A few months ago we bought a Nespresso espresso machine, and I have been meaning to do a review now that we've gotten a hang of how to use it properly. The short version of the review is this: WE LOVE OUR NESPRESSO!
Now, for the long version:
What is it?
Nespresso (produced by Nestle) essentially makes several versions of the single-serve capsule systems that you see everywhere nowadays (from brands like Keurig, Mr. Coffee, etc.). However, Nespresso is really an espresso maker, not a coffee maker. You can add shots of water to make what is essentially an Americano, however, and you can also buy a milk frother to make lattes, macchiatos, etc.
Nespresso also uses a 19-bar pressure pump, much higher than what you would get in a $50 coffee maker from Target, so you get very good tasting coffee. To make a cup of espresso, add water to the tank (ours holds quite a bit so it's not necessary to refill it every time). It takes a few seconds for the espresso maker to warm up, and then you have the option to choose a single ("espresso") or double ("lungo") shot. The capsules are labeled as either espresso or lungo, so you will want to buy capsules based on what types of drinks you are planning to make. (See my suggestions below.) Once you decide, you just insert a capsule, push the correct button, and it takes a few seconds (30, maybe?) to dispense the espresso. The machine does sort of make a humming noise (scroll down this page and click on the video link to hear it), but it's not that loud.
The milk frother is essentially silent; I can't even tell when it starts or stops, and it is convenient for frothing or just heating milk (there are two attachments you can choose from), as well as for whipping up cold milk for chilled coffee drinks. You could easily use the frother (called the "Aeroccino") to make hot chocolate or to heat up milk for a chai latte too.
How much is it?
The systems vary in price, from around $200-350. The price increases if you want to buy a milk frother (sold as a set or separately). Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel both carry the Nespresso systems, though they may have slightly different versions and color combinations available in stores. I advise shopping around, as we found one store selling the same system for less plus offering $50 in free capsules, so it's also worth waiting for a promotion.
The capsules themselves are about 57 - 64 cents each, although they are sold in boxes of 10. Unless you live near a Nespresso store (they call them "boutiques," and they are only in New York, Boston, Chicago, Miami, California, etc.), you will have to order them online, so expect to pay about $7 in shipping on an order of 5-10 boxes. Shipping is generally very fast, even if you select the standard shipping option. Keep in mind that in making some drinks, you may use more than one capsule (to approximate a grande or venti espresso drink, you'll probably need at least two espresso capsules). However, this price is still much lower than what you'll pay at your local coffee shop.
What are my options?
I think one of the best things about Nespresso is the fun color options that they have. The Pixie (seen below) comes in bright colors like blue, green, and red:
When I was buying our Nespresso, the salesclerk told me that the Pixie is really popular with younger customers who want a more "fun" look (I could see this at home in an IKEA kitchen).
The Citiz is what we have, and it comes in chrome (actually a plastic stainless steel look alike) or gray, black, red, or white. If you are interested in the white, be sure to check it out in person because many of the whites are really more ivory or biscuit-colored. We have a white kitchen, so the silver option worked best for us. I really think it's best to see the machines in person since they are all slightly different. Some of them have metal side panels, others are plastic, and some are textured. Here is our Nespresso Citiz on our counter at home:
(Do not judge us for our apparent coffee appliance addiction!!)
The Essenza (seen below) is the cheapest and most compact option. It operates like the other machines but might not have room for a larger travel mug since the space underneath the spout is a bit limited.
You can buy a Nespresso Citiz with an attached frother (the rubber-wrapped cylinder at the back right in the picture below):
However, for the same price, you can get the frother (called an "Aeroccino") separately, which takes up less space on the counter and which allows you store it in a cabinet unless you're making a milk-based drink. See below picture for this option:
When you get your Nespresso, you will also get a selection of capsules, so go through them and as you try them, write down what kind you like (I thought I would remember but of course I forgot, so now I have to order a box of 10 and try them that way!). Honestly, though, I've never had a bad-tasting capsule, it's just that some are darker roast than others, so it's more so a matter of personal preference. Most of the capsules are available year-round on the Nespresso website, but occasionally they will have a special coffee that is only available for a limited time (and usually at a slightly higher price, of course!).
How do I make a drink?
Here is a step-by-step pictorial guide of a latte we made the other night:
Here is one "lungo" (double) shot of espresso. Looks good, huh?
Here is what the frothed milk will look like:
Pour in the milk to make the latte:
And scoop out the foam for the top:
A quite unnecessary drizzle of caramel completes the drink:
A lot of times I like to drink a lungo (double) shot just plain, or I may add an espresso (single) shot of water to dilute it a bit. For a large to-go mug, Josh makes me the following combination: one lungo capsule + one espresso capsule + one lungo shot of water + one espresso shot of water. It's pretty good!
This hasn't totally replaced our regular coffee maker. I still like to make a pot of coffee in the morning, though my husband primarily makes himself lattes instead. I still like to stop by the coffee shop sometimes when I'm out and about, but Josh has almost cut out Starbucks completely and just makes himself a Nespresso drink. So it saves us a lot of money because he usually ordered a $4-5 custom sweet drink, while I usually get a $2 Americano.
I mostly use our Nespresso to make myself decaf Americanos in the evenings, or maybe a pick-me-up drink in the afternoon, but since I don't really drink cappuccinos or lattes, I don't bother with the Aeroccino very often.
Clean up is very easy and takes only a few seconds (basically rinsing out the canister where the capsule is ejected), so the whole process of making a drink takes about 1-3 minutes.
All in all, I think this was probably our best ever impulse buy--besides maybe our puppy! :)
P.S. - This is a completely unsponsored post. I had a hard time finding reviews of the Nespresso online when we first bought it, so I thought it might be helpful to post my experiences here. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section and I'll be sure to get back to you!