I purchased a Nespresso D90 for home about 2 years ago. I was impressed with the in-store demonstration, and the espresso shots seemed pretty good. I had a bit of buyers remorse as I realized the gravity of the situation in locking myself into Nespresso's capsule system. But after ordering one box of everything they have, my wife and I found 2 or 3 varieties that we really liked. I enjoyed the system so much that I convinced my espresso-loving office mates to pool together and buy one for our office. The four of us share the machine and really enjoy making 'good' espresso at work. We love it, and the machine makes at least 2 or 3 shots daily, and has had no problems in over a year. My home machine, on the other hand, started to not be as hot as it used to. I decalcified the machine per Nespresso's instructions and it didn't help. Exit water temp was about 140, which is too cold. One call to Nespresso and a pre-paid, foam-lined case that looks like it should house some piece of military equipment arrived on at my door in 2 days containing a loaner machine. Wow. Their loaner machine was only putting out 150-ish degree water, still not so good. My machine returned in about 2 weeks with a technician note stating that they decalcified & adjusted the boiler. Now it was producing 165 degree water. Still seems just a bit on the cool side, but a lot better. Returned the loaner in the pre-paid case. Talk about customer service!
To the machine itself. It's stylish and and cleanup is almost non-existent due to the pods. No coffee grounds, only the waste water to contend with. Absolutely excellent in an office environment where access to a sink is somewhat limited. Yes it still requires a weekly trip to a sink for a cleaning, but in day-to-day use there is no mess what-so-ever. Just a perplexed-over-these-colored-tins-in-the-garbage janitorial staff.
The espresso, in my opinion, is actually pretty good. I know that the whole pre-ground, nitrogen-packed, mega-corp packaged pod-coffee idea is poo-pooed by a lot of folks around here, but it serves a purpose. No, it's not as good as having your own roaster around the corner. It's also quite a bit more expensive than buying whole beans as well. You're never going to get that 'god shot' from a Nespresso capsule. The varieties are pretty good, but even with the 12-14 types you will grow tired of them. Arpeggio, with it's 100% arabaca blend, is the best, IMHO. Ristretto's are pretty good too, and produce what you would expect as a typical 'Starbucks-like' espresso shot. Anything below about a '6' on their strength scale is so weak that you have to use 2, 3 (or more!) to make a decent latte, a $1-$1.50+ proposition. If your'e a latte-lover, stick to the really strong blends or you'll end up doubling your costs. Most of the varieties do produce a nice bit of reddish-brown crema. Not the tan-white fake stuff, real crema. The other benefit of the capsules is that it's so easy to use. Zero training required. You do need to be aware that unless you live in NYC (where there is a Nespresso store), you can't just hop on down to the local mega-mart for coffee. You have to order your capsules from Nespresso's website. Shipping, however, is a fixed amount and so it pays to order many boxes at a time and stock up. They usually have a shelf-life of about 6 months. But it's never taken more than 3 days to receive an order, so it's not a big deal, other than the cost.
In the end, I recently decided to replace my home Nespresso with a 'real' machine. The home Nespresso is now living out its days at my wife's office, much to the enjoyment of her staff. At home, I'm enjoying buying real beans, grinding them with a real grinder, and making a real mess of the kitchen again. But it's hard to say if the espresso is really and truly better. It will get there, but requires practice. The difference is that with a Nespresso, the shots are almost perfectly consistently average. Never fantastic, occasionally great, usually good, and only rarely bad (I've encountered a half-dozen duds over the past few years). With a regular mahcine, you get to play with grind, tamp pressure, different baskets, etc, etc, etc. Lots of room for success and failure. That's the strength and weakness of Nespresso. If you're willing to sacrifice the mystery and art of espresso for convenience and simplicity, and don't mind paying about 1/2 coffee-shop prices for home-made espresso, the Nespresso system may be right for you.