Nespresso Expert and Milk full review
Tired of having to do boring things like stand up, walk, and press buttons just to get your caffeine fix in the morning? Enter the Nespresso Expert and Milk, a smart coffee machine that will let you make your morning brew from the comfort of your own bed - though you might still have to stand up to go and drink it.
We've put Nespresso's latest through its paces in the office to find out if smart coffee is just a dumb idea, and here's what we thought.
Nespresso Expert and Milk: Price and availability
First up, you can buy the Expert and Milk right now if you're in the UK or Europe, though we're afraid it's not yet on sale in the US.
You can buy it directly from the Nespresso site for £299.99, or save a bit by dropping the optional Aeroccino milk frother and getting the plain old Nespresso Expert, which will set you back £249.99.
However, you're probably better off steering clear of the official site and heading to Amazon or John Lewis, where the Expert and Milk is currently just £249.99 - the exact same price as the variant without a frother.
It's worth noting that there are two variants of the device on the market right now, one branded by Magimix and one by Krups. These are essentially identical except that the Magimix version is grey, while the Krups is black - and currently costs £50 more, but that may well change. Our review unit was a Magimix, for reference.
it's also worth noting that you don't have to spend that much for a smart Nespresso machine - they also have the cheaper (and simpler) Prodigio, which is currently available for £129.99, or £179.99 with the Aeroccino milk frother.
Finally, after all of that you'll still need to buy the actual pods. Right now they're £25 for 50 or £50 for 100 on Amazon, meaning that either way you're paying roughly 50p per coffee, but surprisingly you can get better prices direct from Nespresso, with prices around 35p per pod.
Nespresso Expert and Milk review
The Nespresso Expert and Milk sets out to be one of the most comprehensive Nespresso machines yet, offering four standard cup sizes, variable water temperatures, a milk frother (hot or cold), and built-in smart features over Wi-Fi - and all still using the same old Nespresso pods.
Let's start with the basics. Nespresso machines use individually sealed coffee pods to make barista-style coffees with just the press of a button. The Expert machines will let you make coffee in four different sizes: ristretto, espresso, lungo, and americano - the latter a brand new size for this range, which automatically tops an espresso shot up with hot water for a longer drink.
Making a coffee couldn't be much simpler. You drop a Nespresso pod into the top of the machine, close the chute, select your preferred size, and hit the button. The machine will take a few seconds to heat the water, and then serve your coffee. The whole process takes less than a minute.
You select your preferred coffee size by rotating a dial on the front of the machine, while a second dial lets you tweak the water temperature - ideal if you want to brew a slightly cooler coffee that you can begin drinking straight away.
The built-in water tank holds just over a litre of water - enough for 44 ristrettos or five americanos, so how often you change it will depend a lot on how you take your coffee.
If you opt for the Espresso and Milk variant, it comes with an included Aeroccino milk frother. This lets you froth milk to be either hot or cold, and takes just a minute - set it to froth while you make the coffee and it'll be ready when you're done.
The resulting froth is light and airy, perfect for cappuccinos, though you'll probably want a spoon on hand to serve it. The frother also only really has capacity for one cup at a time - two at a push - so you might have to run it a few times if you're making any more coffees than that.
As for the coffee itself - well, it's Nespresso. Odds are you've already tried one of the machines once, but if not, what you can expect is fairly decent espresso, but nothing exceptional. Coffee snobs might turn their nose up at the fact that you can't enjoy freshly ground beans or alter how much coffee you use, and if you care about that you'd probably be better off with a traditional espresso machine.
But for those prioritising convenience over hitting the absolute top coffee standards, there's a lot to be said for the Nespresso range - there's a wide range of pods with different blends, so you can find the flavour profile that suits you, and the Expert and Milk is even capable of producing a half-decent crema. Though it'd be remiss of us not to at least mention that all those individually sealed pods must have a pretty negative environmental impact over time.
Of course you could get just about all of that from any old Nespresso machine - but what really sets the Expert and Milk apart from most of the alternatives is its smart features, which are, in the grand tradition of smart home tech, entirely unnecessary but surprisingly satisfying.
The Expert and Milk connects to the Nespresso smartphone app over Wi-Fi, letting you operate it remotely using your phone, triggering it to brew any of the available coffees - so long as you've remembered to leave a pod in the machine and a cup in place in advance. You can also schedule coffees to trigger in advance, and favourite specific recipes for quick access in the future.
The only downside is that there's no way to trigger the milk frother remotely - which makes sense, since it's not chilled and you wouldn't want to leave milk in it in advance - so unless you take your coffee black, you'll still have a bit of work to do.
Setting the machine up and connecting it to the app is mostly quick and painless, though be warned that it gets a bit confused with accounts. We used our machine for a while without any Nespresso account, but then set one up in order to save our recipes - we then found it was no longer paired to the phone, and that we actually had to reset the whole machine to factory defaults in order to re-pair it.
The app lets you see the full range of Nespresso pods, with flavour profiles for each and recommendations of the specific brew styles each is suited for. You can also fill in how many pods you have, so that it automatically keeps count as you go and warns you when you're running low, and even lets you stock up from within the app.
The Expert and Milk also automates some of the more annoying aspects of any coffee machine by giving you automatic alerts for when you need to clean or de-scale your machine - using a quick water hardness test to estimate the latter.
Finally, the app also gives you easy access to the machine's customisation options, so that you can tweak the volume for the various default settings, in case you want to set your espresso to 50ml or your ristretto to 30ml, perfecting them to suit your tastes (and cups).
Absolutely none of this is essential of course, and ultimately the smart features are more a matter of convenience than transformation. Most of the time you'll make your coffee the same old way you would with any other Nespresso machine. But for those rare occasions you're able to plan ahead, prepare a pod and a cup, and wake up to the smell of a fresh coffee, it just might all be worth it.