comes in three different colours – brown, white or black – and with its gentle curves and Lavazza branding embossed on the side, it’s among the best-looking pod machines around.

It’s practical, too, with a large, cylindrical 1.1l water reservoir at the rear, a cup rack/drip tray that can be raised for use with smaller espresso cups and a waste tray that can hold up to ten used pods. A sensor alerts you when this is full so there’s no danger of it getting over-filled and jammed.

But wait. If this machine can make milk-based coffee drinks, then where’s the milk jug? The answer is it doesn’t need one. Instead of frothing milk in a separate carafe, the milk is prepared in the stylish Lavazza-branded glass coffee cup supplied in the box, with the coffee added automatically afterwards. Simply attach the plastic cap with its integrated whisk and steam wand, select the drink you want and wait while the machine does its magic.

This works brilliantly for solo drinkers, but things get a little more complicated if you want to make cappuccinos or lattés for more than one person. In that case, you’ll have to make your espressos first in separate cups, then steam your milk using the supplied mug and then mix the two together. Preferably, you’d buy a second cup but these are quite pricey at £15 each from the Lavazza website.

If you stick with preparing one drink at a time, however, the Deséa is simplicity itself to use. There are four coffee doses to choose from, and five milk drinks and choosing between each one is a simple matter of dabbing a finger on one of the backlit, touch-sensitive buttons on the front of the machine.

These are arranged in two rings. The left ring comprises buttons for dispensing espresso and black coffee – you can choose here from espresso, long espresso, long coffee and free dosage. The right ring of buttons lets you choose the type of milk-based coffee you want, but this is only enabled when you clip the frother cap onto the top of the Lavazza mug and slot the whole lot into the front of the machine. Here, the options comprise regular and large cappuccino, macchiato and hot or cold plain whipped milk.

Three more buttons sit between these two rings: a power on/off button sits at the top, below which is another button to boost the temperature of your coffee and another to increase the amount of foam produced. It’s also possible to program each of the buttons in the left ring so they produce a custom amount of coffee.

Lavazza Deséa review: Performance and taste

The taste you’re able to achieve with the Deséa depends on which coffee type you choose. Order a Deséa from the Lavazza website and you’ll get 12 boxes free (12 to 16 pods in each) with your order so you can choose which you like best. There are 16 official Lavazza pod styles to choose from, each varying in flavour and intensity.

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I settled on the Passionale pod as my favourite and the coffee produced with this pod was consistently excellent with a thick, satisfying crema on top, an intense oily flavour that never verged on the side of being over bitter. Coffee produced with a capsule machine is never going to be able to compete with a decent bean-to-cup or manual espresso machine stocked with freshly roasted, premium coffee beans, or a proper espresso machine coupled with a decent coffee grinder, but it still tastes great – and it’s certainly a lot less hassle.

Equally, there’s a lot less maintenance involved in running a machine such as the Lavazza Deséa. There are no tubes or internal nooks and crannies for milk to collect in and (eventually) turn to cheese and the only regular maintenance you need to carry out is running clean water through the machine without a coffee pod in it on a weekly basis. You will need to descale the machine occasionally, too, but on a far less frequent basis; this is indicated via an indicator LED on the front.

Lavazza Deséa review: Verdict

The Lavazza Deséa isn’t the only pod machine for under £200 that comes with an integrated milk frother. De’Longhi also produces a couple of models – the Lattissima Touch and the Lattissima One – which you can buy for £179 and £150 respectively.

These are both better for making several coffees on the hoof, but there remains much to love about the Deséa – there’s less cleaning required, it produces great coffee, and it’s supremely easy to use. All things considered, the Deséa is one of our favourite mid-range pod machines.

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