* Prices may differ from that shown
After a lot of research, we finally decided on this model as a gift for my father, and ultimately I feel like we made the right decision.
The small design of this (and having a separate milk frother) and the interesting colours were immediately appealing to us. The machine comes with a large range of nespresso capsules, so you can work out what you like without spending lots of money. Overall the packaging seems quite thorough, everything has been well wrapped and you don't feel like you're buying something cheap. Extensive instructions come with the machine and we were soon plugged in ready to go.
The first use of the machine was something which I felt required a bit of practice. Filling the machine up with water was easy enough, but I feel like more attention should be given to how to put the capsule into the machine. I knew because I've used one before, but my father was less sure and you could easily waste capsules here by not pressing them down or doing it at the wrong time. The general idea is that you pop in the capsule and pull the handle down to pierce it inside the machine. This is quite a stiff handle, but the machine is weighty enough that it stays in place while you do this. You then select a short or long coffee and pop your cup underneath the spout.
I was impressed at how quickly the water came out hot of here, but it wasn't absolutely boiling. I suspect that this is largely due to an ideal coffee temperature or similar, but if you like your coffee piping hot this may not be for you. You can also of course heat your cup before you fill it, but this removes a bit of the easiness of this machine. One other issue we encountered was that you can fold up the drainage tray to fit in a larger cup for a long coffee, but it doesn't seem to stay up. You'd hope that there would be some sort of catch here, or at least a magnet to hold it up but I found it a bit disappointing. Filling up the water in the back of the machine and emptying the used capsule tub is very easy an intuitive.
Once you've got the knack of it, I would praise this machine for being very easy and not dominating the work surface, but due to the temperature issues and slight difficulty in accommodating larger cups, it loses a point in my book. A fantastic product for the price in any case.
The heavily branded Nespresso with its exclusive membership and sleek looking machines appear to have cornered the market, but is this just clever marketing or a genuinely good product? Having owned one for a few months I can say Nespresso coffee is good and myself and many others agree its actually better than a coffee from Starbucks, if its good enough for Heston Blumenthal then the coffee must be good as he's a real perfectionist.
This review is on the Krups Nespresso Pixie but many of the details will be common on the Magimix and other Nespresso machines. Nespresso Pixie espresso machines are either by Magimix or Krups, in essence the machines are identical with just some minor cosmetic differences which set them apart. The machines make coffee using a pod based system, giving the attraction of fresh coffee with minimal mess and cleaning.
The Pixie is the newest and most compact expresso machine they currently do, measuring in at H23cm, W11cm and L32cm (with tray down), it easily fits on the kitchen worktop taking up very little space. The machine looks good as well, I went for the Krups one with the ribbed industrial look, the Magimix ones have flat side panels. They come in several colours so variety to suit everyone.
The machine itself is very well built and of really good quality, no cheap flimsy plastic. A water container sits on the back and on the Pixie model holds around 800ml of water, the lid to the container can be lifted and topped up or the container can be lifted away from the machine to top up or clean. A push pressure valve at the bottom of the container means no leaks when it lifted off. The top of the machine has 3 buttons Power, Espresso and Lungo (larger quantity. Towards the front of the machine is a chrome curved handle, and the drip tray and capsule holder. The drip tray folds up for larger sized cups and the entire tray and holder slide out to allow the drip tray to be emptied, and the capsules to be emptied. It will hold around 10 capsules and the ribbed Perspex front allows you to see how full it is. Lights either side in a line on the capsule holder warn you in red when the water container is empty and light up when the machine is making the coffee.
The Pixie is more energy efficient due to it powering off after 9 mins on standby, but I just press the power button to turn it off once used. And as it only heats the water it needs its more energy efficient than a kettle.
The machine comes with a 2 year warranty and should it require repair, the machine is collected by courier and a loan machine given to you whilst any work on your is done - all very efficient and professional.
16 pods are available, made up of decaffeinated, espresso and lungo of various strengths and flavours. Occasionally special one off pods are released. The pods themselves are hermetically-sealed aluminium capsules which provides optimum conditions to preserve and prevent oxidation of the coffee, this means when you have the coffee it is super fresh and full of aroma. The pods can be purchased online at the Nespresso site or via some special boutique shops. Ordering online is simple but a delivery charge applies of around £4 if you order less than 200 pods - 200! I hear you say - the pods stay fresh guaranteed for 9 months due to the way they are sealed, so its not as though you have to drink all 200 that month. You do have to order in minimum 50 pods and so either 50, 100, 150 200 etc.
All the tasting notes and details are on the Nespresso site and becoming a member gives you access to coffee specialists and other member benefits - all I an attempt to give an exclusive appeal and make you feel like an important customer - which is not a bad thing!
The coffee itself is very good, and having compared espresso with Starbucks I much prefer the Nespresso one as it was no way as bitter and had a much better crema on the top. I tend to make some hot milk and add a strong espresso to make a latte or make cappuccino; whilst it is an espresso machine you can make other types of coffee with it. You can buy a standalone milk aeroccino to heat and make frothy milk, or use a microwave and those battery powered whisks.
**How it works**
This is the simple part, you switch on the power button, and the lights on the top flash to show its warming up which takes a mere 25 seconds, you lift the chrome handle, pop in your chosen coffee pod, close the handle down and then select either espresso or lungo, and that's it the coffee comes out at a 19 bar pressure. A cup of coffee in under a minute. The water is not boiling point as this would burn the coffee giving it a bitter taste; instead the machine sets the optimum temperature. It has been said the coffee is not hot enough, but it's advised to put a shot of plain hot water (just do the same with no pod in) - this pre-warms the pipe and the hot water pre-warms the cup.
The amount of coffee can be adjusted, so either pressing the button again or if you press and hold one of the buttons (espresso or lungo) and wait till the machine has dispensed the volume you want then let go of the button the machine will automatically dispense this amount every time you use the machine, a reset function can restore the machine back to factory settings.
When finished to make another coffee just lift the handle the used coffee pod from earlier drops down into the container and you place your new pod in - Very simple.
What cleaning! - No coffee mess like a filter machine. It's recommended to de-scale the machine, and ideally you should used filtered water, tap water can really change the taste of the coffee (see my Brita water filter review!) The only items I tend to wash out are the drip tray and capsule holder as and when it's near full of empty pods. Other than that no other cleaning is needed.
This is one of the big things that put people off buying into the Nespresso machine and usually the main topic of conversation on reviews.
Firstly the machine cost, the Nespresso Pixie is priced around £125 as mentioned above Krups and Magimix are usually similar in price dependent on offers. You will find several offers on the machines, I got mine for £112 and generally offers seen on Amazon. Every so often they also have cash back offers of £40 so if you're considering buying one and can wait they are bound to have a £40 cash back offer again - the cash back is paid into your Nespresso account and can be used to buy coffee or branded cups etc.
At £112 this may at first seem expensive but if you compare with other similar machines then it isn't that expensive, with many other machines around the £150 mark and even up to several thousand. Is it worth £125 - yes, it doesn't feel cheap and looks and feels expensive.
Coffee - well this is the key money making machine for Nespresso, currently coffee pods can only be purchased online from Nespresso or in special boutique shops. Ive read that come 2012 other companies can legally make and sell pods for the machine. I've also read that some people buy empty plastic pods or put foil over the top and use them up but why! - what's the point in having the convenience and no mess option if you then create mess and the coffee wont taste as good.
As for the cost of the coffee this is expensive but surprisingly not much more than the alternatives:
* Nespresso - Pods are between 28p and 33p dependent on which one.
(Around 25g is needed for a cup of cafetiere or 10g for single espresso) (Supermarket coffee prices)
Illy Espresso costs £5.89 for 250g = 24p a cup of espresso
Douwe Egberts cafetiere coffee 500g for £5 = 25p a cup
* Tassimo kenco coffee 16 pods for £3.89 = 24p a cup
* Instant coffee Nescafe original £2.68 100g (at 3g a cup) = 8p a cup
* Starbucks/coffee shop - haven't been for a while buts its a few quid!
So comparing to the competitor Tassimo machine the coffee is about 4-9p more a cup but the Tassimo uses standard coffee, and so it's not as nice. Comparing to a standard cafetiere at 25p a cup its not a huge difference and again cafetiere coffee has lost a lot of the aroma and flavour before you buy it and then once opened it only gets worse, whereas the Nespresso pods remain as fresh as the day they had been ground for 9 months so no escaping flavour or aroma.
So to conclude is it over expensive - yes if you have Nespresso as your everyday drink, so drinking say 3-5 cups a day, this would get very expensive. I don't have Nespresso coffee every day, and use the Nespresso as a replacement to the cafetiere so notice little difference in the cost but all the benefit of taste and convenience. And more than likely once competition can enter the market the prices will come down.
For those that are thinking how environmentally unfriendly it is. The pods are made of aluminium which is infinitely recyclable, its easy enough to empty the coffee out of the pods and use as fertiliser and then pop the pods in your recycling or Nespresso can provide a recycle bag which gets collected when you next lot of pods are delivered. So you can make it as environmentally friendly as you want.
As with most things in life you get what you pay for, and so its no surprise the customer service for Nespresso is very good, as good as it gets to be honest, they are quick to answer the phone, very helpful. And yes you are paying for this, but other companies charge high prices and dont understand the concept of customer service.
Overall - I would have given the Nespresso 5 stars but feel the price of the pods a factor for most people and so have marked it down a point but if you would happily pay a few pence more for a cup of coffee then its 5 stars.
0.7 litre removable water tank