Enjoying espresso is one of life's true pleasures. The trouble is that having the tools on hand to prepare it at home is expensive and can require advanced barista skills. Nestle's $100 Nescafe Dolce Gusto Mini Me offers a much easier, more affordable alternative. This pod coffee brewer has the power to whip up pseudo espresso-style beverages in about a minute. The machine is compact too, easy to operate and clean, plus it can create iced drinks. Just don't expect it to replicate purist-level espresso flavor. You also have to stay exclusive to Nestle's Dolce Gusto line of coffee pods.
Design and features
Standing at 12.4 inches tall and measuring a mere 1 foot (12 inches) deep by 7.9 inches wide the Dolce Gusto Mini Me is certainly aptly named. Its pint-sized stature makes it one of the tiniest kitchen appliances I've laid my hands on. About the dimensions of typical personal blender, the Mini Me takes up far less space than very compact drip coffeemakers such as the Bonavita BV1900TS or even competing single-serve pod coffee brewers like the Keurig K500 series and Starbucks Verismo.
What also helps the tiny Dolce Gusto to appear smaller still is its rounded body and orb-like circular head. Overall, this machine's unique form conveys a playful, almost cute personality compared with the average, boxy brewers cramming most kitchen countertops.
It might be petite but the Mini Me packs all the parts necessary for creating coffee drinks in a jiffy. The front of the machine houses a capsule tray which accepts beverage pods compatible with Nestle's Dolce Gusto system. Flatter than Keurig K-Cups, Dolce Gusto capsules are designed to emulate a concentrated espresso-style brew as opposed to coffee pod appliances meant to make standard drip coffee. It's not unlike the Starbucks Verismo or the Nespresso VertuoLine. As a result the device tops out at dispensing beverages of 8 ounces or less, at least in one go. If you crave full grande or venti cups, or coffee by the put, then this is not the brewer for you.
Another word of caution is that the Mini Me is only compatible with Dolce Gusto pods so dropping in K-Cups from third parties is out of the question. Worse, this gadget doesn't support Nespresso capsules either, Nestle's other coffee pod brand.
The Mini Me's round face also contains a circular power button along with a water switch, which is a bit of a misnomer. This stick-like knob, placed on the top-rear region of the Mini Me's orb head, acts more like a lever that you pull either left or right depending on whether you desire a cold or hot drink.
Another control feature you'll find on the front of the coffeemaker is a horizontal bar made from clear plastic. Called the water amount selector, sliding this bar up or down highlights how much water will flow through the capsule and into your cup. The Mini Me also includes sports a height-adjustable drip tray that can accommodate up to a full-sized coffee mug.
Around back is a 27-ounce capacity, clear plastic water reservoir. Like the Verismo, the Mini Me's water tank is removable which goes a long way towards making refills and cleaning less of a chore.
Usability and performance
Whipping up espresso-style drinks with the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Mini Me is simple. Just plug the machine into an electrical outlet and hit the main power button. The circular key will flash red for a second or two then glow bright green when the Mini Me is ready to start making a drink.