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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.