If you’ve been looking for an automatic espresso machine with the minimum acceptable 15 bar (this is 19), for under $100 US, though pump driven, the new Inissia is the model you and I have been waiting for. You will soon find, that for the budget, this little gem was worth the wait!
For comparison, the U is about $150 (depending on model, and without frother), the Essenza can be found for under $100 from time to time, and the rest of the line jumps up (eg. Pixie, others with milk frother options) to over $200 and well upwards from there.
The coffee, if bought on Nespresso’s website, ranges from .50 to .70, depending on whether you insist on pure Arabica (and you should!). Amazon and it’s vendors do both better and worse than this, so you HAVE to shop if you want to maintain your budget. Because of the skyrocketing popularity of this line, there are many more fulfillment by Amazon and Prime options now if you hunt for them.
Also, Sams and Costco have started carrying this line, but both of them locally (assuming Amazon charges tax in your area– some fullfillment by do not), are a $40 savings on this Inissia at this writing if you buy on Amazon. Because Inissia does not have the downside of ruining cups with experimentation you find with the Essenza, it is already becoming hard to find.
How can ANYONE deliver 19 bar, in a dependable machine, for under $100? Well, they can’t. This machine costs about $290 to manufacture bare bones. So, yes, this IS razor and blade and you ARE married to buying the little cups from Nespresso. There is NO BETTER WAY to get low cost, high quality espresso, with the convenience of automated brewing as simple as drip, for far less than Starbucks, even with the razor/blade strategy.
That said, I’m a Barista instructor, and if you do take the time to buy green, roast your own, and use a Moka pot, though technically not espresso at 6 bar, you can get better coffee, more controlled by you, for a LOT less per cup. But here comes some honesty my students would kill me for: YES, sometimes I prefer fast coffee, far better than Starbucks, fully automated, easy clean up, and zero work! I still roast my own and use a variety of techniques from Moka to Turkish to get a devlish range of wonderful tastes, but for the effort, this new little Inissia truly fills the bill!
The Barista association has been kind enough to let me try a full range of espresso machines and techniques on their dime for over 7 years, and I’ve worked with espresso makers and systems that range from Mr. Coffee to $35,000 commercial machines. I can’t say much more than the fact that THIS is the model I’ve waited for, even though I was painfully tempted by the Essenza. And also be warned, if you move beyond Nespresso for a modular system, you are NOT getting true espresso, but razor and blade drip.
If you read criticisms on the web that Nespresso has a poor range of offerings between first crack, City ++ and deeply dark, oily espresso, check the date on the review/complaint. I’ve now found that their range is just as broad and deep as any direct green or roasted bean you can get. Nothing is as good as roasting and grinding your own, but even with sophisticated taste buds, this system comes very close, and is certainly WAY better than Starbucks. Besides, even roasters/ Moka folk need a break once in a while, and will unlikely settle for drip when they can even get Americano if you like it less strong, with this system!
The other models in this series are known for durability and ethical customer service from Nespresso, but at this writing no one can tell you that about their newer technologies. I can tell you that poor mechanical performance would kill this at Sams before they even got out of the gate, so I’m betting on durability, but can’t honestly opine on that parameter. (Related post: My review on 3 espresso machines)
All in all, highly recommended. Please use the comment and question features for any details you need, or email me, or check out the Nespresso website for details between models, or questions you might have on this little gem. As a bonus, if you check their site, you get to see Jimmy Kimmel trying the brand with Penelope Cruz, not a reason to buy, but still FUN! ;=)