Pros: Quick to startup, easy to operate
Cons: cost per cup of coffee, limited choice, Nespresso club
Considering that Nespresso has been a mainstay in pod-based machines in Europe for quite some time it is not surprising that they are making headway in the US market. The Nespresso machines range in price from around $100 and go up to $700.
In this case the Nespresso C60D60US Espresso Maker, also known as the Pixie is a compact espresso maker that sells around $230 street, with machines coming in a variety of colors that can fit your fashion statement and match your kitchen look. For a more comprehensive list of colors you can go to Nespresso's site, http://www.nespresso-us.com.
The Pixie is a fully automatic espresso maker. Its Thermoblock heats to optimal temperature in 25-30 seconds, meaning that in half a minute you can start making coffee. The machine has an auto power-off after 9 minutes. According to Nespresso, the Pixie has a 19 bar pump, which ensures optimal coffee extraction. The machine has a 23.7oz/0.7L water tank, power on/off switch on the top, and two lighted buttons for short and long coffee. The Pixie uses proprietary Nespresso aluminum pods which are top-loaded and snapped into place by a metal lever. The used capsules fall into a container that can hold up to 10 capsules. The machine also features a retractable cup holder, which if needed can fold to accommodate bigger cups for longer shots, cappuccinos and lattes if one gets the Aeroccino or another brand of milk frother.
The coffee delivery system is based on non-refillable aluminum pods which for now can only be purchased via the Nespresso coffee club. There are some DYI containers that are sold by third parties, as well as other manufacturers that are licensing the technology from Nestle so the market for pods will most likely become bigger and other brands like espresso stalwarts like Lavazza and the like will become available.
As of now Nespresso offers 16 mainstay proprietary coffee roasts or in Nespresso talk, Grand Crus. For all available coffee choices, please visit http://www.nespresso-us.com/coffee/
As of now here are the coffee options:
Intensity:10 POWERFUL AND CONTRASTING
My Note: This one is rated as the strongest of the batch but comes out watery. It is similar in taste to Lavazza espresso (black can).
Intensity:9 INTENSE AND CREAMY
My Note: Close to Illy but with slightly less lemony flavor and a bit more robusta flavor. This one is my favorite of all the flavors.
Intensity:8 FULL AND BALANCED
My Note: A bit watery and on the earthy side as if it had a bit too much robusta.
Still one of the better blends.
Intensity:6 ROUND AND BALANCED
Intensity:5 RICH AND DISTINCTIVE
Intensity:4 SWEET AND FRUITY
Intensity:3 LIGHT WITH A HINT OF LEMON
Intensity:2 FRUITY AND DELICATE
Intensity:7 DENSE AND POWERFUL
Intensity:3 LIGHT AND FULL-FLAVOURED
Intensity:7 Rich and Intense
Intensity:4 COMPLEX AND BALANCED
Intensity:3 FLORAL AND REFRESHING
Indriya from India
(‘Pure Origin’ selection) Intensity 10 POWERFUL AND SPICY
Rosabaya de Colombia
(‘Pure Origin’ selection) Intensity 6 FRUITY AND BALANCED
Dulsão do Brasil (‘Pure Origin’ selection)
Intensity 4 SWEET AND SMOOTH
Note: Probably my favorite from all the regular flavors.
Every once in a while Nespresso also releases a Limited Edition roast. In my case, while I was trying the machine, they had the CREALTO, which albeit slightly more expensive, in my opinion was superior to the coffees in their mainstay range. Probably the best coffee as ristretto and espresso so far. I would compare it to an organic coffee collective in one of the nearby college town - very complex and interesting flavor that continues to surprise. Still slightly on the watery side compared to a regular esspresso shot from a professional machine. Unfortunately, a limited run that ended shortly after I purchased the machine.
The Pixie is a perfect blend of fashion, functionality and European minimalism. It looks very fashionable, has a small footprint so it won't take much room on the kitchen counter and can be color-customized to fit in with your fashion sense. It is extremely simple to operate and is ready to go in less than a minute. The short and long coffee buttons are timed to deliver a single shot of espresso or for the long something more akin to a cup of American coffee, or Americano as they call it in Europe. Both short and long coffee shots come in with an ample quality of crema from the extraction. If you want shorter shots than the predetermined length, you can press on the button again to cut the shot short, or hold longer to run a longer shot.
Note: As per About.com, “Crema is a flavorful, aromatic, reddish-brown froth made when air bubbles combine with fine-ground coffee's soluble oils”.
The machine comes with a sampler with one of each available blends, all together 15 capsules.
I personally won't call the Pixie strictly an espresso machine as it does long coffees, or what Nespresso calls their Lungo range.
I personally didn't like the Lungo or Decaf range at all, and out of the Espresso blends I liked the Arpeggio the most. The Dulsao was my second favorite out of the single origin blends. There were a few serviceable blends in the espresso range but can't say I am very impressed overall. Segafredo, Illy, Vergnano and Lavazza espresso blends usually taste better to me, apart from the Crealto in comparison everything that Nespresso had to offer was not quite as good.
As far as the most annoying factor of this machine is that you have to subscribe to a “club”. What that means is that the coffee pods are not widely available at grocery stores or any other local vendors. Some of the coffee is available on Amazon.com from other sellers. If you do search for “nespresso ristretto” some options come up outside of the club but are usually more expensive. There are the varieties of refillable capsules that are available if you like to fill your own pods.
The capsules are made of aluminum so there is also the environmental impact of disposing it that needs to be taken into consideration. Nespresso are setting up recycling facilities for these in Europe, so probably some will become available in the US soon but for the meantime you're basically throwing out aluminum capsules in the trash with each use.
The Ethical Coffee Company Espresso capsules work with Nespresso machines and are made from plastic if you like to try their blends.
The Pixie is great for people that don't want to deal with the complexities of working a manual or semi-automatic coffee machine. The full automatic machines that work and grind coffee on the spot are a bit more expensive, starting at around $700 and the cleanup is still a bit more work than the Pixie.
I did some calculation on the weight of a shot after I noticed that two Nespresso shots didn't give me the same kick as a double shot from my semi-automatic espresso machine. The weight of a Nespresso pod is between 5 to 7 grams heavier on the Lungo shots), and a double shot of espresso according to coffeegeek.com and based on my own measurements is between 15 to 18 grams, so you get a bit more caffeine in a conventional espresso shot. The extraction also seems to be a bit on the watery side compared to a professional espresso machine, but for the price it is to be expected.
Nestle will like to keep you grazing from their hand so to speak so the most use out of the machine will be derived by joining their coffee club. Minumum order is 50 pods. I did the math, and including shipping it is coming very close to somewhere between $0.70 to $1 per single shot of coffee. Considering the $230 price of the machine, and the fact that it costs $0.70 per shot of coffee, I can buy an espresso and cappuccino machine from Breville or similar for about the same price. Nespresso needs an additional $100 expense for the Aeroccino milk frother in order to make cappuccino or latte. So with a non-capsule machine I can brew Illy, which is one of the more expensive espresso brands for roughly $0.55 per shot. On top of that – lower environmental impact, no wait for special product to arrive, more hands-on experience and lets not even mention the better coffee. Switching from Illy to Lavazza you'd be paying less, at $0.30 per shot.
Still, the Pixie has its positives, especially for an office type of environment or quick on the go professionals, where the coffee won't go stale, the machine is ready to go in no time and you can offer a lot of choices. The downside is the Nespresso club which takes 3-4 days to deliver and no way to replenish the coffee supply locally.