Temperatures Dropping in Hell

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Une femme has been a self-proclaimed Coffee Snob™ since discovering the world of fresh roasted beans at the tender young age of 17. For decades now, I’ve been a purist when it comes to buying whole beans, grinding myself, brewing either in a drip machine with a gold filter or in a French Press, or hauling out the espresso machine when the mood strikes. Even when I was broke, I bought the best beans I could afford and performed my grinding/brewing rituals daily.

But technology has overtaken me, and the siren’s call to simplify, simplify, simplify is just too strong to resist. I’m tired of grinding, measuring, cleaning up the grounds that somehow always seem to scatter all over the countertops, of washing and prepping my coffeemaker the night before so I don’t have to at 5:30 in the morning, or having to clean out the French press (scooping the wet grounds into the trash, washing the pot) each time I use it. But I’m not tired of good coffee.

I’m seriously considering purchasing a Nespresso. Despite the fact that other coffee snobs I know have happily succumbed to Nespressism, I’ve resisted for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that I am known in my family as The Coffee Whisperer. I can coax a pretty good to great pot of coffee out of just about any machine and beans, and derive a great deal of satisfaction from this talent (one of my few). Going auto feels like cheating somehow. That, my lingering knee-jerk avoidance of Nestlé products (a residual from the 1980’s boycott due to the baby formula travesty), and the fact that with these machines you’re locked into buying the Nespresso coffee capsules has kept me from exploring this option. But yesterday, I got a taste, thanks to the Nespresso lady at Bloomingdales, and I’m willing to be converted. Bloomie’s is offering special pricing right now, plus these machines will be discounted another 10% during the Friends and Family sale starting later this week, so I think I’m going to take the plunge.
I’ve been hunting down reviews online and they seem to be mostly positive. Anyone reading have any experience (positive or negative) with these machines?
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  1. November 6, 2007 / 8:46 am


    I have had a Nespresso machine (Magimix, manual) for about 6 years. It is black with steel/ chrome. The same machine has stayed all these years, which says something about its sturdiness. It is used at least 15-20 times a month usually to make 2-4 cups at a time.

    Besides two espresso cups and saucers, the machine came with a lovely wooden box with the “8 Grands Crus of Nespresso” – Decaffeinato, volluto, cosi, livanto, capriccio, roma, arpeggio and ristretto. The stick-on advises novices – which you won’t need – on what cru works when and in what form, so ristretto makes a great after-dinner espresso versus livanto or cosi may be had in the morning in a cappuccino.

    Now experientially I think all of them are better suited to espressos rather than the proclaimed cappuccinos. The latter is made using the steamer which is simple and easy to use.I am not sure however I have perfected the art of steaming milk… May need practice.

    If you live in a hard water area, you may have to clean the machine’s water using areas often. It was not an issue, when I lived in Scotland where water is so soft that there is ZERO scaling in kettles. But in London, it is a different story, and here the shower walls need daily cleaning of scales. You can imagine how the coffee machine needs care.

    The capsules of the coffees are to be ordered with Nespresso Club which ships. I order them on-line. Here they ship in 5 sleeves of 10 capsules each minimum. Within a sleeve, one kind of coffee but the 5 sleeves can be different.

    From time to time, they have special blends which they will mail or email you about. They also sell accessories such as for cleaning the machine, and serving stuff and so on.

    Now of course, your post suggests you have settled on Nespresso. There are others, in the UK. Tassimo with Kenco coffee, for instance.

    I am happy with it, given that the nearest café from my house is a 25 minute walk. But even the strongest in the box, Ristretto (10 compared to decaffeinato being 3), is somewhat restrained in its strength.

    Hope this is useful.

  2. Joanne Molina-SCS
    November 6, 2007 / 5:36 am

    Hello! You know, Alice Rawsthorn did a great essay on the Nespresso phenomenon in last Sunday’s NYT. I think it was the magazine…bon chance!

  3. November 6, 2007 / 1:49 pm

    joanne, thanks, just read it. While I do love the beauty and design of really nice traditional expresso machines, the convenience is starting to be more important to me. In that article and also in some comments in other reviews people have mentioned the waste involved with the aluminum capsules, but the saleswomen speficially mentioned that they were 100% recycleable, so I’m going to look into that some more.

    shefaly, thanks for all of the info! From what I’ve read, the strongest of the coffees are the best (the one I tasted was the ristretto, I believe) and I’d primarily be using for expresso’s and lungo’s. (Perhaps the occasional cap, am considering the separate milk steaming appliance.)

  4. November 6, 2007 / 8:40 pm

    If you’re not already settled on Nespresso, there are espresso machines on the market which will take both pods and fresh-ground. When our old machine broke several months back, we picked up one of those — for weekdays, we use pods (about 5 minutes to make one double and one single cappucino), and on weekends we grind fresh beans (about 15 minutes).

  5. Momghee
    November 7, 2007 / 3:21 am

    We bought a Nespresso machine after being served it regularly by various friends during a trip to France. We really like it, and enjoy always having fresh coffee. We still have an old Italian screw together machine for back up!

  6. dinazad
    November 7, 2007 / 10:33 am

    I drink most of my daily coffee at work (where there’s a Nespresso machine) or while resting at a café during my weekend shopping spree. I do have a Nespresso machine at home as well – it was a gift from a friend who didn’t want it anymore. You see, if you have a coffe-drinking family and thus need a lot of capsules, the whole coffee experience can be rather expensive, as the capsules are not exactly cheap. If you live alone, or drink only your breakfast or weekend coffee at home, the price doesn’t make that much of a difference.

    Nespressos, it seems, were first marketed as the ideal machines for holiday homes. Unlike your usual machines, they didn’t produce disgusting coffee after a few weeks or months of disuse. That’s their great asset – the coffee is always good, whether you use your machine once a month or every day.

    Whether you buy a Nespresso or some other brand of capsule machine would also, I think, depend on where you live and what brand of capsules (and machines) are easiest to get there. Unfortunately the capsule systems aren’t interchangeable! There are systems which have two separate capsule holders and sell tea capsules as well as coffee capsules. Personally, I prefer to “hand-brew” my tea, since I’m much pickier about tea than about coffee.

    Can’t say anything about the steamer – I drink my coffee black. Ristretto is my favourite capsule for espresso (or a thimbleful of ristretto) , Roma and Cosi are great all-round capsules which make good espresso as well as a tasty weaker brew. The decaff varieties are quite good as well, especially the Decaffeinato Lungo.

    By the way – when looking at the cost factor, don’t forget additional costs – cleaner, and espresso cups. With the special edition blends you are often offered lovely sets of two or four cups or glasses with a design blending in with the color of the ads (and often capsules) for that particular blend. And let me tell you, these are often hard to resist! I caved in at last year’s lovely glasses (perfect for coffee mousse or such) and this year’s gorgeous Indian design…..

  7. November 9, 2007 / 3:00 pm

    My husband did research and read voraciously over at http://www.coffeegeek.com/ and finally settled on the expensive-but-worth-it Saeco Vienna deluxe. Also larger than the one you showed but it makes great coffee and it is automatic for the espresso at least.

  8. November 9, 2007 / 5:24 pm

    The deed is done. I picked up the Nespresso machine yesterday, and have been enjoying lovely Lungo’s and an exquisite Cappucino. So far, so good!

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