A circular argument for the Krups Nescafe Dolce Gusto Circolo

    Consumer Reports News: August 15, 2011 12:28 PM

    One unanswered question about single-serve coffeemakers is this: What constitutes a serving? Traditionally, it's the standard six-ounce serving that fills the traditional cup and saucer. But such servings fall far short of the mighty mugs—some fitting a 20-oz. Starbucks Venti—many of us tote to the office.

    The maker of the $150 Krups Nescafe Dolce Gusto Circolo, which we're testing for an upcoming report on coffeemakers, seems to have had this quandary in mind. Like the older Krups Nescafe Dolce Gusto KP2102 (Ratings available to subscribers), this coffeemaker uses a manual control lever rather than buttons for preset servings sizes. Swing the lever to one side, and hot water will shoot through your "capsule" of coffee, tea, or other beverage; turn it to the other, and the unit will instead supply unheated water for, say, iced cappuccino.

    The Italian word "circolo" in the product name means "circle," a description of the product's design. Because you place your cup, glass, or mug within the circle, you can position the drip tray to any one of three levels that allow for varied cup sizes. So-called "flavor capsules," available via the product line's website and other sellers, offer a number of beverages. Multiple capsules come in a box.

    But if you're accustomed to the hundreds-strong selection of beverages in Keurig's K-cup format, you might be disappointed. First of all, the Dolce Gusto's capsule format is particular to this line of coffeemakers, and flavor capsules that fit these machines come in one brand only. There's no option for using loose grounds, as with many Keurig-compatible machines. And the preset cup-size buttons of K-cup machines do correspond to the rations of water intended for particular brews. That frees you to make your breakfast as you brew coffee, a convenience you surrender with the Dolce Gusto.

    Addicted to the 16-ounce or larger mug? With any single serve coffeemaker, even "pod-type" ones that let you put in two pods, it's hard to get more than 12 ounces of properly blended coffee out of one brewing cycle. Like the typical K-cup machine, you can fit only one capsule per brew cycle into the Dolce Gusto.

    For those of us who value taste over convenience, this won't do. But if your definition of coffee includes what results from a pint or more of water shot through a capsule intended for six ounces of water, more power to you.

    Ed Perratore

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