Capsule Espresso Machines: Caffeine Convenience
If you're like Kristina, your morning cup of coffee is a very important start to your day. With the advent of capsule espresso machines that do all the work for you, it's even easier to create the perfect cup. We find out which of 5 machines is the crèma of the crop.
Espresso is traditional, Italian-style coffee. Espresso machines are specially designed to produce espresso beverages.
Espresso machines force hot (90C/200F) water under pressure through tightly-packed, finely-ground coffee. The result is a small “shot” of highly concentrated coffee with a foam “crema” layer.
The reddish-brown, velvety crema layer is a mixture of emulsified fat of the coffee beans and very hot water, a result of the high pressure used to produce the shot. It’s a very important part of espresso drinks, distinguishing it from regular drip coffee.
Perfect crema should be a rich, aromatic, velvety, reddish brown at least 2mm thick. It should only dissipate after many minutes, and should leave a dark brown film on the sides of the cup.
There are two types of machines: manual pump and automatic pump. If you’re new to making your own espresso, you may want to consider an automatic pump to start you off. Manual pumps give you more control, but they are also more complex to operate.
Pods or capsule machines are the simplest of all. For these, beans are pre-ground and pre-measured. Just pop in the pod, press a button, and your shot is ready.
Pods/capsules are more expensive than buying beans and grinding them yourself, but the convenience may outweigh the cost. They also produce a lot of extra waste so be sure your recycling facilities accept the capsules.
Milk features add to size, cost, and complexity. Simpler machines have no milk feature, or just a steam wand. More elaborate machines will have a canister for milk.
Shot strength: some machines allow you to control how much water is used for each.
Most capsule machine manufacturers offer a variety of flavours available, including flavoured espresso and even tea and hot chocolate. Combo machines can be a great space-saver if you like to enjoy different beverages throughout the day.
Beware bitterness! If your espresso is bitter, don’t blame the coffee. Make sure the machine is clean.
We took four popular capsule espresso machines to a local Vancouver coffee hot spot, Continental Coffee on Commercial Drive, and taste tested the shots from each capsule machine with some coffee connoisseurs. We tested:
Dolce Gusto Circolo by T-Fal (Krups):$79
Capsules: $0.56/each, 13 varieties
Bialetti Mini Express: $129.99
Capsules: $0.62/each, 5 flavours
:: Walmart.ca :: bialettishop.com
Nespresso Pixie (D60): $249
Capsules: $0.63/each, 16 varieties
:: Amazon.ca :: Amazon.com
Caffitaly S05: $299.99
Capsules: $0.65/each, wide variety plus tea and cocoa
:: CaffitalyCanada.com :: Amazon.com
The temperature of the perfect shot of espresso should be between 160-165F.
- Bialetti & Caffitaly topped out at only 156F.
- The Dolce Gusto hit 167F, a little hot.
- The Nespresso Pixie was bang on with temperature at 162F.
- All machines produced decent crema, but the Caffitaly machine produced the best quality.
- The Nespresso Pixie for was easy to use. You press a button and can walk away. It also has a nice small size. It also allows for many different cup sizes, and has metal capsules, which are easily recyclable.
Our coffee afficionados used these words to describe the shots from our four test products:
- Caffitaly: super bitter
- Nespresso Pixie: nice crema on top, strong, I like that one.
- Bialetti Mini Express: seriously strong
- Dolce Gusto: Thin body, not much going for it.
OUR TOP PICK
The Nespresso Pixie won out over the rest for its ease of use, flavour variety, and taste.