If you’ve been in a Starbucks in the past couple of months you may have noticed the Verismo 580 brewers on display. The Verismo machines are Starbucks’ attempt to enter the world of single-cup brewers, which you may have noticed is a rapidly expanding market.
Starbucks actually used to sell Tassimo machines in their stores, but have replaced them with their ‘in-house’ Verismo machines (which are actually repurposed K-Fee machines from Switzerland). This way Starbucks is able to make sure that the espresso beverages they use end up tasting as close to their cafe-produced counterparts as possible.
Most of your favorite Starbucks beverages are represented: the latte, vanilla latte, mocha, and caramel macchiato are available as pods + syrups.
The use of milk was actually a pleasant surprise. Starbucks says that they teamed up with a German company that’s able to separate the water out of the milk in a natural process. The result is that we don’t have to worry about that ‘powdered milk’ taste and instead you get a latte at home that’s almost indistinguishable from freshly frothed 2% milk at the cafe.
Using the Verismo:
When you first turn on the machine, you must run a rinse cycle first. It only took about 12 seconds, but it will warm the machine up and make for a hotter beverage.
Tip: – Put your coffee cup on the tray during the rinse cycle. It will pre-heat your coffee cup, which reduces heat loss and will make for a tastier beverage.
You insert the desired coffee pod in the top of the machine, and then press the silver handle down. Then you press one of three buttons: milk/espresso/coffee; This makes sure that the right temperature and pressure is used. I have large 16 oz. mugs, so for the milk pods I actually hold it down a few extra seconds to get more volume out of the latte.
After the coffee brews the pods are dispensed to a tray in the back, which can hold about 8-10 empty pods before it needs to be emptied.
You also need to do a rinse cycle after every use. Considering that the brewer makes milk-based beverages, I don’t see it as a problem and will happily keep rinsing the machine to prevent milk from damaging the machine.
For this review I tried out the Pike Place Roast, House Blend and the Latte Pods.
- Pike Place Roast
- House Blend – I normally don’t like House Blend: it’s too acidic and it tends to give me a stomache afterwards. The pod version wasn’t nearly as acidic tasting, but it also didn’t stand out in any particular way. House is a ‘balanced’ coffee, meaning that nothing in particular stands out. The pod-version definitely lived up to its reputation.
- Latte Pods – These packages are actually half espresso pods and half milk pods. The whole process took about 30 seconds, and was quite tasty. I normally don’t drink plain lattes, but the latte foam was quite tasty. There wasn’t a noticeable difference between the foam at Starbucks and the foam made here. I think it’s actually amazing that they’ve managed to make a milk-based beverage this tasty.
– Of the drip coffees, Pike Place and Verona are my two favorites. Pike Place is smooth with nutty notes. When I tried it in the Verismo, it was definitely smooth tasting coffee, but the nutty notes weren’t as easy to detect.
If you want high quality lattes at home but don’t want to froth the milk yourself, this is definitely the Brewer to buy. The lattes taste better than Tassimo’s, and you can run the milk pods through longer to get a bigger latte out of your pod (without diminishing the taste). The espresso roast is also top notch. You could use this machine purely as an espresso maker if you have a milk frother of your own.
The cost per latte is $1.62, which isn’t bad considering you’re getting a $5 beverage at home each and every time.
For the drip coffees, however, the taste is not quite as good as the cafe. If you’re only going to be brewing drip coffee, then there’s no reason to get the Verismo when you could just as easily get a Keurig Brewer (Starbucks sells K-cups as well) for about $80 cheaper.
While you can only use Starbucks pods with the Verismo machine, with a little creativity (and flavored syrups) you can make almost any espresso beverage you can think of.
You can view the Verimso 580 at Starbucks.com, or you can order at: