UPDATE: November 16, 2012: After our glowing review, we ended up returning the Verismo machine and returned to Nespresso. Quite simply, the Verismo machine just didn't get hot enough and the coffee wasn't good enough to justify the approximately $1/pod price. Unless you have a very tiny appetite, there is no way that a user will make a single pod latte, meaning that you're rivaling the cost of the “real” version at a Starbucks.
We think that Starbucks has enormous potential in this market, but the Verismo pricing needs to change, and the machines — even the low end version — need to be built with more quality and have a temperature control. Until then, after several weeks of testing and trying, we can not recommend the Verismo experience. Plus, we feel that you can't take something sold at Bed Bath and Beyond — simultaneously with William-Sonoma — seriously.
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — If you are a single serve coffee fan, but find that nothing quite compares to your all too frequent visit to Starbucks, you owe yourself a trial of the new Starbucks Verismo single serve coffee maker.
You've likely heard by now that Starbucks is entering the upper echelon of single serve coffee makers. Not what we've found to be the consistently poor taste from the ubiquitous Keurig machine using K-Cups, or the not-quite-all-that-cool Senseo machine, but something that is supposed to rival the mature taste of Nespresso.
We were apprehensive yet eager to try the Starbucks offering at the Williams-Sonoma at Boca Raton's Town Center Mall. Apprehensive because we really didn't want it to be horrible. Eager because we really wanted to see it in action. Williams-Sonoma has two models — a $199 version and a $399 version which includes extra buttons and lights, although nothing worth an extra $200. But we'll talk about pricing in a minute. First, lets talk about taste.
Our demo-barista made for us a latte, complete with “tall” paper Starbucks cup. We're not sure if the actual Starbucks logo on the cup added to the flavor, but we're not entirely sure that it did not.
All kidding aside, the process couldn't have been easier. Turn the machine on. Drop in a powdered milk pod which — when hydrated — creates a phenomenal tasting portion of two percent milk. Then, add the Starbucks espresso pod. Within two minutes, you have a cup — albeit small cup — of Starbucks Latte.
We are not being paid to say this. No one has given us a free machine. But in a word: wow. It's not identical to what you get in a “real” Starbucks, but it is extremely close. The tradeoff, many will believe, is worth it: a very Starbucks-like cup of coffee or latte without having to leave your home.
There is also a brewing option for 'regular' Starbucks coffee (not a mixed beverage), but we did not have the opportunity to try it. We hear, however, that it's equally as good.
While the machines are on par with other home pod coffee makers when it comes to pricing, the pods themselves are on the pricier side. Unless you compare them with the actual cost of buying a drink at Starbucks, and then you're very much ahead. A box of 8 latte/espresso capsules with 8 milk pods will run you around $12. That's $1.50 or so per latte. Even if you double the dose, your $3 price is less than the $4+ you'll pay in store. And there's no one dinging your car in the parking lot.
A coffee pod — for flavors like “Pike Place” or others that you would buy in store — are roughly $1 each.
BocaNewsNow.com has long been a fan of the somewhat snobbish Nespresso brand, as we are in Boca and by definition somewhat snobbish. But we are seriously considering a switch over to the Verismo.
Everyone's taste is different, so it's impossible to say you'll love it or you won't, but head on over to Williams-Sonoma and ask for a sample. You'll at least know before you buy. And on that note, Williams-Sonoma is the only place right now to buy the machine, although Starbucks will begin carrying the $199 version in-store soon.
UPDATE: If you missed it, please read the first paragraph of this review which was updated several weeks after this was first posted. We returned the Verismo machine and currently do NOT recommend it.