Lavazza has a range of pod espresso machines. The Jolie is one of its smallest and simplest. Read on to find out if it's the one for you.
The Jolie's design
Lavazza's espresso machines are among the most attractive on the market, but the Jolie has a particular exuberant flair.
Its ribbed black plastic body is reminiscent of an old Citroen 2CV Truckette, the front plate comes in three different colour options – black, white, and red – and there's a shiny chrome wrap-around lever that you pull down to engage the pod, giving you a touch of barista-style interaction that makes creating a pod coffee feel a mite more authentic.
At the back, there's a transparent, cylindrical 600ml water tank.
Altogether, it's a lovely piece of kit.
Be warned though, it's small. At only 33cm deep, 13cm wide and 21cm high, the Jolie is perfect for a small household, a room in a B&B or a house-share, or any place where space is at a premium. If you want a pod coffee appliance that can handle multiple users in quick succession, you'll probably need a larger machine.
In the box
In the box, you get the machine with a 75cm power cable and plug, a quick start guide, a warranty, a manual and a tester box of nine Lavazza coffee pods: six roasted (two Qualita Rossa, two Lungo Dolce, two Delizioso), one decaffeinated (Dek Cremoso) and two of the organic coffee (¡Tierra! Bio).
The water tank is removable and it has a lift-off lid, so you can fill the tank from the tap or in place. There's a handy maximum limit guide on the side, so you don't overfill.
The drip tray is also removable, so you have the option of an 8cm espresso cup height or a 11cm 250ml cup height if you're looking to dispense into a larger mug to add milk after the coffee.
The Jolie has a single button on the top of the machine. Press it to turn on the appliance, press it again to start dispensing the coffee, and press it once more to stop the dispense. There's no off button, so you may find you need to turn the machine off at the plug point, although it will eventually switch off automatically.
You'll need to clean the machine before you make your first coffee. It's a simple process. Fill the tank to max, plug in the machine, and press the button. When it has heated for 35 seconds, press the button again, and let 500ml of water run through the machine into a cup –you'll probably need to empty the cup once halfway through. When you reach 500ml, press the button again to stop it.
As for noise, there's a mild hum while it's working and a bit of vibration, but nothing remarkable for a machine of this type.
After the pre-clean, you're good to go.
Using the Jolie
To make a coffee, lift the chrome lever and pop a pod into the slot that opens at the top front of the machine. Then pull the lever back down to engage the pod, put a cup underneath the dispensing spout, and press the button once more.
When you've dispensed the amount of coffee you want, press the button a third time to stop it.
As the Jolie has no pre-sets for dispensing, you need to experiment to determine how much water you want to use. You also can't walk away while the coffee is dispensing because it won't stop by itself.
To make another cup, you simply lift the lever, which will cause the used pod to drop into the spent pod drawer behind the drip tray, then load a new pod. Be careful here; don't push the new pod into the slot with your finger as you can accidentally push it straight through into the pod drawer.
The drawer fits about five spent pods so, again, you'll need to look elsewhere if you want a machine that's at its best in constant use.
We tried the decaffeinated Dek Cremoso first, and the result was tremendous. A dark coffee body with a thick crema on top, it had a perfect Guinness presentation and the smell was lovely.The taste was rich, intense, sparked every part of your tongue, and the cup residue was impressive. All in all, it was remarkable for a decaf and excellent for a pod coffee.
Next, we tried the Lungo Dolce, and noticed the smell of flowers and dried fruit. Again, the result was excellent: dark, great crema, and a coffee shock to the mouth.
We think it's possible that such an intense coffee shot is produced by the Jolie punching an array of holes into a coffee pod, unlike some other pod machines that only punch one hole. Multiple needles of water into the pod seem to deliver a richer and more intense brew, as the hot water hits the dry ground coffee at different points simultaneously.
As we tried more of the pods, we continued to be impressed by their quality. The Jolie, in combination with Lavazza pods, makes some of the best pod coffee we've tested.
The real bonus of the Jolie and the Lavazza pod system are the brand's "eco-caps".
These pods are industrially compostable. In the UK, you can put them in your council recycling food waste bin, although not your own garden waste compost bin. For anyone with concerns about the environmental impact of a pod coffee system, this is an extraordinary boon, and gets away from ordering recycling bags and sending spent pods back via courier delivery.
Lavazza makes seven types of coffee pod. For ground roasted espresso coffee, there's Qualita Rossa, Intenso, Passionale, Delizioso, and Lungo Dolce. As mentioned above, there's also a decaffeinated coffee, Dek Cremoso, and an organic coffee called ¡Tierra! Bio.
However, if you are looking for a pod system that will recreate your favourite coffee-shop syrup coffee at the touch of a button, you'd probably enjoy a Nescafe Dolce Gusto machine more.
Price and availability
If you want the Jolie, or another one of Lavazza's pod machines, there's another option beyond buying one at full price. Lavazza has a subscription deal: sign up to a capsule delivery subscription service and you can get one of its machines for £1 (or the Voicy for £50), netting you a saving of £100-£200, depending on which machine you choose. The deal is available intermittently. It's on at the time of writing. You can find out more on the Lavazza site.
We tested the Jolie in white, but it also comes in red and black. The Jolie is widely available for about £95. It's the brand's second most budget-friendly option, after the Tiny, which is around £50.
If you have a larger budget, the Jolie & Milk has an automatic dispense for either an espresso or lungo measure, plus a handy milk frother for cappuccinos. It's available for £169.
We've also tested and reviewed the larger-volume Idola and the Desea, which automatically makes cappuccinos, lattes and more. There's also the smart Voicy, which has an inbuilt Alexa speaker.
The Lavazza Jolie is a great little coffee maker that hits the sweet spot between the ease of a pod system and an excellent espresso.
Okay, Lavazza doesn't make almond vanilla latte pods or offer a hot chocolate range, but if you are a pure coffee head, you're a small household, and you don’t have the time to fuss with loading and tamping a portafilter, you can’t go too far wrong with the Jolie. And the recyclable nature of the pods makes this a convenient and more environmentally friendly machine.
It’s a winner in our book.
If you'd like more coffee machine options, have a look at our round-up of the best coffee machines we've tested.