Review: Nespresso Romeo Single Serve Espresso Machine
We are very excited to review the Nespresso Romeo before it launches this September. The machine is part of a new "Top Line" from Nespresso, and utilizes their coffee capsule loading system and is aptly named Romeo, as the coffee capsule is placed on a small balcony.
If you're not familiar with Nespresso, they like to divide their uniqueness into what they call, "The Nespresso Trilogy": the hermetically-sealed, iconic capsules with the large variety of Grand Cru ground coffees (their own specially picked coffees), the state-of-the-art, easy-to-use, sleek-looking coffee machines, and the Nespresso Club which offers unmatched personal service for ordering Nespresso Capsules.
Update: You can now purchase the Nespresso Romeo at Amazon.com
If the name Nespresso reminds you of Nestlé (often associated with Chocolate in the US market) - well you are correct in thinking there's a connection. During the 1970s Nestlé anticipated the growth of the speciality or gourmet coffee market and was inspired by espresso inventor Luiggi Bezzera’s original concept. The principle was straightforward: to offer the quality of espresso made in the best Italian coffee bars directly in homes and work places.
The Nespresso Grand Cru Coffees & Coffee Capsules
The Nespresso Grand Cru Coffees are picked for their ability to make unmatched crema and have a full body and rich taste. From all the coffees we tried, we were duly impressed that there was something different going on with the coffee selection.
Twelve Nespresso varieties are available all year-round. These Grands Crus are blended from coffees of different origins to bring out their unique characteristics, with each variety offering a special personality.
It's also important to note the difference in the Lungo versus regular Nespresso Espresso capsules. Lungo capsules are meant to be made in a coffee cup or standard 4 oz cup of coffee, where as the other capsules are made for use in espresso. We found however, they all tasted pretty darn good as a larger cup of coffee, and had perfect crema each time. Nespresso also has limited edition blends and release two new varieties each year.
The colour of the coffee capsule differentiates each of the nine Espresso varieties: Ristretto, Arpeggio, Roma, Capriccio, Livanto, Cosi, Volluto, Decaffeinato Intenso and Decaffeinato as well as the three Lungo varieties: Vivalto, Finezzo and Decaffeinato Lungo. Since the freshness of each individually sealed capsule is guaranteed for up to 12 months for both the Espresso and Lungo varieties, coffee lovers are able to keep a selection of different varieties on hand.
Pricing & Availability
The Nespresso Romeo will be available this fall for an SRP of $799. Other Nespresso machines for the home are priced around $179-$500 in cost, however they are not fully automatic like the Romeo and require you to remove the capsule after making a shot of espresso or single cup of coffee. Nespresso has built in units priced in the $1800+ range and they can be directly connected to a water line.
Nespresso Coffee Capsules cost $.49 each and can only be purchased online at the Nespresso online store or by calling their toll free line. You can also subscribe to the Nespresso club, and have capsules automatically mailed to you on a monthly basis. It's also nice to note that each pack of Nespresso coffee capsules have fresh by dates.
This means, plan ahead for drinking Nespresso coffee and if you run out, you can't really go to your local store and pick some up. The machines also only work with Nespresso capsules, they will not take pods, k-cups, or any other type of coffee to brew from.
Impressions about the Nespresso Romeo
The Nespresso Romeo is a stunning, well designed coffee wonder. Not only is this one of the easiest machines to set up we've ever tested, it feels right at every step of the way.
The first thing you'll notice when setting up your Nespresso Romeo is how the carafe is made out of a high quality clear plastic. When you fill it with water, little water drops glisten on the inside, and you immediately feel that your water is fresh and amazing. The carafe is also easy to take off and fill, and fits the hand well, as you hold the carafe from the neck and it's not unequally weighted like in the Bunn My Cafe or the FrancisFrancis! machines.
Also the machine itself has beautiful controls. A small cup for espresso, and a larger cup icon for a single cup of coffee. The display is easy to read, and instead of beiing black on grey, it's a bright almost white LED like display but is liquid crystal.
And then there's the balcony where your little coffee capsule sits. It has two doors in the back, and until you fire up the machine you have no idea how wonderful this little balcony will be in delivering some of the best espresso we've had from a fully automatic machine.
There is a catch bin attached to the drip tray, and the drip tray too is well designed. It has a cone in the bottom of it to make dripping splash down into it instead of all over you.
Comparing the Nespresso Romeo to Lower Priced Nespresso Machines
Several people wrote in after we posted receiving the Nespresso Romeo - what's the big difference and why does it cost more? After doing some research and trying out a lower priced machine at Williams & Sonoma, we came to the following thoughts on why the Nespresso Romeo is different and perhaps better than the lower priced machines.
Note: I noticed no difference in coffee or espresso quality from the lower priced machine that we tried compared to the higher priced Nespresso Romeo. All of the Nespresso machines will make the same espresso or Lungo each time, and consistency is one of the major goals of Nespresso, which is achieved through the unique Nespresso capsule system.
Specifically we had a reader write in about the D290 Flowstop which retails for $499, and features the unique capsule jaw system, in which you place the capsule and pull the jaw down to make your espresso, and lift the jaw up again to push into the capsule container inside the machine.
The Nespresso Romeo machine is the first machine of its kind to have completely automatic insertion and capsule ejection system, in which all that is required of the consumer is merely to place a capsule in the balcony and press the desired button. Watch the movie below to see the magic of the balcony. We think it's worth the price of admission. Each time we made a Lungo or espresso, we watched every moment of the capsule disappearing into the darkened chamber.
Watch a movie of the Nespresso Romeo In Action
The Nespresso Romeo does of course also feature the new white backlit LED screen, which prompts many different directions, as well as enables the consumer to scroll through a worded menu. The ultimate goal of the Nespresso Romeo is to make it as easy as possible to make an espresso, while still offering many features, such as the cappuccino/caffe latte device, automatic programmable turn on and off, many prompts and warnings when various action needed such as filling water tank and emptying capsule container, adjustment for water hardness, as well as offering the traditional cup heater plate on the top of the machine to ensure your espresso cups are always at the optimal warmth before using.
Tasting Nespresso Lungo & Espresso Capsules
We really enjoyed the Nespresso coffees. All of the coffee we had, whether prepared in the Lungo (coffee cup) or espresso (single shot) method was excellent. We received a sampler pack of the standard 12 capsules of coffees to try and only wanted more after tasting.
The sampler pack also comes with a cup and saucer for Lungo and espresso coffee. This is a nice touch. Most of the machines we test show you cups that don't come with the machine. We always give a 1/2 pod off for such a violation and we're also proud to say, they are very nice cups.
We really liked the Volluto which had a very smooth character and a light but fruity aftertaste as stated in their espresso line. All the Lungos were excellent. We especially liked Vivalto over the Finezzo lungo, as it was bolder and had a more strong taste.
We also brewed up the Ristretto and the Arpeggio espresso capsules in the Lungo size. Each made a great cup of coffee, strong, with a full body and rich after taste. The Ristretto had a little more acid like quaility to it, but wasn't like getting a bad cup of Sumatra with high acid, it added to the finish and flavor of the coffee and gave it a crisp like finish.
Each of the Lungos or espressos we reviewed passed the dreaded "sugar on top of crema for 5 seconds" test. You know you have great crema when it a little spoonful of sugar sits on top for 5 seconds.
The decaf coffees were both good. We could tell a subtle difference in the intensity of each of the decaf espresso and Lungo capsules. We did like them, but we prefer our coffee fully loaded over decaf any time.
We did froth up some milk as well to make a few lattes. We found the milk frother to work as well as any milk frother we used and also because of the flexible end, very easy to clean and take apart to clean as well.
We really like the Nespresso Romeo and the Nespresso coffee. We've seen Nespresso around for awhile now, but had no idea how fabulous the coffee would be. It's also nice to see a well designed, well thought out machine to go with such great coffee. The Nespresso Romeo is easy to use and pleasant to the eye.
We only see a couple of drawbacks to the machine and line of Nespresso products. One is availability of Nespresso coffee capsules and two is the price. You'll need to either order online or via the phone for new capsules, or just join their club. However pricing is not that high per capsule at $.49 each and given the quality of the espresso or coffee brewed, we think you'll be happy. The machine price is a bit higher than some other Nespresso machines, but we think you'll find it worth it. It's fully automatic, has clear directions, it's easy to use, and best of all - impressive to people who both taste the coffee and see the machine.
We are going to give the Nespresso Romeo a solid 4.5 out of 5 pods. We would go the five out of five but feel you need to make sure having the capsule system and the price is worth it for you, given all the above features and quality of the coffee.
Purchase the Nespresso Romeo at Amazon.com
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Posted by Jay Brewer at August 8, 2005 8:00 AM