There’s making espresso the hardcore Italian way with levers, pullies, lots of hand waving, machine-like whines and grinds, and then there is Nespresso.
If you’re looking for a nice gift this holiday, you might want to check out the Nespresso line of machines. They’re the ones you see demonstrated at Sur La Table or Williams & Sonoma. I know. Because I’m there with my wife often, and it’s my chance to escape with a nice sample shot of espresso. It’s the closest thing I can get to electronic gadget nirvana in a kitchen shop.
There’s a lot of choice when it comes to these relatively new, capsule-based coffee and espresso machines. Brands such as Keurig, Braun, Krups, and DeLonghi. Some cost thousands of dollars. It’s hard to know where to start.
The Nespresso though wins top marks for a few reasons. First, price. You can get a great set-up for well under $300. Next, you have a great selection of pods that are decently priced, from strong espresso to lightly balanced, and even flavored. Take your pick. It’s fun.
Finally, the ultimate test is ease of use. These machines are simple. Turn on. Fill with water (if needed). Pop in a capsule. Push one button. And you have yourself a fine shot.
Flavor wise it also scores well. I’ve had the luxury of doing tasting Nespresso shots against a high end Pasquini that costs $1,600. The Nespresso was smooth, with nice crema and a great flavor. It was hard to tell any difference, even though the Pasquini shots were made with fresh beans.
If you are a true opera-loving, Italian espresso enthusiast, only the real deal will do. But be prepared for long morning performances of hand-waving, and grinding, followed by a clean-up after the audience has left and the light have gone down.
HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA
List price: $249, $299 with milk frother
They’ll thank you: for giving a nice morning pop of Italian grade espresso with minimal fuss.