Top critical review
13 people found this helpful
Great machine and system, but mediocre capsules
on May 6, 2005
I have three Nespresso machines, including this one. My comments concern the Nespresso system rather than any particular machine, but I can't see paying the money for this D150 when for only a little more you can get the D300.
The idea of the capsules rather than using coffee beans requires some trade offs, but has lots of huge advantages. The capsules are super convenient, fast, clean and neat, attractive, and allow you to easily serve a variety of coffee blends (decaf, Latin American, African, pure Arabica, etc, which is fun). A big advantage is that they stay fresh for months at a time, so you can always have them on hand when you need them.
Comparing the Nespresso system with the conventional system shows the value of convenience. Conventional machine: you have to have fresh beans, you have to have an expensive burr grinder (more counter space, more to clean, more to break down), you have to get the fineness of the grind correct, you have to measure the ground coffee accurately, you have to tamp the coffee in the holder correctly, you have to pour the correct amount of water through. This requires a large amount of time, effort, experimentation, patience, and experience. Serving a party of 10 people like this could easily take you an hour, and you are making a lot of noise and not enjoying the party, and making a big mess to clean up later.
A conventional machine could never be used in your office or company kitchen, but a Nespresso machine works out very nicely in that situation.
On the downside, 45 cents or more (for special editions) per shot of espresso is a little expensive compared to doing it with beans. You are limited to the Nespresso capsules, nothing else will come close to working. This means you can't try out the interesting jars of beans at your local coffee shop. There may come a day when the capsules are not available, but I don't see that happening.
The big downside is the quality of the espresso produced by the capsules, and therein is my main gripe. After many years they have recently expanded their offerings from 10 varieties or 15 or so. I haven't tried all the new ones, but I didn't really like any of the old ones. Most of them include some Robusta coffee beans in the blend. That's unusual because gourmet coffee is 100% Arabica, and my opinion is the Robusta is a problem. I have to wonder if Nespresso is trying to cut costs in this most critical aspect of an otherwise first-rate system. However, once or twice a year Nespresso releases a "special blend" for a limited time. This is usually 100% Arabica. In 1998 and 1999, the special blend was very good. In 2000 it was bad but then they released another one in June 2001 that was very good. They have a new, more expensive line of coffees that I haven't yet explored.
The final alternative is the "super-automatic" style machine, that with a single button push automatically grinds the beans, measures, tamps, pours the espresso, and dumps out the spent grounds. That's great but it requires fresh beans and that's a problem for me. I think maybe a food vacuum sealer might solve that problem.
One final comment: Don't fool yourself into thinking that a machine at home, no matter how nice, is going to save you money at Starbucks. Nothing can replace that fad inducing experience.