Nespresso has re-filled its store on eBay with reconditioned machines at some pretty good prices. I've reported on these reconditioned machine sales before, but recently Nespresso had nothing but an empty store coming into the holidays. You can debate their timing and motivation, but for the rest of us, the eBay store that has a mix of auctions and "Buy-it-Now" quick buys offers some good deals if you can get past the reconditioned status.
These machines are sold directly by Nespresso and come with a "6 month Advanced Exchange Warranty. That means that if the product should need service within the warranty period, Nespresso will send out a a temporary replacement unit while service is being completed. This not only gives you peace of mind but also a working Nespresso machine while yours is away."
The savings can be significant; for instance for a Nespresso Essenza C100
Current Price New - $199; online
Buy it Now Price - $149 at Nespresso Certified Store
Savings - $50
You could also jump on any number of the auctions and take a chance that you could get it for even less.
OK - so you've nabbed that new espresso maker, and you need to try that baby out; what does it take and what's the best pod or capsules for it? I don't have the answer for you, because it's really a personal preference, but I can help you to find what you like best.
Classic (Robusta and Arabica) Blends vs. 100% Arabica Espresso
At a very high level, there are two varieties of espresso out there, that can be sub-divided when you consider origins, roast intensity etc. The Classic Variety is usually a blend of Robusta and Arabica coffee that in general gives you a potent flavor of coffee throughout the flavor profile, leaving a strong coffee flavor in the finish. I like this type of blend for hot espresso, with a balanced back end; never overdoing it with too much Robusta. The 100% Arabica espressos are cleaner and crisper overall, often with a higher acidity content. The backend is always a cleaner, crisper finish without a lingering dirty flavor in comparison to the Robusta blends. These don't seem as full nor as robust as a hot espresso for me, but are my hands down favorite for an iced drink anytime.
If your machine takes ESE Pods then you probably want to check out a good selection and learn what you like best. I think that this discovery process is fun, and regularly explore new coffees, roasts, pods and capsules to try out what's new and learn what I like and don't. I would recommend a variety pack of both types of espressos, giving you a way to explore a wide set of espresso products. Figure out what you like and what you don't, then re-order what you like. Check out this Espresso ESE Sampler at Amazon
Capsules - Nespresso
There are over a dozen capsule varieties with Nespresso. Most are Arabica products, and the space covered is remarkable, from light bodied florals to heavy dark and impressive ristrettos. While the Ristretto is the most popular Nespresso Capsule, it may not be your favorite. Luckily, last time I checked, Nespresso still offers a nice variety sampler in the box with new makers, and then you can follow-up with the one that you like. I would recommend finding a range of capsules you like and then keeping a variety on hand. For instance if you like the Livanto at an intensity of "6", you might also like to keep the Rosabaya and the Capricco on hand as ways to explore. Explore the Nespresso Capsules with their capsule map at their website to learn more about capsules and alternatives. Check out how to make a Nespresso Capsule Holder to hold all of those new capsules.
Again, there will be different varieties and blends, but I would invest in several packages and brands to explore what you like and what you don't. It's a good process and a fun one too. Don't think that you need to drink or finish all of the package if you don't like it. Most of the time, you can blend it into a pot of drip coffee and enjoy it that way if you don't like it as an espresso. If not, it's usually only about $5 in coffee; throw it out! Life is too short to drink coffee you don't like. Keep notes, and don't make the same mistake twice, it won't end up costing you that much in the end.
Have fun, enjoy your new espresso machine and stop back to SingleServeEspresso.com to read up on all things espresso; including reviews, espresso and coffee news as well as deals and promotions. If you want to get the news delivered weekly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.
If you are looking for an inexpensive set of espresso cups, these might just fit the need. They are back in stock and still available for gifting at Christmas if you choose one or two day shipping. (They were backordered with an expected arrival date AFTER the new year; glad to see them back, as I just ordered some for a friend.)
They are simple white porcelain and are 2-ounces making them a great espresso cup. You can spend a lot more for an espresso cup, but sometimes inexpensive is a great place to be. We'll see how they shape up versus my favorite Bodum Pavina Double Walled Espresso glasses when they show up, but for everyday espressos, I think they'll be great. The set of 4 cups and saucers are only $12.
Nespresso put out some fun flavors this year with their Nespresso Variations flavored espresso capsules, and their companion site is a very whimsical look into what a world might be like where clouds and little bots made your Variations Capsules. Nespresso was featured as a site of the day by Favorite Website Awards, and with good reason. The videos below give a flavor by flavor look at what it takes to make your capsules in this fantasy Nespresso Variations World..... I like the almonds growing on the underside of the clouds.
Bloomberg has reported that Sara Lee, one of the major coffee makers in Europe may start selling their Nespresso compatible capsules in the US through a mail order system as they look for ways to expand their distribution of this coffee format.
While Nespresso/Nestle feels that their capsule and machines are well protected through a layered patent process, Sara Lee believes that they have successfully circumvented the patent protection and have been offering their L'Or capsules in France online and at retailers since April, and in the Netherlands just this month. They have reportedly sold 90 million capsules to date.
The costs are slightly lower for the Sara Lee version than the Nespresso capsules; 0.29 Euro versus 0.33 Euro each. The slightly lower cost can add up if you are drinking a couple of these a day, amounting to about $30 annually at a two a day rate. They overall savings isn't so amazing, but the big news here is that Nestle could lose the power behind what's been one of their best growth engines over the last decade. Sara Lee currently has four varieties in France, versus the sixteen+ versions that Nespresso offers.
Douwe Egberts L'OR EspressO comes in four varieties: Delizioso, Decaffeinato, Splendente and Forza. All Sara Lee varieties are made with exclusively 100 percent Arabica coffee grown and harvested in a socially and environmentally sustainable way, following the UTZ CERTIFIED(R) program.
While I have not had these varieties, I have over the years had a fair amount of Douwe Egberts, and they are a serious coffee brand with quality that would come in at the high end of mass market roasted coffee here in the US.
The popularity of the Nespresso system (They're on our Holiday Buying Guide) and the general holiday excitement combines most years to culminate in the Nespresso Variations flavored espresso capsule release. These limited time only capsules offer a little bit of year-end celebration offering experimentation and a little variety to your espresso day. Most people buy enough to share with friends and family during the holidays, while others are known to hoard the exceptional ones to keep a good supply going right through Spring.
ASIDE: Nespresso, if you ever want to bring back something, please bring back Kazaar, that would be OK with me. You sold out before I could hoard them. (I am not alone - if you want to bring them back too; join the We Want Nespresso Kazaar Facebook Page
In tasting the flavors from Nespresso Variations 2010 again, I have to say that I welcome the chance to re-experience them and tend to fall back on and reconfirm my original impressions of them. They are good, lightly flavored and well balanced. I have to go with the original impressions of the Caramel and Almond. Since I didn't review the original Vanilla here on the Blog, I'll write it up now.
Tasting Notes and Review - Nespresso Variations 2010
Almond - A nice roasted almond that sits well as a stand alone espresso and combines well with the sweetness and milk flavors of a latte. Subtle, and lingering in flavor that doesn't scream ALMOND, nor does it risk a chemically fake flavor because of over dosing the flavor either.
Caramel - This is a subtle flavor, and does best with a little sugar and milk - I like caramel flavors and subtle hints in all kinds of ways. I could have used a bit more caramel coming through in the cup. The nose was good, and again, it's a subtle, roasted, browned flavor versus a sticky-sweet one.
Vanilla - A definite vanilla that has a bourbon type note and not a sticky sweet note that comes across as straight artificial vanilla. Complex. Again subtle that accentuates the sweetness of added sugar without over powering.
The Nespresso Variations 2010 are available at the Nespresso Club website, Nespresso Boutiques and at select retailers.
Nespresso not only has a loyal following, Boutiques and a great line of espresso capsules, it also has an App. So, while that used to offer instant street cred; it just has to live on its features these days. So far, this one is pretty good to have tucked away.
The App also includes some of the Nespresso produced videos to learn more about their capsules and brewing systems.
It's easy to search for locations where Nespresso espresso capsules are sold (beyond just the Nespresso boutiques), but you can also find out information on store hours and location. If all else fails, you can log in and buy your capsules right from the App. Oh, and it's Free.
We recently reviewed the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa coffee/espresso machine here at SingleServeEspresso, and put it on our Buying Guide this holiday season for good reason. The Nescafe Dolce Gusto line offers up 15-bar brewing which allows it to make authentic pressure brewed coffee that you would expect from a coffee shop. I think the machine is well suited for those who want to make coffeehouse style beverages at home with the convenience of a push-button brewing. It is not a high end espresso machine, but it doesn't come with the complexity nor the mess.
Two capsules in the line worth considering are the Latte Macchiato and the Vanilla Latte Macchiato varieties, which are exactly what many of my friends and family want out of one of these types of machines. Nestle describes the Latte Macchiato as "Frothy milk marked with a shot of espresso, with a sweetness that welcomes the morning." and the vanilla sibling as having, "Exceptional layers of froth, vanilla hinted milk and bold espresso."
I wanted to offer some espresso and coffee suggestions in a gift guide this year. There are lots of different needs and types of coffee lovers out there, and lots of options too. Hopefully we can highlight a few potential ideas out there to fit your favorite coffee lover.....
Start Small; Every espresso lover will love some espresso cups...
Illy Espresso Cups - are just about the standard by which every other espresso cup is judged. Iconic, and durable - From $30
Bodum Pavina Espresso Glasses - My absolute favorite glass over the years to show off the espresso and enjoy a hot shot. The borosilicate double walled "lab" glass keeps the heat of your precious shot in while showing off the crema layer. - Less than $10 a pair
Artsy Espresso Cups from Etsy - Find your own inspiration in this artist community's long list of espresso cup interpretations. Some are terrible, some inspiring. Various prices
Convenient Coffee House Drinks
Nescafe Dolce Gusto Machine - Great convenient drink center offers a wide array of options for different coffeehouse drinks. A good transition maker for those who want coffeehouse drinks without the fuss. Impressive design and backed by Nestle, the set of 16+ drinks are available either online or in local stores (WalMart). Range from $89 - $169 - see my review of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa - their high end model
Capsule Brewers for the Espresso Lover
Nespresso machines are my favorite way to get convenient espresso. The wide variety of their blends make it easy to find one for just about any espresso taste. Near perfect shots every time in a matter of minutes make this system attractive.
Entry Level Espresso Brewers
You need to have a pump-driven espresso machine to get the true espresso experience. I don't recommend any steam driven ones that produce a lesser espresso.
DeLonghi BAR32 - simple entry level pump-driven maker. Decent machine that can do ground and ESE Pods. See my review - about $60 after $20 Mail in Rebate
Cuisinart EM-100 - more stylish stainless model that is very capable. Both ground and ESE pod capable. About $125
One Step Up - Ground + ESE Capable Brewers
Saeco Aroma Espresso Machine - Nice machine and very solid brewer. Stainless exterior and stainless boiler; brews ground and ESE pod espresso. - $299 for stainlness exterior, $250 for black
Super Automatic Espresso Drink Centers
These are the barista-in-a-box units that grind, tamp and pull the shots for you. Using your favorite espresso blend gives you awesome espresso anytime you want. The higher end ones also offer automatic steaming of the milk for a push button latte. The ultimate in convenience comes with a price, but wow are they luxurious to have on the counter!
DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica - A nice entry level Super Auto - that includes a by-pass doser to allow you to brew ground coffee also (like a decaf after dinner) - program your water, and grind settings - for $535 after $100 Mail in Rebate
DeLonghi ESAM3500 Magnifica -a Super Auto with a milk tank that puts out a Latte with one push of the "Barista" button. about $1350 after $100 Mail in Rebate
For the Espresso Purist
The bar continues to be set by Rancillo; grinder and brewer. The Silvia has a professional portafilter that rewards precise effort with high quality results; takes a bit of getting used to in order to get the quality that it is capable of delivering. Pair it with the Rocky to get the most out of your favorite whole bean espresso.
Awesome Micro Lot and Blended Coffees
I can't keep up with all of the fantastic coffees being roasted and sold out there, but the market for high end extremely well done coffees finally exists so that growers through roasters are starting to make a decent business out of small lot wonderful quality coffees. Consider skipping the biggie guy this year and focus on an appealing story that might offer sustainably grown, Fair Trade and maybe organic coffees from around the world. While not exclusively espresso, a few of my favorites are:
George Howell Coffee - obsessively focused on quality from coffee tree to coffee cup, this coffee roaster has a long list of appealing coffees. Buy a couple of different ones to experiment. I recently bought their award winning Konga Co-op Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and was amazed at the flavor complexity from this light roasted coffee.
Gimmie Coffee - based in Ithaca NY, with cafes in NYC, and lauded by many for its focus on espresso, they are comfortable on the national stage among the best roasters and baristas in the country. I like the Leftist Espresso, a recent SCAA Winner Colombia Finca San Luis, and an amazing Decaf that you wouldn't think was decaf: Colombia La Serriana
Conscious Coffees - Roast Magazine's Micro Roaster of the year offers a wide variety of high quality coffees with an impeccable approach to environmental sensitivity. They even deliver local coffees around their Boulder CO roastery on a work bicycle.
Local Coffee - I recently found a roaster who does 4# batches in his basement and the coffees are excellent. He roasts them a mile from my house and I can get them within a day of roasting. Maybe you can find a good roaster near you for the same freshness.
Other Fun Gifts
Tasting Note Pad from 33 Coffees has a note pad that allows you to keep track of the coffees you enjoy, complete with a tasting wheel in a RADAR plot format. I like it... less than $10
Chemex Drip Coffee Carafe - 6 Cup - One of the best designed items in modern history according to Illinois Institute of Technology; just awesome to look at and great to use. A beautiful way to brew up coffee from your favorite roaster when you aren't having espresso. Makes about 30 ounces of coffee - around $40 for a machine made glass set. The handblown sets are about twice as expensive.
Steaming/Frothing Thermometer - steam to the right temp to get a nice latte without scorching I like this one because it has Green and Red zones helping you steam to the right temperature - less than $12
Have an awesome holiday and thanks for stopping by SingleServeEspresso, I hope you enjoy the site as much as your coffee. Cheers! - Scott
The Nescafe Dolce Gusto line was recently expanded to increase its appeal and increase the footprint in the US by offering a wider array of features and price points. Ranging from about $89 - $169 the Nescafe Dolce Gusto makers hit a sweet spot of single serve coffee/espresso machines that are easily affordable at the low end for higher quality pump-driven espresso machines. Yes, the Nescafe Dolce Gusto line uses a pump-driven system that develops up to 15-bar of pressure to extract coffee in a very espresso-like manner.
With the pump driven system, and the wide array of espresso based drinks, I wanted to understand how the Nescafe Dolce Gusto stood up to other espresso machines and brewers. We were supplied with the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa machine by Nescafe, which sits at the top of the line of four products: the Piccolo, the Circolo, the Melody, and the Creativa.
Regular readers are of course familiar with the Nespresso line of brewers, also by Nestle, that offer a wide variety of espresso capsule blends. The Nespresso line comes in above the Dolce Gusto line and is more targeted towards espresso aficionados while the Nescafe Dolce Gusto is targeted at people who want a simpler approach to making coffee house drinks at home.