You can spend thousands on a coffee machine, or you can buy a pot of instant coffee for a couple of quid, but there must be a middle ground surely? One that lets you have a decent cup of coffee, but at the same time not worry about the ins and outs of learning the secret trade of a barista.
For those who like that quick hit of espresso, Nespresso has the Pixie by Magimix, a small counter-top automatic coffee machine that removes all the fuss. But does it remove the taste? We've been drinking its dark juices to find out.
Cute - that's the simple way of describing the Nespresso Pixie. Don't worry, it doesn't feature any real pixies, come with fairies, or even sport the odd goblin, but it is tiny, brightly coloured and fairly easy to use.
Take it out of the box, plug it in to a power socket, fill the detachable water reservoir that sits on the back and then pick the coffee you want to drink.
The design of the Pixie focuses around the loading and unloading of the specially designed Nespresso coffee capsules. This is done via a big silver handle that pulls upwards revealing an opening for you to put the capsule in. The capsules only fit one way. Once locked in place you then have to decide whether you want an espresso or an espresso lungo - that's Italian for long, sniggers to yourselves please.
That's it. Job done. There are just three buttons on the unit. You couldn't really make it any more simple if you tried.
Another hit of espresso?
Within seconds of you pressing the button, coffee starts to pour out of the unit into your glass or cup. You can flip up the drip tray to make room for the Grande cup you've nicked from Starbucks, just don't expect to get a Venti under there. It won't fit.
There are 19 Nespresso flavours to choose from and Nespresso puts a taster pack in the box to let you try 16 of the 19 - Nespresso has just added three new flavours to the permanent range including vanilla. The flavours range from espresso blends to pure origin espressos and to lungos - there are even three available that are decaffeinated, although as parents to small children, we really can't see the point of that.
Tastes, strengths, aromas vary according to your choice but there should be something for everyone from the very mild floral and refreshing Finezzo Lungo offering to the powerful and contrasting Ristretto or rich and spicy Indriya from India.
Furthermore the Nespresso also constantly offers and experiments with other flavours that it has as either a limited-edition run or themed around a special occasion.
Just a coffee please
Decide what you want, load the capsule, press a button and 30 seconds later you are sipping your beverage. It's simple and that's what the Nespresso system does well. There is no milk option, no self-cleaning feature, nothing really apart from the ability to make a nice cup of coffee quickly. There are catches, of course: the main one that affects any coffee capsule system - and partly why the Nespresso Pixie by Magimix is so cheap - is that you're tied into the company's capsule system.
Like printer cartridges, Nespresso coffee capsules aren't cheap, but still considerably cheaper than going to Starbucks or Costa. Prices vary on the type of coffee within the range you opt for, but start at £3 and work their way up to £5.50 for a 10-capsule pack. You can hunt down cheaper prices online or "compatible" offerings but it's definitely worth bearing in mind.
Compared to a bag of coffee beans or making coffee with a cafetiere it's expensive.
Nope. The Nespresso Pixie doesn't do milk, or any kind of frothing for that matter. If you're an espresso drinker rather than someone who like's their macchiatos that's perfect for you.
While it's not a major factor we feel it's also worth noting that all these capsules you'll get through aren't recyclable or landfill friendly. Make of that what you will, but we wanted to point it out, and it's something that those we showed it to also cared about. The capsules make life easy, but we can't help feeling there must be a better way of doing things. On the plus side, you don't need to boil a kettle, so making coffee is cheaper, and better for the environment.
Eco matters aside, the Nespresso Pixie is so easy to manage, run and handle. There really is nothing to it, and for many the simple, easy approach will be very much welcomed.
The coffee we drank packed a punch - we're feeling dizzy with caffeine as we write this - and with so many flavours available, including the special season offerings, there is bound to be a flavour for you.
Nespresso Pixie Automatic Coffee Machine by Magimix does exactly what it sets out to do, make you a great cup of coffee, and ideologies about capsules and the environment aside, from the moment you get it out of the box and take the first sip you'll be buzzing.