Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza (opens in new tab) review for those in a hurry: If you want a pod coffee machine that's sexier and perhaps also tastier than any Nespresso machine, look no further…
There are many different coffee capsule machines on the market, all affiliated to specific brands of coffee. This can make it quite confusing when trying to find the best pod coffee machine.
Nespresso machines make up the the largest and most popular chunk of the market, with machines made by brands from Magimix and Krups to De'Longhi and Sage. There are also some great rivals that use Lavazza, Illy, Tassimo and ESE capsules. You can't use any of these coffee pods in machines designed for another type of capsule, alas.
The upshot is that if you fancy the convenience and consistency of coffee capsules you will need to narrow the choice down to your favourite type of coffee blend first and then choose the type of machine designed for it.
Nespresso produces a wide range of coffee blends that are mostly very decent but for this writer’s money, the top dog in capsule coffee is undoubtedly Lavazza A Modo Mio. Firstly because Lavazza coffee is generally excellent and widely available from most decent supermarkets, and secondly because they put a decent amount of ground coffee in their pods; namely 7 grams against a standard Nespresso pod’s 4 grams.
To date, only Sage has produced pod machines with the kind of style I would want to have in my kitchen – but that's for Nespresso pods only. By contrast, many Lavazza capsule coffee machines aren’t especially stylish in design.
However, the design of this new Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza machine is in a different league and in a class of its own. It’s simply stunning to look at from any angle. But is it all style over substance or can this new Italian bambino genuinely compete with all the other machines in the A Modo Mio stable?
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Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza review: Price and availability
Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza costs £200 in the UK and AUS$350 in Australia. It doesn't appear to be available in the USA. Our handy price widgets will, as ever, reveal the best prices in your vicinity today.
Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza review: Subscription service
In the UK, if you take part in Lavazza’s subscription system (opens in new tab) you can have this machine delivered to your home for just £1 (a saving of £198). It’s subject to nine minimum free delivery orders with 10 boxes for each order and you can select any variety of blends you like. You can also choose to receive orders every two, four, eight or 12 weeks and change the frequency at anytime. At £4.40 per box of 16 capsules (the same price they normally cost), that equates to £44 per order or a total spend of £397 over the course of the contractual subscription. To all intents and purposes the machine is totally free.
This seems like a really good deal if you’re an espresso fiend like this writer and his partner. I worked out that a Lavazza subscription over one year using the 12 week delivery frequency equates to around 1,440 capsules. Well this writer and his partner go through six capsules a day on average which equates to a whopping 2,190 capsules per year. Blimey, think we better cut back.
Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza review: design
I’m not sure if it was intentional but the new Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza's frontend looks like the backend of the new London bus. And that’s some weird juxtaposition because normally ‘backend of a bus’ is considered an insult. But not in the case of the new London bus which is actually perfect in every way.
Put another way, the Smeg’s shiny and gorgeously smooth contours are so tactfully designed that you find yourself spending the 30 seconds or so it takes to extract an espresso gently massaging it all over. There isn’t a ridge to be found anywhere, even where the rear 0.9-litre water container meets the main body. Actually I tell a lie, there’s a faint ridge on the silver band that surrounds the top and a smidge of a ridge around the two backlit extraction buttons – a good thing if you’re blind or partially sighted. The thing is I don’t normally massage my household appliances but this one screams ‘touch me’.
The Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza is available in three colours – red, black and ivory. I received the red (hence the London bus reference) and it is a sight to behold. That said, the deep black also looks ravishingly touchy. Branding is one of the most important facets a company can have and Smeg’s designers have absolutely nailed theirs. The large embossed S M E G logo on this machine genuinely adds an extra touch of class. This is also very touchy feely.
Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza review: features
This A Modo Mio Lavazza model provides two types of extraction – short and long. However, you can also program it to extract a specific amount of espresso to suit the size of the cup. Simply hold the long extraction button in until the cup’s full and release it. The new setting will be saved for all subsequent extractions. The cup tray can also be removed to accommodate taller cups and some mugs.
The 0.9-litre water reservoir attached to the rear is of ample size and it’s easily removed via a recessed handle. Like most coffee capsule machines, Lavazza capsules are fed through a top hatch under the wide chrome lever. All you do is lift the lever, drop in apod and close it again (the lever is quite stiff to close because the mechanism inside needs to puncture the compostable pod inside). The next time you come to use the machine, lift the lever and the pod should – theoretically – eject into the used capsule tray beneath. However, this doesn’t always happen if the pod has cooled down so, as is the case with most Lavazza machines, a gentle prod with the finger will force it into the used capsule tray. Actually Lavazza has even made a point of advising users to ‘always discharge your capsule using the machine lever once your coffee is ready’.
One thing I do miss is a used capsule tray sensor to let me know when it’s full. It’s not a deal breaker but having a warning buzzer prevents overfilling the tray which can otherwise jam when you try to remove it for emptying.
And that’s about it. The Smeg has no bells and whistles like some machines and no milk frother either. It just makes a damn fine cup of espresso without the fuss and faff of porta filters and loose coffee grounds all over the kitchen worktop.
Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza review: performance
It’s very difficult to tell one A Modo Mio Lavazza machine from another when it comes to the taste test. After all, they all use the same branded coffees. That said, there is something about this machine that produces a slightly better extraction than the Deséa model I’ve reviewed in our guide to the Best Coffee Capsule Machines. The Smeg produces less excess water per extraction and I can see this by the reduced amount of water in the water chamber beneath the pod catcher. All capsule machines expel extra water for some reason but this one does it less.
All I know is that so far, the Smeg has produced one cup of exquisite espresso after another, morning, noon and night. It does take about a minute to warm up but the extraction is completed in about 30 seconds; the machine produces about 10 bars of pressure in case you’re interested. I’m not, I just drink the stuff.
There's no milk frother here, so you will have to consult our guide to the best milk frothers if you are more of a cappuccino and latte lover
Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza review: recommended blends
All A Modo Mio Lavazza are now fully compostable and there are some superb blends and flavours available so I’m going to tell you which ones I recommend at least starting with. Passionale (opens in new tab) comes in a red box and is number 11 on the Lavazza intensity scale to 13. This one provides an excellent morning kick that will wake you up without punching a hole in the stomach. Passionale should not to be confused with the Qualita Rossa blend which also comes in a red box but isn’t quite as nice.
If you don’t like too strong an espresso, then opt for the Lungo Dolce (opens in new tab) in the purple box. This one is Intensity 6 and it’s as creamy and smooth as whatever it is that can be considered creamy and smooth. Moving up a couple of notches, Delizioso (opens in new tab) in the orange box is Intensity 8 and it has a rich, nutty, liqueur-like aroma that lingers on the palette. Delicious.
Finally, if you enjoy an especially hard hitting espresso – from a pod that is – then head straight for the maroon box. Intenso (opens in new tab) has an Intensity rating of 13 and it kicks like an angry mule who’s bum you just pinched. Full bodied, scrumptiously lip smacking and full of Eastern promise, this mix of Central and South American arabica and Asian and African robusta beans will become your new go-to afternoon alternative to a cup of tea. Tea? Does anyone else still drink tea?
Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza review: verdict
The Smeg A Modo Mio Lavazza is a stupendous piece of kit that looks resplendent on any kitchen work surface. It produces ace espressos time after time and with zero hassle and absolutely no mess. Yes it does cost the same as the better equipped Lavazza Deséa which comes with a milk frother and a wider range of coffee styles, but I’m sorry, with looks like this, I know which one my money’s on.