I started drinking coffee when I was 5 years old. I drank coffee off and on much of my life, never really giving the taste of coffee much thought until the summer of 1999 when I drank my first Italian cappuccino in Italy. I now consider myself a coffee snob. I no longer drink American coffee and am very picky about my espresso.
I have owned two espresso machines. The first was a Capresso I bought at Macy's. It never really made a great espresso but it was better than Starbucks. It lasted three years.
The second was a Gaggia. Sadly, my Gaggia espresso machine bit the dust in September. With perfect conditions, I was able to make a pretty good espresso, but I could not replicate it daily, partly because I did not have a good grinder. I would stop at the store and buy and grind small amounts of coffee every 2-4 days but that is not the same as grinding your coffee daily.
I loved making my espresso on the weekends. But it was getting more and more difficult to make my espresso and then get out the door on time during work days due to the traffic situation which was forcing me to leave my house earlier and earlier each month. Making a good espresso takes time in the morning, time that I often did not have when rushing around to get to work (I am NOT a morning person).
Because of my migraines, I need to keep my caffeine level the same daily or avoid caffeine all together. I am not able to drink an espresso. I do own a little moka but making coffee from a moka still takes a bit of time and it is just not the same as an espresso made from an espresso machine.
Last January, I made the difficult choice of giving up coffee until the traffic nightmare improved. I chose sleep over coffee and put my Gaggia machine into early retirement. My mistake was not descaling it at that time. The daily traffic problem finally ended in August when the extra lane was opened up. I dusted off my machine and attempted to get it running again. After a few weeks of trying to get it to work, I realized it was not meant to be.
I decided that if I was going to buy another espresso machine, I also wanted to invest in a good grinder. Decent grinders cost at least $200 and the espresso machines I had been looking at cost between $250 and $500, making this quite a big investment. I finally narrowed my choices down to two espresso machines and two grinders, all of which I would have to order from a mainland coffee shop. There are very limited options available for espresso machines and grinders in Hawaii.
In the end, I decided that the cost was just too much along the added hassle of having to deal with a mainland company if something went wrong. That was the main reason I did not pursue getting my Gaggia fixed. I was also concerned with the space needed for the two machines (I have a tiny kitchen with very little counter space) and the fact that making a good cup of espresso still takes time every morning. So again, I gave up the thought of drinking coffee.
Then a week before Christmas, I had the brilliant idea of checking out the Nespresso machines. George actually spurred me on when I saw one of his commercials on YouTube. Now if only George came with my machine...
The funny thing is that I briefly thought about the Nespresso machine a year ago after putting my Gaggia into retirement. At that time though I already owned a machine and thought it would be silly to buy a second machine. I also could not imagine that these machines would actually make a good espresso and questioned the freshness of the coffee in the capsules.
So, I started researching Nespresso machines. I was surprised to find so many positive reviews, both on the taste and the ease of making a cup.
Besides the question about the taste, my concern was that the machines only work with the Nespresso coffee capsules and the capsules must be bought from Nespresso. Most reviews said that it was very easy to purchase the capsules online. The regular capsules cost 55 cents each. The info online I read indicated that the shipping cost for any quantity of capsules ordered was a standard $4.95. After calling yesterday, I found out that a minimum of 5 sleeves must be ordered (50 capsules) and the cost is
$6.95 $11.95 to Hawaii.
I figured out it would take a minimum of three years for the difference in cost between the capsules and loose coffee purchased to equal the extra cost of purchasing both a new espresso machine and grinder and the ease alone of making espresso every morning alone would be worth the extra cost to me.
I was also concerned about the environmental impact using the capsules. I did read that recycling options have been set up in Europe. My hope is that these options will eventually spread to the US. I am still a little concerned about this but will try to figure out a way to recycle the capsules.
I was happy to read that if there any problems with the machine, Nespresso will send a loaner machine to use while they fix your machine. I believe the cost to send the machine to Nespresso is free and the same standard shipping cost as for any other product ordered is charged to have the repaired machine shipped back.
While checking out the different machine options online, I found out that Williams-Sonoma, a store we have in Honolulu, sells the Nespresso machines. That meant that I could check out this machine in person.
On the Williams-Sonoma site, the machine I was interested in, the Nespresso Essenza C100, came as a package deal bundled with an Aeroccino Plus Automatic Milk Frother. It also came with two cups, one espresso cup and one cappuccino cup. In addition, the Nespresso company was having a special promotion which made this bundle an even a better deal. If you purchased a machine before January 17th, and it cost $299 or more, you could get a $50 credit for the Nespresso capsules. Amazon had a similar bundle offer without the cups for $269, but this meant that I would not get the $50 credit from Nespresso.
I could not commit though until I tried an espresso made from a Nespresso machine. I braved the Christmas madness three days before Christmas, heading to Ala Moana (the big shopping mall in Honolulu). I was on a mission. After dealing with the traffic and parking, I went straight to the Williams-Sonoma store and asked the guy in the coffee machine section if I could try an espresso from a Nespresso machine. I was a little alarmed when he brought out a paper cup. At least it was not a styrofoam cup! I guess it is not realistic to expect Williams-Sonoma to wash coffee cups.
I had already watched a few videos on how easy it is to make an espresso using the Nespresso machine. It was even more amazing to see it done in person. Literally 30 seconds and the espresso was made. My drink of choice is a caffè macchiato (espresso with a tiny bit of milk) OR an espresso with a tiny scoop of ice cream so I asked the guy if he could also froth some milk. He was not immediately thrilled but then went along with my request.
WOW! It was a very good espresso. I was sold. I was ready to buy this machine right there and then. BUT… there was the question of the two cups. The guy checked and told me that the cups only came with the online deal. The Cube (another machine) did come with the cups but the cost of the bundle was just a little less than $299, meaning I would not qualify for the $50 credit, and the machine was larger, taking up more room on my limited counter space.
I decided to order the machine online instead. I would just have to wait a little bit longer. When I got home, I went back to the Williams-Sonoma site, put the machine bundle package in the cart and clicked the button "add to add to basket". When the button took me to the next page, a message in red said that the Nespresso machine and frother would not be available until February! Well that was out.
I could drive back to Williams-Sonoma to purchase the machine but I really did not want to go to Ala Moana again just before Christmas and deal with the craziness at the mall. I could order it from Amazon, but then I would not qualify for the $50 credit.
I continued to check the Williams-Sonoma site, hoping that perhaps they had restocked their supply and continued to check the price at Amazon, hoping it would either go down to $250 or go up to $299 to get the $50 credit.
At one point, I noticed on Amazon that the price went down to $233. Perfect! But wait… in fine print, it said that this product would not ship for 4 to 6 weeks. Everyone must be ordering these machines for Christmas. The only option unless I wanted to wait weeks seemed to be to go back to Williams-Sonoma, but that was not going to be until after the craziness at the malls subsided. Meanwhile, I continued to check both sites just in case the machine became available again.
On Christmas Eve, I could not believe my eyes. The price on Amazon dropped to $209! I bit the bullet and bought it, my new Christmas present to myself. Heck, I waited this long, I could wait a few more weeks to start enjoying my morning espresso again.
Meanwhile, I continued to check Amazon daily hoping that just maybe the machine would be back in stock. Two days later, my wish came true. The fine print saying that the machine would not ship for 4-6 weeks was gone. Amazon had the machines back in stock and my machine was being prepared to ship!
According the package tracker, my Nespresso machine would be arriving on New Year’s Eve day. What a perfect way to start the new year, enjoying my first cup of espresso made from my new Nespresso machine on New Year’s Day.
Well… that never happened! UPS failed big time!
New Year’s Eve day, I called my school office where I had my machine shipped to find out how long the office would be open. Some years the Governor has allowed all state offices to close half day. This year many State offices were on furloughs that day, but school offices were still open. I was told that the office would be open all day long.
I checked the package tracker on the Amazon site every 15 minutes waiting to see when the package was delivered.
08:34:00 AM Out for delivery
10:52:00 AM Delivery appointment scheduled
I was very excited.
At 11:15, it still did not say that the package was delivered. I decided to check the official UPS site. That was when I saw this…
Your package has experienced an exception.
THE RECEIVER IS ON A HOLIDAY. DELIVERY WILL BE ATTEMPTED
WHEN THE RECEIVER RETURNS / PACKAGE WILL BE DELIVERED
NEXT BUSINESS DAY-NO SATURDAY GUARANTEE
ARGH! I knew for a fact that the school was not closed. I called UPS to find out what happened. It turns out the UPS guy decided on his own that the school office would be closed. Not only did he not even try to deliver the package, he did not even put the package on his truck. He left it back at the main UPS place!!
That meant I would have to wait 4 more days for my package to be delivered since Friday is a holiday.