Lavazza Idola full review
The Idola coffee machine is part of Lavazza’s A Modo Mio capsule coffee maker range. Essentially, it’s a pared-down version of the Desea (which is currently in the number one spot in our list of the best coffee machines we’ve reviewed. We rated it 4.5 out of 5 stars).
While the Desea comes with a milk frother attachment, which allows you to make a variety of milky coffees – lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos and more – the Idola is a simpler proposition. It only makes black coffee.
But it does that well.
Like other coffee makers in Lavazza’s range, the Idola uses a pod system, meaning that once you buy the machine, you are essentially signing up to a coffee-machine-lifetime’s worth of A Modo Mio pod buying.
The advantage of pods is their ease and lack of mess. You simply pop in a pod and discard it when it’s used. There’s no need to think about the ratio of beans to water, no grinding or tamping and no coffee grounds to clean up afterwards.
The problem really comes down to the discarding part of the equation: environmentally-aware consumers will balk at the amount of waste involved. However, all of the big coffee capsule manufacturers now provide recycling options for used capsules. You can find out how to recycle the capsules from your machine in our how-to article on the subject.
In fact, Lavazza goes one better. It now makes coffee capsules that are industrially compostable. This means that you can dispose of them in your food waste collection. After treatment in a food waste plant, the capsules will break down in six months. Bear in mind that the capsules are industrially compostable only, so they won’t break down in your garden compost heap.
If your area doesn’t have food waste collection, you can return them to be recycled.
Obviously, if you’re investing in this machine, you want to know that you’ll enjoy the coffee it makes. So what does capsule coffee taste like? It varies from brand to brand but Lavazza must be among the best. Its capsules produce a rich coffee with a good crema.
There are currently seven capsule varieties to choose from on Lavazza’s own site, and more for sale on Amazon, with different bean combinations (varieties of Arabica and Robusta) and coffee types. As well as a range of flavour intensities, there are blends that are best suited to a long coffee or an espresso, as well as a decaf and an organic coffee.
In terms of price, you can buy direct from Lavazza at a cost of 28p per capsule, although if you wait until you can find a deal, or purchase in bulk, you can reduce the price to approximately 20p per capsule.
Price & availability
At the time of reviewing, the Idola is for sale from Lavazza’s own site for £139. However, it’s worth shopping around as this is currently not the best buying option. Right now, you can purchase the Idola in black from AO.com for £69. It is also available on Amazon from £109.99.
Included in the price is a starter pack of nine assorted A Modo Mio capsules, so you can decide which variety of coffee you prefer.
Design & build
The Idola looks and feels high quality. It’s weighty (4kg), with a glossy finish. It comes in three colours: black, dark red and a light cappuccino. On top of the machine is a metal lever. You lift it to expose the capsule slot and press it down to close the compartment. There’s a very pleasing heft to its operation.
It’s a long, narrow machine. While only 145mm wide, it’s 380mm deep, which means that it may well stand out beyond many of the other appliances on an average kitchen counter. (This is the key flaw with the machine’s aesthetic, as far as I was concerned. I found it hard to find the right placement for it in my kitchen as it protruded out into the counter workspace.)
It’s 280mm high and as the coffee pods are loaded from the top, you’ll need a reasonable level of cabinet clearance – although for most normal-size kitchens, that shouldn’t be a problem.
The 1.1 litre water reservoir fits into the back of the machine. Because of the Idola’s depth, if it’s placed beneath overhanging kitchen cabinets, it’s hard to see what’s going on at the back of the machine. So when it comes to replacing the reservoir, you’ll either need to move the coffee maker forward or reattach it blind. This isn’t ideal but fortunately, the reservoir slots back into place easily.
The coffee cup tray has two height options, which will fit an espresso cup and a standard mug.
Features & performance
From being switched on, the machine is ready to brew in about 35 seconds. The coffee making itself takes only a few seconds and is very quiet. It’s a swift and impressively fuss-free process. The coffee produced is of a very high quality.
The control panel of the Idola is easy to read and use. There are four coffee-making options: espresso, long espresso, long coffee and a free-pour option. The first three options are one-touch – the final one requires one push of the button to start the brewing process and a second one to finish it.
There's also a temperature boost button, which allows you to get a hotter than standard coffee.
The rest of the control panel comprises indicator lights. These alert you to the water in the reservoir running out, limescale build-up and the capsule drawer filling up. The machine is easy to maintain and keep clean and has a descaling cycle that should be run every two months (perhaps more often if you live in a hard water area).
If what you want is a fast, fuss-free, flavourful espresso, look no further. The Idola is a sleek, quiet and high-quality capsule coffee machine from Lavazza. A simpler take on the Desea, which comes with a milk frother, the Idola is all about black coffee options.
As a bonus, the fact that Lavazza now produces industrially compostible coffee capsules means that the Idola is arguably among the most environmentally-friendly capsule coffee machines that you can buy.