Starbucks Verismo vs. Nestle Nespresso

I love, love Starbucks. Within the past year, I have fallen into the “I hit the Starbucks drive through every work day morning” (which is 2 days a week, not bad) obsession and I pledge allegiance to them. When I was in New York a few weeks ago at BlogHer12 I was lucky enough to get invited to a private demo of their new espresso pod brewing machine. The demonstration took about 15 minutes and she brewed a few pods of espresso and milk and basically explained the process and showed us how the machine worked. Afterwards, we went to the testing room and all brewed our own drinks.

The machine was really cool and brewed piping hot Starbucks-tasting espresso. Starbucks has a specific taste to it, you kind of just know it’s Starbucks’ coffee/espresso when you’re a loyal customer, and it seems that people either love it or hate it. Starbucks also created milk pods, made with dehydrated milk which the demonstrator said cuts down on the “burnt milk” flavor that other machines (like the Tassimo) can create. I used to own a Tassimo and I know what she’s talking about. However, I don’t agree that that “burnt milk” taste is not there. It was. There’s a different between fresh, regular pasteurized milk and ultra pasteurized, dehydrated milk. It just tastes different. So no, the milk pods did not taste like fresh milk.

 

When I got home from BlogHer12, I really started thinking about the Verismo. My mom had a Nespresso machine and it seemed very similar, but I had only had one drink from it up until then. I was talking to my mom about her Nespresso and expressed interest in getting one for Christmas. She, being a Nespresso addict, instead ordered one right away and dropped it off at my house 2 days later with a large handful of espresso pods to try out. Right there is where there’s a BIG, BIG difference between the Nespresso and Verismo. Nespresso makes about 16 different flavors that all have different distinct flavors and characteristics. Starbucks, I believe, has 2 choices so far: regular or decaf. I am not sure if they are planning to release different types of pods or not. As of this blog posting, Starbucks has released additional flavors. There are 8.

I have been using my Nespresso daily to make my favorite drink, an Iced Americano. An Americano is espresso with hot water, or the iced version, hot brewed espresso poured over ice and filled with cold water. I have found that this drink is the best way to discover the different tastes in all of the pods and I haven’t disliked a single one of them so far. I only have one more to try out of the original 16. I’m not worried about not liking it. My homemade Iced Americanos are even more delicious than Starbucks, and because I like my drinks strong, I brew all of the pods on the Lungo setting, which makes a bigger espresso drink.

Colorful Nespresso pods

The Nespresso machine does not brew milk pods. Nestle does not make milk pods. If you want steamed milk, you have to do it the old fashioned way…in a milk steamer/frother. However, Nespresso sells a package for those of us who want steamed milk drinks that includes their Aerrocino Plus with the machine at a discounted price. Steaming your own milk opens the doors for other milk possibilities. You can steam regular milk, skim milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and even add a splash of creamer in with your milk. The Aerrocino makes hot steamed milk or cold frothed milk, whatever the user wishes, depending on how it is activated.

In fact, I love my Nespresso so much that now on the days that I hit the Starbucks drive through in the morning, it’s only to get my breakfast food love, the bacon gouda sandwich…my homemade Nespresso Iced Americano sits waiting in my cupholder, beckoning me to drink it’s delicious cold goodness while eating my favorite breakfast sandwich.

How to make an iced Americano: Step 1, brew espresso. Step 2, pour over ice. Step 3, add cream, sugar, or nothing. Step 4, enjoy!

Below is a very small list of what I find to be the pros and cons of both systems.

Starbucks Verismo PROS:

  • Tastes like Starbucks, but brewed right at home
  • Machine brews both espresso and steams milk, no need for additional machine
  • Costs around $1.61 per espresso drink ($12.95 for a package of 8 espresso and 8 milk pods)

Starbucks Verismo CONS:

  • Limited selection of espresso pods
  • Machine steamed milk tastes ultra-pasteurized, fake
  • Machine takes only Starbucks Verismo pods

 

Nespresso PROS:

  • 16 different flavors of pods, including 2 decaf flavors and 4 specially formulated to brew “lungo” (large)
  • Pods cost $0.60-0.65 each

Nespresso CONS:

  • Separate machine needed to steam milk (but the user isn’t limited to the type of milk steamed!)
  • Machine takes only Nespresso pods

 

Overall, for me, I say that Nespresso is the clear winner. I definitely prefer the taste of the Nespresso espresso choices over even fresh brewed espresso at Starbucks.

 

To give a full disclaimer, neither of these companies sponsored this post. I had only a 15 minute demo plus play time with Starbucks Verismo but I use my Nespresso on a daily basis, so this post might be biased towards my Nespresso. I haven’t been given a Verismo machine to test at home so I am not aware of all it’s options, if it has anything else other than what I saw.

 

UPDATE 1/1/2013…I got the chance to try the Verismo again at Wine & Dine Wisconsin and am still very much more pleased with the Nespresso. There’s absolutely no comparison between frothing fresh milk with the Aeroccino and the powdered milk pods from Starbucks. I’ll just keep paying for my overpriced Starbucks when I want it at the drive through!

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Comments

  1. I agree! Nespresso tastes like coffee you get it Italy. I love it too :)

  2. Thank you so much for this review! I am tryIng to break the Keurig curse, lol! After at least 3 failed machines, I am not willing to give up the single brew system but there has to be a better way. I am in a rural area of the country so good news travels slow! I just saw the new Verismo yesterday at William-Sonoma on a trip to the Big D. I was sold on that being my next machine until I saw the commercial for the Nespresso last night when we got home. Without your review, the way they work looks nearly identical other than the “milk” pod. Of course, the demonstrator at WS, really touted the milk option but even looking at the powdered pod, I could tell it looked less than fresh. I would not mind at all having the extra machine to use fresh milk. Many mornings, I drink my coffee black so it’s not really an issue but sometimes, I go the extra mile. I also really need the option of decaf pods since I drink SO much. At some point during the day, I have to switch to decaf or risk a racing heartbeat. :) . Thanks again for your comparison! I look forward to the day when I’m bragging about the Nespresso to friends and helping them also break away from the disappointment of the Keurig.

    • It has been a long time since you posted this, I am hoping that you are in Nespresso heaven now! I finally got my Aeroccino back out and have been making some bad-ass lattes this week. There’s no way the Verismo can compare to them! I had the chance to try it out again at Wine & Dine Wisconsin and yep, still like my Nespresso more :)

  3. On the Nespresso D260, the milk frother is part of the machine :-)

    The biggest challenge for me with the Starbucks machine is the price of the pods…I was told this morning that the espresso pods come in an 8 pack for $12.95…that is $1.61 per pod compared to the Nespress cost of $0.60 to $0.65 per.

    I do three shot lattes for my wife and I every morning $1.80 plus milk x2 ($1314yr for us) …with the Starbucks machine that would be $3525/yr

    • Wow, that is a BIG difference in yearly cost! I usually just make my Nespresso pods on the lungo setting even if they aren’t made for that…I honestly can’t taste a difference :P

  4. great, great comparison. i read at least 6 other reviews and they didn’t address taste
    (they only mentioned price, noise, and how they work). when you mentioned like how you that the iced drinks brings out the flavor of each nespresso pod, knew that you were serious about the taste. sold!

  5. First I’d like to thank you for the information that you’ve shared….it’s very helpful.

    I’m going to be buying a Nespresso machine in the next week or two, and it seems like now they have some that have built in milk frothers/steamers. These are the DeLonghi Latissima machines. They have removable milk containers that attach to the machines and automatically dispense steamed milk/froth to your coffee cup depending on which coffee drink you’re making. It’s all done automatically at the push of a button….which makes it almost as simple as the Starbucks Verismo milk drinks, but with real milk, not powder. Once you’re done you can just store the machine’s milk container in the fridge until the next time you need it.

    The Nespresso machines that have the built-in milk frothers are:

    -DeLonghi Latissima EN720
    -DeLonghi Latissima EN680
    -DeLonghi Latissima EN670
    -DeLonghi Latissima EN660
    -DeLonghi Latissima EN520

    Most of these even dispense hot water if you need to make some tea, or add hot water to your espresso drink.

    i think I will be getting the EN720

    One thing though about these DeLonghi Latissima Nespresso machines is that they are pricey compared to most other capsule system machines, but at least you don’t have to buy a separate frother. Also, they are made in Italy with supposedly swiss made internals, not made in China like the Keurigs…..at least the couple of models that I checked.

    Rod

  6. Hi! I was just wondering which model you own. I’m looking to get a Nespresso machine and wanted to know if you would recommend it or suggest a different version or if a certain setting is crucial to you that I might not have considered. Thanks so much!

  7. You all might like this as an FYI. I had been interested in nespresso since I too was unimpressed with the most popular pod brewers. I did some research and eventually chose a CBTL Caffitaly machine, a system widely used in Europe and the South pacific. The coffee capsules come from Italy and are delicious. Amazing espresso. Altho any Caffitaly capsule will fit. The machine is impressive and was far less expensive than even the Sbux.

  8. Hi there! I have a verismo machine, which I really enjoy, and was wondering if anyone knows if the nespresso pods fit the verismo machine. Thank you! :)

  9. Thank you so much for the review! I am trying to decide which system to purchase, and the milk consideration is HUGE for me as I prefer lattes or macchiatos. I’ve tried espresso pods with both systems and think they are both delicious, but the cost benefits for the Nespresso and the taste of real milk versus the fake milk (I currently have a Tassimo) would be worth every penny for me! Again, thanks for the information!

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