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When Starbucks debuted the Verismo line of automatic coffee and espresso makers, they pitched them as a convenient way to make your coffee house favorites in your own kitchen. The marketing hype claims that the single cup brewing system uses coffee pods to let you “recreate the Starbucks recipes you enjoy in store” in your own kitchen. But can a single cup coffee brewer, even one using the same coffee blends as Starbucks, actually make an espresso that tastes as good as one made with fresh ground coffee by an experienced barista?
The Verismo does not use standard K-cups. Instead, the special Starbucks Verismo cups feature a built-in coffee filter that may be part of the reason that they make stronger, richer coffee. Starbucks offers a selection of their favorite blends for the Verismo, but the selection is limited in comparison to what’s available for the Keurig.
The big draw for the Verismo – aside from the Starbucks name – is the ability to make espresso and froth milk in a single serve coffee brewer. The machine uses powdered 2% milk in special capsules that are reconstituted and “frothed” by the pressure pump when you hit the “milk” button.
A Closer Look:
The Starbucks Verismo has a sleek, slim profile that takes up about half the counter space of a comparable Keurig, a major plus if your kitchen counter space is limited. The water tank sits in the back, which can be a bit of an annoyance when it’s time to refill it if you’ve tucked the machine under the counter or against a wall. The futuristic look features a cup tray, a rounded spout and three buttons on the front of the machine: one for espresso, one for Americano and one for milk. On top of the machine is a silver lever that you lift to expose the chamber for the coffee pod, which, as noted, is not the same as the standard K-cup. (Heads up to CBTL lovers: we’ve heard that CBTL pods (made by Caffitaly) fit the Verismo, but haven’t tried it ourselves. If it’s true, you’ve got a lot wider selection of coffees to use with this single cup coffee maker than reported.)
When you first turn the machine on, you have to run a rinse cycle (and the company recommends rinsing between drinks if you’re making different types of coffee). You do this simply by pressing the espresso button – the only one that will work until you run the rinse – without a pod in the unit. If you run the rinse into your coffee cup, you’ll be pre-warming your cup as well.
Once the machine is rinsed and ready, you lift the lever, pull the foil off the coffee pod and drop it in on its side. Close the lever and push the button for the beverage you’re making – and wait for about 30 seconds. If you’re making a latte or cappuccino, you pull the lever to eject the spent espresso pod, and repeat with the milk pod, adding frothed milk to your coffee. That’s all there is to it.
In a Nutshell:
The Starbucks Verismo 580 coffee and espresso brewer does what you expect: it makes decent espresso and coffee using specially made coffee pods. It won’t be quite as good as the store, where they use freshly ground coffee and a skilled barista, but it’s better than most other single cup brewers make. The Verismo coffee pods are more expensive than the standard K-cup, but considerably less expensive than what you’d pay in the store for the same drink. The sleek design looks good sitting on your counter, and you can get it in multiple color options, which is always a plus.