March 24, 2011

Review: Nespresso Pixie Espresso Brewer - Small Magic

NespressoPixie2sm.jpg

The Nespresso Pixie has launched, at least in Williams-Sonoma stores here in the US, and is about to launch nationally through the Nespresso online store. The Pixie, first confirmed here back in January, is the smallest Nespresso Capsule brewer in the Nespresso line-up. While smallest can often mean terrible shortcuts and limited functionality, the Pixie is a pretty good little package that gives users the same high quality experience that other Nespresso machines offer. Are there drawbacks? Yes, but on balance the Nespresso Pixie gives you a remarkably well designed espresso brewer that will take up but a small fraction of your countertop cranking out espresso after espresso.


PixieTop.jpg
The top of the Nespresso Pixie - the brewhead slides forward so you can insert the capsule.

Note: I wanted to get this up as soon as I could. I will continue to add some further thoughts and pictures in the coming days - Scott

More details after the jump....

Nespresso Design Through and Through

Let's face it, Nespresso is all about design. Williams and Sonoma was nice enough to send an advance sample for me to use before they started national distribution of the unit in their stores. I have the Electric Indigo paneled one here for this review, but they come in several colors and textures: Electric Indigo, Electric Red, Electric Titan, Electric Lime, Electric Aluminum and Electric Steelblue. I would expect that these could be user changeable, with Nespresso offering to sell you new panels in the future, but that might not be in the works.

The Pixie really is small and makes the Nespresso Citiz look like a towering skyscraper beside it. The Nespresso Essenza looks downright fat next to it. With that said, I still like both of the older brewers for various reasons; the Essenza because of its lack of any depth - it is tight to the wall, and the Citiz for its looks. The small size of the Pixie really does start to melt into the countertop beside other appliances.

The moving brew head is a different design treatment and one that must make the Pixie possible. Instead of having a gap that is exposed when the brew chamber is open, like in the Essenza and the Citiz, the Pixie pulls the brewhead forward when you load it and then pushes the brewhead back into the capsule to brew. The space savings helps keep the Pixie from jutting out onto the counter.

Brewing with the Pixie

The Pixie works as well as any other Nespresso machine; and as expected punches out great espressos one after another. The Pixie is light, and feels like it would lift off the counter every time you open and close the brewer to add a new capsule, but it doesn't.

NespressoSampleCaps.jpg

The Pixie comes with a variety set of capsules that has slightly changed from the old days when you could reuse the sample holder as a Nespresso capsule storage holder after the fact.

Pushing the on/off button in the rear is an up/down switch behind the brew buttons. The Pixie heats up fast with its 1160watt power, and is ready to brew in less than 90 seconds in my tests. Like any other Nespresso, just lift the lever, drop in the Nespresso capsule, close the lever and hit your brew button. The auto shut-off brews up a great sized espresso or lungo. The user manual tells you how to program the buttons to a custom brew size.

Oe downside is that the Pixie is just a bit louder when brewing versus my Citiz; not deafening, but easily noticed. They are not louder than any other typical pump driven espresso machine on the market.

PixieBrewing.jpg

The resulting coffee is no different in my blind tasting than coffee brewed in my Citiz.

The spent capsule bin held nine capsules for me before needing to be emptied. It also drains the drip tray on the front of the machine. After playing with the Pixie for an hour or so, I had more Outpresso fodder to crush and recycle.

intelligent Engineering


PixieLowWater.jpg
Light turns from White (l) to Red (r) when the water is low.

The Nespresso Pixie built in a cool little sensor that is nothing short of magic. When your Pixie is nearly out of water, flipping the lights surrounding the spent capsule bin, from a cool white to a subtle red. After looking for floats, weight sensors or some mechanical contraption, I stumbled onto a light sensor on the lower right side of the back of the brewer.

It has a small vane built into the water tank that directs light from the water tank down into the sensor, where it must detect the different properties of deeper water versus shallow water. Cool, techie, almost hidden and very useful. This feature alone removes my concerns of a small water tank. At only 700ml, the water tank could be run through more quickly but it's still good for at least a week of my own shots, and it alerts me before the pump runs dry; perfect.

PixieSensor.jpg

Sensor hole on the back of the Pixie detects low water.

Auto-off. The Pixie shuts off after 9 minutes of non-use, making it very energy efficient versus those brewers that stay on for hours after use. You can optionally change the brewer to stay on for 30 minutes if you really find yourself needing a longer "On" time. I found that it heats up so fast, that coming back for a second shot after reading the morning paper was just fine to have it off.

Review Summary

The Nespresso Pixie is a very cool little brewer that has all the punch of a normal sized Nespresso machine, giving you reliably consistent espresso time and time again. The Pixie gives you a super small footprint that should fit onto most counters that I have ever seen, and still deliver big world taste. The Pixie looks sharp on the counter and I can easily see the Nespresso brand taking another huge leap forward in consumer appeal with this little wonder.

At Williams-Sonoma the Nespresso Pixie for $249

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Posted by Scott Martin at March 24, 2011 9:14 PM
Recent Comments

I would like to ask expert can the Pixie produce Hot Water without capsule for other purpose like tea?


Posted by: Melvin at May 1, 2013 5:45 AM

Our pixie is not getting the water very hot. The blinking lite on top which should blink for 25 seconds blinks for about 5 and then makes the espresso which is lukewarm. Has anyone else encounted this?


Posted by: Jana at November 3, 2012 11:51 PM

Are there any tea pods that I can use with my Pixi?


Posted by: Jeri Andrews at August 21, 2012 7:53 AM

Sorry supplied the incorrect email address re rv coffee machine usage on generator strength


Posted by: Jacq at December 30, 2011 8:18 AM

We have a Pixie and want to run it in our RV on the generator does anyone know from experience the size generator we would need or could we operate it on less than a 2kva thanks


Posted by: Jacq at December 30, 2011 8:11 AM

Hi - I have recently purchased the Pixie for our caravan, at last I can have a good coffee on the road. It came with 16 sample pods which was great BUT so far 7 of them have crushed when I have tried to use them, after that they drop straight through the machine. I was very careful with positioning before use and my only thought is that they seemed to be packed very tightly with coffee and perhaps that is why they crushed. Has anyone else had a similar problem and is there a solution. I cant seem to find an email address to contact Nespresso direct.


Posted by: Sue at December 1, 2011 1:31 AM

I know that only 3 of the other models are designed with the hot water additional option. But if you wanted to stick to a pixie or a citiz, could you pull an occasional hot water cup (for tea or hot chocolate) through by not putting in a capsule without harming the machine? (I know this probably sounds kind of stupid, just wondering.)


Posted by: lou at April 10, 2011 7:18 PM

Nicky- The Pixie comes bundled with what Nespresso calls an Aerocino. The Aerocino is Nespresso's version of a milk frother and in my opinion it is an essential part of the Nespresso experience.

Nespresso machines makes fantastic espresso coffee shots, but with the Aerocino frother, which does both Cappuccino and Latte style froths, it is a mandatory item and comes with the system.

So the answer is yes, the Pixie comes with a great milk frother.


Posted by: Frank at April 10, 2011 5:31 AM

Hi there. I am not a coffee machine buff so please excuse my ignorance. Does this new PIXIE machine have a 'milk fluffing' capability?

Thanks


Posted by: Nicky at April 10, 2011 3:31 AM

I bought the Pixie this past weekend. I am a bit bummed out that I missed the $50 dollar voucher from William Sonoma towards Nespresso capsules. It seems the offer was the weekend before my purchase. Other than that, I'm thrilled with this little mighty machine.
To answer the question of the nozzle dripping on the counter in the extended position with the small platform in the down position. If there is a drop from the previous espresso it is caught by the drip grill. But if you raise the small grill to accommodate a tall cup for a cappuccino, you are better off loading the capsule in by raising and lowering the lever and then lifting the small platform to place the larger cup under the nozzle. Otherwise, the drop will fall on the counter. I like to heat my cup and the inner workings of the machine, and I do so by drawing the water through with the espresso button without the capsule in place, so there is water trapped in the nozzle when I pull it forward that drips more than it would if you just served a cup. So I make sure the small grilled platform is in the down position when I load it with the capsule. That way I am "locked and loaded" before lifting the small platform to avoid the spillage either on the counter or in the foamed-milk-ready cup I'm placing under the nozzle. Hope this clarifies things for you Chris.


Posted by: Diana at April 8, 2011 1:19 AM

Out of curiosity does anyone know if the Pixie (or any other Nespresso machine sold in the US) is 110/220v or just 110v? I move frequently for my job and go back and forth between 110v and 220v countries. It would be great if this machine worked both places without a converter.


Posted by: Larisa at March 31, 2011 1:39 PM

I'm curious to know whether the loading/unloading mechanism creates a mess when ejecting the capsule. The nozzle moves forward so do the drips go on the counter?

Otherwise interesting article. I think I prefer my Citiz.


Posted by: Chris at March 25, 2011 10:44 AM
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