U beauty: Nespresso’s new U coffee maker reviewed

We’ve been big fans of Nespresso’s easy to use coffee pod system for years, but the price has never been affordable enough for everyone to jump in. Halfway into 2012, Nespresso is putting the popular CitiZ model on a diet, coming up with a machine that is not only better, but is also better priced, too.

Features

Designed and developed by Nespresso, the Nespresso U takes many of the features seen previously in the Pixie and CitiZ units and throws them into a size that sort of fits in the middle of the two models.

Built from plastic which Nespresso says comes from 30% recycled materials, the machine has very little to it, with a 19 bar pressure pump inside, and a 0.8 litre water tank on the outside on a moveable arm for sitting the machine in tight corners.

Three touch buttons are provided on the top for different sized coffee servings, ranging from the small ristretto (25ml), medium espresso (40ml), and large lungo (110ml). As usual, there’s a small port on the top of the Nespresso to take the coffee pod and a pull latch to close it.

Underneath this is the spent capsule tray, capable of holding up to 12 used coffee pods, and beneath this a drip tray, with up to 120ml of liquid that can be stored. You may want to clean it regularly.

While previous Nespresso units have made the drip tray and cup support foldable, the U uses magnets, with the pieces able to be pulled apart easily if they don’t need to be used.

The Nespresso U comes with an Aeroccino unit free (normally a cost of $129) which allows you to froth milk quite easily whether the milk was originally hot or cold.

Performance

Nespresso’s U has been designed to provide a cup of coffee quickly and painlessly, and that’s pretty much what it does.

Simply select one of the three sizes – small, medium, or large – put your cup under the spout, drop the pod in, and close the port up using the Nespresso latch.

Each of the coffee sizes the Nespresso U will serve up, ranging from ristretto (25ml), espresso (40ml), and lungo (110ml).

From there, the machine goes to work, drawing water in, puncturing the pod, and pushing out coffee within 30 seconds. While the instructions have changed slightly from previous models, the result is still the same, with a beautiful crema in your cup.

The plastic design may not appeal to all, but we really like it, with a minimalist look and a cool way to relocate the water tank off to the side slightly, which helps if your kitchen is particularly cramped.

Pods are thrown out by the machine, too, so that once a coffee pod has been used, it’s dropped in the spent capsule box directly beneath the spout and able to be thrown out immediately after, or stored for recycling later at a Nespresso store. All of this helps to make the machine very easy to clean, as does the magnetic cup holder, which separates from the capsule box and drip tray, which can be easily pulled apart for quick cleaning.

Select your size, drop a pod in, close the latch, and the machine will do the rest.

There really isn’t much to dislike about Nespresso’s U, with the product providing an insanely easy cup of coffee without any fuss.

People who have already played with the Nespresso system may find it a little strange, as the process to make a cup is now backwards. In the other Nespresso units, you would throw in a pod, close the machine and lock the pod in place, and then press the button. Here in the U, the situation is reversed. It’s a minor thing, just worth noting if you’re upgrading.

Pods also can’t get a second use with the Nespresso U, as the system drops the pod into the used capsule container for you. If you wanted to get more coffee out of the pod, you won’t have much luck here, so make sure you press the right cup before you start.

Conclusion

When we started reviewing the U, we had to ask Nespresso if this new machine was replacing the Pixie, especially since it offered much of the same functionality in a body with even more automation and a lower price. Interestingly, we were told that the U was going to sit alongside the Pixie and CitiZ, offering the capsule system at a lower price to consumers.

We’re a little surprised by this because the U is an even better machine than what we’ve seen and used in the Pixie and CitiZ, offering a similar size with more coffee sizing control, the moveable water tank, the Aeroccino milk frother, and an excellent price. Nespresso’s Pixie is smaller, mind you, offering slightly smaller dimensions and less water capacity.

The difference in size here is hardly noticeable, though, and if you love coffee and have been looking for an inexpensive way in to the Nespresso pod system, the U is an excellent way to do that and enjoy a regular cup. Highly recommended.

 

16 Comments

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  1. Leigh :) Stark
    August 06, 16:29 Leigh :) Stark

    Nespresso did a couple of chocolatey coffee pods last year, but they weren’t a “hot chocolate” pod so to speak. Chocolate scented coffee is a way to describe it.

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  2. Leigh :) Stark
    August 15, 13:07 Leigh :) Stark

    You buy them in sleeves of 10, and they cost roughly 60 to 80 cents each, so about $6-8. Nespresso stores will sell them.

    Reply this comment
  3. Jason Hodges
    August 17, 15:01 Jason Hodges

    We use the iphone app to order capsules. they arrive at the house in the Perth suburbs 2 days later.
    Our 4 1/2 year old Latissima is leaking. Nespresso will fix it back up and service it for $150 flat fee but really as we just have black coffee and pour in milk to save cleaning, we will just pick up one of these I think. $299 with a $50 cashback at the moment.

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  4. coffeenut
    September 21, 08:34 coffeenut

    How much caffeine is in a cup made from these capsules? A nespresso store person told us about 60mg, which copares to about 200mg for a coffee bought at a cafe.

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  5. Leigh :) Stark
    September 26, 11:00 Leigh :) Stark

    We’ve tried this, actually, and you get very, very, very weak coffee.

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  6. Paul F
    October 11, 03:16 Paul F

    I assume you can run the machine without a pod to get hot water? i like to warm up my cup, or could program the larger button for a mug of hot water for tea

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    • Leigh :) Stark
      October 11, 14:38 Leigh :) Stark

      On the U, I suspect you’d probably need to open the pod cover, press the cup size, and then close it with nothing in it for this to work.

      Not sure, mind you, as I haven’t tested it.

      The U is reasonably automated, and even sends the pod to the waste bin below after the coffee has been made, which no other Nespresso unit we’ve seen does.

      On other Nespresso units, you’d merely press the cup size with no pod in it to get hot water out. That may work on the U, but it’s possible you’ll get a few spare grounds coming through too. Maybe.

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      • Paul F
        October 14, 21:15 Paul F

        Picked up one of these beauties yesterday – yes you can run it without a pod to get hot water. Also, if you want to get more coffee out of a pod, you can press one of the buttons within 4 seconds after brewing, before the pod is ejected.

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  7. Bert
    November 16, 22:27 Bert

    `The Nespresso U comes with an Aeroccino unit free’ — where did you find this deal Gadget Guy? Best I’ve found is they’ll sell you the bundle for $249.

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  8. Paul
    November 29, 05:54 Paul

    Can you use one of the refillable cups on the U?

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  9. kevin
    February 15, 18:43 kevin

    if those three cups in the picture are what you call good crema i think i will pass.

    Reply this comment
  10. dedhedjim
    March 01, 21:41 dedhedjim

    Can I make non lungo (expresso) capsules using lungo mode?

    Reply this comment
  11. Cheza
    April 03, 11:16 Cheza

    Why will Nespresso NOT sell you products of theirs if you don’t have one of their machines? I wanted to purchase one of their frother machines but was told NO when they asked me what model of machine I had. I told them I didn’t have a Nespresso brand – I should have lied, but isn’t this discrimination? This was from their Nespresso Boutique Store at Pitt St Mall.

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  12. Paul
    January 04, 11:57 Paul

    Great coffee, but we, like many other customers, have had huge problems with the frother unit; the company’s attitude to what is basically a design fault has been appalling.

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