I bought a second popper this weekend. A member of the discussion forum on www.temperato.no confirmed that the princesss silver popper had the correct chamber design and had been using it successfully for 6 months. While browsing for the popper in the shop (Glassmagasinet, Stortorvet), I noticed a female nespresso representative demonstrating their machines and serving drinks. Some months ago a guy wrote in the no.alt.mat.drikke newsgroup that the nespresso - espresso was passable, so I was curious and decided to ask for a shot. She was busy with another customer, so in the meantime I paid for the popper. When I returned she was available and I asked for a shot. "Sure, but which one?". She then gave a fancy menu with the different espresso pods that the nespresso can use. I guess there were about 10 different one. I went for a pod that she recommended. It was supposed to be smooth, but well, it wasn't. The pour started out fine, dark brown and surprisingly thick, but then went white and didn't stop before the desired programmed volume was obtained. The crema was whitish and the shot bitter and *hot*. I slightly burned my tongue on the first sip, and got the same experience as I've had when tasting shots from pressurized groups or superautos. Repeatable and consistent yes, but who wants this type of below average shot. The big plus of the whole nespresso concept is the cleanliness and easy preparation. Load the pod, click the button and you get an espresso. The spent pod is ejected into a cannister in the back. When you buy a nespresso machine you're automatically enrolled in an "espresso club" which they try to portray as something exclusive and fancy. All their brochures and the like paint this image to the consumer. So, to sum it up, Nespresso sells a machine and makes money, and then in the process also gets a loyal pod customer since only nespresso pods can be used. Pods can be bought on the internet or by phone for 29,50 NoK for 10 pods. The simplest machine is 3500 NoK. I think my parents could dig this concept because of how easy and clean it is, but the shot is just too bad.
A friend of mine was in chicago last week and brought me a pound of starbucks "smooth espresso blend" which was described as "dense and caramelly-sweet". Yeah right, more like thin and bitter swill :). Just impossible to produce a passable shot with it. Terrible stuff, even worse than expected. I now understand why they call it charbucks and why it is so nice to make espresso at home in the states.