According to USA Today, 83% of adult Americans drink coffee. No wonder there is a Starbucks on just about every corner. It’s probably safe to say that a cup of coffee in the Seattle chain, or really any corporate coffee house, can cost any where from $2-4 depending on what you’re drinking and what size. It’s a pricey proposition when you consider that most people drink coffee every single day.
The alternative has long been Mr Coffee, a machine that could be set to brew a cup of coffee at a set time of day. If you recall the Folgers commercials then you know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, these machines rarely produce great coffee or so I’ve been told. And hence why many people have moved to making either their own drip coffee or invested in an Espresso machine.
But alas, that’s a timely process and one that can take more time than most people are willing to give in the morning before dashing out the door. Enter the single serve coffee pod machines. They’re are a wide assortment that range in price and function, and in essence all produce a cup of coffee or espresso in a matter of minutes.
Joining that list is the Nespresso Vertuoline. It’s a new machine from the company, costs $300, and makes coffee and espresso. First off, this isn’t Nespresso’s first machine of this ilk. They’ve got one that makes espresso that uses a different set of pods that are more analogous in shape to that of a bullet. So make sure you don’t get the wrong pods if you’re thinking about the Vertuoline. Now on with the review.
On the left is a 40oz water tank, and the right a container for capturing used pods. You’ll want to use filtered water since the machines doesn’t have a system built in, and in addition to improving taste, this will also help reduce scale build up. The base of the machine, where the coffee mug sits can be removed for cleaning (it can capture excess water) and also to allow for larger mugs, such as a stainless steel to go cups. Lastly, the metal tray can be moved to a higher slot for smaller cups, which should help reduce splashing and waste.
Using the machine is very simple. Included in the box should be a starter kit that contains a variety of coffee and espresso flavors. I suggest keeping track of what you like so you can buy those in mass – I didn’t do this and regret it. To open the machine you just turn the handle on the top to the right. Once open you just insert the pod face down, close it, lock the machine by turning the handle to the left, and then the heating process begins. This is signified by the coffee cup light that blinks and turns solid when it’s ready for brewing. The final step is a matter of hitting the button. Yes, it’s that simple. If everything goes right, and there is no reason it shouldn’t, the machine will start to spit out freshly brewed coffee.
During the brewing process you should here a whirling or spinning noise. This is because the Nespresso Vertuoline uses something called Centrifusion technology. You see, instead of just forcing hot water into the pod and pouring it out, the Vertuoline spins the pod at up to 7,000rpms. This is what creates the crema, or the foam on the top of coffee. It’s difficult to achieve this from an at home coffee machine and trust me when I say the Vertuoline does an exceptional job at accomplishing it.
So how does it taste? Honestly, very very good. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in coffee shops thanks to the nature of my job, and I can attest that the quality of the Vertuoline coffee is Intelligentsia good. Moreover, it’s consistent. I can’t say that I liked all of the flavors, but hence why Nespresso gives you a sampling box. And speaking of flavors. Each pod has a barcode that is read by the machine, enabling it to brew specific to the coffee or espresso inside. This is also how it knows not to overfill the espresso cup.
Price is likely a concern as are the eco implications. Well, rest easy. Each coffee pod costs $0.95, while each espresso pod is $0.75. Sure, that’s far from cheap compared to traditional at home coffee machines – we did the math and it’s about $32 and $48 a pound for coffee and espresso respectively – but it’s a lot cheaper than Starbucks and tastes way, way better. Lastly, Nespresso says their pods, which are made out of aluminum, are 100% recyclable unlike some other pod based machines that use plastic.