Nespresso C180 Le Cube

Coffee Rating: 5.90

Type of Machine: Super-automatic home espresso
Consistency: Very consistent
Espresso Machine Manufacturer: Nespresso
Size: M
Primary Taste: Warming
Coffee Beans: Nespresso Ristretto
Price: $299
Aroma: 6
Body: 5
Brightness: 6
Crema: 6
Flavor: 6
Taster's Correction: +0.5
Reviewed: 5/27/2007
Notes: Coffee Sales, Coffee Accessory Sales


The Nespresso has earned accolades from Consumer Reports, praise from various knock-off gadget blogs, and even highly favorable ratings on the respectable Yet despite all its praise -- and the jazz music soundtrack and luxury car TV advert polish on the device's Web site -- I've always felt the Nespresso to be woefully inadequate as a home espresso machine. It is one step forward in convenience (self-contained, push-button), but two steps backwards in quality (stale, pre-ground beans in mail-order capsules).

So I had to question myself: did I just not get it? Did I carry some irrational, resentful bias against the device's encroachment on the handmade craft of artisan espresso through automated coffee technology? But then I surely don't feel that way about roasters. Am I missing something transcendent that dozens of Coffee Geeks clearly experienced? It was time for a patented test.

Which one of these Nespresso pellets is 'coffee' flavored again? The Nespresso starts out with a lot of crema, even if it's a bit sickly looking

The pour starts out with a full crema right away -- which is impressive until you notice how sickly pale, mottled, and bubbly it looks. I actually found it downright unappetizing. Compare the color and texture of the espresso crema in the photos below of the Nespresso Ristretto shot and a typical shot I made at home. While a good, healthy looking crema isn't a guarantee of a great espresso, I've almost never had a good espresso with a sickly or absent crema. But, unlike the Krups Dark Ages, I suppose that a crema even exists at all is a step up.

The cup has a decent aroma, though its body is a touch thin (yet nowhere near as thin as the body I had from espresso made from the second-mortgage Jura machines I compared it with). While there are some hints of brightness in the cup, and the flavor is neither diluted nor watery, its flavor clearly lacks the robustness that comes with fresh coffee. Though there are some pleasant spice elements, the flavor profile is undeniably flat from age and lacking multiple elements of a typical espresso flavor spectrum.

Although the Nespresso's 5.90 coffee rating compares well with most Starbucks, the most disheartening part is that the Nespresso ensures that this is as good as your espresso will ever get -- by design, since the system was developed with the ultimate consistency in mind. So if you want milk or the chance of a better espresso, you're much better off shelling out another $300 to get a Rancilio Silvia and a decent burr grinder. Otherwise, I'd prefer a much cheaper Moka pot/stovetop coffee made with fresh beans -- even without the crema.

Finished as it started: the Nespresso with a mottled, lighter brown crema with large bubbles Contrast the crema color and consistency with a basic home espresso