Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. I am mad about real coffee. I bore my friends senseless about aroma, strength, intensity and crema. The fact of it is, I am old school. I love the process of grinding beans and brewing a fresh cup of espresso the old fashioned way, and bless it, my Baby Gaggia is like family to me.
The thing is, and this is a very big thing, it’s a messy business, and there are irritating downsides. The machine takes a while to heat up, the steam nozzle often gets clogged, the coffee gets stale pretty quickly, the old coffee grounds stain the sink etc. But nevertheless, that aroma gets me every time.
So, is there really a better way? Can I embrace new technology and go over to the dark side? Nespresso transformed the coffee world when it launched its innovative pod system. Suddenly, everyone’s a coffee expert, waxing lyrical about Grand Cru, Ristretto, Arpeggio, Lungo and host of other romantic sounding words harvested straight from an Italian dictionary. What’s more, my proud collection of coffee beans has been eclipsed by an endless array of gaily coloured pods all promising varying degrees of wonderment, beautifully presented in displays that are an art form in their own right.
All well and good, but as they say, the devil is in the detail, or in my case, the tasting…
The Gran Maestria Titanium, Nespresso’s newest creation made specifically for Krups, sits proudly astride my kitchen unit, all sleek lines of grey and black; its green ready light appearing in a matter of seconds. On the left side is a cup warmer tray, a great idea, because good coffee tastes even better from a warm cup. On the right side another marvel; the aeroccino jug, producing perfectly frothed milk in under a minute to suit your cup – be it latte, cappuccino, or cold frappuccino.
I raise the central pod arm, drop in a pod, select how much coffee I want dispensed and the magic begins. Each time, and let me be clear about this, I had many cups in the name of research, the coffee was a bull’s-eye.. Always the right temperature and always producing a delicious crema to die for. The empty pods conveniently disappear into the waste chamber, all clean and tidy.
There are downsides of course. At around £475 this is no cheap date, the pods are only available from Nespresso which work out more expensive per item than ground coffee (although there will be other suppliers who will produce pods as the Nespresso patents expire) and you can only deliver one cup at a time. But for any lover of fine coffee, this is well worth the investment. The pods ensure your coffee stays roasted fresh and there’s no mess.
Are there alternatives? Tassimo is a similar system which uses T-Discs and there’s Senseo and its Pad (like a tea bag) owned by respected coffee supplier Douwe Egberts. They are similar in many ways, but don’t match up to Nespresso’s pod system for freshness and usability.
For me, I’m hooked, and my old Gaggia is officially consigned to history.
Gran Maestria Titanium £475 www.nespresso.co.uk