I got a very special gift for my birthday today: a Starbucks Verismo coffee maker. The Verismo is similar to a Keurig machine in that it makes coffee by shooting pressurized hot water through a small coffee pack to make a single cup of coffee at a time. The major difference is that the Verismo is a machine marketed solely by Starbucks to dispense Starbucks coffee. In addition, it has the ability to make several different kinds of coffee (including a Caffè Latte) depending on the pod used. I really enjoy Starbucks coffee, especially lattes, so I was intrigued when the machine hit the market a couple of months ago. Lattes and espresso are something that a Keurig machine cannot make, but for a cost of $200 and a limited coffee selection I decided not to purchase the Verismo. I’d still need to keep my Keurig machine around for the variety and I didn’t want to take up more space on the counter for another machine another set of coffee pods. But those lattes kept weighing on my brain…
Luckily my birthday and my lovely wife and her mother purchased a Verismo machine for me anyway. I excitedly set it up today and made my first cup of coffee. From a physical standpoint it isn’t too large – it’s not any wider than my Keurig mini and is about 50% deeper. The extra depth is used for a water reservoir that allows you to make multiple cups of coffee as well as an internal dispenser that holds the used pods that automatically get tossed each time you make a cup. The dispenser is hidden behind the coffee stage and holds 10 used pods. The machine itself is made of a stylish black and silver and the whole thing fits nicely on a counter.
The Verismo works much like a Keurig machine from the outset: lift the polished steel handle on the top, insert a pod into the pod slot, push the lever back down, wait for the blinking lights to stop, and push a button. The difference is in how the coffee is made. The Verismo can make four types of coffee – a 1 oz shot of espresso, a 7.1 oz cup of brewed coffee, an 8 oz Caffè Americano (similar to drip coffee but made of a shot of espresso and water instead), and a 6 oz Caffè Latte, complete with milk. The type of drink you want determines the button you press. There is an espresso button that works with specially crafted espresso pods and yields a single shot, a brewed button that yields a single cup of brewed coffee, and a milk button that yields a cup of hot milk for a latte. Depending on the drink desired, the buttons can be combined. For a latte for instance, you insert a milk pod (consisting of powdered milk), press the milk button, wait for it to brew, insert an espresso pod, press the espresso button, wait for it to brew, and voila you have a latte.
The whole process of using the machine is more complicated than the pop-it-in, pick a size, and brew of the Keurig machine, but it does make a good cup of coffee, at least the latte. I haven’t tried the others yet. It heats up very quickly (under 30 seconds versus my Keurig’s 3 minutes) and is extremely loud while dispensing coffee (sounds like a construction site). As I said earlier, the Verismo only brews Starbucks coffee and that is fine with me. As such, it costs more than the $0.50 per cup cost of a Keurig machine. There are a couple of varieties of espresso available (normal and decaf), five varieties of brewed coffee (Christmas Blend, Caffe Verona, House Blend, Pike Place, and Veranda), and milk pods. Currently an 8 serving Latte pack (espresso and milk pods) costs $12.95 – $1.62 per latte ($0.27 per ounce). Brewed coffee costs $11.95 for 12 servings – $1.00 a serving ($0.14 per ounce).
So the Verismo has a small selection of expensive coffee available from one company. But it is delicious. I expect more varieties to come out as time goes on and hopefully prices will drop as well. I plan to try all of the other coffee options (except for straight espresso – maybe to put it into something else) and I’ll let you know how they taste. I’ll keep my Keurig machine around for the variety and for parties as it is easier to use and less expensive. Regardless I’m impressed by the Verismo so far.