Mama mia! When I was first told about Lavazza Voicy, I thought it was a joke. You know that playful, Italian humour that nobody in Britain gets? That sort of joke. I said, ‘Why the hell would I want a coffee machine with Alexa in it?’ only I probably didn’t say ‘hell’. However, then a funny thing happened. Lavazza subsequently invited me to Wimbledon, and I found my cynicism evaporated once they’d explained Voicy to me, over a delicious free lunch followed by a few sets of vigorous Roger Federer action. That’s the value of education.
I have a LOT of devices with Alexa in. That’s not me bragging; that’s just a fact. If I was a rapper, I would say ‘I got so many Alexa devices, I got Alexa devices by the score. You may think you got a lot of Alexa devices. But I gots more.’ But if you don’t have any, or at least you don’t have any in your kitchen, I can’t think of a better way to add one than Lavazza Voicy.
Voicy both looks and sounds quite like someone has nailed one of the new, sphreical Echo speakers to a pod coffee machine. It’s not the best-sounding speaker I’ve ever heard but it is by far the best-sounding coffee machine that’s ever been made. I played some popular hits such as Black Coffee by Billie Holliday, Black or White (coffee) by Michael Jackson, Cream by Prince, CREAM by Wu-Tang Clan and the greatest hits of the band Cream – because you add cream to coffee, you see? – and they sounded good. And not just good by coffee machine standards but actually good.
Alexa is also in good voice. Ask her to ‘make a coffee’ and she obeys! Of course, Alexa is not a real person so she can’t put a pod in the machine, top up the water, place a cup under the spout and then bring your order to you as you recline on a chaise longue. But if you have placed a pod and cup, Alexa will carry out the arduous task of pressing the single espresso button on your behalf.
Speaking of which, I spent a very frustrating 15 minutes trying to get Alexa to make me a double espresso. I tried ‘make a double espresso’, ‘make a large espresso’, ‘make a large coffee’ ony to be flatly informed that Alexa had no idea what I was going on about. I was eventually told by Lavazza that the correct phrase is ‘Alexa, make the long espresso’, which I am not sure anyone would ever guess.
You can, however, use Lavazza’s iOS and Android app to create and name your own favourite coffee – this includes setting the extraction time, water temperature and, well, that’s about it – so you can proudly say, ‘Alexa, make Duncan’s extra special favourite coffee.’ So that’s good.
Anyway, never mind all that. Only basic people would care about making coffee via voice control. The important thing is this is a fully-featured Alexa speaker that sounds way better than you’d ever imagine a coffee machine could sound. It can play music, control your smart home devices, tell you the news and recipes and whatnot, and keep your teeth on edge with its awful dad jokes and ‘banter’, delivered in a disinterested computer voice. It’s the way she tells them!
Oh right, you want to know about the coffee-making part of Voicy too? People more expert than me – ie: T3’s brewmeister Derek Adams – have long said that Lavazza’s A Modo Mio is a superior pod coffee system to Nespresso, and it turns out ‘they’ – ie: Derek – were right. There’s nothing wrong with Nespresso but Lavazza’s pods taste slightly but noticeably better, and the Italian brand also makes much more play of having compostable pods and more sustainable supply chains. Bellissimo!
The process of making the coffee is identical – plonk in pod, pull big lever, press ‘small’ or ‘large’ button. Please note that by British standards, ‘small’ means ‘absolutely tiny’ and ‘large’ means ‘small’. You can top up the allegedy large with hot water to get a very passable Americano, but if you like your coffee served in a Starbucks-sized bucket, this may not be the machine for you. There’s also no milk frother included so you will need a separate one if you like your lattes and cappuccinos. Lavazza makes several good ones, as it happens.
Lavazza Voicy: price and availability
In the UK Lavazza Voicy is available direct from Lavazza and from all your favourite online retailers for £249 or less. In the USA and Australia this product doesn't appear to exist but in Europe it can be found for around €249.
So is Lavazza Voicy worth it? If you think of it as a coffee machine with a speaker whose quality is somewhere between a 4th-gen Echo and Echo Dot nailed to it, maybe not. You could pick up an A Modo Mio machine and an 4th-gen Echo for way less than the price of a Voicy – see below. Admittedly taking this budget approach will not allow you to tell Alexa to make you a coffee – once you have put a pod and cup in place – but maybe that is not such a bad thing.
However if you are in the market for an elegant, space-saving and rather witty gadget that also happens to make delicious coffee, I say get stuck in. Ciao!