Perhaps you’ve been seeing commercials for Nespresso lately. This phenomenon seems to have followed me home from France: I had never heard of it before April, but the apartment we rented in Paris had a machine; and since returning from vacation, I have seen increasingly visible advertisements for it.
Nespresso= Nestle + Espresso. It’s like a Keurig, except with a smaller capsule designed to draw a smaller cup (think a demi-tasse).
In Europe, Nespresso stores are ritzy affairs. The sales clerks are dressed all in black. There are multiple counters where one can purchase a prepared cup of the brew. You’re shuttled to a different zone of the store depending on what you seek. Chances are, the store has more style than you do—but they offer the hope that by buying one of their units, some of their hipness might rub off on you.
So what about the coffee? Honestly, I only had one cup of Nespresso-brand coffee. The rest of the time, we bought the off-brand capsules that were advertised as being nespresso-compatible. Otherwise, there would be very little cost savings between brewing a nespresso at home and going to a cafe where a barrista would brew a real espresso for you. I doubt that extent of competitive infrastructure exists in the US. If you purchase their machine, you’re likely locked into their over-priced coffee.
The piece of equipment that made the most sense to me was the Aeroccino 3, a milk frothing unit that heats and froths your milk for you in just over a minute. Thinking we had stumbled upon some piece of Euro-chicness that may never cross the pond, Rory and I sprang for one on the Champs-Elysees, and then bought a FR-EU electrical converter to plug it into our wall. It’s really something spectacular. Nothing jazzes up a cuppa joe like warm, frothy milk.
I recommend buying it and a stovetop Bialetti as a far more economical way to make a latte or cappuccino at home. There will be no plastic cartridge to dispose of after each cup; you’ll have a plethora of coffee suppliers from whom to purchase your beans; and you’ll have the opportunity to make a higher-quality cup whilst (and at the same time as) saving money on procurement of both equipment and coffee.