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Coffee with gusto

February 29, 2012

Coffee machine and cakeI’m a tea drinker through and through.  It’s impossible to start the day until I’ve had my first cuppa and I would prefer someone to bring me a cup of tea in bed than give me a diamond ring (honestly!).  My childhood family memories are punctuated with cups of tea and the only coffee we had in our house was a jar of instant.  As an avid listener of The Archers, something rankles with the amount of coffee they seem to drink.  I can understand that Brian and Jennifer might have a pot on but Pat and Tony would be tea drinkers, as would Jill Archer. (Sorry if I just lost you there).  Call it my heritage,  my background, my up-bringing, my nationality (British) but I gave up tea for a day once and decided that life was far too short for such a sacrifice.

Coffee is not central to my life (pause for the shouts of coffee addicts to die down) but when Nescafe asked me if I’d like to test a Dolce Gusto coffee machine I said ‘maybe’, then ‘yes’ about 5 seconds later.

This Custard Pie space of mine is solely to pursue my fascination with food and drink and I do not earn any money from it.  I turn down a lot of invites, it’s easy to be tempted to dinners, lunches, product launches and the like, just because they are free; but if there isn’t a genuine food interest there, it’ll be really boring to write about (and read).  However with my marketing communications hat on (my profession), there was something that intrigued me about this coffee machine launch.  Nestle was getting ‘digital influencers’ involved which is quite unusual in the region, so I wanted to know how they would do it.

A large box was delivered with my name on the outside proclaiming ‘digital influencer’.  The box of the Nescafé Dolce Gusto was personalised with my Twitter profile, name, image and some of my tweets.  The individual coffee boxes mentioned people I converse with on Twitter.  To borrow a phrase from my teens, I was well-impressed.  They, however, thought it was creepy!

Dolce Gusto digital influencer package

The instruction manual was of the Swedish school.  I bristled; I like words not pictures (and with a spell-check!).  I did finally work it all out and the machine was actually really easy to use.  The Grande Intenso tasted pretty good, strong and smooth, the cappuccino (where you have to use two capsules) a slight improvement on packet mixes (which I loathe), Chococino (hot chocolate) was ok, and Espresso strong (if slightly bitter).  The Cappuccino Ice remains untasted.  All the coffee is 100% Arabica.


The marketing materials were brilliant – shame about the manual.

The main advantages are the compact size of the machine, the speed of making coffee, the lack of mess and the ease of cleaning.  It looks Italian and funky and suits our light coffee drinking household perfectly.  If we were heavy users I would be very uncomfortable about throwing a plastic capsule away every time (very wasteful and unsustainable).  Nescafé didn’t supply the retail price of the machine or the capsules which is available from 1st March 2012.

Pros and cons

All this coffee drinking made me yearn for the taste in an another form.

Coffee walnut cake (cake adapted from a recipe by Annie Bell combined with buttercream)

225g self-raising flour
225g soft light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
225ml vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
4 medium eggs, separated
50ml strong espresso coffee
50ml milk
75g walnuts, roughly chopped
Ingredients for buttercream
350g icing sugar, sifted
150g unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons espresso

Butter and line a 22cm loaf tin.  Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the sugar, salt, oil, egg yolks, espresso and milk.  Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff (I used my Kitchenaid).  Gently but firmly fold half the egg whites into the mixture; then fold in the other half and then the walnuts.  Spoon the mixture into the tin and give it a knock on the work surface to distribute.  Put on the centre shelf in an oven preheated to 190 C.  Bake for 50-55 minutes (check after 40 minutes and if the cake is browning too quickly place a piece of greaseproof paper over the top).  Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.   Make the buttercream: Beat the butter in a bowl with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.  Stir in the icing sugar and coffee until light and smooth. Cut the cake in half horizontally and spread half the buttercream in the middle and the rest over the top.

I made coffee glacé icing for the one in the picture but it was too sweet, so have doubled the buttercream in the recipe.

Making coffee cake

So are you a tea or coffee person?

  1. February 29, 2012 4:14 pm

    That’s strange. I already saw the machines at Carrefour in MOE this afternoon.

    I’m more of a tea person (without the milk), but depending on the mood, I interchange tea with coffee. I prefer coffee, especially when enjoying cake and heavily creamed desserts.

    • February 29, 2012 9:58 pm

      They must have just arrived Didi. For me it’s tea and cake!

      • March 1, 2012 2:07 am

        What’s one day of being ahead anyway 🙂 all good as long as you get those machines moving.

        Tea with milk? Or just plain tea and cake? I’d perhaps consider milk tea and cake. But naaaaaah, I like coffee and cake just fine 🙂

      • March 1, 2012 7:25 am

        Tea with milk for me. When we got back from a trip to Poland it was all we craved as they drink theirs black.

  2. February 29, 2012 4:23 pm

    Niiiice! I love, love, love coffee as much as I’m madly in love with tea. I wouldn’t have even hesitated if they had asked me haha. I’m glad you took it – limitations aside it looks pretty cool! And love the personalisation … not creepy at all!
    Ohhh when I bought my first coffee machine as a student in the UK…fell in love even more with the drink. And oddly enough, it was the same time – when I lived in the UK – that I developed a greater appreciation for tea…well mostly chai for me. I’m not sure how I managed to increase my consumption of both these drinks during the same time period…but there you go.

  3. February 29, 2012 4:24 pm

    Eek, I’m not sure how I’d feel with a product arriving with my tweets on. Clever bit of marketing though. Now this is my type of cake. Can’t beat coffee & cake together.

  4. February 29, 2012 4:24 pm

    I’m also a tea drinker but this cake does look yummie 🙂

    • March 1, 2012 7:47 am

      Thanks Regula – tea drinkers of the world unite!

  5. Abigail permalink
    February 29, 2012 4:26 pm

    I truly miss my coffee! And beg my husband for a daily cheat.

    • March 1, 2012 7:46 am

      You’d like this Abigail.

      • March 1, 2012 7:47 am

        With one of your purple yam cakes.

  6. February 29, 2012 4:29 pm

    I don’t drink tea or coffee (as you probably know from reading my blog!) but I LOVE coffee in desserts…especially cake. Coffee and walnut is one of my absolute favourites. Yum.

    • March 1, 2012 7:46 am

      A nostalgic taste I’ve been craving for a while.

  7. February 29, 2012 4:38 pm

    Love your pros and cons. Haven’t tasted everything, but other than taste, totally agree with the assessment of choice, cleanliness, baffling instructions, etc. I’m curious about the nutritional content of the ‘stuff’ in the pods. Also, I feel like I’m cheating on my more ‘manual’ espresso machine for which I grind and tamp the espresso. But frankly, the nescafe drink tastes way better than the espresso bean blends I’ve managed to bring home and make (not sure if it’s my espresso machine or the bitterness of beans available here).

    Anyhoo, love your post and how you concluded with that lovely coffee cake. 🙂

    • March 1, 2012 7:45 am

      I think it’s pure coffee in the drinks without milk but yes, I detected a sweetness I didn’t like in the milky cappucino. I think the ingredients are on the side of the boxes. I must check.

  8. February 29, 2012 5:15 pm

    I always enjoy a good cup of coffee! A great review. Unfortunately, my kitchen is too small for such a machine, hence make my coffee the Turkish way…



    • March 1, 2012 7:43 am

      On the stove I presume? You are a dedicated coffee lover then Rosa.

    • March 1, 2012 7:43 am

      On the stove I presume? You are a dedicated coffee lover then Rosa.

  9. February 29, 2012 5:32 pm

    It’s a great post Sally, I really like the lead-in. We don’t have coffee at home because we only drink once or twice a week and we do that in our favourite cafe places or patisseries. The cake looks yum!

    • March 1, 2012 7:42 am

      Yes I drink coffee out of the house more than at home. My cake was a bit ‘rustic’ looking!

  10. February 29, 2012 5:56 pm

    No matter how strange this may seem but I’m both an avid tea drinker, as well as a fanatic coffee (espresso) lover. Choosing your beans is a great part of the coffee pleasure, the same as choosing your tea so I really can’t understand the capsule mania from the recent years.

    • March 1, 2012 7:41 am

      You don’t get the same aroma permeating the house. It’s good for people who want coffee quickly with no mess.

  11. February 29, 2012 6:46 pm

    I’m with The Little Loaf here, I don’t drink coffee either but love coffee flavoured cakes and desserts! The cake sounds fabulous, I always used to enjoy Annie Bell’s recipes in Sainsbury’s Mag.

    • March 1, 2012 7:40 am

      I use In my Kitchen and Delicious Cakes a lot – her recipes always work really well (although I changed this one a bit).

  12. February 29, 2012 7:19 pm

    Very nice, I wanna know how to became a digital or any influencer 🙂

    I am from typical Finnish, quess if I drink more coffee or team 🙂

    Long time wanted to have espresso or for me cappucino machine and finally my German colleague convince to go for Nespresso, which is relativele affordable amongs all those swiss Jura etcx machines…only lately I noticed that Krups is making same machine only half price, and I could use same capsules as Nespresso…too late for me, for those who travel Eurpoe bring or device there it cost peanuts there….

    Like this Coffee Custo,but cannot drink espresso without some milk foam on top, not to mention nice slice of coffee cake.

    • March 1, 2012 7:39 am

      I presume this is the budget equivalent of the Nespresso machine. There is no choice for the origin of the coffee (like there is with Nespresso) – it’s all 100% arabica – but the quality is good. You could get an Ikea milk frother for the foam – or use the cappucino capsules which give milk, although I wasn’t that keen on the taste of the powdered milk. I don’t know how they chose me and given those Finnish statistics it should definitely have been you on the list!

      • March 2, 2012 12:59 am

        Just saw Carrefour add, Nescafe Gusto 499 AED compared to Nespresso machine which was some 1300 AED. I love my Nespresso though, but we Finns we drink normal filter coffee wihich is medium roast coffee. I bring it from Finland, because I have only found very bitter taste of filtercoffees in Dubai. …well best is turkish coffee made on stove. and I am not even counting the when I reach break even point that my investment had paid back. Each Nespresso cup cost (without cost of water and electricity consumed) ax 2.5 AED plus hint of milk froth.

      • March 8, 2012 12:40 pm

        I think my machine is the higher priced version at just over 700 AED – I must go and price the capsules. The Grande Intenso are by far my favourite.

  13. February 29, 2012 7:21 pm

    tea not team…..

  14. February 29, 2012 7:52 pm

    Lovely Post Sally… Hmm how great that you were chosen as a coffee machine tester!.. I love the stuff and what completes the picture is your great cake! Yum

    • March 1, 2012 7:35 am

      Thanks Lara – yes it was good fun to be a tester this time.

  15. February 29, 2012 10:48 pm

    a little creepy I agree….but the coffee machine is something I yearn for and sounds quite user friendly. I LOVE coffee and walnut cake…one of my dear mum’s standards so will be making yours really soon….Keith will be breathing a sigh of relief then…tea delivered to bed much less costly than a diamond…not quite sure am with you there! Great post Sally!

    • March 1, 2012 7:34 am

      My aunt makes a terrific one too. This machine would suit you Debs – very user friendly. Don’t tell KP! Of course what is ideal is a cup of tea and a diamond ring in bed.

  16. February 29, 2012 11:25 pm

    I’m no longer a coffee drinker, but I’d happily drink it if that was what I had to do to get a slice of your cake! 🙂 Like you, I’m a bit concerned about all the new machines (the one you’ve reviewed, Nespresso etc) which offer coffee in a pod – it just seems like a very clever way for them to lock people into expensive coffee. When I WAS a coffee drinker, part of the joy was hunting out new blends and roasters, and you can’t do that with these new machines (or at least, I don’t think you can). Gotta give them points for marketing though – how clever to package the machine in a personalised box!

    • March 1, 2012 7:32 am

      No I think speed and ease of use is the main draw here. The marketing is clever and I felt like a VIP – which is why the spelling mistakes on the manual are so at odds!

  17. March 1, 2012 8:31 am

    Good one Sally, Enjoyed reading this post especially that I can totally relate to the whole experience lol. I actually loved the customisation on the packaging, makes you feel they actually know you. at the end of the day it is all out there, when we tweet, it’s not like they dug up some intelligence files on us or anything… Will post mine soon :))

    • March 1, 2012 9:05 am

      Yes I agree – I was a willing participant and I love the trouble they went to – they talked to us in a way that showed knowledge of the forums we participate in. They should demonstrate the same care for the customer, and the in-box materials are good, that’s why I think the spelling mistakes on the manual are important not trivial. Looking forward to your write up.

  18. March 1, 2012 12:28 pm

    I am the lucky one who gets coffee in bed every morning! What a great and honest review Sally 🙂

    • March 8, 2012 12:38 pm

      No way! Swap that for tea and I’d never be miserable again!

  19. faiza abbasi permalink
    March 1, 2012 3:10 pm

    I am both a tea and coffee aficionado, but I just don’t like the idea of the pods. There is nothing like the smell of fresh ground coffee and the taste of fresh creamer with it. As for the cake- nothing beats coffee cake (except maybe carrot) and I love it with a huge glass of cold milk. Just for my info, once you run out of pods, where do you buy more and is there such a thing as a universal pod or does each brand of machine have their own type and not interchangeable?

    • March 8, 2012 12:39 pm

      Pods are in Carrefour and yes, you are tied to the brand.

  20. March 4, 2012 1:42 pm

    I’m a total coffee addict although we’re still working with a regular filter coffee machine here. Nothing fancy just good old filter coffee. But I think I possibly like tea in equal amount to the coffee. But living together with a coffee junkie I guess I drink more coffee then tea. Love the personalized package from Nescafé. But I agree on the wastage of the packages as well as the cost per cup!

    • March 8, 2012 12:37 pm

      Thanks Simone. I agree on the waste and would think twice if I drank more than a cup a day. There is no mess at all though and the speed of use means I’m drinking more than I did.

  21. Ali Kerr permalink
    April 12, 2012 2:04 pm

    Hi Sally, I just want to say how much I love your blog! Your sense of fun and joie de vivre seeps through every word, your photos are amazing and your curiosity and energy is second to none. It just keeps getting better and better! Congratulations! Ali x

    • April 15, 2012 10:27 pm

      What an extremely nice comment Ali – especially from such an arbiter of taste. Really appreciated.

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