I will answer this question for you very soon.
For the first time in my life, the pros of actually writing for something like a food blog manifested in some nice PR people offering me the opportunity to test the Nespresso Latissima machine at home for a couple of weeks. As I taste and research coffee for a living (it’s true!), I have been curious about these machines for a while. The race-car-sleek machines Nespresso is making are designed to seduce the gadget-happy. I’ve seen their flagship store on Champs Elysees, and the line halfway around the block to get hold of the capsules.
Before I even opened the package that arrived at my door, I tried to find out how much the coffee costs. And yes, you can only use the Nespresso produced capsules, and no, I could not for my bare life figure out the price. However, once the machine arrived, everything was pretty much plug and play – it comes with a start-up package of 16 capsules, so you have some time to figure out how to get more. No grinding involved, no spill and no complicated mounting of spouts and tuning of volumes.
The machine promises espressos of 40ml, so the first thing I wanted to see was if it is consistent. It is fairly consistent, although some shots were around 44-46ml. More consistent than most home baristas? Yes, definitely. In addition to be a no brainer to set up, the procedure for making coffee is pretty much “press and out comes the coffee”. It is practically spill-free – no grounds anywhere, no coffee dripping. It heats super fast – it took the machine only 55 seconds to heat up – and the temperature seems stable. The espressos I brewed were brewing in 12 – 17 seconds, with a temperature of 63-67C. It only uses 5.5 – 6 grams of coffee for producing 40ml of espresso, so you get a weak and under extracted espresso shot due to the low coffee to water ratio. The milk function is automatic, but the milk turns out bubbly compared to many other home machines I’ve tried – acceptable, but not great.
So do foodies want this for Christmas? It is obvious that it’s a clean and easy machine to operate. It is fairly consistent. However, the coffee in itself is worth another paragraph of discussion – it is not fresh. It is not even fresh ground. It is in fact, roasted and ground somewhere very far away and shipped here (after the green coffee was shipped from origin to the roasting plant). It is not special, although the coffee in itself too is consistent. High volume coffee like this is naturally a very different business than what I come from, and I am fine with that. It is when coffee is packaged and sold as something special – or “Grand Cru” like Nespresso calls it – that it becomes a problem. The price per cup has very little to do with what’s in the cup, it is mostly about what is around the cup. Selling machines cheap and generic coffee camouflaged as Grand Crus expensive, will make Nespresso money in the long run. It’s just that it’s not about the coffee.
However, if you don’t care so much about the flavour and want an easy way to brew consistently fine espresso, I would definitely want this for Christmas. And it was fun playing around with it, although quite honestly, the flavours (and I tasted all 16 of them) gave me goose bumps.
Retail price: $ 399
Price per cup: approx. $0.55-0.65
[Editor found the price on Wikileaks]