When it comes to capsule coffee, everybody has heard of Nespresso, quite a few people know Lavazza, but next to nobody knows Map Coffee. Which is a shame, because their Bella machine produces some great caffeine hits, as we’ve discovered over the past few weeks.

Unlike the Lattissima+ from DeLonghi, the Bella machine doesn’t include a milk frothing mechanism in the main unit, instead relying on a separate milk frother for cappuccino drinkers. This means that the Bella is a more compact unit than Nespresso’s premium Lattissima+, although it also means you’ll need two power points to make yourself a cafe latte.

From a design perspective, the Bella is nice to look at – the bright red colouring of our review unit certainly kept my wife happy. But while it looks great, the Bella lacks the seamless ingenuity of the DeLonghi machine we tested earlier.

For example, the Map Coffee machine uses a pod system from Caffitaly, which are slightly larger than the Nespresso capsules and less elegant – after they are discharged, they tend to leak liquid into the catchment tray, which quickly morphs into something less than pleasant if not cleaned out regularly. It also makes the emptying of the pods into a bin a potentially messy affair. Comparatively, the Lattissima+ had no such leaking, with the Nespresso pods all self contained and easy to empty in the bin with no mess whatsoever.

Out of about 30 odd coffees I’ve brewed using the Bella machine, maybe two have pushed out coffee granules into the cup, leaving a slightly burnt flavour in my mouth. That could potentially be put down to user error – I’m man enough to admit it – but either way it was hardly the best experience. Still 90 percent of the time, the coffee was good.

Also frustrating is the fact that the plastic parts of the machine can’t be placed in the dishwasher, instead needing to be hand washed – and regularly, given the fact the pods leak and turn to goo.

Yet for all those weaknesses in comparison to the DeLonghi machine, I found I enjoyed the coffee more using the Bella. Whether that’s from the quality of the beans in the pod or the fact that the milk was frothed independently and poured into my cup like a barista would (instead of being pushed into the glass before the coffee like the Lattissima+), I can’t be certain.

Given that the Bella is a $299 machine – which currently includes a free milk frother – it’s a very attractive option for convenient coffee. Maybe not quite as convenient as a Nespresso machine, but an exceptionally tasty option nonetheless.

Like: Stylish design, great coffee 90 per cent of the time
Dislike: Needs to be hand washed regularly, pods leak liquid, occasional coffee granules in cup.

Price: $299 (including free milk frother)
Web: Map Coffee