What is Nespresso? How to use the nespresso pods? Does it taste good? Is it practical? We'll answer some of the popular questions in this article. By the end of it you'll know enough to go out and start exploring this exciting new type of brew.
Nespresso is product created by Nestle, which is the worlds largest food company. Nespresso is a basically an espresso made not by grinding coffee manually and using a portafilter, but by using coffee pods developed specifically for the nespresso machines.
Nespresso coffee pods are freshly ground coffee sourced from the top 2-3% of all the coffee beans produced worldwide (according to their promises). The ground coffee becomes stale when it comes in contact with oxygen in the atmosphere, therefore the process of pod manufacturing involves the coffee grounds are not allowed to come into contact with oxygen post-grind and is flushed with nitrogen and hermetically sealed. This allows the nespresso pods to remain fresher for much longer than regular roasted coffee beans since the ground coffee inside these pods are not allowed to degas and lose their aromatic and flavour compounds.
There are two types of nespresso variants – the Orignal Line and the Vertuo Line, with Vertuo systems being the most recent version. The difference is that the Original Line was designed to extract espresso and espresso based drinks such as – ristretto, lungo, etc., which also included Aeroccino as a product line to froth milk in order to make capuccinos, lattes and the like. Whereas the Vertuo Line was designed to brew larger cups of coffee, typically long cups such as Americano, full sized cappuccino straight from the same machine. The Vertuo also uses completely new pod designs and they come in a variety of sizes.
Nespresso machines are the easiest machines to operate for brewing a cup of coffee – hands down! Just take the pod and pop it into the slot of the machine and press ‘START’.
The machine uses hot water pressurised to 19 bars of pressure (which most baristas would say makes a delicious cup of espresso ), through the ground coffee inside the pod to extract the goodness and out into the cup on the machines tray.
The newer Vertuo line uses a centrifugal system instead the 19bar pressurised water system used by the Original line. This system injects water into the pods and spins the pod at 7000 rpm to extract the coffee. The vertuo pods are also completely different, they come in a variety of sizes and if you flip them over, you will notice dark stripes throughout the lid. This is a bar code that your Vertuo machine scans and identifies which coffee type it is and customises the process accordingly to produce the beverage. It is possible to get large 17 fl oz cups of brews from this new line of nespresso machine whereas the Original Line could produce a maximum of a Lungo shot up to 5 fl oz of brew.
There are variants to the nespresso machine line, the most basic being the Nespresso Inissia and the Essenza Mini which comes with only the espresso machine and the a sample of the coffee pods available from Nestle so that you can try each one and find the ones that you prefer. There are more models such as the De’Longhi Vertuo Evolvo which is a delightful nespresso machine.
If you want our recommendation here are some machines you could buy –
Compact Design, Espresso and Lungo cup sizes, High pressure pump, Energy saving
Single Serve coffee machine, extra large water tank, energy saving and very fast heat up time(around 15 secs)
Smart Coffee and Espresso Maker with attached Milk Frother. Can make most kinds of coffee – espresso, latte, capuccino, ristretto etc.
19 bar pressure extraction system smart espresso and coffee maker. Can make multiple brew types, espresso, latte, capuccino. Perfect for espresso beverages.
Now we must do the showdown, which is better – the Nespresso with its consistent flavour and it’s convenience or the traditional espresso, the ultimate test for a skilled barista.
For the comparison, we are going to consider the Original Line machines instead of the Vertuo because the Original Line models use 19 bars of pressure and the crema is more authentic whereas the crema content is more in the Vertuo models but that is due to the centrifugal system. Hence the Original line makes a slightly better espresso but the Vertuo also makes a decent cup. The Vertuo Line does make better coffee in general however the espresso feels slightly under-extracted because the water is slightly cooler than the water temperature of the Original Line.
We will be evaluating the two types on the basis of three factors – Taste & experience, Practicality and Cost.
This round goes to the skilled barista made espresso, because of the sheer freshness and clarity in the flavour tones of the brew made. The espresso is made by grinding roasted beans (roasted 2-3 days ago) which is responsible for the better flavour and intensity. However the espresso requires skill to perfect and is not consistent in its outcome, however as a true coffee enthusiast knows, the experience is in the little things.
The nespresso produces a decent espresso shot, although it is less and intense than the traditional espresso, and the many flavours can be a bit muddled up, but the shot is decent, the crema looks delicious, the aroma is delightful, and tastes much better than traditional espressos made using old roasted or old ground coffee from the supermarket. It is also EXTREMELY EASY to get a good shot day after day, however the absence of the little changes in the aroma and flavour can turn off a hardcore coffee enthusiast. Pro Tip: The nespresso machine makes a mean lungo shot.
The nespresso is a very good machine to have in your home or office, since most of us do not have the time or we forget to roast the beans or grind them every morning. This makes the nespresso experience more of like a fast food joint – you get the same delicious shot, but its the same shot. Every day.
When having an espresso, it’s more hands-on, so that greatly adds to the experience. From roasting you own beans (you can skip that and just buy from your local roaster), to grinding the coffee, adjusting the tamper, and the rituals of the espresso machine, it is much more involved than a nespresso machine. Also, if you are going to a cafe, you want the full experience of freshly prepared shot of espresso rather than a decent but-not-quite-enough shot of nespresso.
This round goes to traditional espresso.
The sheer time saving and convenience of the nespresso pods makes it a very practical purchase for coffee lovers on a tight schedule.For brewing a traditional espresso, you’re going to need a lot of equipment – burr grinder, espresso machine or a stove top moka pot, coffee beans, portafilter and tamper. The skilled barista knows how to properly grind the beans, measure, clean, and tamp the coffee grounds in a way to optimise extraction. The novice would require a few attempts in mastering this however it is easier than it looks. Unless you are using a moka pot, the entire process is cumbersome for the average coffee drinker and because of the day to day work, one has to schedule the roasting day and arrange air tight jars for storage. For moka pot users, the portafilter and tamper isn’t required and the cup itself is cheaper than any espresso machine.
Making an espresso using a moka pot is much more simpler than using a machine and makes a delicious intense shot, however the crema layer is really thin. The maintenance, cleaning and handling of the machinery makes the traditional brewing method an intensive activity and might turn off the average coffee drinker. The aficionados will enjoy the experience and enjoy tinkering with variables to obtain the ideal shot suited for their taste. For stove top moka pots, the Grosche is a brilliant purchase, other than the Bialetti stove top is an excellent pot and both will brew the finest stove top espressos if you have excellent roasted beans and a burr grinder.
For grinders, none can beat the conical Baratza Virtuoso, and the Vario. These are professional level grinders and have tons of settings from very fine Turkish coffee level grind to coarse grinds suitable for French presses and everything in between. The Vario is expensive and might be an overkill for the home brewer, so the Virtuoso is an ideal buy. For budget brewers, the entry level Baratza Encore is a bargain at around $140 which makes for a brilliant grind. If an electric operated grinder is too heavy on a tight budget, the Hario is an excellent hand operated burr grinder available in the market.