Dualit Café Plus review

A basic pod machine for fuss-free coffee

TechRadar Verdict

The Dualit Café Plus Capsule Machine is a slimline coffee maker designed to work with Nespresso Original capsules, although Dualit makes its own brand of compatible capsules, too. It’s a simple coffee machine that pours espresso and lungo coffees, as well as tea. If you want to heat and froth milk, there’s a standalone milk frother available to purchase separately. On test it delivered mess-free coffee in seconds, proving itself a good choice for those who value convenience.

Pros

  • +

    Slim footprint

  • +

    Simple control panel

  • +

    Can brew tea as well as coffee

Cons

  • Can’t fit a standard mug

  • Thin crema on espresso

  • Milk frother is an additional cost

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One minute review

If you’re looking for one of the best coffee machines (opens in new tab), choosing a capsule coffee maker won’t necessarily guarantee you the best-tasting coffee. But what you can count on is that you’ll get consistent coffee, which is quick and easy to make and with minimal mess.

The Dualit Café Plus is the only dedicated capsule coffee maker available from this well-respected British brand. It’s a small and slim pod coffee machine, although it’s slightly larger than the similarly priced Nespresso Pixie by Krups.

This uncomplicated coffee maker takes Nespresso original capsules, or those from other brands that are compatible. Dualit even makes its own range; we tried out the 50-capsule taster pack whilst putting this machine through its paces. And to dispose of them we used Dualit’s EcoPress, which enables you to easily separate coffee grounds from the aluminum pods for recycling. You can read more on what we thought of that here [insert link].

We also tried out the Dualit Milk Frother – which is a separate purchase, but essential if you like milky coffees (there’s no steam wand built into the Dualit Café Plus coffee machine). It produces hot frothy milk, no barista skills needed, but capacity is limited and it’s pricey for an add-on.

On test the Dualit Café Plus performed well: it’s simple to use and makes espresso and lungo coffees with ease. But the lack of space on the drip tray for a full-size mug proved frustrating, and espressos had a disappointingly thin crema, with even the strongest blends producing a mild flavor. As such, the Dualit Café Plus is ideal if you want a convenient, fast-track way to get a cup of coffee; but if you’re looking for top-notch flavor, it isn’t the machine for you.

Dualit Café Plus price and availability

  • List price: £149.99 

The Café Plus is available directly from Dualit or via other retailers such as Amazon. At the time of writing, it’s only available in the UK.

The accompanying Dualit Milk Frother will set you back an additional £59.99. A 50-capsule taster pack of Dualit’s own-brand aluminum capsules costs £12.99 and includes four coffee capsules of different flavor and strength, as well as a pack of decaf capsules.

Price and availability score: 4/5

Dualit Café Plus design

  • 28oz/ 800ml removable water tank
  • Programmable dosing volume
  • Auto switch-off after 10 minutes

This slim coffee machine arrives with a modern glossy black and silver finish. Measuring 11.7 x 5.9 x 16.3 inches/ 29.8 x 15 x 41.5cm (h x w x d), it’s compact enough for even the smallest of kitchens. 

Around the machine’s rear you’ll find a removable water tank, which is transparent so you can easily check the water level at a glance. While at the front, a small drip tray pulls out to reveal the used capsule storage bin, which can hold around 12 used capsules. The distance between the drip tray and the spout is only 3.5 inches/ 9cm, which doesn’t allow space for most standard-height mugs, so you’ll need to use a shorter cappuccino or espresso cup.

Dualit Café Plus review

(Image credit: Future/Helen Mcue)

Just above the spout is a button with a coffee bean symbol, which dispenses espresso if pressed once, or lungo when double-pressed. The button to dispense tea sits just below it and is marked with a leaf symbol.

Pulling up the large silver lever on top reveals the capsule slot. When the lever is pushed back down, the capsule is pushed into position, ready for brewing. Afterwards, when the lever is pulled up again, the coffee capsule drops into the storage bin below.

There are no other settings, although if you wish to change the volume of drink dispensed, the manual guides you through how to reprogram the machine to dispense your desired amount. Helpfully, this gets stored in the memory for future drinks.

Dualit Café Plus review

(Image credit: Future/Helen Mcue)

We used the Dualit Milk Frother in conjunction with the Café Plus, and with just one button it’s simple to operate. Pressing the button once gives hot frothy milk; pressing it twice simply heats the milk, while holding it down for 2.5 seconds produces cold frothy milk. It’s similar to a cordless electric kettle in that it sits on a round base that plugs into the wall. It measures 7.9 x 6.7 x 4.7 inches/ 20 x 17 x 12cm (h x w x d).

On the inside of the frother there are clear min and max markings, and it has a capacity of around 11.3fl oz/ 320ml. The internal whisk uses magnets to keep it in place, and this means it’s easy to remove for cleaning. It lacks a defined spout for easy pouring, but this does mean the lid creates a good seal on top. And the transparent lid allows you to keep an eye on the milk as it froths.

Design score: 4/5

Dualit Café Plus performance

  • Easy to use
  • Espresso crema is thin
  • Pours espresso in under 30 seconds

When first removed from the box, the coffee machine had quite a strong plastic smell that took a few days to dissipate. In terms of set-up, there’s very little to do before brewing your first cup of coffee: simply wash out the water tank and fill it with fresh water.

Once the main power button on the side is switched on, the machine takes around 50 seconds to preheat, and during this time the lights on the front will flash. Although you can insert a capsule and make your coffee selection during the heat-up process, the machine won’t begin dispensing until it’s warm.

An espresso dispenses in about 25 seconds, with the 1.2fl oz/ 35ml dose coming out at an average temperature of 158oF/ 70oC. This is a decent temperature, and around what we’d expect, but if you like your coffee warmer then Dualit advises warming your cup before dispensing coffee. However, the espresso had a disappointingly thin crema – although, to be fair, this did vary somewhat between capsules, with some producing a slightly better crema than others.

Dualit Café Plus review

(Image credit: Future/Helen Mcue)

Flavor can be quite subjective, and with so many capsules available to try, from both Nespresso and Dualit, results will vary. However, as with all capsule coffee, the flavor of the coffee here wasn’t as full bodied and fruity as you’d get from freshly ground beans. In the end, it’s up to you to decide upon your priorities: the freshest possible coffee with punchy, bold flavors, or the speed and convenience of capsules.

A lungo dispenses around 2.5 fl oz/ 70ml of coffee in a little under 50 seconds. We did experience some splashing and spluttering from the spout as the Café Plus dispensed a lungo, which meant the counter and the machine both needed a wipe afterwards. Additionally, having dispensed the coffee, the machine continued to drip for several seconds, unless you discard the capsule.

Dualit Café Plus review

(Image credit: Future/Helen Mcue)

If dispensing tea, you can expect to pour no more than 6.3fl oz/ 180ml per capsule, which is just over half a mug. Frustratingly, this means you’ll need to use two capsules to get a decent-sized mug of tea. Arguably, this is an unnecessarily expensive way to make tea; tea bags are a much cheaper option and tea isn’t exactly a tricky drink to make. While it’s nice to have the option, we think most people are unlikely to use the Café Plus’ tea function.

In terms of noise, the Dualit coffee machine measured in at around 60dB at its loudest when dispensing coffee. This is no louder than normal conversation, and it was only for a short period.

Maintenance of this coffee maker after use isn’t too tricky. Simply flush through some hot water without a capsule in place, wipe it down and empty and clean the drip tray. You’ll also need a small brush to clean the filter plate regularly – but note that one isn’t supplied in the box, so it’s worth saving an old toothbrush for this job. The Café Plus will also need decaling at least once a month if you live in medium or hard water areas. This is an automated process, but you’ll need the manual to hand to follow the instructions.

The milk frother proved whisper-quiet, barely making any sound at all in use. It can heat and froth 29.6fl oz/ 300ml of milk in three minutes, or around two minutes for half that amount. It heats the milk to a comfortable temperature of just below 158oF/ 70oC. We noticed that the less milk you add, the more foam you’ll get and the bigger the bubbles, whereas when it’s almost full it produces a better microfoam. The heat-only function produces a small amount of foam, too.

Dualit Café Plus review

(Image credit: Future/Helen Mcue)

Our biggest complaint about the frother is that the lack of a defined pouring lip means it’s sometimes tricky to pour milk without dripping. Plus, its capacity means that if you’re looking to make more than two small cappuccinos or one big latte, you’ll have to put it on again. That said, it’s easy to rinse clean and offers a great hands-off option for heating and frothing milk.

Performance score: 4/5

Dualit Café Plus Capsule Machine score card
Attributes Notes Rating
Price & availability Competitively priced, offering good value for money and widely available but only in the UK. 4/5
Design score Overall the coffee machine offers a user-friendly design, but failing to include enough space for a standard mug is a big drawback. 4/5
Performance score The machine is intuitive to use, but the coffee produced lacked a bold and well-rounded flavor, and the crema was thin. 4/5

Should I buy?

Buy it if…

You want to use both tea and coffee capsules

Nespresso machines aren’t just for coffee; you can get tea capsules, too, and the Café Plus has a dedicated tea setting that will pour a hotter, larger 6.3fl oz/ 180ml volume of water through the capsule for a cup of tea.

Don’t buy it if…

You want a milk steaming wand built in

If you want hot frothy milk, you’ll need to buy the matching Dualit Milk Frother. Unlike a steam wand, though, it doesn’t allow you any control over the finished texture of the milk.

  • First reviewed: September 2022

Helen McCue

Freelance Contributor

Helen is a freelance writer who specializes in kitchen appliances and has written for some of the biggest home-related titles around. She has been reviewing small appliances, including blenders, juicers, and multi-cookers, for more than 8 years,  and also upholsters furniture when she’s not testing the latest food tech gadgets. 

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