Aug 26 2009

Nespresso good coffee or bad

Well I thought it about time we looked at the home coffee machines again, as we all tend to need or like a good coffee in the morning or just to have with a nice biscuite or cake the market for a simple easy to use and consistant machine is filled with many options.

We decided to look at the easy to use machines and the stand out is the Nespresso, this little machine came with a sepperate milk frother and heater but you could have simply used the centrifical self frothing jug option.

The first and foremost thing people tend to dwell upon is the price, granted that is usually the deciding key when making a luxury purchase. But when it comes to coffee or food I really believe that quality should be considered as you are spending on a luxury item that you want to not only last but give you the best results consistently.

With that as the brief I went on to test a couple of coffee machines and for the most part was disappointed with either the quality or the time it took to make a coffee. One of the machines which retails of upwards of (AU) $1200.00 + took 2 minutes to make a single cup and when you used the make 2 at a time method they crème was poor and it still took over 3 minutes.

So the time and quantity are also keys for me because if I am hosting a party or function at home and need to make 6 or more coffees I will want to bring them all out at once and at least have most if not all drinkable.

So lets get to the machine that I believe meets my requirements, the “Nespresso Gemini CS 100 Pro” now this is really easy to operate, the model we tested had a separate milk heating unit and frother [it really was suited for larger groups or a small office] but with that in mind there was also an option to use a jug that heats and froths the milk if you so desire froth, and this all happened very quickly.

But as I said the unit that was made available to use was pretty good. Now my testing and ranking:

• Must be easy to use
• Must be quick
• Must make a great coffee

Well that was it and so the testing began.
First I wanted to make one of each of the 3 sizes of coffees, a short black, a long black and a cappuccino or flat white or latte.

Short Black
Well the heated cup holder worked a dream the small cup is very warm not burning but good temperature, there is a button that represents a small or short cup so I put the coffee satchel in, place the cup under the outlet and press the button. Well it all happened within a few second water flows and it was all over the satchel has been automatically placed into a waste hopper and the short black looked impressive the crème is golden and thick sticking to the sides when I tilt the cup. How does it taste, well to my surprise very good, the temperature is good as well hot but not scalding the thermometer I used said about 82 degrees Celsius (179.6 Fahrenheit) this is a good short black.

Long Black
Again I removed cup from the top of the system but this time a large mug, it too was about the same temperature as the small cup. I repeated the process using the same coloured coffee satchel and yes it took a few second longer than the short black but that is too be expected. Now the crème, it too looks golden and thick it passed the same test as the short black but how does it taste. Wow it is almost identical and the temperature is 81.5 degrees Celsius ((178.7 Fahrenheit) pretty good possibly a bit lower as there is more volume and I took a little longer setting the thermometer. This is a good long black.

Well time to have a play with the milk machine, for this test I used full cream milk but you can use low fat or even Soya if you must. I proceeded as I did with the long black and used a mug, once I had this the mug was placed under the milk station and I added heated milk and finally froth. Wow this worked really well and it’s easy, the cup looked a bit naked so I shook some drinking chocolate powder over the top. The result looked the part but I needed to taste it, and it did not disappoint the coffee was hotter than the long black 84 degrees Celsius (183.2 Fahrenheit) no burnt taste just very drinkable good strong coffee.

Tea and Hot Chocolate
Well you thought that this is just a coffee machine well it also has an outlet that you can have boiling water or steam come out, this worked well with the English Breakfast teabags and drinking chocolate we tested.

The milk station made the hot chocolates smooth and hot and well if you must put milk in you tea I suggest cold from the fridge.

Well it passed the test making 1 cup of each type of coffee, but how does this unit handle volume will the quality drop? So to test this we made 10 short blacks, 10 long black in a row. As the cup holder could not accommodate 20 cups I cheated a bit and placed the cups in a sink of clean hot water for about 5 minutes before starting.

The test
Off we went we had the twenty satchels at the ready and the cups as well, it took just over 7 minutes to make all the cups which surprised me as this was quicker than I had expected. But how did they end up? The thermometer showed all where above 81 degrees Celsius (177.8 Fahrenheit) which is good but how did they taste this meant sipping each cup and the first 12 are good but as I get further along I noticed a metalic second aftertaste. My host recommended that we redo the test but this time fill the Gemini CS 100 with distilled water as the tap water possibly contained large traces of metals this sounds feasible.

So the unit was emptied and flushed with distilled water then filled with distilled water and again we made the 10 short blacks and 10 long blacks. The temperature and crème all looked good, but what about the taste? I again had a small sip of each cup and too my surprise they all passed the metallic aftertaste was not there.

Well the Nespresso Gemini CS 100 Pro with its accompanying milk unit passed the test with flying colours the coffee it produces is of a high standard and is consistent. But what about the cost as some of the other units we looked at the coffee came out at about (AU) $2 – 3 per cup. Well if you apparently subscribe to the free membership from the suppliers website after purchasing a Nespresso you get the satchels at a substantially cheaper rate and the cost per cup ranges from (AU)$1.50 to (AU)$2.00 which for the convenience and quality is pretty good.

Now there is as I said earlier a trade off for quality and that’s cost, the unit that we tested with the milk system comes in at about (AU) $1400.00 which is pretty hefty, you would save about (AU) $500.00 + if you just use the magic milk jug instead of the milk heating system we tested with, but I personally would get the full kit because it just made it easy and the results great.

Many of the machines we tried either did not produce a good coffee or reproduce a good coffee every time, some you needed a astrophysics degree to operate and even then the results did not meet the expectation based on the price and lets face it even when it comes to something so reveered as a good coffee price does matter.

For those interested the technical details are here:
Dimensions: 20,8 x 44,1 x 35,3 cm (WxDxH)
Weight: 9 kg
Power: 240 Volts 50 Hz 1300 Watts
2 year warrantee

* Semi-automatic insertion and ejection capsule system
* 3 programmable cup sizes Ristretto (regular), Espresso (short black) and Lungo (long black)
* Multi language digital display
* High speed hot water
* Capacity for 35 used capsules
* Cup warming plate
* 3 litre removable water reservoir

All in all I would give this a 8.5 out of 10

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