The Bosch Tassimo Vivy is one of the leading pod machines on the market. It is a small, lightweight affair that falls somewhere in the low-middle price range for coffee pod machines.
Affordability is a big part of its appeal, but does the little Vivy offer you decent bang for your buck? Or are you better served splashing out on something a bit more sophisticated? We recently took one of the units for a spin at The Coffee Bazaar HQ and have decided to give the machine an in-depth review.
The Tassimo Vivy is a very simple pod machine with no unnecessary bells and whistles. Attractive pricing, compact dimensions and the ease of use are a big part of its appeal. But the Vivy is also a strong performer and makes very good coffee at the push of a button. It is perfect for anyone that wants to take a very hands off approach to their java habit.
The adjustable cup drip tray makes it easy to fit any cup under the nozzle which we appreciated, although lack of clear instructions do make it difficult to add more hot water to lengthen drinks made by the machine’s Intellibrew artificial intelligence system.
It runs quietly, even if it is not the fastest machine we have taken for a spin. It was easy to setup and clean and the choice of different pods available to use with it means it offers good variety too. Yes, there are far more sophisticated machines on the market – but the Vivy is a heavyweight in its price range and does the simple things well.
Design and Features
The Tassimo Vivy T12 is a single-serve pod machine – capable of making one drink at a time from one of Tassimo’s trademarked T-Disc pods. The T-Disc pods offer a 35-strong selection of drinks encompassing coffees, teas and hot chocolate. The machine is highly compact, measuring just 16.9 x 29.8 x 24.9 cm. and comes with a 0.7 litre water tank which slots into its side.
The Vivy is made of plastic and has a fairly neutral design. It is not the most eye catching machine on the market and it does look and feel a little cheap – but it is by no means ugly. It is available in 4 different colours – Black (model no. TAS1402GB), White (model no. TAS1407GB), Red (model no. TAS1403GB) and Pink (model no. TAS1401GB).
The cup stand and drip tray can be moved up or down – and even removed completely to fit a tall latte glass under the nozzle. The pods are inserted into the top of the machine above the exit spout face-down. One particularly clever feature of this machine is that the Vivy will automatically read the barcode on the pod and make the coffee accordingly at the press of a single button. This is part of Tassimo’s trademark “Intellibrew” technology. The upside is that the technology is rather good – the ratio of water/froth/coffee in every drink was generally spot on. However, you can’t tweak or play around with this so you have almost no control over the process. The 1,300-watt machine can crank out around 3.3 bars of pressure – which helps add a nice crema to the espresso.
Performance and summary
The Vivy’s size means it will fit in almost any free nook or cranny, but the small size means a small water tank – making it is best for households with just a couple of coffee drinkers – otherwise refills will be needed every five mins. Another drawback to the small size is that there is no collecting bin for the used pods, so each cartridge must be recycled separately after every use. It may be dinky, but that does mean there is no space for any extra features like cup warmers or pod caddies, which some people might appreciate.
But how does it handle? The Vivy really does offer coffee at the push of a button and we found it was on the whole very instinctive to use. The machine comes with a set of picture instructions that look like a comic-strip, but we found these to be not particularly clear. However – there are so few moving parts here that knowing what to do is relatively easy.
The coffee it produces is good pod fair – nothing to excite a purist, but enough to more than satisfy the casual drinker. The machine runs quietly and takes just 15 seconds to preheat the water for each drink – which is not too shabby at all. The pouring times are a little slower and we did find ourselves willing the machine on at times when we were really just desperate for a cuppa.
We found the lack of clear instructions was a major hindrance when trying to figure out how to add extra water to your drink, which was driving us nuts until we went looking for answers online. As mentioned above – you cannot programme the machine to make drinks as long or short as you would like which is a pain. Sure, the “Intellibrew” is great – but sometimes you just want a drink that fits perfectly in your favourite mug. With the included instructions unhelpful, we looked online and found that the answer is to wait until the flow is coming to an end, when the light next to the serving button starts flashing – and then hold the button down for as long as you would like it to keep adding water.
Tassimo also sells a separate disk for the machine which lets you use it to dispense hot water on its own when you simply want to make tea from a bag or dissolve a stock cube. However, this attachment does not come particularly cheap, so you are probably best off just buying a nice kettle instead.
Making a cappuccino is also a bit of a faff with the T-Disks as it requires you to run the machine twice with two separate pods – one for the coffee and one for the frothy milk. I know this is a minor gripe – and running two pods is still a lot simpler than making a cappuccino from scratch – but it did feel like an extra complication.
The machine comes apart easily for swift cleaning and maintenance and also comes with a plastic “blanking disk” that fits in the pod holder and contains a barcode which tells the machine how to clean and descale itself – a really useful feature! This disk stows away nicely in the bottom right of the machine so is easy to find and difficult to lose, which is a welcome touch as it seems like exactly the sort of accessory that will go missing after about two days.
4 Stars out of 5