It not only in our high streets that our growing love of real coffee is evident, more and more of us are buying Capsule Coffee Machines so we can enjoy an authentic caffeine fix at home. Capsule machines are easy to use not messy to clean afterwards. The downside is cost, whilst the machines are generally low priced, the capsules work out considerably more than buying beans or ground coffee. Three systems dominate the market, here we look at what they offer.
Part of Swiss food giant Nestlé, Nespresso is the big three’s premium brand. Anyone that watches television will have seen their George Clooney adverts. Although machines are widely available, Nespresso pods can only be bought in their specialist boutiques or online from the Nespresso Club.
As well as the familiar “original” system for the home market, there is the new Vertuo system using a different pod design allowing for longer drinks. Separate systems are made for office use with their own pod design. Here we just look at the original system.
Several manufactures offer machines including up market suppliers Sage and KitchenAid. Price range from under £100 to about £400. All machines deliver 19 bar pressure, essential for a good crema. More expensive models offer more features such as milk frothers, larger water reservoirs and higher power heaters. Even the cheapest models can be make a first class espresso.
This is where the Nespresso marketing goes into top gear. A wide range of varieties with differing flavours and strengths are on offer. From time to time, there are limited edition pods. All pods are the same size, but the amount of coffee inside varies. With the original system, by far the most common, standard or espresso pods are enough for 40ml whilst the Lungo (Long) pods deliver 110ml. If you prefer a long Americano, I find using two Arpeggio standard size pods per drink gives the best result. This may sound extravagant, but it’s still cheaper than a takeaway and be aware, they use two shots for longer drinks.
A free recycling service collects used capsules from home, alternatively you can take them to a boutique.
The system is no longer closed, you can buy compatible capsules from High Street shops and online. I tried several with my old machine with mixed results. As the savings were small, with my new machines, I’ve gone back to Nespresso.
Although most people will only use it for making coffee, it can also make tea and hot chocolate. The brand is now part of Jacobs Douwe Egberts owner of Kenco, Jacobs, Caffe Hag, Senseo and many more. The pods are known as T-Disks. For milk drinks you use a separate capsule.
The operating pressure is only 3.3 bar, much less than the 12 bar plus of espresso machines. Bosch and own brand Vivy and Suny models start at under £50.
Capsules or T-Disks
As well as capsules from Douwe Egberts brands, there are also ones from Cadburys, Costa and Twinings, over forty are on offer. T-Disks are widely available. Each capsule has a barcode instructing the machine what to do.
Capsule recycling is now on offer through a third party, TerraCycle. Used capsule have to be taken to one of their collection points.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto
Complementing their decidedly upmarket brand, Nespresso; Nestlé have a second player in the Big Three, Dolce Gusto. In contrast to their Nespresso system capsules are widely available in supermarkets.
Prices ranging from about £50 to £150 mostly from Krups and De’Longhi. Pump pressure is 15 bar.
In addition to standard coffees, flavoured pods are available. Dried milk pods are for milky drinks.
At present, there is no recycling.