December 2, 2011

Nespresso Variations 2011 Review - Chcolate, Cherry and Vanilla Blossom

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Once again, Nespresso has brought a surprising set of variations to brighten up your holiday season. This year, they continued with a few running themes, sour fruit, and indulgent confection, and again give you a chance to pause and wonder if these flavors are meant to go with espresso.

I learned a long time ago to just go with it and trust that if I didn't like something, it was only about $12 lost. More often or not, I have really enjoyed the flavor variety, and there is no time like the holiday season to enjoy a little whimsical indulgence. If I judged a book by its cover, I may never have tried a few of my favorites like Crystalized Ginger from 2008 and Apricot from 2009. Of course, I also like "regular" flavors like last year's reprise of the Almond flavor in the 2010 Variations.

Base of Livanto

If you enjoy the Livanto capsule blend on a regular basis, like I do, you're probably pretty happy to have the 2011 Variations based on this capsule. I would pick it because it is a dark but still moderate blend that has enough acidity to play up sour fruit flavors, but is not overly acidic to kill anything requiring a velvety smooth body.

more after the jump.....


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Nespresso Variations Review

Overall, I will say that in ascending order, I like the Vanilla Blossom, the Cherry and topping the heap, the Dark Chocolate. They are all good showings this year, with the vanilla being a little weaker than average for my tastes.

Vanilla Blossom - said to have a delicate harmony, this flavor blend has more vanilla aroma initially than it does throughout drinking the cup. Be sure to enjoy the aroma as soon as possible, because it's great to smell as the espresso is brewing. This is really its selling point; a wonderful aroma. I will say that I would have loved to have seen the Vanilla Blossom in a lighter espresso blend that is more in tune with the light airiness of a Vanilla Blossom. I mark it down because like the "Absolute Vanilla" from 2010, it has a strong and slightly bitter finish that is not as sweet/confection as I would like.

Cherry - to start, I am not a big Cherry fan..... at all. This is probably why I enjoyed this Variations offering so much; the full flavor with hints of ripe cherries carried by a good amount of Livanto acidity to get a good punch of flavor. The flavor is strong enough to overcome the coffee, but not so strong that it tastes overdone. The character is a fresh cherry, without so much flavor that it comes off as sweet almond, which some artificial cherry flavors can do. The flavor is sweet, and can be over sweetened if you add too much sugar. A winner.

Dark Chocolate - The Dark Chocolate is well suited to sit atop the espresso platform; at home in a slightly acidic, and bitter existence. It does well and really fills out when you add a big of sugar, and really is at home in the presence of milk; either as a latte or simply with a subtle macchiato. I happen to like the Dark Chocolate as my favorite Variation of 2011. It's not at all milk chocolate candy bar with a long sweet finish; it's more of a semi-sweet chocolate with a cocoa finish. It is however, a respectable cocoa/chocolate that you can enjoy as a small treat any time of the day.

Review Summary

Once again, I can recommend that you at least try all three of the Nespresso Variations this year, and then decide for yourself which to order more of. You see what my favorites are, but yours are different, and I find that when I offer up some of these, people who don't normally like a stark espresso warm up to the idea. That's probably why Nespresso likes these variations right at the holidays - more triers and more buyers of their machines.

The Nespresso capsules can be brewed in the newest Nespresso machine, the Nespresso Pixie, the super slim Nespresso Citiz, the Nespresso Essenza C-100 or the Nespresso Le Cube brewers.

Learn More at the Nespresso Variations Site

Variations are available for order at the Nespresso Club


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Posted by Scott Martin at December 2, 2011 7:26 AM
Recent Comments

Sorry but I tried all three and was very disappointed. I had vanilla from last year and taste tested both the old and the new side by side. Last years was very much superior. I could barely taste the chocolate in that variation. And I tried the cherry with several others at the Nespresso counter and all of us agreed that it was awful. If I had tried the others at that time also I would not have wasted my money on buying sleeves of the other two.


Posted by: Susan at December 27, 2011 8:23 PM

I intially bought my nespresso machine last Xmas to enjoy the variation flavours, i placed an order for them and was told after they did not have any stock left and would issue a refund, I was told to wait till next December to get the variations. I then started ringing nespresso from early November, they told me to not bother till mid December when the variations would be released. At the start of this month i tried to ring them and confirm a release date, they told me they are already sold out... These are the best flavours from the nespresso range and the reason i bought the machine, yet i can never get hold of these flavours unless i pay an extortion rate on eBay of about £10-15 per 10 capsules, which I am not prepared to do, does anyone know where these capsules can be found for a more reasonable price?

I personally would never buy a nespresso machine again, purely for how difficult they make it to get the coffee you want and the constant increase in price per capsule. 2 years ago they were from 25p a capsule now they can be as expensive as 33p per capsule, and for most people you have to drive quite far to find a retailer or pay expensive postage costs of £10 for express delivery.


Posted by: Chris at December 14, 2011 6:13 AM

Right there with you and Daniel. Haven't tried the cherry - don't like cherry so no thank you. I originally got 2 sleeves of V and 1 of DC and after trying them I wish I had reversed it. The vanilla will sit in its box while I just ordered several more DC


Posted by: Chris at December 5, 2011 7:37 PM

I'd agree with your description of the vanilla and chocolate. The vanilla is a very nice blend, and I am enjoying it, but I constantly have a feeling it could have been just a bit better. The fragrance is more floral, less sweet than I was expecting. Once I get over this, I rather enjoy it.

The chocolate is excellent. It reminds me of the coffee-and-cocoa served by Leaf and Bean in Rochester, NY. A nice bitter chocolate taste buoyed by the body of the espresso. Excellent to sip on a chilly December afternoon.


Posted by: Daniel Sroka at December 2, 2011 8:25 AM
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Scott Martin: Erik, Answering a few questions: So the whirring is definitely read more
Erik G.: Nice review! Just a couple of questions though. How hot read more
Scott Martin: SH, Excellent question - added a section to the review read more
SH: What about machine sound/vibration during the brew process? If it read more
Ironpeddler: Looks like the espresso capsules are different than the current read more
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