Published on February 25th, 2010 | by Greg0
Nespresso Espresses With The Best
It’s no secret that everyone on staff here has some sort of love affair with coffee. Having lived in Seattle, it’s possible that my level of coffee snobbery is a touch more out of control than others around here (though not quite this out of control). It has occurred to me that for as much as we’ve discussed coffee around here, the specifics of good coffee have not been reviewed. In an attempt to ease my own conscience over this lack of information on our part I’m going to do a quick review of making good espresso.
Coffee lovers around the world seem to be in agreement that the best shot of espresso has a nice crema, and a smooth taste. Coffee should not be bitter, even when using the darkest roast you can get your hands on. If your espresso is bitter there are a handful of things that could be going wrong. For a smooth espresso with a nice crema it should take approximately 20-25 seconds to brew 2 ounces. Of course it’s never quite that simple, right? Coffee beans that are ground too fine or too coarse will allow water to move through too fast or not quickly enough. Grounds that are tamped too loose or too tight will result in the same. If you drink a lot of coffee it’s worth investing in a nice burr grinder and figuring out exactly what settings work with the machine you’re using. There are many really good espresso machine options available, from inexpensive or portable, as well as elegant. Pressure of the machine is another one that affects the rate that your shot is pulled, though for most home use this is the least likely to affect your coffee, as most decent machines should be powered correctly. You want your shot brewed around 190 degrees F, and you should ideally be serving and drinking that shot at around 160 degrees F.
Right. So, now that you’ve got a basic idea of what should be going on when you make espresso let’s talk about a great way to avoid having to employ any of that knowledge, and still get a great shot of espresso! Nespresso’s Le Cube is a mid-level espresso machine that utilizes coffee capsules. Plenty of people have fought with cheap espresso machines, and consequently get frustrated and turned off to the idea of making espresso at home. This machine takes all of the guesswork out of brewing a good shot. The water is warmed via a thermobloc heater to the proper temperature for extraction, and there is a place to warm your demitasse so that your shot can be served at the correct temperature as well. Using a capsule means that the coffee has been ground to the correct setting for this machine, and tamped properly for you. Le Cube comes with a discovery box of coffee capsules, both decaf and regular, so that you have the opportunity to try out several of their varieties of coffee. If you are of the cappuccino or latte ilk consider adding the Aeroccino for an easy milk-frothing option.
This machine is ideal for small spaces, and has a fun, modern aesthetic to it. It fits nicely on any countertop, and looks stylish next to your other appliances (though it may make them look a bit dowdy in comparison). Setup and operation could not be simpler, and we’re always big fans of capsule brews- everyone gets the style they want, with no fuss. Capsules collect for easy disposal, and avoid the burned fingers and mess that come with some other systems. Environmentally, these capsules are also much smaller than the K-cups and several others. And while you may not be able to use the espresso from your favorite roaster- the main downside- Nespresso does offer quite a few options, 16 in total (plus special club options). They include some excellent single-origins from Columbia and Brazil that were our favorites and ‘Lungos’ meant to be enjoyed in a larger portion.
The coffee from Nepresso is certainly tasty, and in case you get overwhelmed by options or aren’t sure which to pick, they offer a handy tool. Le Cube isn’t the cheapest espresso machine on the market, but certainly not the most expensive either. Weighing in at around $200 this machine will pay for itself quite quickly if you’re accustomed to buying your coffee in a coffee shop. At 55 cents or so per capsule, Certainly there are machines available that are less automatic, which would give you more control over your shot, but if you’re simply looking for good espresso with minimum fuss in a nice compact package, the Le Cube could be for you.