The idea of a smart coffee maker isn't new, but a device that combines an app-connected machine with the convenience of coffee pods surprisingly hasn't happened yet, until now.
Meet the $249 Nespresso Prodigio Espresso Machine, a gadget designed to whip up single servings of espresso that's stored in aluminium pods and ordered through your cell phone.
Quest for effortless, affordable espresso fulfilled?
Even making a decent shot of espresso can be a difficult, messy, and often expensive challenge. This is especially true if you lack the skill, experience, and tools necessary. For those who've been bitten by the espresso bug though and don't relish the idea of training as a barista, getting their fix at home hassle-free can easily become an opulent obsession.
Proof is the whole galaxy of domestic espresso contraptions for sale catering to lazy coffee drinkers with luxury tastes. The pinnacle of these dream machines are superautomatic espresso makers which do everything required to create cafe standards such as cappuccinos and lattes without you having to lift anything save a button-pushing finger.
Perfect examples of this elite product class include the $2,500 Krups EA9010 and $3,000 Philips Saeco GranBaristo Avanti. I can personally confirm that both of these devices make truly delicious espresso, particularly the Avanti. Unfortunately you will pay through the nose for the privilege.
According to the people behind the Nespresso Prodigio, it is the smarter alternative in more ways than one. First the Prodigio supposedly offers an affordable method for enjoying quality espresso at home. For example, an 80-capsule pack should set you back $40, which translates to about 50 cents per serving.
Second are the Prodigio's smart abilities made possible via a companion mobile application. Through the app users will be able brew coffee on demand or schedule beverage creation ahead of time. Just like the incredibly more expensive Philips Saeco Avanti, the Prodigio is also expected to communicate with smartphones and tablets using Bluetooth wireless networking.
Outlook and availability
I admit that a smart coffee maker that relies on pods instead of freshly ground beans is a distasteful notion to me. Of course grinding coffee and having it sit for hours, days or even overnight exposed to the flavor-stealing air is probably worse. Yes, that assumes delicious java taste was there to begin with.
I did get a chance to brew a few shots of espresso with the Prodigio at the 2016 International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago. My first impressions were mixed. I found that the coffee in my cups wasn't bitter but lacked the richness, complexity, and depth of flavor I've experienced sipping espresso prepared from freshly ground beans. Until I spend enough time with the Prodigio though, or any Nespresso machine, I'll withhold judgment.
If you're tempted by the Nespresso Prodigio the espresso maker is currently sold in the US in two models, a $249 machine which only makes espresso and a $299 device also equipped with a milk frothing attachment. Both appliances are available through retailer Sur La Table, at all Nespresso boutiques, and via the company's website.
Nespresso also offers both of the Prodigio models in the UK for £159 and £199 respectively. At the moment only the Prodigio with milk steaming function is sold in Australia ($399).
The Nespresso app, available for both Android and iOS, was just updated to include Prodigio functions.