Nespresso continues to bring out better and better advancements in its machines, and with the newest Nespresso U in the market, one has to wonder, which is better the Nespresso U or the Nespresso Pixie?
The Nespresso Pixie is, was introduced in the Spring of 2011, further pushing the engineering limits to get the most minimalistic espresso machine that meets consumer needs for convenient, excellent espresso. The reservoir is downsized, and seemingly so is the spent capsule storage - meaning that you can go through almost 10 espressos before emptying the capsules or adding water. Still OK in my mind.
The Pixie, as you can imagine from its name is all about being small, and it is. I love the small footprint on my countertop. It takes up almost no space at 12.8"x4.3"x9.2".
The Pixie offers two innovations that I appreciate: 1) Low Water Alerts - when the reservoir is low, the "aura" of the Pixie's water reservoir glows red so that you can add more water before you run the thing dry, and 2) features that I will call energy-smarter. These energy-smarter features allow the Pixie to heat up in only about 30 seconds, which is almost nothing, allowing me to hit "On", get a capsule, get a cup and only have about 10 seconds to wait before the thing is ready. The speed makes warming up a non-event. The second feature in the energy-smarter set is that the Pixie can shut down after only 9 minutes of non-use, saving power; the catch is that since it takes no time to heat back up, you don't mind coming back for a second shot to heat it back up again.
Jumping back to the Low Water alert feature, this is important because running these pumps dry isn't good for the pump and it takes a while to re-prime the pump. So the warning lights allow you to avoid headaches or re-priming the machine.
Light turns from White (l) to Red (r) when the water is low.
Nespresso just introduced the Nespresso U this year, brining some innovation to the market in its form factor, and an emphasis on its customization just for "U". The nespresso U is slightly larger than the Pixie coming in at 14.5" x 5.8" x 9.8" - about an inch and a half taller and wider than the Pixie. Barely noticeable. The nice design feature is that it can swivel the tank around to the side to fit into tight spaces, allowing you to push the Nespresso U back further on the counter, and maybe keep a sugar jar in front of the water tank for efficient use of space.
Nespresso U in three colors, with the water tank swiveled at different angles. See the far right "U" with optional sidecar attachments for sugar and capsule storage.
Again, they are making this all about "U", so customization is key here - you can swivel the tank to fit your space, you can add sidecar sugar storage if you'd like, and you can pick from the three different brew sizes (Ristretto, Espresso, and Lungo) or you can customize the buttons so you can get the exact size you want.
Brewing - Using the Sliding Door
The Nespresso U has a larger water tank than the Pixie (27 ouch vs. 23 ounce), which is a small difference I know, but at least they are helping you out here and there with that larger footprint. If there is a low water situation, the Nespresso U has a warning indicator that will let you know. The Nespresso U heats in about the same time as the Pixie, roughly 25 seconds.
The slick innovation here is that the Nespresso U does not use the familiar lever action that the Nespresso machines typically use when loading a Nespresso Capsule. Instead you slide the door forward on the top of the machine, drop in the capsule, and then slide it back. once the brewing is done, you don't need to touch the capsule or the door, the capsule drops down into the bin on its own. The spent capsule container also holds 2 more capsules than the Pixie, 12 vs. 10.
Watch the video to see the Nespresso U in action, including how to load the capsule and use one of the three soft touch buttons to brew.
Which is Better - Nespresso U or Pixie?
I have to tell you I like them both for their own reasons. I happen to like the design of the Pixie and don't like the Nespresso U front panel of all black as much. The other advantages that are somewhat minor, but meaningful, I give to the Nespresso U, like the space saving swivel water tank, and the sliding door versus the lever action of the Pixie.