If you love espresso shots, and love convenience, this is a great machine and an eye-catching conversation piece, too.
Positive Product Points
- very cool to look at - very easy to use - makes excellent espresso of consistent quality - coffee pods are always fresh and come in a number of varieties - quick clean up - incredibly thick crema, every time
Negative Product Points
- it's a little bit noisy - pods are expensive and available at limited locations - limited variety of pods (i.e. you can't make your own blends or experiment) - it's manual - steaming milk can be a bit fiddly; you have to keep a careful eye on the indicator lights to ensure you're steaming the milk and not just adding hot water to it.
We had been wanting a fully automatic Capresso C3000 for quite some time, so when we passed the Nespresso booth at the Las Vegas Coffeefest we didn't really give their machines a second thought. The machine looked very cool, but we weren't interested in another manual espresso machine. We also assumed that the use of pods would result in stale, bland coffee. We tried a free sample, however, and we were hooked.
Our Nespresso C190 makes amazing espresso, and I think we're pretty fussy about our coffee. Just pop a pod in the machine, pull down the handle to close the lid (and puncture the pod), then pull the control lever towards you to draw water through the pod and into your waiting cup. That's about it. When you're finished, push the lever back to the "neutral" position, open the lid, and the pod is dumped into a little trash receptacle in the machine (it holds about 10 spent pods). Clean up consists of simply sliding the bottom tray out, dumping the old pods in the trash, and giving the receptacle a rinse if desired.
Water is stored in a removable water tank which attaches to the back of the machine (the same way a water jug attaches to the office water cooler, but on a much smaller scale). We use bottled water because we have very hard water and haven't had any scale buildup yet.
Steaming milk is also possible. Once you've made your espresso, flip a rocker switch to the "steam" position, and the indicator light will start to flash amber. When it changes to a solid amber, you put the steam nozzle into your milk then push the control lever away from you to produce steam. I have a couple of caveats about steaming milk with the C190, however. The nozzle is intended to fit in just a small espresso cup, so steaming larger quantities of milk is a bit more awkward. The base of the machine tends to get in the way if you try to steam milk in a stainless steel jug, for example. Also, if you put the machine into "steam mode" then wait too long to actually start steaming milk, it will overheat and automatically take itself out of steam mode and the indicator light will rapidly flash green. If you notice this has happened, you just flip the rocker switch back to steam mode again. If you don't notice, you end up shooting hot water into your milk instead of steam. So, a bit of diligence is required when steaming milk. Cleanup is a breeze again, though. The steam nozzle unscrews for convenience.
The best thing about our C190 is just the quality of the espresso. We think it's superb, and the crema is so thick it looks like the head on a mug of root beer. We keep small espresso cups around to help us measure the amount of water needed, so that takes some of the bother out of the "manual" part. The machine heats up quickly, and I can make two shots (and cleanup), in about two minutes.
The coffee pods have been excellent. We've tried all 10 blends, as well as some of Nespresso's seasonal offerings, and think they're all wonderful and distinctive. The color of the pod is related to the darkness of the roast, so a lighter pod means a lighter roast, and vice-versa. They also provide two distinctly different decaf blends. They aren't cheap -- each pod costs about 45 cents. However, there's no grinding, no measuring, and no tamping, and it's still a great deal compared to what we'd normally spend at Starbucks.
We bought our machine directly from the local Nespresso distributor in Las Vegas, Coffessimo.com. We paid $325 cash, and were given 10 free sleeves of pods of our choice (the equivalent of 100 pods, or $45 worth of product).
We buy our pods directly from Nespresso.com now, and they have wonderful customer service. Orders are shipped UPS 2-day for only $4.95, and they often include free sample pods. With our first order, we received a gift of a beautiful sampler box containing two of every type of pod available, so we were able to try them all. Our recent order of pods came a bit damaged (4 pods were crushed), and Nespresso immediately sent out a full-sleeve, 10 pod replacement at no charge.