Review: Pod coffee makers and you

In lieu of a stand-alone review of all of the pod coffee makers I’ve been reviewing this year I’m going to offer a quick head to head of the two major competing systems in the U.S., Tassimo and Nespresso, and allow you, the reader, to make up your own mind. Coffee, in the end, is very subjective.

I began my foray into pod or Single Serving Coffee coffee makers a few months ago with the Tassimo maker by Braun. The maker was amazingly simple to use – just pop in the pod, wait a minute, and press the button. I got consistently good, hot coffee any time I wanted. I even put away the old French press and regular coffee maker. The coffee the Tassimo made was outstanding and the various flavors, including blends from Starbucks, made it a morning taste adventure.

Then the Nespresso arrived.

The Nespresso model is all about espresso. You can make bigger drinks – called Lungo, which are essentially doubles – but you’re basically stuck with a thimble full of strong coffee in most cases. The starter pack offers a collection of every flavor the company makes – 12 in all – and, in all honesty, I couldn’t quite tell them all apart. But I do love me some espresso…

So here’s what this comparison boils down to. Both of these coffee makers are excellent. They make excellent coffee but the most important consideration is how much coffee you want to drink at a sitting. If you like espresso, the Nespresso is by far the best choice. The espressos each have a different character and nose and, although I couldn’t tell much of a difference between many of them, a connoisseur will definitely be able to tell which one is which. Nespresso also offers limited edition blends and at 55 cents per shot, this is probably the most economical coffee you can get. Another important point: the Nespresso system starts up immediately. You press the button, you get a drink. Tassimo’s two-stage system which requires you to load the disk and then press the button when the light turns green is a bit frustrating, especially if you’d like a fire-and-forget cup of coffee.

Tassimo discs are available at most stores including Target. Nespresso pods are only available online or in Nespresso stores, a very “Apple Store” marketing experience.

If you like a big steaming mug of coffee, however, then get the Tassimo. The disks are bigger and you get a full-bodied cup every time. Because I’m a mug guy, I’m pleased with the Tassimo. I don’t think I could give it up and most other coffees at this point taste like swill.

Bottom Line
So there you have it. If you like espresso, get the Nespresso machine. If you like coffee, get the Tassimo and accept the limited selection of espressos available for the Tassimo system. The prices are about the same and the quality in both systems is excellent. It’s just a matter of taste.