Rating: 5 Stars
Best Feature: Best One Touch Cappuccino/Latte maker available
The Low down: In my opinion, this machine offers the best espresso available with an awesome frothing mechanism. At the touch of a button, a wonderful cappuccino is delivered into your cup. There is no clean-up, no mess and no waste. Did I mention that the froth it creates is as smooth as silk, simply decadent?
Let’s talk about espresso. Espresso is the coffee created using a pressure brewing process. It is not, as some believe, a very dark roasted coffee or some sort of caffeine fortified bean. The pressure used to make espresso should be at a minimum of 15 bars to develop a good crema. The crema is created by emulsifying the natural oils in coffee, not enough pressure equals less crema. The Nespresso system builds ample pressure, 19 bars, to create an espresso with a thick and aromatic crema. Even the decaffeinated espresso has great crema!! The pods are offered in a variety of strengths and characteristics and they now have flavored pods as well. This system offers great coffee at great ease. Some don’t like the idea of having to use a pod. They would rather be able to use any beans they wish. This is certainly a good argument against pod style espresso makers, but in reality we humans are creatures of habit. Once we find something we like, we usually stick with it. There are many grind and brew coffee makers on the market that make great coffee, some are very expensive and some require a greater amount of preparation, time and skill. For my money, I want a machine that makes a great espresso quickly, consistently and without all the preparation and clean-up. The Lattissima makes as good an espresso as any high end café!
Now, let’s talk about frothing our milk for cappuccino or latte. The Lattissima system uses a pitcher that you simply “plug in” to the machine. The lid of the pitcher has two fittings that align with ports in the machine; steam from the machine flows through these into the lid. There is a hose that attaches to the lid and goes into the bottom of the pitcher. On its way through the lid, the steam will siphon the milk through this hose and heat it. It is then dispensed into your cup waiting at the end of the frother nozzle. This nozzle swivels to allow you to maneuver it to a variety of cup sizes. On top of the lid (in the front) there is a sliding adjustment piece that will regulate the amount of milk that can flow into the hose. When fully open, the maximum of milk will flow and mix with the steam to create steamed milk for latte type drinks. If you slide the adjustment piece to the second setting, it restricts the flow to about half. This will allow the milk to be frothed and become hotter and creates milk for cappuccino. If you slide the adjustment all the way in, the flow of milk will stop. This setting is to clean the nozzle of milk. When you are finished with the milk simply use this last setting to clean and then remove the pitcher and place it into the refrigerator. This frothing system is easy to use; there is no mess and no wasted milk.
The Rest of the Lattissima: There are many other features to this espresso machine that warrant mention. There are four (4) programmable buttons. There are two (2) for coffee only buttons, one for a small cup and one for a large cup. Typically the small cup button is used to make espresso of 1-2 ounces. The larger cup button is typically used for a Lungo coffee. Nespresso created these to be more like an Americano style coffee. The Lungo pods are filled with a greater amount of coffee that is more coarsely ground. The other two programmable buttons are also large and small. These are used for cappuccino and latte drinks. You will program both the amount of coffee and the amount of milk for these buttons. Program the coffee as you would the first two buttons. Then, program the milk quantity simply by pressing and holding down the button until you reach the correct amount of milk. You can change these anytime you wish or override them while in use.
Another great feature is the warming tray. Not many espresso machines have this feature. It’s nice to have your coffee brew into a pre-warmed cup, so that it loses none of its heat.
I love the water container. Most often, you have to remove the water vessel to fill it. The water container on the Lattissima fits into the base of the machine, which simply slides out. You can remove it to fill if you wish, but it’s easy to fill while in the machine. There is also a water level indicator that shows black when full and red when low.
Another slick feature is the cup shelf. It allows you to place small cups closer to the dispensing nozzle(s) so there is no splash-back. If you are using a taller cup or a travel mug, simply slide the tray inwards and this will avail you more room.
The Lattissima also has dual thermoblocks. This means you can brew coffee and steam milk without any down time. Why would you have any down time? Well, most machines employ a single thermoblock or coil to heat water for both coffee and milk. Water is heated to boiling to steam milk, which would be too hot to brew coffee. This creates down time, since you have to wait until the machine cools to again brew coffee.
There is one last wonderful thing I should mention about the Nespresso Lattissima. For all the wonderful features it offers, this machine is not very big. It won’t take up a great deal of room on your counter and it looks really cool.
Bottom Line: It does all the things more expensive and much larger machines do. The coffee is great, the froth heavenly and the price affordable. It would be my machine of choice!