How I Justify My Nespresso Machine (i.e. The Best Thing I Bought Last Decade)

updated Jan 21, 2020
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Take a peek in my graveyard of kitchen gadgets and appliances (aka the storage space under the stairs in our house) and you’ll find a timeline of popular kitchen doodads of the 2010s and the corresponding record of our good intentions. We’ve got everything from an air fryer (used twice) to the Instant Pot (this one we actually use every week) taking up shelf space. Oh, and don’t forget the spiralizer! 

The only thing we’ve bought in the last 10 years that actually stays in our kitchen and is used every. single. day? Our beloved Nespresso machine. In fact, it’s a topic of conversation at least once a week around here — how much we love this thing. 

Here’s the deal. We’re not coffee snobs. We’re not going to weigh or grind our beans — I am way too lazy for that first thing in the morning. I love the idea of a French press, but I need caffeine and I need it the moment my feet hit the floor. That said, you don’t have to be a coffee snob to not want bottom-shelf “meh” coffee. We fell in love with using Nespresso machines on trips to France, where they were in all our Airbnbs, and treated ourselves to one in 2018. 

Credit: Dana McMahan

Let me get some things out of the way because I know that not everybody is on board with these single-serve machines. It’s not the most cost-effective way to make coffee at home. The pods cost a buck or more apiece. But I would rather enjoy one delicious cup, complete with the crema the machine creates and frothed milk (the bundle includes the wonderful little add-on of a milk frother), than two or three mediocre cups like I did pre-Nespresso. I strategically order them during special offers like “buy eight sleeves (of 10) and get one or two free” which brings the per-cup price down. And my husband I reserve the four- or five-dollar coffee shop visits for a rare treat. 

I know this can look like a lot of waste. We’ve all seen the infographics with another brand of non-recyclable pods circling the earth. BUT. Without fail, I always recycle these aluminum pods. Each order from Nespresso comes with a couple of pre-paid recycle bags. When we fill them up, my husband drops them at the UPS box at his work. It couldn’t be easier. And I haven’t thrown out (read: wasted) a half-full pot of coffee since making this switch.

For a while there was the question of ‘where do we keep the bag while we’re waiting for it to get full?’ but then Nespresso came out with an unobtrusive black canister to store the used pods. I just cram the shipping bag into the canister and when it’s full, off it goes. You never know what happens to that paper or plastic cup from the coffeeshop you toss in the recycle bin, but these coffee pods go on to new lives as everything from pens to bicycles, and the grounds are used for compost. 

And, of course, we get to thoroughly enjoy every cup of coffee we make. I thought the little burst of joy every morning would wear off, but it hasn’t. There’s just something so satisfying about pressing the button and watching my favorite mug fill with a creamy cup of coffee. In the summer I use the made-for-iced-coffee blends and, oh boy, are those a treat. 

Credit: Dana McMahan

The machine makes all sizes from espresso to double espresso to regular coffee (nearly eight ounces) to double coffee, so when friends come for dinner I love to offer espressos all the way around after we eat.

One of the things I love about travel in France (where I discovered this machine!) is the detail that goes into every little thing, so I try to bring that home. I serve the espresso with Biscoff cookies, and use espresso spoons I brought home from Monoprix (one of my favorite places on earth) and try to channel my alternate universe life, the one where I live in a Paris apartment. Hey, it’s the little things! 

None of the kitchen gadgets I’ve bought in the last 10 years work the miracle to transform me into a cook-every-single-night kind of person, or magically crank up my ability from enthusiastic home cook to super talented chef. But my Nespresso infuses a bright spot into my morning day after day, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What’s the best thing you bought for your kitchen this past decade?