* Prices may differ from that shown
I bought this coffee maker to do exactly what it says on the tin! It wanted nice tasting coffee at home, with no major frills. The senseo is easy to use (run a quick water-only cycle, then it's good to go. Simply put the pod in, press the button and you're in business! The pods seem to be widely available in supermarkets, in either the mug size or the cup size. The mug size can also be used to fill two smaller cups simultaneously, which is useful when trying to provide a tableful with post-dinner coffee.
You can adjust the height of the coffee dispenser for different size cups, and there is a drip tray. The design of the machine is quite slimline and stylish, and sits nicely on the kitchen worktop.
The senseo pods are a bit like designer teabags, which has the added feature of making them compostable. I have had no probs with them splitting or bursting.
The coffee pods I have used in this are Douwe Egberts, and they taste great! The coffee is strong and fresh tasting, but with a lovely smooth and mellow aftertaste. It doesn't come out amazingly hot, but as long as you don't add a ton of cold milk it is good. I usually either add a splash, or microwave a small amount to add to the coffee to keep its temperature. The coffee has a light "crema" layer (light a coffee "head", which looks and tastes great.
Overall, I love this coffee machine!
I've always loved the smell and taste of fresh filter coffee and always vowed to buy myself a Tassimo coffee maker after seeing how easy they were to operate when a friend bought one. I've had coffee machines in the past where I had to add ground coffee to a paper filter but soon lost interest in them due to the mess they made and the fact that I had to buy separate components just to make a fresh cup of coffee. The 'next generation' coffee makers which use coffee pods always struck me as being innovative and very stylish looking so when I saw the Senseo Viva Cafe featured in the sale on the Sainsburys website I took the plunge and ordered one. At £49.99 instead of £99.99 it seemed a great bargain and although wasn't the Tassimo I had always wanted I was happy to compromise and save myself a bit of money, so does it live up to my expectations?
How it looks
As shown in Dooyoo's accompanying picture the Senso Viva Cafe is a sleek and stylish looking machine, mine is deep black in colour with silver trims and is made up of a large water tank which attaches to the body of the coffee maker, a metallic stand, spout and pod holder. It measures 34cm in height, 19cm in width and around 30cm in depth and is beautifully finished off. There are no sharp edges, the design of this coffee maker is sleek and to my eye, elegant and has a look and feel of quality and sits in pride of place on my kitchen counter. There are 3 buttons on the front of the base, one is to turn the machine on and off and the other two allow you to select whether you want to prepare 1 or 2 cups of coffee. The metallic plate on which the cups or mugs stand doesn't heat up so isn't a sole plate but is removable and acts as a drip tray should any excess drops of water fall from the spout when your cup/mug has been removed and the spout itself is adjustable so can be positioned to fit over either tall or short cups. As far as the build quality of the machine goes it is impressive, it looks and feels sturdy, it is certainly well made and I think makes a wonderful addition to my kitchen but does it produce a delicious cup of coffee?
How it works
What I like about these type of coffee makers is their ease of use and the Senseo Viva is no exception. The water tank holds enough water when full to produce around 3 standard mugs of coffee and works by heating up the cold water from the tank which is brought through the body of the machine through the coffee pod and decanted through the spout into your mug or cup, it really is as simple as that. The water heats in around 30 seconds and takes a further 20-30 seconds to filter through the coffee pod and into your mug or cup and that's it as far as how it works. The spout has 2 water outlets so 2 cups can be filled at the same time or if you're like me and drinks coffee from a mug then the drip tray easily accommodates a single mug placed in the centre and beneath the spout itself. The plastic water tank that sits at the back of the machine is easy to remove and fill and slots back into place with no problems and the pod holder at the top of the machine works on a release catch mechanism which has a smooth motion and again is easy to get in to. Once the coffee pod has been used you simply remove it from the pod holder and dispose of it and compared to the old style coffee machines and percolators the Senseo really is a joy to use, makes no mess whatsoever and produces a perfect cup of coffee.
Whilst I can't fault how the machine looks or how easy it is to operate there are a couple of niggles with it that I want to point out here as I think they're worth mentioning and although my Senseo has produced mug after mug of delicious coffee for me I can't say that it's perfect. The machine is noisy I have to admit, the heating of the water is relatively quiet and sounds pretty much like a kettle element but once the maker begins to draw the water into the body of the coffee maker and through the coffee pod then it make quite a loud 'chugging' and vibrating sound which was quite disconcerting the first time I heard it. The machine sounds like its struggling in all honesty and I did check online to make sure I wasn't doing anything wrong with how I was using it but this is how it is apparently and the noise it makes is perfectly normal. I don't remember the Tassimo making quite as much noise as the Senseo so I was unprepared for it when I first started using it although I must admit I have got used to it now so don't particularly notice it any more but thought it worth pointing out that this isn't a silent coffee maker by any means.
Secondly the temperature of the heated water isn't as hot as it is when boiled in a kettle so do be careful if you add cold milk to your coffee once it has been produced as adding anything more than a splash could result in your drink being on the too-cool side. I like my coffee steaming hot I must admit but I also like milk in my drinks too so it does take a few attempts to get the balance just right although this is easily done and wouldn't be a reason for me not to recommend the machine overall. Similarly the fact that you can only make 1 mug of coffee at a time or 2 cups means that it's not really a 'social' coffee maker and whilst the machine is quick in operation if you are making drinks for a number of people you will find that you have to keep filling up the water tank and replacing the coffee pods and in all honesty you'd be better off sticking to the kettle I would have thought as it would be a lot quicker. For anyone who lives alone though or if there aren't many coffee drinkers in your household then the Senseo would be an indulgent treat that I recommend particularly if you are a fan of freshly filtered coffee but don't want the hassle of buying paper filters and ground coffee.
For me the Senseo Viva has far more positive points than negative ones and I can overlook the noise it makes and the fact that the water isn't quite as hot as it could be because of the drinks it produces. Yes, the coffee pods are expensive, from a supermarket they cost around £3.00 for a pack of 20 and they are only single use but they make an indulgently tasty mug of coffee and compared to the old-style coffee makers I had in the past the Senseo has been a fantastic buy for me personally and I would definitely recommend this model particularly if you can find it on offer as I did. I think at £100.00 it's expensive but at £50 it's a steal and I love mine even though I don't think it's quite perfect, for something that makes coffee-shop tasting hot drinks at a fraction of the price then I think the Senseo steps up to the mark and I wouldn't be without mine now. Definitely recommended.
Four stars as a rating seems fair basing this on everything mentioned in this review. Thanks for reading.