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Hotel Chocolat is best known for making edible gifts and (thanks to the Velvetiser) amazing homemade hot chocolates, but I was surprised when they added a coffee machine to their lineup. The machine, called The Podster, is the result of yet another collaboration with Dualit. It’s compatible with Nespresso capsules, but the machine has also launched alongside a range of Rabot Estate coffee pods, which claim to deliver barista-quality brews, at home. These pods are recyclable with the rest of your household recycling and come with an easy-to-grip “Podcycler” device.
I tried the Hotel Chocolat The Podster coffee machine for two weeks, alongside a tasting selection of Rabot Estate coffees, to see if it’s a worthwhile investment as one of the best coffee machines on the market. . It sells for £149.95 and is currently only available in one colour: charcoal.
Thinking of buying The Podster? Well, here’s what I thought in my review of the Hotel Chocolat The Podster Coffee Machine. It’s a good quality machine with some thoughtful features that make it a good rival to most top pod coffee machines, but I had some drip issues and wish the design matched more exactly at the Velvetiser. .
Ideal home rating: 4 stars out of 5
Reasons to buy
- Pressure 9 bar
- Eco-responsible design
- Decent used pod capacity
- Pairs with the Velvetiser
- Thoughtful accents, with soft-touch buttons and a textured handle
Reasons to avoid
- Handle will not work under counters
- Plastic finish
- Expensive for what it does
Hotel Chocolat Le Podster
Buy The Podster direct from Hotel Chocolat, £149.95
Unboxing the Podster
The Hôtel Chocolat Le Podster is a relatively light machine. Its heaviest design feature is the handle, which is sturdy and echoes the handle of the Velvetiser, also designed by Dualit. Hotel Chocolat sent me a tasting assortment of Rabot Estate coffee pods, from their classic ‘The One’ to the sweet ‘Cashmere’ and my favourite, the bright and fruity ‘Oh, Hello’, to try with the machine. . Included with every Podster is a “Podcycler”, which is designed to make Rabot Estate aluminum pods recyclable.
It’s slim and deep enough, with the perfect dimensions for smaller kitchens that don’t have the space for a bulkier machine.
Assembly instructions were minimal, but the machine clicks together intuitively. It has a fluted plastic water container that raises it slightly, and the same plastic is on the used pod container. I like that it’s transparent, making it easy to see when you need to empty your machine or refill water.
There is an on/off switch on the side of the Podster, as well as two drink sizes to choose from on the front of the machine. You can hold them down to adjust the length of your desired coffee, and that’s it for the controls. It couldn’t be simpler.
Hotel Chocolat launched three cups alongside the new coffee machine, called Hug, Chat and Spark. I really enjoyed these cups, which cost more but really complete the look if you plan to use with a Velvetiser which has large cups perfect for a serving of hot chocolate. They’re the perfect size for a latte and have tactile designs that really complete the drinking experience.
Use of Hotel Chocolat Le Podster
To use The Podster, simply use the sturdy side handle to open the etched slot at the top of the machine and drop in your pod. Pulling the lever down, which is a solid and satisfying motion, locks the pod in place. Then all you have to do is choose between an espresso or a long coffee. The warm-up time was around 15 seconds, which wasn’t the fastest of the pod coffee machines I’ve reviewed. The buttons are both soft to the touch, with a flashing light that lights up when the machine is ready to dispense coffee.
I chose to make a lungo first and noticed a little water dripping from the dispenser before the machine started brewing. It was a little disappointing, but it was followed by a two second pre-shot, perfect for developing the flavor of the coffee before it started to extract. As expected, my coffee was warm and rich, with a thin layer of cream at the top of the drink. I found the coffee to be much less strong at the end of the shot, which suggested to me that the pods are better suited for espresso, but I still enjoyed the taste and texture of my house blend” The One”.
Make an espresso
Espresso largely follows the same process, but I noticed a little water still dripping into my glass before I pulled the shot. I found the intensity to be much stronger, but the flavor was still great and the cream layer was much thicker. When I positioned the machine under my kitchen cabinets, where I test appliances for long periods of time, I found that the lever would not lift fully without touching the underside of the cabinets. I had to remove it to add a pod, which hampered my daily use.
After my espresso finished brewing, more drops fell directly into the drip tray under the dispenser. This meant that I had to empty it regularly, but it didn’t last more than ten seconds.
Using the Podster with the Velvetiser
The Velvetiser is designed for making hot chocolate (that’s what I tested it in my Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser review), but when it comes to making a latte, it creates a thick foam that isn’t too much. rigid and has a lot of body. It was perfect for making consistently creamy coffee, and the matching handle looks the part when the machines are side by side. If you already own the Velvetiser in the Charcoal shade, you’re in luck. The podster only comes in this color, which pairs with a Charcoal Velvetiser. I have the white one, which doesn’t look so compatible when sitting side by side in the kitchen. This duo is perfect for making lattes at home, or even the occasional mocha. If (or when) Hotel Chocolat releases The Podster in more colors, I could see them being quite the pair.
While the Velvetiser is all about smooth lines and metal exteriors, the Podster is relatively plastic and much more streamlined. The only design element that ties them together is a nice textured handle. However, it would have been nice to see a little more continuity between the two products in the feel of the user experience.
Using the Podcycler
The Podcycler is included with every Hotel Chocolat machine, and it’s an innovation I’ve seen from Dualit in the past. The concept is simple but involves a little extra work. The advantage? You can stack your used coffee pods and put them in household recycling.
To use the Podcycler, I placed the used pods rim side down on the bottom of the contraption, then pressed down using the top half. This pushes the pod upside down, ejecting used coffee grounds and leaving you with an empty aluminum shell. Rinse well and stack used pods together for household recycling.
Is it as sustainable as using a coffee bean machine? No. However, it’s a step in the right direction compared to the legions of plastic pods on the market that claim to be recyclable but require you to take them to poorly located recycling centers to get the job done.
Should you buy Hotel Chocolat The Podster?
While I was a bit disappointed with the look, I still think The Podster is a decent coffee machine. On the one hand, it’s backed by a quality Dualit design, and it also boasts an impressive nine bar pressure which worked perfectly with the selection of Rabot Estate coffee pod blends. I really liked this flavorful coffee and I also liked using the Velvetiser instead of a milk frother. However, I wanted the Podster and Velvetiser to have a more compatible design profile to look like a complete set on the kitchen counter, and drips were an issue that detracted from the quality feel of the machine.
Price-wise, the £149.95 cost is actually quite reasonable. The Velvetiser sells for £110, which is well above the average price of the best milk frothers, so I was expecting a more expensive coffee machine from Hotel Chocolat. The Podster is priced similar to the Lavazza A Modo Mio Deséa, and much cheaper than the Grind Pod coffee machine, which has a lever-like design. It’s a decent value machine, especially for the included 9 bar of pressure.
About this review and the author
Millie Fender is a small appliances editor at Ideal home. She reviews everything from coffee machines to air fryers in her own kitchen, which means these tests were done under the same conditions you’ll be using the machine.
The Podster was kindly sent to Millie by Hotel Chocolat, and she tested it for two weeks before writing her review. This gave him the chance to test all of its functions as well as clean up and verify any troubleshooting. While she prefers a frothy latte or an iced cappuccino, her partner never consumes less than three americanos, which is why Hotel Chocolat The Podster has been thoroughly tested.