Dualit DCM2X 3-in-1 espresso machine full review

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Dualit offers a range of 3-in-1 machines and the DCM2X (also known as the 84440) should appeal to those who want something that looks a bit retro. Its polished chrome finish, big buttons and lights - plus the heated cup warmer with rails - will add a dash of style to any kitchen counter.

Dualit DCM2X: Price & availability

Typically the DCM2X costs £199.99 but you can buy the silver version on Amazon for £185.99 and the Canvas White model was just £150 at the time of review. There’s also a Polished version which has a mirror finish on the sides as well.

That’s really not a bad price for an espresso machine, let alone one which is compatible with Nespresso pods and ESE bags.

Dualit’s own compostable NX capsules cost around 30p if you buy them in boxes of 10 but are 20p if you go for the 60 capsule box. You’ll need to spend over £32 to avoid the hefty £6 delivery fee if you get them from Dualit’s website, though. (Currently, there's a promotion which gives you £40 of credit to buy coffee and tea capsules when you register your purchase, which makes it better value. It ends on 10 January 2020.)

Dualit 3-in-1 review

For alternatives see our roundup of the best coffee machines.

Dualit DCM2X: Features & design

 It might look like a miniature version of something you’d seen in a coffee shop, but this thing is built to a price. The body is mainly made from plastic - not metal - and it is fairly lightweight.

Dualit 3-in-1 review

That’s relevant here because even with a full water tank, it will move when you tighten the group handle. That means you have to use a second hand to grip the right-hand side of the machine to prevent that happening.

The water tank itself holds 1.5 litres and can be refilled in place thanks to the fact that the top hinges backwards. It’s also a larger capacity than most Nespresso or pod machines, which means fewer refills.

In the box is a range of accessories, and you’ll need to read the manual to familiarise yourself with which bits and pieces you need to use for the type of capsule you’re using.

For example, one handle is dedicated to Dualit’s own NX capsules (and will also accept Nespresso and Nespresso-compatible pods). And most capsules require you to use the special tool to pierce holes in the top before inserting it into the holder: there’s no internal mechanism for doing this because of the multi-brew nature of the machine.

The other handle is for ground coffee and ESE pods. There are filters for one and two cups, and a spoon with a tamper on the end to measure out and tamp the correct amount of coffee grounds.

The paper sheets to place into these filter housings were a bit of a surprise: Dualit recommends their use to avoid coffee grounds blocking up the tiny holes, but it’s the first espresso machine we’ve seen to come with them.

From hitting the power button to reaching brewing temperature takes 40 seconds, at which point you’re instructed to dispense 230ml of water with no capsule, pod or grounds in the holder. This is to ensure everything is up to temperature when the espresso is produced, and it is supposed to be carried out of successive cups as well.

 Dualit 3-in-1 review

It adds extra time to the process but also warms your cup, which is necessary if you don’t want tepid coffee. You’d have to leave the machine on for a long while before the cup warmer on top has any effect on their temperature.

There's only around 100mm between the rubber mat and the group handle, which means a standard tea mug will not fit. Espresso mugs, though, will fit just fine. 

Once you’ve made a few, you’ll be able to make the first espresso in around three minutes. A little less if you’re using a capsule rather than ground coffee, and a little more if you also want to steam milk.

What’s surprising is how noisy the pump is and it becomes louder when there’s no coffee in the holder. This isn’t really a machine you can operate early in the morning if the rest of the household are still sleeping.

You’ll also have to get used to mopping up water on your worktop as it’s very difficult to remove the handle from the machine without residual water spilling.

The good news is that it produces excellent coffee, and reliably so. Whether you go for Nespresso capsules or Dualit’s own NX versions, there’s a luxurious crema every time. The same is true if you use ground coffee, and note that is the only way to make two espressos simultaneously: capsules make only one cup at a time.

The steam wand does a great job of frothing milk for lattes and cappucinos, and the rubber part is simple to remove and clean.

As there’s an outlet for the excess steam pressure, the drip tray fills up a lot faster than you might expect, so needs emptying fairly often. But cleaning and maintenance are all par for the course with this type of coffee machine.

Verdict

Overall, Dualit’s 3-in-1 coffee machine is a decent choice. It lets you enjoy the ceremony of preparing an espresso from ground coffee, but also offers the convenience of using a capsule when you’re in more of a hurry.

It can’t compete with the convenience of a bean-to-cup machine, but for purists that want a manual espresso machine, it delivers the goods.

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