Coffee aficionados live and breathe by one universal constant: Drinking, offering and even having instant coffee in the house is an offence punishable by the strap. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but coffee lovers have their standards. And surprise, surprise, the new breed of capsule (or pod) coffee makers now in the consumer market have curried considerable favour. It’s coffee instantly — but not instant coffee.
Every major home appliance manufacturer seems to have jumped on the capsule bandwagon. Espresso and cappuccino have moved from caffeine jolt to lifestyle item, and making the sophisticated coffees at home (for us philistine non-Italians) is becoming de rigueur. When the trend actually really took off in the 1980s, it was a glamorous addition to the kitchen — assuming you had a kitchen big enough to hold the often massive machines. Now Siemens, Bosch, Philips, Lavazza (who made the first single shot capsule in 1989) and a host of others make a pod machine. Here’s a look at a few available in Hong Kong.
The Nespresso Latissima+ (HK$3,688) and U ($1,688) are the Ferrari of pod coffee makers, what with hardware by Italian coffee titan DeLonghi and a strong track record in the office and hospitality sectors. The U is ideal for small kitchens as its adjustable water tank can be positioned on any side of the machine itself and be made to fit in small corners and it comes in four colours that should match most décor. It also memorises your preferred cup, so getting up and getting that ristretto is effortless. But the Latissima+ represents the perfect marriage between flexibility and size consciousness. A removable milk tank makes cappuccino and latte with a onetouch function that may not duplicate that cup you had in that Milanese piazza, but it’s close. Nespresso’s 16 grand cru coffees are available at its shops for $63 for a box of 10, and Nespresso gladly takes back used capsules for its own recycling programme.
A little easier to locate and keep stocked is Pacific Coffee’s own capsule coffee maker ($2,388). PC’s compact, German-engineered machines don’t have a milk reservoir, but their powdered milk capsules ensure your milk is never sour, and in addition to its coffee selections, there’s a hot chocolate capsule. Though PC doesn’t collect capsules the way Nespresso does, its capsules meet Europe’s Green Dot standards on materials. Caffeine junkies can choose from among nine flavours — from black tea to Colombian Supremo — in boxes of 16 capsules for $80.
Best known for its instant coffee, Nescafé’s Dolce Gusto Genio ($1,290) and Circolo ($1,990) are manufactured with hardware courtesy of German kitchen appliances stalwart Krups as well as DeLonghi and was among the earliest of the pod coffee makers to hit the market in the recent second wave. This is perhaps the most creatively designed of the pod coffee makers, particularly the Circolo model with its rounded edges and ring shape. Dolce Gusto’s more novel capsules include chococino (hot chocolate), chai latte and iced tea, and come 16 to a pack for $69, available at CitySuper, and machines at some Fortress outlets. So all together now: Arrivaderci Starbucks.