The introduction of capsule coffee machines has made it simple for any java lover to wake up to a morning brew with next-to-no effort. But while the espresso element of the coffee making experience has been made foolproof, perfecting milky froth and other more complex coffee recipes has still required a degree of expertise.
The Nespresso Barista looks to change that. Taking the same simplified approach to multi-ingredient coffee recipes as Nespresso did with capsule brewers like the Nespresso Vertuo Plus, it will help you make all manner of great artisan coffees at home without having to employ your own personal human barista, warming milk, frothing cappuccinos and whisking up iced nitros (opens in new tab) in mere moments.
The Nespresso Barista is an attractive yet unassuming item to have perched on your kitchen worktop. A curved-barrel shape, it looks not unlike a Google Home speaker – were a Google Home speaker to have a removable jug and be expected to be filled with milk for most of its life, that is.
There are four parts to the Nespresso Barista. The base unit is matte black and holds the electronics and touch-sensitive buttons that light up an LED array to let you know what operation is currently selected or running. It’s heavy enough to stay stable and in place when spinning ingredients, but isn’t so big (with a height of 20.9 cm) or heavy (1.7kg) to be difficult to move when not in use.
Inside the base unit there’s a space to hold the included metal jug, which in turn holds a plastic spinning whisk attachment that snaps easily into place using a magnet, pulled out when you’re ready to pour from the jug. The jug is topped off with a plastic lid that seals tight with a rubber inner ring, preventing any liquid from spilling when the Nespresso Barista is in use. It’s all dishwasher-friendly, apart from the base unit which must be wiped clean by hand – you might find yourself doing this often, as it’s a bit of a fingerprint magnet.
The touch panel and display are responsive to the touch and easy to read, with a dot-matrix-like font making the whole unit seem quite space age. Despite its modern look, the whole unit is incredibly easy to set up and clean – making the high quality of its resulting drinks even more impressive.
The Nespresso Barista can make dozens of coffee recipes, from a simple latte to a frothy cappuccino, or intricate iced nitro. It’s just a matter of popping the required ingredients into the jug, using the touchscreen to select the beverage you’re looking to create, and placing all the components back into the base recess. The base then uses an induction in conjunction with the spinning whisk to create your drink. It really is that simple, and while some rarified recipes require multiple steps, an included recipe book tells you in foolproof terms exactly how to get the desired effect you’re looking for.
What it doesn’t do, however, is brew the espresso itself. For that you’ll need a separate machine, or your own manual brewing method. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though – it means you’re not tied to the Nespresso ecosystem if you’d prefer not to use capsule coffee, and the Barista frother can act as a standalone unit for making warm drinks without espresso. Still, if you’re looking for a complete all-in-one system, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
The Nespresso Barista also syncs up with the Nespresso app. This may seem excessive, especially if you’re only using it to trigger a recipe cycle from across the other side of the room – you’ll still have to get up to put liquids and ingredients in, you see.
But it makes more sense in terms of future-proofing the device. As the Nespresso Barista offers no manual control over the brewing process, it’s all reliant on internal presets. The app allows Nespresso to update the machine with new recipes as time goes on, and to perfect recipes and programmed whisk operation with updates. It may seem mad to have a milk jug with its own app, but it’s welcome here if it keeps the machine up to date with the latest in coffee aficionado trends.
We’re coffee lovers at TechRadar, but we’re not exactly baristas when it comes to making anything beyond an instant brew. However, with the Nespresso Barista, we were making fancy coffees that’d make Twin Peaks’ Agent Cooper proud.
It really is quite remarkable how well the Nespresso Barista works. In our wildest dreams we wouldn’t attempt an iced nitro usually, but the machine made a light, cool and aerated beverage in just moments. It’s easy to riff on the included recipes too if you fancy something a little different – a splash of flavoured syrup goes down a treat, and some chunks of chocolate can easily be melted down into a drink too.
Where the Nespresso Barista frustrates slightly, is in its volume – you’re really only limited to making one drink at a time, as the capacity of the jug and max fill line for the whisk component are both quite low. The machine works quickly enough to make this less of an issue, but if you’re after a giant mug of mocha, you may be disappointed.
The Nespresso Barista makes brewing a great beverage incredibly simple. Easy to set up, easy to clean and even easier to use, you’ll be impressing your pals with coffee-shop grade home brews within minutes of opening the box. It’s a little expensive considering it’s not an all-in-one system, but the results speak for themselves, and the fact that it’s not tied into a capsule ecosystem makes it worth considering for all coffee fans.
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