The Consumer office has had a semi-automatic espresso machine for a few years. It’s a single cup machine but it does milk frothing and is a favourite with lots of Consumer staff. So there was controversy when I brought in the Creatista Plus for a First Look. Mainly because it’s a Nespresso machine.
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Nespresso machines use coffee capsules and Breville sent us a selection of roasts and blends to try. The Creatista Plus is fully automatic so you pop the capsule in, press a couple of buttons and the coffee comes out. It also does automatic milk frothing, so you don’t have to worry about getting the wand in the right spot.
The Creatista Plus has an easy-to-navigate system so you can make various coffee styles (such as latte, cappuccino, and ristretto). You can set how much water you want in the cup and how hot you want the milk. While navigating the system is easy, it’s not intuitive. I had to explain how to change the milk temperature and water level to a few people (though I was the only one who read the instructions).
The Creatista Plus is all about ease of use. Once you set it up you can get a coffee in seconds, but what about taste?
Capsules never taste as good as freshly ground coffee. They contain pre-ground coffee packed tightly into an airtight capsule. Coffee tastes best when it’s freshly ground and Nespresso systems make something very bitter tasting.
The various Nespresso roasts and blends are called “Grand Crus”. The more lightly roasted Grand Cru capsules and the flavoured capsules were the mildest on the taste buds, but you can argue a milky, vanilla-flavoured beverage is pushing the definition of “coffee”. As someone who usually drinks black coffee, I found myself adding milk to the darker roasts to balance the bitterness.
We also tried using Hummingbird Coffee capsules purchased from a supermarket (10 for $9). These worked exactly the same, though the machine’s instructions specify to only use official Nespresso capsules. Note that using other capsules may void the warranty but you’re still covered under the Consumer Guarantees Act, unless the capsule itself caused the issue.
With any capsule coffee machine there is the issue of rubbish. The capsules are aluminium so can be recycled, but you can’t just put them in with your weekly recycling bin or bag from the council.
The machine comes with a sealable bag that can hold 130 used capsules. Once full, you take the sealed bag to any PostShop or Nespresso store and they’ll handle it for free. I took the bag into a PostShop and the teller, while having never seen one before, accepted the bag with no fuss. Some garden centres and florists also accept the capsules. A list of drop-off points for bags is available on Nespresso’s website. A replacement bag costs $1.50.
Overall, it’s a very easy-to-use machine, but ease of use doesn’t mean great taste. The Consumer office is in Wellington, which means we’re used to well-made espresso. Staff who used the espresso machine tried the Creatista and then quickly went back to making their own. However, those who made plunger coffee tried and stuck with the Creatista for longer. All agreed milk frothing was much simpler.
Average cost for capsules: $1 per capsule
First Looks are trials of new and interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons. The Breville Creatista Plus was loaned to Consumer by Breville.
by Hadyn Green