Sexy Italians or Swiss in the morning? Quelle Dilemma!

18 Nov

Eighteen months ago, I fell in love.

He was so sexy this little Italian devil, I just couldn’t resist. His name: Federico. He was my Italian stallion that got me out of my comfy bed in the morning. Those who know me, know that’s no easy feat.

The boy had even introduced us, started off the whole thing. It wasn’t my fault.

When I went away traveling over the summer, it was with trepidation that I left him behind. How could I? I knew he would feel so used!

But, leave him I did. I thought he would be happy in the hands of my friend Chris who has the sexiest kitchen in Essex. I thought Feddie could help my mate have some perky mornings that even the tarts from “The Only Way is Essex” couldn’t provide…

I was wrong though. Federico languished away in the corner all summer. My suave little espresso machine was not used or even understood. It seemed I was the only one who truly got him; who really understood his inner workings, what made him tick and flow.

When I returned, our relationship flared again – it was espresso love at first sight! And how could I not love a piece of machinery so exquisitely lovely as this?

My Italian stallion Federico...

So, it was with heartfelt shame that I found myself at Sketch Restaurant on Regent Street recently. I was there for a coffee tasting with Swiss company Nespresso.

But, my curiosity about the company’s new machines overpowered my desire to remain fully faithful to Feddie. This wasn’t really cheating…I wasn’t replacing him, simply taking a look…right?

Ooo, aahh...compact goodness!

On show were a few new specimens which use the handy pod system – all surely able to get even the most exhausted worker out of bed early doors. The Lattissima+ was a super compact espresso and milk steamer combo that did everything from cappuccinos, lattes and macchiatos at the touch of a button. What most surprised me was its size and speed – in under a minute, I was standing back – feeling slightly guilty but cozily warmed up – with a lovely latte. There was also another even more compact bit of kit. Sitting nearby on another table was the Pixie. The designers definitely had something right when they decided to call it a pixie: this machine is so small (11cm wide x 34cm high), it would easily pack away into a side cupboard when not in use. Handy for those tiny London kitchens a lot of   us must suffer with.

So, what did I think of Nespresso?

In short: I thought it was delicious. The company has a whole host of different flavours in various coloured pods. If you own a machine, you can pick up a random selection or just go for the type you like best. It prides itself on providing quality coffee, according to Justine Hunter, the company’s PR manager, who added there is a test to try out the quality of an espresso, which involves putting a sugar cube and seeing how long it takes to sink. She mentioned the Nespresso ones last a good eight to nine seconds before the sugar falls through the top, signaling the high quality.

Nepresso products try to woo me while Johnathon Sims shows me how it works

I was most impressed with the Arpeggio – also known as the shiny purple pod. It was a rounded, full-flavoured espresso with a cocoa punch and woody notes. I also gave the special edition Christmas coffees a go, which this year include: vanilla, chocolate and cherry. I can’t say it was my favourite, but the vanilla was rich and didn’t have any hint of that horrid, fake vanilla flavour you often find in coffee products.

Johnathon Sims, one of the company’s coffee experts, also explained the company is going for the goal of making sure 80% of its products will be AAA standardised by 2013. In laymen terms, this means: making sure their production lines are working with farmers to train them on productivity and sustainability, while also ensuring there is a sustainable development platform going forward. A worthwhile goal, I would suggest.

So, did this exposure to my lovely Federico’s rivals do anything to make me waver in my commitment?

I won’t lie – Nespresso was very pleasing indeed. But, then again, Feddie’s stood by me for so long, even in my absence, that I can’t just abandon him out of the blue. For now, Lavazza will stay my coffee of choice, but I can’t pretend I haven’t been Gwiltily tempted…

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3 Responses to “Sexy Italians or Swiss in the morning? Quelle Dilemma!”

  1. Jason B. Standing November 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    The trouble with Nespresso is that one’s left with doubt over how long the pods have been sitting around in a supermarket/warehouse, and how long the beans had been sitting around prior to processing into the podules before that…

    My understanding of coffee chemistry is that the volatiles inside the bean which give the drink its most interest flavour & texture deteriorate readily once the bean’s ground, and don’t last indefinitely.

    A pod system like this might be a vast improvement on (uggh) instant, or your workplace’s evil drip-filter jug, and certainly has a massive convenience factor in making the coffee and cleaning up. Hard to beat the flavour of freshly-ground single estate beans though.

    • gwiltypleasures November 21, 2011 at 10:55 am #

      Mmm I also have a cafetiere which I use fresh ground coffee with when I don’t just want espresso. But I am still always quite surprised at how nice the coffee in pods tastes. Though, I’m not terribly advanced in my coffee knowledge so maybe it isn’t as up to standard as I think :-p

    • gwiltypleasures November 24, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      As an addition, Nespresso mentioned this to me Jas:

      “Nespresso capsules keep their freshness by means of a sophisticated production process which is exclusive to the Nespresso capsules. The principle involves placing the exact portion of freshly roasted and ground coffee into a hermetically-sealed capsule to protect it from air and light, thus enabling the quality and freshness of the coffee to be preserved over several months.”

      It’s an interesting concept – think I’m going to do a straight up taste test between fresh-ground and the capsules because I haven’t noticed a massive difference before so now I’m curious!! 🙂

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