What’s Your Favorite Coffee Machine?

I have a new love.

Some context: I’m still a novice coffee drinker. I started drinking coffee in 2019 when Megan introduced it to me. For a while I just went to various coffee shops for creaming, sweet drinks, and then we got a simple French press. Now I drink about half a cup a day of black coffee (if I’m feeling naughty, I’ll add a touch of sweetened condensed milk). We still go to coffee shops on occasion too.

I like the simplicity and elegance of the French press, I really do. But at my family reunion this past week, my cousins brought their Nespresso machine, and it absolutely blew my mind.

The machine–which I think technically is the Evoluo version of the Nespresso–makes coffee on demand, one cup at a time. You simply insert your mug and a pod, seal the machine, and press on. Literally 30 seconds later, you have a warm cup of coffee. The coffee is delicious while being void of additives like cream, syrup, and sugar (as far as I can tell).

The pods certainly aren’t ideal for the environment, but every shipment includes a self-addressed stamped sleeve for you to send the pods back to Nespresso to clean and recycle properly.

I think the Nespresso is brilliant. However, I think we’ll be sticking with our French press. It’s just so simple, and a $12 bag of coffee easily lasts us a month (compared to the $60 we’d spend each month on pods). But I definitely now understand why people speak so highly of this machine.

Have you tried a Nespresso (or their competitor, the Keurig)? What do you like best about it?

23 thoughts on “What’s Your Favorite Coffee Machine?”

  1. I love Nespresso and enjoy it when I go visit my parents. I have a French press but typically just use my drip machine . My alarm usually goes of between 4:30-5:30 so having it ready is great! There’s a Keurig at work so I keep a stash of pods in my office. I didn’t really start drinking coffee until I moved to Seattle in 2013.

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      • It’s a Melitta. My only requirement was having a reusable coffee filter so that I didn’t have to buy filters. I got a burr grinder about a year ago when my old grinder died. ( and yes, I used a mini food processor until I got my new grinder 🤣)

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  2. Amazon sells reusable nespresso pods, then you just need a grinder that can get your beans finely ground. Our favorite is the Aeropress, a single served french press that only takes a minute to make, clean up is a breeze, and paper filters leave less HDL’s than metal filters 🤔. Check out Alan Adler talking it up here: https://youtu.be/gkwcTNTkmBc

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  3. I always love to discuss coffee. If you’re going for a brewed/steeped coffee, french press is amazing. I still remember the first time I had it made that way and it was like drinking a new beverage. I spent the last 10 minutes looking for mine to get ready so I can rekindle it tomorrow morning.

    I second the Aeropress recommendation. Especially if you’re looking for something to bring while camping or traveling because it’s easy cleanup. A stack of paper filters will last a lifetime, and I have the metal ones too.

    I’ll also second a percolator. I had a stove-top brew at my wife’s aunts house maybe 10 years ago, and again, it was memorable. Perfect for serving multiple people at a thanksgiving dinner type gathering.

    And finally, if you’re an on-the-go sort of person, get a travel french press. It’s a mug with the basket built in. Fill with grounds and hot water and you’re ready. The grounds stay in there, so if you’re an all-day sipper no good – but if you’re a fast drinker it’s a easy one cup solution.

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    • Nicholas and John: I actually didn’t even know that French presses required paper filters–ours uses a metal filter that we clean. There’s never anything to dispose. It’s great! (This might be the “travel French press” you mentioned.)

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      • The Aeropress uses paper filters. For french press you use a coarse grind – for aeropress it’s a fine grind that is filtered with paper. Aeropress is going to give you closer to an espresso extract in a Americano form. French press is supposed to be coarse and filtered with the metal sieve (leaving behind just a touch of grit).

        Watch James Hoffmann. Great advice. Here’s his Aeropress technique https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6VlT_jUVPc and his french press technique https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st571DYYTR8

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          • If you end up getting the aeropress and dont love it, I will gladly trade you $30 worth of your favorite popcorn to have another one, but I have a feeling you will love the versatility it gives you, and you can reuse the paper filters indefinitely if you want. You can heat up the water in the microwave, or if you want to do cold brew, keep it on the counter for 12 hours the day before then plunge it…

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  4. Jamey,

    I absolutely love the Nespresso…Ping and I have one and we would indulge ourselves on the weekend with a cup as the preparation is only a few minutes for two great cups of coffee. Obviously, our views have changed now that we own and operate a café…we still do love our Nespresso, but it certainly doesn’t get the same love as our Espresso maker at Java Bean Café, where we make all manner of hot and cold coffee drinks.

    Cheers,
    Joe

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  5. We used to use a Nespresso but didn’t like the cost or the environmental impact (we actually used them for several years and went through a couple of machines).

    Several years ago (maybe 4 now?) we switched to a Breville Barista Express and it’s been superb. Rock solid and easy to operate. Much cheaper to run than a Nespresso as you buy your own beans…. and takes about 60 seconds from powering on to having a black cup of coffee including the warm up time.

    https://www.breville.com/au/en/products/espresso/bes870.html

    Mind you, being Australian we generally make flat whites which are really quick to make as well.

    We put the coffee grounds into a worm farm as well so they don’t go to waste.

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    • I thought we were playing at the junior varsity level. Now that you’ve pulled out the college ball game, I have some additional thoughts.

      I double second this recommendation. I use the Breville Barista Pro. For the Express, you’re looking at $750 and the Pro at $850. With a little effort, you can find sales for $100-$150 off. I spent a crazy amount of time researching options, and am very happy with where I landed.

      These machines are orders of magnitude in price, but you’re getting quality so much higher on the curve. The price to quality curves aren’t linear – what you get is control.

      For the Nespresso or “pod” type machines, your options are [maybe] what plastic cup you buy. Going to a self-fill pod gives you options for the bean and grind, but you have to exercise that advantage. At that point, the machine is just making hot water and gurgling it through the plastic cup at a the temperature and rate it chooses. For my taste to produce this drink, I’d prefer a simple electric kettle and a french press/aeropress.

      For the machines we’re discussing, the higher prices will improve consistency and repeatability of the options. The options you control are temperature, grind, pack, volume, technique, etc. You now become a barista and individual skill/technique is the driving factor in the resulting product.

      Consider this analogy – at the Brookfield zoo in Chicago they have machines scattered about that make injection mold animals. Insert your money, the machine pushes two half-molds together and squirts plastic in the middle, 30 seconds later it opens up and the elephant falls into the chute below. Compare that to a block of material and the best set of Japanese Oire Nomi chisels. A skilled craftsman will produce a museum quality elephant and conversely someone unskilled will create a bloody mess of shavings. Similarly, that skilled craftsman cannot create a better quality injection mold product using the original machine.

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      • Let me pose this, then, John: I love the idea of getting really delicious coffee at home (even at a high monetary cost), but I’m not personally invested enough to hone the skills and techniques necessary for some of these machines. I want the machine to take care of that for me (at least, with very minimal input from me). Which machine would you recommend for that type of person?

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  6. It is interesting how quickly the conversion considers a time/money metric to achieve some calculatable advantage. Many responses, mine included, consider these numeric values as a way to assess a break-even point or ROI.

    The time-to-drink metric is particularly interesting. Our TV shows and movies depict the family rushing out the door in the morning with little time to spare before getting to their high-intensity job/school. Unless, of course, they need to make a morning plot point, at which point the scene shows a full breakfast spread, and someone rushes by grabbing a single piece of toast, leaving behind an entire fully-cooked meal for the stay-at-home person to clean up with mere a light chuckle. We think of our morning selves existing in a time-crunched rush or, like Wall-E, unable to function because their battery is so low, desperately searching for a recharging station in any form of brown liquid. The 30-second Nespresso compared to a 4-minute French Press steep might be a life or death consideration.

    To turn this discussion into a live-coach sort of conversation, there is undoubtedly value in viewing this morning ritual as a self-fulfilling, almost meditative practice. This process can be a daily exercise and evaluation of a personal craft, not a means to an end – a sort of Japanese Rei. “Making coffee” for someone else becomes personal.

    Cost evaluation is similarly incongruent. Your 3-month Tesla evaluation post speaks nothing of expense – it’s all about the experience and enjoyment. Your pre-purchase blogs discuss cost and cost-benefit almost exclusively, while your post-experience blogs don’t say a word. You would assume that an equally thorough bottom-line report would follow such a detailed consideration. But it doesn’t because it is a sunk cost producing unexpected positive emotional benefits.

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    • That’s an interesting observation about the Tesla posts–you’re right that the cost deliberations all happened before the purchase, and afterwards I was so happy with the car that I was no longer thinking about the cost.

      I work from home, and while I’m in no rush to drink coffee in the morning (I usually make it when I get up and, per Dan Pink’s advice, don’t start drinking it until 1 hour into my workday), I am eager to get to work (hence why I like that it’s currently so easy to make coffee on the electric boiler and French press.

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      • Again, I would recommend the Aeropress to try out, and if you hate it, you can exchange it for some tasty popcorn at my shop next time you come through 🙂 you dont have to hone your skills, but its faster than the french, cleaner, gives you espresso stength coffee, and you can hone if you want…you can also get dice for the different parameters and make your own roll and brew type game of it 🤯.

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  7. Glad to see you’re opting for French Press over Nespresso! I would argue that most (if not all) STL coffee shops consistently release fresh, exciting beans. Most people would direct you to Sump and Blueprint ’round these parts, but I’ve been buying Stringbean Coffee beans for a very fair price at City Greens Market and haven’t had a dud bag yet. Call me snooty, but we have too much great coffee in our backyard to buy Nespresso!
    If you’re interested in espresso drinks but the Breville Barista is a bit too much work, I might recommend the Breville Bambino. You still have to measure and put the grinds in the portafilter/tamp/etc., but the milk steamer is fully automatic and very intuitive. They have fully automatic espresso machines, but you’re spending many thousands of dollars on one.
    I let perfect be the enemy of good for a long time on my coffee journey – find what works for you and dive in.

    Reply

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