My Dolce Gusto Piccolo machine died earlier this year after a couple years of regular use. It was a birthday gift and I loved it to bits. The Piccolo design is cute, and doesn’t take up much space on my kitchen counter. There’s a lot of fun flavors to explore (including non-coffee ones like Chai Latte and Nestea Peach). The capsules are really cheap and available at the supermarkets I frequent. I don’t like taste of the powdered milk pods that come with some of the flavors, but that’s okay, I usually take my espressos with a few drops of real low fat milk.
I got a Nespresso Inissia for my birthday this year. The Inissia is a beautiful, compact machine with sleek lines. Footprint-wise, it is less wide than the Piccolo, but sits deeper. There’s a removable container within the machine that stores about 10 used capsules, so compared to the Piccolo (where you have to dispose off the used pod before you could use the machine for the next capsule), it’s ever so slightly more convenient. Funny story: I forgot to remove 3 used pods from the holder before falling sick and not drinking coffee for 2 weeks, and when I finally opened the chamber, the capsules had some healthy green sprouts on them! Euw!
The Nespresso system comes with over 20 Grands Crus. When a brand uses fancy terms such as “grand cru” to describe a coffee bean blend or flavor variation, you anticipate it to be a premium product. Per capsule, the Nespresso pods are indeed more expensive than the Dolce Gustos. I was happy with the Dolce Gusto capsules, and now I’m happy with the Nespresso Grands Crus. What can I say, as long as I can get my espresso fix fast and relatively cheap, I’m a happy girl. Coffee connoisseurs, are you cringing right now?
Anyway, I don’t like my espresso too fruity, acidic or overly dark. My go-to capsule for a midday pick-me-up is Livanto, which I feel is closest to the Dolce Gusto espresso. Sometimes I go for Vanilio, which has a pleasant vanilla-ish aroma. After 6pm, I switch to Decaffeinato or Decaffeinato Intenso. Some other flavors that I like are Indriya from India and Roma.
My only pet peeve, and this is a major one, is that these Grands Crus can only be purchased through a Nespresso boutique (you can also send used capsules for recycling at the boutiques, which is nice). These capsules are also available for purchase online, however there’s a minimum order before delivery is free. Ugh.
If you’re in the market for an affordable automatic espresso maker and don’t mind hunting for the elusive Grand Cru, get this lovely little machine. The Nespresso Inissia also makes a great birthday gift or thoughtful Christmas present for coffee lovers.
Oops! I started writing this post to announce the new 2014 limited edition Nespresso flavors, but ended up with a lengthy review of the Inissio. Ha ha.
Recently Nespresso launched three limited edition Livanto Grand Cru variations with dessert-inspired flavors. They are the delicious-sounding Apple Crumble, Chocolate Mint and Hazelnut Dessert. I’ve tried Hazelnut Dessert straight up but despite wanting to love it, I can’t because of the very fake hazelnut flavor (almost cough-syrupy, or like fake almond flavoring, which I hate). I’ve yet to try the other two.
Lovely tea time treats by Uchu Wagashi, hand-made in Kyoto, Japan. Wagashi are traditional Japanese confectionary, usually exquisitely presented and served with matcha tea. The Kyoto Monogatari set (Kyoto Story) shows familiar sights and landmarks in Kyoto such as Kiyomizu Temple, Heian Shrine, Kyoto Tower, Mt. Daimonji, Kamo River.
Love the fresh pastel palette! These make delightful gifts or souvenirs of your trip.
The cute animal shaped ones (in hedgehog, hippopotamus, sea lions, elephant, pig, sheep, horse, polar bear) comes in vanilla and chocolate. Also available is Chai flavored ochobo.
Pretty cones of flower-shaped Italian gelato from Amorino. I appreciate how the “petals” of ice-cream are so beautifully shaped to resemble a rose in bloom. Flavors from top, left to right: Bourbon Vanilla, Indian Alphonso Mango, Raspberry Willamette, Pistachio, Coffee, Speculos Biscuit, Amarena Cherry, Caramel with Salted Butter, Coffee, Stracciatella and Amorino Chocolate.