March 30, 2007

Nespresso Essenza C100 Full Review


The Nespresso C100 showed up in a small box, and in an incredible little way found its way onto our counter top and started pumping out shot after shot in a simple and beautiful fashion. Small and compact are the understatement for the Nespresso C100, as great things really do come in small packages. I look at other machines twice its size and wonder how they got everything in there. Now, let's be clear, they don't offer a few things that other more classically designed units offer. like a cup warmer or a steam outlet for frothing milk. This isn't just for espresso though, as work-arounds are easy and prevalent.

Design of the Nespresso C100
It's obvious from looking at the line that Nespresso is design oriented. I mean they took things to another level here, and for the most part have a line of fresh ideas to the espresso world. The unit is triangular from the front, with a nice outlet that stands out as the focus of its features. To load the unit with a capsule, you simply lift the chrome handle to reveal a capsule slot where you drop in the dose. Close the handle and the capsule is put into place and ready to go. On the back the clear plastic reservoir is easily seated into a receiver that is easy to find. With its small size, I was not opposed to having the reservoir on the back. The design of the reservoir is reminiscent of a water pitcher in shape.

The on/off switch is stealthfully located on the bottom right side of the unit and is a simple rocker style switch. The buttons on the front will make either a shot of espresso or a larger Lungo pull; they are soft touch rubber and operate with confidence with a solid feel.

The drip tray is minimalistic as the tray sits on what must be some magical inner workings for the unit. Hey they have to jam the heater and the pump somewhere right? The tray pulls out to reveal the bin for spent capsules.

Operation of the Nespresso C100


Operation is easy. Turn on the machine to heat. Lift the chrome lever, drop in a capsule, and press the rubber button. The machine stops automatically at a pre-set level. This is programmable and you can easily change the brew amount assigned to each button. So, without a cup warmer, I tended to brew a "short" or hot water into my cup to warm things up before brewing a shot of espresso. This was easy, and quick. The reservoir is big enough to last a while, so the extra water through wasn't a big deal. The cycle was short enough not to get bored either.

When you lift the lever to brew shot two, the old capsule is dropped into the waste bin, which seems to hold about 10-12 capsules. This was plenty for me, as anything that stretches several days before maintenance is good. You'll need to watch the water level; I didn't and ran out. If you do, you'll need to re-prime the pump to get the thing ready again. This can take a few punches f the brew button without a capsule in it to brew. Total faux pas if you are in the middle of making espresso for guests.

To make lattes while using the Nespresso C100, I used a heat and froth type device that was basically a work around for a frothing arm. Not a big deal for me, as the small foot print and ease of use of the C100 more than makes up for the lack of a steam wand. (I drink a lot of espresso anyway.) When I wanted a milk drink I tended to use a Manual Milk Frother to do it. Not perfect, but an easy way to make a latte with this.

Nespresso Capsules
So while I had the Nespresso C100 I went through a few varieties of capsules. The Nespresso system works on these capsules, and they are only available through the Nespresso site. You can select from a bunch of varieties, and they are running new seasonal ideas through all the time.

Ristretto - Nice chocolate and smoky aromas with a deep, rich rounded flavor profile. It's a little sharp, but not overly acidic. Well balanced.

Roma - Classic Southern Italian Espresso with a bit of a robusta note to give you a nice flavorful finish. Complex and balanced.

Livanto - Has a slight caramel and nutty aroma in the cup, with a light and clean flavor profile, including a cleaner finish and back end.

Arpaggio - Certainly dark roasted and pungent with a run away finish that leaves me wanting a little more back end flavor. I will say that I like a distinct finish, like the Ristretto. This has a cleaner finish.

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Posted by Scott Martin at March 30, 2007 7:48 AM
Recent Comments

My wife gave me the C100 Essenza for Christmas and I love it. The espresso tastes great, it's super-simple to use and maintain, and it looks great on the counter. I order the pods online and they come to my house the next day. Customer service is excellent also. Some pods were damaged when they arrived and the customer service people at Nespresso took care of it immediately. I am very happy with the system and would recommend it to anybody.

Posted by: Tmania at February 11, 2009 7:02 PM
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