Want your gourmet coffee but without the fuss of leaving the house? While it won’t beat the brew of a gourmet coffee joint, these coffee machines are quite easy to use and they produce aromatic brews of better quality than the run-of-the-mill machine. The caffeine addict will still love to have one of these at home for a quick and aromatic coffee fix.

When you’re brewing these cups of coffee, do use fresh, whole milk for a more full-bodied froth. Pura milk is our preferred option. We tried four of these coffee-churning devices:

expresso fixie

1. OUR PICK: NESPRESSO PIXIE 

Verdict: 9/10. Ultra-compact, yet big on performance and design.

The coffee: One of the most well balanced; the medium-intensity Livanto espresso blend boasted a dense crema (foam) and a lovely aroma that filled the room. 16 varieties, including three decaf; two additional limited edition blends are released every year. 

The machine: It warmed up quickly and took 30 seconds to churn out an espresso. The whirring sound it made while brewing was no louder than the pump-driven espresso machines on the market. The capsule container and drip tray attachments were easy to remove and rinse. The most compact of the four tested; the drip tray folds up to accommodate longer cups.

The frother: Produced both warm and cold milk froth. The machine shut off automatically when done. The magnetic whisk was easy to use; the jug’s non-stick interior was also easy to clean. 

Nespresso Pixie is priced at $398; capsules, $9.10 to 10.70 for a sleeve of 10; Aeroccino milk frother, $199. The machine is available at Nespresso boutiques at Ion Orchard, Takashimaya D.S., major department stores and www.nespesso.com.

expresso x7 

2. X7 IPERESPRESSO

Verdict: 7.5/10. More for coffee purists or design aficionados who want to feel like a barista.

The coffee: I enjoyed the smooth, aromatic taste of cafe-quality Illy coffee without the fuss of grinding and tamping. Capsule choices were limited, with only four varieties, including one decaf.

The machine: The various buttons and gadgets looked daunting at first, but I got the hang of it after a demo by the staff. The X7 allows you to mimic classic barista techniques, such as turning the capsule holder handle to prep the capsule before pressing a button for your coffee. There wasn’t much to clean, since extraction took place inside the capsule, and the coffee and machine never came in contact. The machine was surprisingly silent, and looks retro cool, although it is not extremely compact.

The frother: The steam wand attached to the X7 made decent froth, but it needed some practice to get the hang of it.

X7 Iperespresso includes a steam wand and it retails at $589; capsules are priced at $15 (decaf) and $22.50 for a can of 21, from Toque. Toque, Euraco Finefood’s showroom, is located at 896 Dunearn Road, Sime Darby Centre, Singapore, Singapore 589472; Tel: 6466 2722; website: www.euraco.com.sg.

the martello

3. MARTELLO

Verdict: 6.5/10. A budget-conscious machine that offers both coffee and tea brews.

The coffee: The medium-strength Crema Gusto espresso had a nice golden crema, mild flavour and slightly over-roasted taste. There were two teas and five coffee varieties, including one decaf.

The machine: Slightly bulkier than the rest, its suction rubber feet also made it difficult to shift around. There was no auto-stop; I had to press the button when the coffee reached my desired amount, or I’d get diluted coffee. Cleaning the capsule container and the drip tray was a breeze.

The frother: A basic battery- operated handheld whisk that did the job adequately with practice. 

Martello retails at $298 and is available at major electrical and department stores. The capsules cost $24 for a pack of 30 and the Vienna milk frother is priced at $9 (free with purchase of coffee machine).

 

the martelli

4. GREAT FIND: CBTL KALDI

Verdict: 8/10. Easy-to-use; offers fresh brewed tea besides coffee.

The coffee: The medium roast Premium Espresso had a nice, dense cream, but the flavour and aroma were slightly weaker than expected. There were four espressos, four coffee brews, and even four teas. 

The machine: Warm-up time was quick, and it took less than a minute to brew an espresso. The noise while brewing was standard. The capsule container and drip tray attachments were easy to detach and wash.

The frother: It produced a warm, full-bodied froth at the touch of a button, stopping automatically when done. The wired whisk and the non-stick jug interior were easy enough to clean.

The CBTL Kaldi is priced at $389 and is available at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf stores. The capsules cost $9.10 for a box of 10 and the CBTL milk frother is priced at $149 ($99 if purchased with a CBTL coffee machine). Visit www.cbtl.com.sg for more information.

All product and pricing information was correct at the time of the magazine’s publication. We advise readers to check with the store for the latest availability and pricing information.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer July 2011.