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