Apr 25, 2017 Drinks

We Put 2 Fancy Coffee Machines Head-to-Head—and Found a Clear Winner

by Gabrielle Savoie
PHOTO:

@abhishekdekate

As much as we like to pride ourselves in our healthy habits (and our flailing promises to switch to matcha, turmeric lattes or mushroom coffee once and for all), there's no denying it: as Dunkin Donuts would say, we are a nation that runs on coffee. Our obsession for this fragrant morning drink of choice is rampant: we tap ourselves on the back when a new study proves coffee's health benefits, and we try to justify our addiction by adding avocado slices to our morning brew—all in the name of science. 

It's not surprising then, that we treat shopping for a coffee maker to be as important a decision as purchasing a car—and the choices are endless: French press, percolators, drip coffee makers abound—but in the name of convenience, single serve coffee makers have been making waves on the coffee making scene. Some sing praises for Keurig, and others are diehard Nespresso fanatics—but which one is actually better? We set out to find the answer once and for all. We asked two MyDomaine editors to test out all the bells and whistles of the latest and hottest models from the two competing brands and found a clear winner. Your single serve coffee maker shopping starts here—this is what you need to consider before you buy.

First Impressions: At first glance, the K250 Coffee Machine is exactly how I want my kitchen appliances to look: It’s sleek, modern, and works well with my gray and cream countertop. Being a minimalist who tends to appreciate form over function, I would have liked some more premium metal finishes, rather than plastic levers and buttons. 3/5

The Design: I was quite surprised by the size. The model I chose is said to be one of the smaller Keurig machines, but it still took up considerable countertop space, which isn’t ideal in my tiny NYC apartment. I do like that the water reservoir sits at the back of the machine so that the front is sleek and minimal. Overall, I think it’s well-designed but given that the machine doesn’t even hold the used K-Cup pods, I’m not sure why it needs to be so large. 3/5

The Taste: I was pretty surprised by the taste. The K-Cup pods made a smooth, easy-to-drink brew to kick-start my mornings. I do like my coffee strong and often drink espresso, so next time I’d seek out a stronger pod variety. 3/5

The User Experience: The coffee maker was so easy to set up. I literally took it out of the box, filled it with water, and pressed start. It comes with multiple accessories so I’d anticipated needing more time to understand how it works, but thankfully it took minutes until the first mug of coffee was made. The touch screen is very easy to navigate—no manual required. 5/5

The Price: The K250 retails for $129.99—a pretty reasonable price for a coffee machine with touch display. A box of 24 K-Cup pods is $15, which means each cup of coffee costs just 60 cents! Given that I buy a cup of coffee a day, switching to a Keurig would save me about $100 a month. Not bad! 5/5

The Verdict: Overall, I think the K250 Coffee Machine is a great option if you love brew coffee and are trying to save money by making your own at home. I personally like a strong shot of coffee so I’m inclined to opt for an espresso-style machine that’s a bit smaller. If you’re thinking about buying a Keurig, pay special attention to the depth dimensions—despite looking slim from the front the water reservoir stretches far back. If you have adequate countertop space, go for it! 19/25

Keurig K250 Coffee Maker ($130)

First Impressions: At first glance, I love the sleek look and size of my new Nespresso machine. Its rounded edges are modern and elegant and the simplicity of the design is akin to an iPhone—consider me impressed. I was quite surprised, however, to notice how big the new pods had become in comparison to the old format—a feature that left me a bit hesitant at first. 4/5

The Design: This is by far the best Nespresso machine design I've experienced. The narrow body makes it easy to slide onto even the smallest of countertops (something which I greatly appreciated given the size of my New York kitchen). The water reservoir also pivots, so the machine could be made to take up less depth and more width, as needed. Brilliant! That said, the coffee maker's best feature is the size of the water tank and the used pod dispenser: this speaks to my lazy nature (especially in the morning) as it means I don't have to discard of the old pods as often or constantly refill the water. 5/5

The Taste: Confession: I'm a coffee snob—anyone who knows me would attest. I'm on first name basis with the barista at my local coffee spot and have resisted owning a coffee machine for years. That said, when my parents were replacing their old bulky espresso machine at home, I was Nespresso's biggest cheerleader—and have thoroughly enjoyed the convenience (and taste) of their coffee pods for years. The new VertuoPlus line offers larger capsules for a coffee with crema (which explains the change in format) as well as the smaller espresso pods. To be honest, I'm more of an espresso drinker than coffee so I'm unlikely to purchase the coffee pods, but it's nice to know that I have the option to offer my guests. Nespresso will never beat the taste of a professionally crafted espresso poured from a La Marzocco machine, but it's pretty darn good.  4/5

The User Experience: One touch of the machine's lever makes the capsule holder open and close—a huge improvement from the older machines' manual system. In fact, the VertuoPlus is so foolproof and simple to use, it has only one button. Sleek. The machine automatically turns off (so no one will ever be able to blame me for leaving the Nespresso machine on again!). When activated, the capsule spins up to 7,000 rotations per minute to create the perfect crema cup. Fancy. The only drawback: the capsules tend to stick to the top of the capsule holder—and it took me a while to figure out why my machine wouldn't close properly when I introduced a new pod. But once I figured it out, I was set. 4/5

The Price: The VertuoPlus retails anywhere between $199 to $219 depending on the finish. I wish it had come with the separate milk frother at that price (an extra $99). Nespresso is definitely more the Mercedes of single serve coffee makers—but considering I spend a whopping $2,000 per year minimum at my local coffee spot, it's comparatively a steal. The new pod format has also gone up in price—ranging from $0.85 to $1.10 per capsule instead of $0.70 to $0.75 for the old format—which is to be expected in a new fancy design, but I personally didn't see the value in the new pods compared to the old ones. 3/5

The Verdict: Overall, I love the Nespresso VertuoPlus, and I will definitely be talking up its new bells and whistles to my parents (and anyone else who will listen). I will say that owning a coffee machine hasn't made me save money yet—I've just been drinking more coffee because I'm set in my ways and cannot give up my local espresso bar. I've also skipped my usual warm water with lemon in favor of a homemade iced latte—a yummy (but not necessarily healthy) habit. But this all speaks more of my own coffee drinking habits rather than the machine itself. All in all, if you're on the hunt for a top of the line single serve coffee maker—this is it. 20/25

Nespresso VertuoPlus ($199)

Time to craft your perfect morning: now that you're set with a choice single serve coffee maker, consider upgrading your bedding—these are the best sheets on the market (in our humble opinion).