Nespresso Coffee Machines

The Nespresso Coffee Machines have been very popular in Europe for some time and for good reason: Nespresso machines make quality espresso with very little fuss.

This is the first of the single serve espresso options that we'll be reviewing here at One Cup Coffee Source, and I must say that the whole team is very excited. Espresso is kind of the holy grail when it comes to coffee, so we're looking forward to seeing which of the major players gives you the best espresso.

Single serve espresso is a rather crowded field. Besides Nespresso, the other major brewers out there are by Illy, Lavazza, CBTL (Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf), and as of Fall 2012, Starbucks. Our goal is to narrow these options down to one or two that are worthy of our kitchen counters.

If you're looking more for a coffee maker than an espresso maker, let me urge you to start with my overview article on choosing the Best Single Serve Coffee Maker for You.

OK, with that bit of introduction, let's hit the highlights of the Nespresso Coffee Machines.

Nespresso Capsules

The driving force behind every Nespresso coffee machine is the proprietary capsules it uses. Each capsule is made of aluminum (recyclable) and color coded for ease of use. When you insert a capsule, the machine perforates the seal and then forces hot water through the cup to produce a classic espresso.

There are currently 16 different coffee and espresso options that Nespresso divides into the following categories:

  • Espressos — Just what it sounds like: classic espresso
  • Lungos — A long draw of espresso, or "double shot"
  • Pure Origine — Sourced from individual regions around the world
  • Decaffeinatos — Decaf

The quality of the coffee in these capsules is very good. The only real draw back is that Nespresso uses less coffee grounds per capsule than any of the other major players in the single serve espresso world. The end result is that Nespresso coffee tends to be slightly more bitter due to over-extraction.

For those not familiar with coffee extraction, if you try to "wring" to much coffee out of the grounds, you end up with bitter flavors coming out at the very end. Nespresso just starts to get into this area of over-extraction. The flavor is still very good, but you'll notice that espressos by Illy, Lavazza, and CBTL are just a bit smoother on the palate. With very few exceptions, Nespresso capsules must be purchased from the Nespresso website.

Nespresso Style

Nespresso's style is unsurpassed in the one cup coffee world. All of their machines have a sleek elegance that looks great in any kitchen. Some people won't care about this, but for others, style can be a decisive factor.

Nespresso Espresso Machines

The Essenza is the base model available from Nespresso. It has an internal tank that holds 28 ounces of water. This will allow you to make 20 espressos (or 8 lungos) before refilling. With the Essenza, used capsules go into a internal bin that holds up to 14 used capsules. As with all the Nespresso machines, the Essenza has a 19 bar pressure pump. This model comes in black or titanium gray and retails for $149 ($199 when bundled with the Aeroccino milk frother). In-depth review of the Nespresso Essenza

The Pixie is the smallest of the Nespresso brewers. It comes equipped with a 24 ounce water reservoir and an internal bin capable of holding 10 used capsules. It uses a 19 bar pressure pump and for some reason produces espresso slightly more quickly than the other models. This Pixie is great if counter space is at a premium. This machine comes in 8 different colors and retails for $179 ($229 with the milk frother).

The Nespresso CitiZ is the most stylish of the Nespresso coffee machines and comes in 5 colors. The CitiZ has a 34 ounce water reservoir and an internal bin that can hold up to 10 used capsules. The CitiZ also has the option to add a Nespresso milk frother onto the machine, allowing for great cappuccinos. A 19 bar pressure pump and a cool, retro style make the CitiZ a great option for those who want their espresso maker to make a statement. The CitiZ retail price is $249 ($299 with the milk frother).

Delonghi and Nespresso partnered to produce the Lattissima, which uses the same 19 bar pressure pump that comes with all Nespresso coffee machines. The Lattissima differs from the other models in that it is truly one-touch, even for cappuccinos. With the other machines, you pull your espresso, and then you add foamed milk by hand. The Lattissima incorporates a milk container into the machine itself (with a wonderful self cleaning function) and adds steam and foamed milk automatically according to your preset preferences. The Lattissima is ideal for entertaining with its 41 ounce water reservoir and an internal bin that can hold up to 12 used capsules. There are two upgrade to the Lattissima. The Lattissima Chrome incorporates a cup warmer plate, and the Lattissima Premium includes the warmer plate, a larger internal bin, and more customizable options. The base Lattissima retails for $399, the Chrome is $499, and the Premium is $599.

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