Now here's a review of a product you do not see everyday on this blog - an espresso machine. Yes, we've finally broken down and bought a Nespresso machine. We were initially sceptical about Nespresso's claim that their machines were able to produce authentic espresso, but after numerous sessions (as well as trying out their competitor's products) we think they are right on the money. The fact that we do not need (can't afford) a large expensive espresso machine or messy coffee grinders is also a factor in our decision to get this.
Because the internals are build to Nespresso's exact specifications, this review of the Magimix CitiZ M190 can also be applied to all other Nespresso CitiZ machines whether made by Magimix or other brands like Krups. There is also a version with milk frother for not much more, but you will lose the CitiZ only unique advantage - its size.
First the hardware itself. The CitiZ is a slim, compact and stylish machine that is perfect for those with small kitchens with limited work surface (like us). Using it is easy, just slot in a Nespresso coffee pod and press a button and viola - a perfect cup of espresso forms within seconds. The CitiZ allows for larger mugs as well as tall latte macciato glasses - useful for when you are looking for something other than a strong cup of espresso. Used capsules are ejected onto a tray where it can be disposed of easily. At the back resides a 1 litre water tank which shouldn't need replacing often unless you are a real addict. The volume of each espresso cup or mug can be programmed.
The CitiZ do lack many of the features found on the more expensive models, as well as the cheaper Essenza range (which is generally lighter, can store more used capsules and allows you to remove unused pods should you change your mind). What you do pay more for the CitiZ range is for its retro design (I am a complete sucker for good retro designs) as well as the compactness.
The CitiZ range was created for urban dwellers with small kitchens, so it really isn't a surprise on how much slimmer it is compared to the other machines within Nespresso's other range. The machine also comes with 3 years warranty (at least for UK residents, and subject to becoming a Nespresso Club member), and if the machine breaks they will send you a replacement whilst they fix yours, which is always a good thing.
There are 16 varieties of Nespresso capsules/pods (or as Nespresso puts it 'Grand Crus' - whatever), not including the various limited edition flavours. Each are unique not only in taste or source, but intensity (from a scale of one to ten), flavour and cup size (espresso, lungo, cappuccino). Three of them are decaffeinated, so you will at least have a choice for some late drinking, and four are lungo sized meaning they are designed for 110ml mugs.
The pods aren't actually that pricey - about 30-35p each, which is far cheaper than walking to a decent cafe, fighting the queue and then looking for a seat. The biggest issue I have with the Nespresso is there currently isn't a recycling scheme. So to recycle, as we have to manually dig out the used coffee grounds first (there are third party accessories designed to ease this task) before bringing them to the local recycling point. A recycling scheme by Nespresso where members can bring in used pods to a Nespresso boutique in exchange for a small discount on capsule purchases would encourage more people to recycle, and is something I hope the people at Nespresso is considering.
I won't comment about the individual taste, as everyone has their own personal preference and taste buds - but with 16 varieties there's probably something for everyone. I don't drink coffee religiously but my partner, Jenni, does. So while I can't stand anything above the intensity of six, she can't take anything other than intensity seven or above. Regardless every cup of espresso I've had was fresh and had a perfect layer of crema. Brilliant stuff.