Lavazza Desea review: Premium coffee pod machine
Quick verdict: Pod coffee is about convenience above all else, but the premium frills of the Lavazza Desea give it an extra degree of convenience, especially if you favour milk-based coffees.
- Variety of good-tasting coffees
- Easily programmable for size and shot type
- Easy to clean out pods without leaking
- Recycling isn't quite as apparent as it might be
- Plastic milk frother may break over time
- Can get the same coffee in a cheaper pod machine
Ask most people to define the key characteristic of a pod coffee machine, and they will answer "convenience" most of the time. Pod machines sell on the idea that you're getting near-barista quality coffee without that whole tricky business of grinding and tamping beans more than anything else.
The Lavazza Desea is a curious device in that respect, simply because Lavazza sells 2 machines that use the same pod type for less money in the Lavazza Jolie Plus and Lavazza Jolie.
That means that the Lavazza Desea has to do more than just make coffee. If all you want is basic espresso shots, it's not the machine for you. If you want to take your pod coffee game to the next level, it's a great little machine.
The biggest difference between the Lavazza Desea and the cheaper Jolie machines isn't in the overall physical design. Most Pod coffee machines use what is basically the same design, with a water canister at the rear, brewing and piping mechanisms in the middle and delivery nozzle at the front to give you your piping hot caffeine hit.
The Lavazza Desea isn't different in that respect, but instead in its variety of buttons and coffee choices. Most pod machines stop at 1 or 2 buttons for different size shots, and you do get buttons for that, but you're also faced with a secondary set of buttons specific to milk-based coffee drinks on the right-hand side, with options for regular or large cappuccinos, macchiatos or whipped milk. You can also adjust coffee temperature and foam control from these buttons.
The Lavazza Desea uses a small clip-in stand for your coffee cup of choice, and this is a deliberate step that both gives it a slight visual point of difference, as well as playing into the other accessory in the box.
Lavazza includes a relatively large – European style, basically – coffee cup with the Lavazza Desea. That's not just to remind you to indulge in bean-based beverages, but also because it combines with a plastic lid that incorporates a milk frother and steamer.
That lid has the same clip in arrangement as the base. Installing it is the only way that the milk side of the Lavazza Desea's control panel will light up, which makes sense when you consider that for those coffees you're going to want stirring and heating as well.
Without the provided cup in place, you can pretty easily make any Lavazza A Modo Mio pod coffee as an Espresso or Long Coffee option. The top button pulses as it heats the water, but once it's fully lit, you just press the button and wait for your coffee to happen.
Just as with the Lavazza Jolie machines, the coffee provided is genuinely good by pod standards. There's still a gap here between a pod and freshly ground beans as you might expect, but again that comes down to the convenience play.
If that were all the Lavazza Desea did, it wouldn't be worth it against the cheaper Jolie machines, although the use of a variety of buttons, and especially the free flow button, makes a difference. One of my key issues with the Lavazza Jolie Plus was the difficulty of programming longer coffees, and that's not an issue here.
Still, it's the delivery of cappuccinos that makes the Lavazza Desea stand out. If you only ever have your coffee black, buy the Jolie and spend the savings on more pods.
The milk frother and steamer on the Lavazza Desea works very well for producing pleasing coffees. It's very simple, because you just pour milk into it to the prescribed levels depending on your needs, pop a pod in the top, and it will heat and froth the milk for you before drizzling your coffee into the cup. Watching it cascade down the glass cup is surprisingly soothing, as is the coffee it produces.
There are a couple of catches here, however. The plastic frother and steam head isn't the most solid delivery method, and if you lost or broke it, half your coffee machine is immediately out of action. It's not clear if Lavazza sells spares for that part, either.
It's also a solution best suited for those who live alone, because it only delivers to a single cup. If you decide you want a coffee and then someone else in your home wants one too, you're going to have to pour out of a cup that has no spout before producing that secondary beverage. That's almost always a messy process.
Lavazza's A Modo Mio pods are readily available from most supermarkets, although you do need to be careful as Lavazza also offers a range of pods for classic Nespresso machines as well. The Lavazza Desea does not take Nespresso pods, nor indeed Nespresso Vertuo pods. Lavazza also sells its pods directly, or via a subscription service.
One of the downsides of pod systems is that they're inherently not as environmentally friendly, although once you get into the weeds of coffee production, it's not exactly the best crop either. Lavazza does have a paired recycling program through Terracyle, but it's one you have to sign up for, and it's not detailed within the Lavazza Desea's manual in any way.
As such, I suspect that most Lavazza Desea owners might not even realise it exists, sending a lot of pod material to landfill. It's one area where Nespresso is more proactive in making you aware of your options, and a detail that Lavazza really ought to get more invested in. Internationally, wholly compostable pods are available as well, but not in Australia at the time of writing.
Should you buy the Lavazza Desea?
- Buy it if you want a premium pod coffee experience, especially for cappuccinos.
- Don't buy it if you only drink black coffee.
The Lavazza Desea is a nice machine, and for its asking price it needs to be, because if you just need that existential coffee hit in the morning, the much cheaper Lavazza Jolie machines (or competitor offerings) will do so at less cost.
The Lavazza Desea scores highly for quickly and quietly producing a tasty coffee with lots of options to suit most coffee drinkers' tastes, and especially if you're going to be the only one sipping from the supplied cup after you've frothed up your milk and prepared your morning toast.
Now, if you'll excuse me, my coffee is beckoning.
Pricing and availability
How we tested
The Lavazza Desea was evaluated over a 3-week period of making and drinking coffee, which did at least help fuel the process of writing the review.
I took note of coffee quality, brewing time and the ease of process in making different coffee types with the Lavazza Desea, paying particular attention to the supplied milk frothing and steam accessories.