Illy Easy coffee pod machine review

There’s lots to love about a machine that delivers Italian coffee in the comfort of your own kitchen – but there are a few niggles with the Illy Easy too.

Recommended
Competitive
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Back in 1935, Francesco Illy invented the illetta, considered by many to be the blueprint for the modern espresso machine, and his great-grandson Andrea Illy continues to head the company founded 90 years ago. So, does this product showcase all those decades of Italian expertise?

It falls in the middle of the price range for the machines we tested and comes in three colours, red, white and black. We tested the tomato-red one and think the colour added to the fun. That, and the perky coffee it produced, screamed ‘Italy’ as convincingly as a Vespa-riding Gina Lollobrigida. 

The machine takes soft-shelled Illy E.S.E. capsules that are compostable, although they come in a foil sachet. They aren’t widely available from supermarkets so you may need to buy or set up a subscription at illy.com. 

Illy Easy coffee pod machine shot in a kitchen making an espresso
The red Illy Easy coffee pod machine makes a super stylish change from black
Recommended

Illy Easy Coffee Machine

Competitive

Espresso lovers will be living la dolce vita with this Italian gadget. It’s cute, clever and makes a great little coffee. But, for anyone else, it may fall short. You’ll need a separate milk frother to make hot milk or foam, and controlling the temperature and size of the drink isn’t intuitive. 

After testing it over a few days, though, we kept going back to it for the great tasting coffee. The smooth, deep espresso almost made us forgive the machine’s other shortcomings. 

Design

Ease of use

Performance

Value


Who’s this for?

This is a great-looking gadget for people who love that classic European espresso – a short, strong, hot pick-me-up that’s big on flavour rather than size. You can, of course, froth your milk separately and transform that espresso shot into a delicious cappuccino or latte but that’s not something this machine can do on its own.

Our likes and dislikes

  • We love its funky, chunky looks
  • It feels pretty indestructible
  • It makes a mean Italian espresso
  • The Illy E.S.E. pods provide a lovely smooth flavour
  • Instruction booklet tells you very little
  • The pod compartment handle is hard to operate
  • The E.S.E. pods aren’t widely available
  • It’s slow to heat up and slow to pour

Expect to pay

This machine comes with an RRP of £115. It’s not widely available and you’re most likely to buy it from the illy online store at www.illy.com.

Illy Easy Coffee Machine Review method

How we test

Tested by coffee lovers who enjoy both espressos and longer milky coffees, we were interested to see how drinks from this machine compared with coffee made by other pod machines. 

But it wasn’t all about the end results. The machine was put through its paces in both the Saga lab and at home. Using it over several days, we tested it for design, performance, ease of use and value for money. 

From taking the machine out of its box to enjoying the finished drink, we set out to see how well it performed at every stage. We looked at everything from how easy it was to insert the pods to how long it took to pour a cup. 

We compared it to others on the market using a range of different measures, as well as getting a feel for how everyday coffee drinkers will enjoy it. 

Illy Easy Coffee Machine Design

Retro looks stole our heart

Made primarily out of cheery tomato-red plastic with a sturdy, pod handle and chrome cup stand, the Illy Easy is light to move yet feels strong and fairly indestructible.  

It comes in four colours and has a sleek elongated design that will add a touch of fun to any kitchen worktop.  

We loved the overall look but did have quibbles with some aspects of the design. 

Using the long, plastic pod handle, which you have to lift and then push down to insert the coffee pods, is a two-handed job. It takes a surprising bit of effort to push it into place and you have to brace a little to absorb force when you lift it back up. 

This was something also noted by our testing unit.  

“The pressure needed to close the lever was way more than any of the other machines we’ve tested – and could definitely be a struggle for some,” says our product tester, Philip Sowels.  

“I’m guessing this is down to the design of the pod and creating a tight enough seal to brew under pressure.” 

It has two places to rest your cup. The bottom one is the chrome cover of the drip tray and the higher one is a flip-down plastic stand. They are the perfect size for a small espresso cup but on the small side for a normal mug, and a travel cup won’t fit at all. 

There are no fiddly little bits on this machine, which will please many. It has just two buttons for making coffee and the capsule holder, drip tray and cup stand detach as one unit. Others, though, familiar with the bells and whistles on other machines, may find the simple design a little unsophisticated. 

Illy Easy Coffee Machine Ease of use

Kind of straightforward to use…

Like many things to do with this machine, we had really mixed feelings about how straightforward it is to use. 

The Illy Easy has only three buttons – on/off, espresso and long coffee (which is a slightly bigger espresso) – so that made it a cinch to get started and pour our first coffee. 

But the amount of coffee it produced on either setting was pretty tiny and we were left scratching our heads as to how to make it more than a couple of gulps. 

Online tutorials came to our rescue – sort of. We followed the instructions to hold down the espresso or long coffee button to keep the coffee pouring until we’d got the amount we wanted. However, an automatic stop still seemed to kick in when there was only a little more coffee in the cup. 

Espresso purists will say the quantity is exactly how it should be. And this method did produce a near perfect little coffee, but those who like a longer drink may be disappointed. 

For milky coffee fans, if you have your own frother at home, you can whizz up your milk and add it to the espresso shot for a delicious cappuccino. 

The instruction booklet tells you about the different parts of the machine and how to descale it. For everything else, you’d need to look online. Finding the right videos or explanations for this particular Illy machine wasn’t always straightforward. 

Illy Easy Coffee Machine Performance

Best tasting espresso – official!

Again, there were things to love and hate. 

The machine takes half a minute to heat up and then another 49 seconds to pour a small coffee – one of the slowest in our trials. 

But maybe it’s a case of “good things come to those who wait”, because the Illy Easy made a superb coffee. 

It has a pressure level of 20 bar, one of the highest we tested, and it also produced the hottest coffee of those we tried out – 93°C (200°F) – at peak flow. These essential criteria were the closest to those of professional industrial machines. 

“In many ways the extraction process was a lot more akin to a traditional espresso machine with longer extraction times, pre-infusion and the hottest brew temp,” says Sowels. 

“This machine produced one of the best tasting espressos I’ve had from a pod machine with a good amount of acidity in the cup.” 

It’s also one of the quietest machines we’ve trialled. 

Illy Easy Coffee Machine Value

Reasonably priced but shame the pods aren’t

This machine is neither cheap nor expensive. At £115, it sits squarely mid-range. 

Weighing up the delicious coffee it makes alongside the machine’s shortcomings, that probably means it is priced about right. 

The coffee pods, however, are pretty expensive at £7.02 for 18 and there is no option to swap in other cheaper compatible pods. The best way to save money is to take out a pod subscription with Illy. The cheapest subscription, at £19.38 a month, will give you three packs of 18 pods and save you £1.68 compared with buying the packs individually. 

We think espresso lovers will fall for the machine and find it a price they’ll happily pay for their daily coffee fix. Others, who are less choosy about the taste of their cuppa but like a few more options from their coffee machine, may wonder what they are paying for.  

It’s hard to please everyone, so we judge the price is probably fair. 

If you love the flavour of the Illy coffee, but prefer a milk-based drink like a cappuccino, your best bet might be to buy an Illy Milk Frother, from £67. The total of both the Illy Easy with the frother would still be quite a bit less than a machine like the Nespresso CitiZ & Milk by Nespresso, which has an RRP of £239.

Featured product

Illy Easy Milk Frother

RRP: £76

Illy Easy Milk Frother

Illy Easy Coffee Machine Competition

Other mid-priced coffee pod machines

Lakeland Coffee Pod Machine

If you’re a black coffee aficionado, the Lakeland Coffee Pod Machine, which retails at £89.95, is a cheaper option than the Illy. We’d be impressed – and surprised – if its drinks were as rounded and robust as those made by the Illy Easy machine though.

Featured product

Lakeland coffee pod machine

RRP: £89.99

Lakeland coffee pod machine
Read our Lakeland Coffee Pod Machine review

Bosch Tassimo My Way 2

There are, though, machines that make a wider variety of drinks for less money than the Illy. So, if you favour a white coffee, hot chocolate or even a chai latte, you might want to consider the lower priced Bosch Tassimo My Way 2, which has an RRP of £99.99 but can be found online for £35 less than that.

Featured product

Bosch Tassimo My Way 2

RRP: £139.99

Bosch Tassimo My Way 2
Read our Tassimo by Bosch My Way 2 review

Illy Easy Coffee Machine Verdict

Delivers delicious coffee but could be easier to use

The good news is that after using the Illy Easy over a number of days, we grew to like it more rather than less.  

The downsides – mainly the slow operation, limited drinks selection and awkward pod handle – were balanced out by the smooth tasting coffee that made a great little espresso or a tasty base for a milky cappuccino, using our own frother. 

It’s a good machine for those who prize decent coffee above modernist design or whizz-bang buttons, who don’t mind being organised and ordering their pods online. 

However, if you’re someone who wants a shiny chrome gadget or a bunch of coffee options at your fingertips, you might be better with a different pod machine. The same applies if you want the ease of picking up your pods in your regular supermarket shop, as the availability of the Illy E.S.E. pods is definitely limited. 

We find ourselves a bit torn on this one. We haven’t fallen head over heels for this fun Italian export but maybe it will continue to grow on us. 

Recommended

Illy Easy Coffee Machine

Competitive

Espresso lovers will be living la dolce vita with this Italian gadget. It’s cute, clever and makes a great little coffee. But, for anyone else, it may fall short. You’ll need a separate milk frother to make hot milk or foam, and controlling the temperature and size of the drink isn’t intuitive. 

After testing it over a few days, though, we kept going back to it for the great tasting coffee. The smooth, deep espresso almost made us forgive the machine’s other shortcomings. 

Design

It looks fab but its plastic pod lever requires a bit of strength. The two coffee option buttons are also used for temperature and quantity but you can’t tell that from looking at the machine or even reading the instructions.

Ease of use

It was a doddle to make a simple espresso or longer espresso with this machine. To adjust the other settings, we had to find some online tutorials and these still left us with some questions.

Performance

It took an age to heat up and the slow drip of the coffee was maddening, but maybe that’s what helps give this coffee its good taste. The cup of coffee it produced was tiny – even on the “long coffee” option – but delicious.

Value

At £115, this isn’t an expensive machine compared to the competition. It looks good and makes a mean espresso. But it doesn’t really do much else. Some people might want more barista for their buck.


Who’s this for?

This is a great-looking gadget for people who love that classic European espresso – a short, strong, hot pick-me-up that’s big on flavour rather than size. You can, of course, froth your milk separately and transform that espresso shot into a delicious cappuccino or latte but that’s not something this machine can do on its own.

Our likes and dislikes

  • We love its funky, chunky looks
  • It feels pretty indestructible
  • It makes a mean Italian espresso
  • The Illy E.S.E. pods provide a lovely smooth flavour
  • Instruction booklet tells you very little
  • The pod compartment handle is hard to operate
  • The E.S.E. pods aren’t widely available
  • It’s slow to heat up and slow to pour

Expect to pay

This machine comes with an RRP of £115. It’s not widely available and you’re most likely to buy it from the illy online store at www.illy.com.

Illy Easy Coffee Machine Specs

Weight 3.42kg (7lb 9oz)
Water tank capacity 1l (1¾ pints)
Dimensions 28cm x 14cm x 38cm (11in x 5.5in x 15in)
Cable length 83cm (32.5in)
Adjustable coffee strength In theory you can add more water but you’ll still be getting a short coffee
Capsule compatibility Illy E.S.E. pods
Noise level 57-67dB
Drink sizes Two – espresso and lungo
Adjustable cup height Yes
Auto shut-off Yes, after 14 minutes
Mel Hunter

Written by Mel Hunter

Published:

Mel is a freelance journalist who has been writing for national publications for 20 years. She has written for The Sun, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, as well as magazines including Good Housekeeping, Prima, Red and Woman & Home.

Mel loves the variety of her work. One day she will be fighting for a reader’s consumer rights, the next interviewing a renowned author. Through her writing, she encourages others to squeeze more out of life, whether that’s making their money go further or striving for something outside their comfort zone. She loves telling the inspiring stories of those who have done just that.

A keen runner, she also has a successful sideline as a cook, cleaner and taxi service to her two children, and switches off in the company of a good book or great friends.

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