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Nespresso Machines in Pricewatch

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Assholes

The ever-deadly Irish Times Value for Money feature by Conor Pope featured Nespresso machines this week.  I recently had the use of one, and think they’re an interesting topic for a discussion on ‘value’, as the whole concept strikes me as one of the most wasteful things I’ve ever seen, ever.

The three biggest issues for me regarding these Nespresso machines are the waste generated, the price of the coffee and the godawful pretension associated with the whole deal.  Firstly the waste: every single cup of coffee that you make with a Nespresso uses a small aluminium capsule that cannot be added to your normal recycling, as there are coffee grounds trapped inside.  Nestle have established collection points for these capsules, but will not share information on how many of the capsules are actually recycled – except for their results from Switzerland, which are extremely good.  However, in Switzerland, people are fined for throwing away recyclables.  As this article points out, people who use Nespressos do so for the convenience and so are probably less inclined to gather and send off their capsules for recycling.

As for the cost: you would never buy a car that only ran on a special petrol that you could only buy in one petrol station. Why, that would make you a chump.  Yet the very popular Nespresso machines lock you into buying Nespresso capsules, which work out at approximately €74 per kilo.  Compare this to Lavazza, another quality blend and my personal favourite coffee, which costs €16 for a kilo of ground, or €14 for a kilo of beans.

Finally (although not really, as you’ll see below) there is an entire aspirational, bourgeois, insufferable  ‘lifestyle’ associated with the Nespresso brand. You can’t buy the pods in supermarkets; you either have to go online or visit the Nespresso counter in Brown Thomas.  This place is like a last little enclave of Celtic Tiger obnoxiousness, with both the staff and customers making a ridiculous fuss about what is, essentially, Nescafe.  It’s well worth a visit if you fancy a laugh, or possibly a cry at how ridiculous we are.  You don’t have to just take my word for it – read this great piece by Charlie Brooker from a few years back, in which he deconstructs the ludicrous magazine sent to the Nespresso mailing list.

I realise I’m ranting now, so will just quickly wrap up by adding that Nespresso is owned by Nestle, and we all know about their evil empire.  Also the brand does not have any Fairtrade blends, and the BT Nespresso counter guy LIED to my FACE about this when I went in there, saying firstly that they did, then when I asked why they didn’t have a Fairtrade mark, he said that they had their ‘own certification that was better than Fairtrade’.  Suuuuuure, Nestle.

In the interest of balance, I will admit that the machines are quick and convenient (although making a better coffee with a cafetiere or stovetop pot takes about 5 mins) and the BT counter gives away free cups of coffee (if you can stomach all the other nonsense).   I may have gone a bit mad, Ted, in my dislike of these stupid things.

So what do you think? Do you use a Nespresso? Is the convenience worth the evil? Comment below.

33 Comments

  1. The cup of coffee I get from the nespresso machine is comparable only to what I would get in a proper decent cafe, so for me it is worth it. I spend 40 cents on one cup (plus the milk froth) and I’d have to pay a little shy of 3 euros for a latte or cappucino in town.
    On top of that, I’m the only one drinking coffee at my house, so the electric coffee maker was never used. Cafetiere coffee is just not the same and although the espresso hob thing is good, it was a hassle to clean…

    I don’t think it makes me look ridiculous , I actually enjoy it very very much, particularly on weekends, when my son is able to make me a cup of coffee in the morning and wake me up with a proud smile in his face…

  2. Strike 1: Marketing of formula

    Strike 2: Zimbabwe farms

    Strike 3: Palm oil use

    Nestlé, you are out of my shopping list! This company has a very poor ethical background, often being in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

  3. I work in an office where we share a Nespresso machine about 50 people. We buy our own capsules. I would like to be able to make my own Lavazza but we don’t have a sink. Even if we did, I literally wouldn’t be able to spare the 5 minutes several times a day for cleaning, brewing, etc.

    In this context, 40c for a cup of Nespresso is extremely good value against a €2 americano from the canteen or a vile €1 coffee from a vending machine.

    A reusable capsule will solve both the wastage and monopolistic gripes: http://spreets.com.au/deal/Sydney/online/9670/-take-control-of-your-coffee-two-boxes-of-refillable-and-reusable-nespressocompatible-coffee-pods-delivery-just-39-valued-at-79-now-you-can-choose-any-ground-coffee-or-tea-for-your-machine

    At home I make Lavazza with a €50 Lidl espresso machine. But at work, the balance of convenience/quality/value makes Nespresso a good deal.

    Finally, the “Nespresso lifestyle” conjured up by Nestle is obviously marketing faffle. You are just as silly to be angered by it as anyone else would be by being seduced by it.

  4. This made me laugh ” own certification that was better than Fairtrade”. That is the exact same argument used by Nandos about their chicken not being free range.

  5. Coma, the pretension associated with Nespresso doesn’t anger me, I just find it ridiculous and off-putting.

    It’s true that when you compare Nespresso to takeaway coffee, it’s better value. But would people who are making 3-4 cups a day really buy the same amount of takeaway coffee? I don’t think it’s replacing takeaway coffee (for most users anyway) as much as it’s replacing instant.

    By the way, I’m pretty sure that under health and safety regulations, your workplace should provide you with a sink – might be worth looking into.

  6. I agree that the marketing is ridiculous Jean, but pretension doesn’t necessarily come into it if you set aside the marketing… I’d hate to be considered a “snob” or something, just for using Nespresso. Regardless, in the grand scheme of things, the off-putting-ness of the marketing would barely factor into my decision whether to use the Nespresso system, if at all.

  7. Yeah, I agree – I don’t think a true coffee snob (who are painful of course!) would ever be seen dead with a Nespresso

  8. For me, the biggest factor is that there’s a whole world of delicious coffees out there with thousands of choices, and I don’t want to be limited to a tiny selection from Nestle.

  9. By the way coma, how’s the €50 Lidl espresso machine – would you recommend it?

  10. Peter, Tesco now stocks the Dolce Gusto machine and their capsules. The machine is currently half price, which I think works out at 65. I bought one at full price so am gutted but must say that the taste is definitely comparable to a cafe and much better than a cafetiere.

  11. @jean the pressure is a little weak but that’s probably my fault for never bothering to descale it. Never used the foamer so can’t can’t comment on that. Its still going strong after making my morning espresso for over a year so yeah, I would have to recommend it :)

  12. You might ask the vendor if the pod contains anything else apart from coffee, which he might answer: “No, it’s not 100% fresh grind coffee, we use NesBean® which is better than coffee”.

  13. I’m in the same boat as Liana, I’m the only person at home who drinks coffee, so this is perfect for me. I have neither the patience or the space to spend time grinding & faffing about with a regular machine. I used to use my Moka Express, but the coffee would go off in-between uses. My cafetiere had the same issues. I’d be throwing out ¼ used bags of coffee every so often.

    I got the machine on a great deal, and I’m still using the free capsules I received. Love sitting at home on a Saturday morning with my coffee, without having to get dressed and going around the corner to spend €3 on one.

    Maybe I’m immune, I don’t remember seeing an ad for Nespresso in the last year or so?! The main factor why I bought mine is that I saw one in a friend’s and I was really impressed with the convenience.

  14. I would be “no to nespresso” clan. If you’re not getting nice coffee out of your cafetiere you’re either a) doing it wrong (dont overbrew, for the love of god, dont over brew) or b) putting bad coffee in.

    If you go through a moderate amount of coffee a week, a grinder is worth considering. The beans keep better whole, so grinding the amount you need means they last longer with a good flavour.

    Likewise different coffees are more suited to espresso or bialetti while others are more suited to a drip brew. Also, there are great coffee suppliers in dublin who can sell you smaller quantities and grind it on the spot so it’ll be doubleplusfresh.

    Also, the leftover ground coffee you dont brew or do brew can be put on the plants. They tell me it’s good for repelling slugs. I think nespresso capsules on the plants might repell the neighbours…

  15. I don’t like Nestle, I don’t like waste, I don’t like bad value for money.

    I also don’t like espresso, which presumably this stuff is, or some approximation thereof.

    I have a cafetiere-mug and Aldi’s very tasty French blend coffee, and get my caffeine fix for around 10c/mug, as conveniently as if I were using instant.

  16. I couldn’t agree more. Every time I see/hear about one I think ‘Why???’

  17. I was tempted when I saw the half price offer in Tesco, and decided against it. My in laws have the Nepresso, they claim that there are centres which collect the capsules for recycling, but they’ ve never done it so everything ends up in the general waste. I say only 2% of people actually bother with bringing their empty capsules to the recycling centre, unless they are forced to like in Switzerland. People can’t even be bothered to bring their electrical equipment for recycling, so I can’t see them gather the capsules in a bag, put it in the car, drive to the collection point (and using the car, thus creating more pollution, to do so). As for the reusable capsule, it’s a great idea, but it defeats the point of having a quick, convenient, mess free coffee.
    Re. the cost, yes, it only costs 40 cents, compared to the 3 euros you would pay for a decent take away coffee, that’s a valid argument. Only…. Most people, like myself, get their take away coffee on their way to work, rather than making one at home. I actually ENJOY getting out and grab a coffee, the italian barrista close to my work is a pleasure to talk to, it justifies the 2.40 euros I fork out for his delicious coffee
    The taste? I have to be fair, here. The coffee I tasted at my in laws was waaaaay better than the one made in a cafetiere, or even the stove Italian coffee maker. In Switzerland, they have a huge selection, much better than what you can get here, and I think you can buy online. They even have flavoured coffees like halzenut or vanilla. But the lifestyle? Nah, that’s a step too far

  18. The nespresso is my guilty pleasure- I recieved it in a KrisKindle a few years ago and can not bear to part with it. I too have invested in the reusable capsules but prefer the shop ones. I have a whole range of coffee making pots but I find the best are the bialetti cafetiere for more than one person (including often having to wash the hob after forgetting about it) and the nespresso for just myself.

    As for the BT experience, the only time I ever visit that shop is to buy capsules and there are lots of non BT characters in buying coffee and I reckon many of them like myself seem to do most of their shopping in lidl and dunnes stores. I recognise the marketing is just a gimmick like having the lights off in the holister shop in Dundrum (I brought a torch there recently to buy my teenager a hoodie which was borrowed by other mammmys so we could read the labels !)

  19. maybe I’m odd. My best friend has a nespresso, and I always accept but I find the coffee – meh. I like a strong americano coffee, or strong caffetiere coffee. I find the nepressos that I have tried (I’ve tried 3/4) a bit bland but acceptable.

    on the price issue… yeah its 40c a cup, but you’re only getting a single shot of coffee while I pay 2.45 for 4 shots of expresso laying on a couple of inches of water in my most common coffee shop… little difference on value for money really.

  20. While complaining about the waste associated with the Nespresso and lauding Lavazza coffees it ignores completely that Lavazza also produces machines that use capsules. I can find no information on whether these capsules (different from Nespresso caps) are recyclable.

  21. I’m not suggesting that anyone use any of the machines that use non-recyclable capsules Bill, I think they’re all wasteful. I just mentioned Lavazza because I think it’s a much tastier coffee than any of the Nespresso blends – I brew it in a stovetop pot though so there’s zero waste (the grounds are composted).

  22. Jean, that was a bit unfair and full of subjective. Do you critique all those who buy bottled water, because that impacts the environment immensely.
    Who the heck are you to suggest those who use pods are pretentious? Pot – kettle!!
    They are easy to use, consistent in taste, little mess and our milk frother is fantastic. For time poor people like us, it is great.

    By the way, do you get equally angry with all the online shops without shop fronts. Why can’t Nespresso pods be pushed to a low cost online option saving us money.

    Strewth your article should be an embarrassment to you.

  23. Calm down, Dave. It’s just that: a light-hearted, SUBJECTIVE take on an issue, written on a blog. Nobody’s having a go at people who use pods, it’s the company’s marketing that’s being slated.
    Jean’s not losing sleep on it, you shouldn’t either. Plenty of space for people to respond and disagree/ defend the innocent Nestle corporation – but no need to get personal and rude.
    And yes, we have critiqued bottled water, but nothing against those who use it:
    http://www.cheapeats.ie/2009/03/24/bottled-water-sales-decline/

    http://www.cheapeats.ie/2009/07/17/stop-buying-water/

    http://www.cheapeats.ie/2010/01/20/the-sad-return-of-bottled-water/

  24. Dave – Nespresso pods saving you money?! They cost about 5 times as much as ground coffee! :D

    I also think bottled water is wasteful, use it as little as possible myself and always recycle that which I do use. However that argument is such a logical fallacy – just because something else is wasteful too, it doesn’t make Nespresso pods LESS wasteful.

    I am not angry about it, but it’s my opinion that it’s a negative thing that a process (making a cup of coffee) that can and should be waste-free is now, for lots of users, sending loads of waste to landfill. You’re entitled and welcome to disagree with my opinion but I’ve no idea why you’re taking it so personally. If you’re the inventor of Nespresso, fair enough, but if you’re not is there really any need to put such an emotional investment into a consumer product? ;)

  25. Not a well researched article. 1. The capsules are recyclable, they are made from aluminium which is infinitely recyclable. Here in Ireland at the min you just have to empty it yourself, but it can go in your recycle bin. 2. Nespresso are part of the rainforest alliance, which pays MORE than fair-trade AND ensures forests are not destroyed for the coffee growing. 3. Because of the sealed capsules the coffee grounds don’t go stale, a bag of coffee will go stale in like 3 days, by which time most people would just chuck it, so really, its a lot LESS wasteful than normal coffee. And all the new coffee machines have an incredibly low energy consumption rate and switch themselves off after a period of not being used also.

    Source: my sister works for them and knows the trade inside out. She’s vegetarian and really ethically minded.. She probably wouldnt work for them if she thought they were unethical and unenvironmentally friendly.

  26. Jeepers Kat, if you’re going to accuse people of not researching, you’d be better making sure your own comment is free of inaccuracies! 1) I said above in the piece that the reason you can’t recycle Nespresso is because the grounds are trapped inside. You need a device to get the grounds out (as Neil linked to above) or have to carry out a very fiddly cutting and rinsing process, defeating the ‘convenience’ of the system in the first place. 2) Fairtrade has a much more stringent and transparent rating system than the Rainforest Alliance and is the international gold standard for ethically traded products. It is not correct that RA pays more to farmers than FT, and FT also invests in environmentally sustainable projects. 3) Coffee grounds will keep fresh for a very long time if stored in the fridge or an airtight jar – it is simply nonsense to say that they are more wasteful than Nespresso. I can’t believe that anyone would be daft enough to repeatedly buy coffee, leave it lying around and then throw it out after three days, to be honest.

    I don’t even really know where to begin with the argument that Nestle must be good because your sister works for them and she’s a vegetarian – with respect, I’m sure your sister is a wonderful person, but Nestle have a long history of ruthless and unethical corporate behaviour. This information is very much in the public domain: campaigns against their aggressive promotion of formula milk in developing countries to the detriment of breastfeeding and the health of millions of babies have been going on since the 70s. Greenpeace have campaigned against Nestles unsustainable sourcing of palm oil. Nestle failed to deliver on a promise to cut child slavery – child slavery! – out of its cocoa supply chain by 2006. They have also been criticised for union busting, exploitation of water supplies in Brazil, and much more…

  27. I’ve had my Nespresso for 4 months and I love it. I love the espresso it makes, the ease of use, virtually no clean up, and they do in fact offer quite a large variety of coffee flavors. My morning cup of espresso always tastes very fresh. Because of the price of the cups, I can easily afford several a day, rather than limiting myself to one at a coffee shop.

    If you are going to eliminate from your home anything sold by an “evil empire” you better be prepared to live in a grass hut you make, cook over a wood fire, and walk everywhere.

    If you want to recycle the cups, it’s not a lot of work to empty and rinse them.

  28. Hi Debra – that’s nonsense that you would need to live in a grass hut, etc – there are plenty of ethical products available, such as the extremely well known Fair Trade labelled ones, for one example. And yes, it is very rare to find a ‘pure’ corporation, but there are degrees of bad behaviour and Nestle are among the worst of them. It’s a false equivalency and a lazy argument to suggest they’re all the same and there’s no point trying. If you aren’t bothered, that’s fine and your choice, but there are plenty of people who are.

    And for all the people saying that you can empty and rinse the Nespresso containers – fine, but if you’re going to go to all that trouble, why not just empty and rinse a stovetop pot instead, pay 1/5th of the price for your coffee and avoid generating anything that needs to be recycled? Recycling is not a free, organic, environmentally neutral process like composting – it takes resources to do it, which is why recycling is the last option recommended in the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra.

  29. If you’re anti-Nestle and into saving a few quid, there’s a new Irish site selling Nespresso compatible pods for around 15% less. I’ve tried them and they’re every bit as easy to use and give a great espresso. Site URL is http://www.justapod.com

  30. I just love love love my Nespresso!!! got it from my husband as a gift after my second child and got lots and lots of capsules…. first thing in the morning just before baby wakes for feed I sit with my coffee and enjoy every last sip…..its bliss….and gets me ready for the day ahead…I agree there are better and more enviormentally friendly coffee and systems out there… but personally for me this totally works and I enjoy my one nice coffee a day cause thats all I drink just the one….I am not a coffee snob but love a nice coffee and thats just what I get.

  31. If you don´t like waste then you should look into the Swiss Ethical coffee company pods. These pods are sold all over the continent and are biodegradable. You can get them at http://www.allaboutpods.ie for 2.95 Euro for a box of 10 pods. Enjoy!

  32. Kids say the darnedest things.

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