Nespresso v Gaggia

We like coffee – in fact we love coffee.

My perfect mornings start with a good strong latte.    Meanderings around our local town centre usually end up with a great coffee or two in one or two of our splendid independent coffee bars.  Our favourite cities are full of even more favourite coffee-based haunts.

Coffee officionados out there will probably laugh uproariously at us, but we also love Nespresso machines.

Some of you may have heard of the Nespresso brand before – most haven’t but Mr Clooney’s helping them improve their brand awareness 🙂

Part of the Nestle family, since 1986 the ‘Nespresso System’ has involved a variety of machines (currently 26 different models) made by a variety of ‘machine partners’ which currently include Magimix, De’Longhi, and Krups, along with a variety of  ‘Grand Cru’ capsules  to choose from – 16 at present.  They were one of the first companies to do so, and at the risk of sounding snobbish – they’re in a completely different class to the ‘Dolce-Gusto’, ‘Tassimo‘ and ‘Senseo‘ machines you can buy from an ever-growing number of outlets.   They don’t make hot chocolate or cappuccino or mochaccino’s from a single pod (dried milk…yuck!!!).  They do however dispense a measure of espresso that you can then make into the drink of your choice – either by adding milk, more hot water or just leaving it just the way it is.  Their entry level machines are a more expensive than their rivals in the ‘pod’ marketplace, and the higher end machines can cost the same, if not more, as the high end ‘traditional’ ground coffee espresso machines.  You can only buy their capsules either online or from one of their boutiques.  Their range of ‘Grand Cru’ coffee capsules, which are recyclable – thanks to their ‘Ecolaboration’ scheme aimed at sustainability –  are either blends or single origin and they range in strength from 1 -10.  The quality is amazingly consistent.  They’re simple to use, and are (almost) mess-free.  No loose grounds.  No tamping of ground coffee into a holder…no noisy banging of the holder to get the used grounds out.  They get to their 19 bar (yes 19…) pressure in less than a minute, producing a decent crema and a solid, decent tasting shot.

We’ve had several different models over the past 15 or so years, our first looking very much like this one…(complete with the fake filter holder for the capsules bless!)

Then we decided we’d like one of the newer looking models and got one of these…

Then decided we’d like a Le Cube…I’m a sucker for design and this looked sharp!  I even tried their Aerocino…(a separate milk frother jug thingamajig)!

Then we decided we’d like one small enough to take to Barcelona, so we got this one…

But then a couple of years ago they brought out the Citiz range…and we got our much loved current machine…

All in all, we think they’re pretty great.  For someone who just wants a reliably decent, easy to prepare, consistent shot (or three) of espresso they’re a solid piece of kit with a decent range of coffees available to use in them.

We have several other different ways of making our much-loved (non-alchoholic) beverage… These include a rather cute Magimix filter machine…

…an Aeropress

…and a rather lovely Hario V60 Decanter (drip jug)…

As our ‘personal development’ in the wonderful world of coffee continues, we’ve started getting in to grinding our own beans.  This is giving us the opportunity to get the best from freshly roasted beans from small roasters such as Hasbean, Square Mile and various other roasters in the UK and other various cities we visit around the world…

And there’s the rub – or should I say ‘grind’  – so to speak…

Over the years, our education  in the world of coffee has sort of gone like this…

Kindergarten – ‘gravy granules’ instant coffee…Mellow Birds to Nescafe…

Junior School – Douwe Egberts at home (our store cupboards were FULL of those glass jars…) and filter coffee at meetings…Our first filter coffee machine as a married couple was given to us as a wedding present…

High School – drip coffee of the day at Starbucks, or lattes with far too many extra shots…Caffe Nero espresso based drinks

College / Further Education – independents like Laynes, Opposite, Culture Espresso… learning more about different types of beans, different processes (pulped natural, honey method, washed…) and techniques – less milk, more flavour.  I’m sorry to say that when you get into the higher echelons of espresso perfection, I don’t actually like the taste – it’s just too much for me.  I need a little more water or milk in there – long blacks / ‘baby americano’s’ or flat whites & latte’s.  (I’m definitely with those whiskey drinkers who add a little water to their wee dram to bring out the flavour 🙂 )

And now we’re at a pivot point of our coffee development and have a challenging decision before us.

When the time comes, do we move away from the reliability, consistency, quality and simplicity that Nespresso gives us or do we push ourselves to the next level and move to the more hands-on, hand-made, possibly more accident-prone (and downright open to disaster) way of making our beloved brew…

If any machine were to tip us over it would be this one…

The Gaggia Baby Twin

A rather beautiful machine combining the history and strength of the Gaggia brand and engineering – a small home-based espresso machine that as they put it on their website, ‘…makes the professional values inherent in Gaggia’s commercial machines widely available for use in the home.’  Oh and it’s semi-automatic, just like our beloved Nespresso machines…! Idiot-proof to a certain extent? Win win!

Is this the next step in our caffeine evolution…?

As hard as it may be for the more serious coffee guys and gals out there to understand or appreciate – this isn’t an easy decision by any means…and one we’ll be pondering for a while to come I’m sure…!


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