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Starbucks Verismo 580 review: Verismo 580 brewer is great, if you like Starbucks

This sleek, compact little coffee-maker will brew a cup in any flavor you like – so long as it’s Starbucks.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Ry Crist
7 min read
Since writing this review, Starbucks has cut the price of the Verismo 580 to $149. While this might make the Verismo an even more justifiable temptation for Starbucks devotees, for everyone else, our recommendation to stick with a brewer that's less limited remains unchanged.

Starbucks has a devoted following that's even more robust than its beans, and many of these loyalists will likely be interested in checking out the Verismo 580. With the pull of a lever and the touch of a button, the java giant's initial entry into the world of single-serving home coffee brewing promises to bring the Starbucks experience into your kitchen, delivering fresh brewed coffee, shots of espresso, and even lattes in less than a minute, all for a suggested retail price of $199.


Starbucks Verismo 580

The Good

The <b>Starbucks Verismo 580</b> is easily one of the best-looking single-serve coffee brewers available. The coffee and espresso it brews both taste almost exactly like what you’d get at your neighborhood Starbucks, for a lot less money.

The Bad

With the Verismo, your options are hugely limited – it’s Starbucks, or it’s nothing. The powdered-milk lattes are also terrible.

The Bottom Line

If you love Starbucks so much that you don’t care to drink anything else, then look no further – the Verismo is the coffee-maker for you. Coffee drinkers who like fresh ground beans and experimenting with different brands will want to look for a more versatile brewer.

The Verismo is attractive and easy to use, but it uses the Starbucks-specific Verismo Pods, meaning that you'll only be able to use it to brew Starbucks coffee. This puts it at a huge disadvantage against models that brew K-Cups and Vue packs, both of which offer a wide variety of coffee brands to choose from – including options from Starbucks. And, unlike some of these very models, the Verismo has no reusable filter capable of handling your own fresh grounds. If you were to grind up some Starbucks beans, the Verismo wouldn't be able to brew them.

Fortunately, the flavor you get from the Verismo Pods is almost shockingly close to what you'd get from those fresh ground beans, and the convenience of brewing a cup at the touch of a button in less than a minute is tough to match. If you're the kind of coffee-drinker who can't make it through the workday without at least one stop at Starbucks, then the Verismo could very well be the machine of your dreams.

Colin West McDonald

Construction and Design
The Verismo sports an eye-catching minimalist design, and manages to cram quite a bit of tech into a very compact little package, making it ideal for space-conscious shoppers. It was the shortest unit that we tested and also the most narrow, beating every other model with inches to spare (5.9-inchesx14.9-inchesx11.7-inches, WDH.) Even more impressive is the Verismo's lightweight build. At just 8.4 pounds, it's about as small as you're going to get from a single-serve coffeemaker, and yet it still feels tough and durable, with the sort of high quality construction you'd expect from a unit in the $200 price range.

With multiple color choices available, all of which look great, the Verismo will complement practically any kitchen. It's hard not to be impressed with the unit simply from looking at it and handling it. It looks fancy. It feels fancy. There's nothing superfluous about it. Starbucks even showed restraint in its corporate branding with the Verismo – you'll find no logo, not even the word "Starbucks" anywhere on the machine.

Get your cup of joe on with the Starbucks Verismo 580 (pictures)

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The minimalism of the Verismo translates well to the user experience. Aside from the power button on top, the has just three buttons, one for each type of Verismo Pod. The black cup button is for coffee, the white cup is for milk, and the little cup is for espresso. You don't get much simpler or more intuitive than that.

The minimalist approach works so well because the Verismo is a very limited machine. Your only options are Starbucks coffee, Starbucks espresso, or a Starbucks latte. Sure, you can choose which kind of Starbucks blend you'd like – Blonde, French Roast, House Blend, and so on – but in the end, this is a Starbucks delivery device. You're even locked in with the milk pods. Forget skim or soy, your only option is 2%. And unlike most single-serve coffeemakers, there's no reusable pod for you to put your own fresh grounds into, not even from from third-party manufacturers. You can't adjust the temperature or the size of your beverage. Unless you're willing to buy mocha powder to mix into your espresso or caramel sauce to drizzle over the top of your latte, you're really stuck with the most basic Starbucks offerings.

Colin West McDonald

There are also minor issues with the general usability of the Verismo. The lever on top can be a little hard to press down on after you've loaded a pod, and a nonfluid pressing motion can cause the pod to drop prematurely. Also, putting the water reservoir in the back might have helped the design achieve an attractive level of symmetry, but loading and unloading a rear-mounted reservoir isn't always practical – especially if you keep the back of your Verismo flush against the wall.


Coffee brew time (default settings, in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate faster brewing)
Bunn MyCafe MCU (8 ounces)
Keurig K-75 Platinum (7.25 ounces)
Keurig Vue V700 (8 ounces)
Starbucks Verismo 580 (6 ounces)

The Verismo is an extremely consistent little machine, hitting its exact brew times right to the second in every one of our tests. A cup of coffee will take 57 seconds, while a shot of espresso brews in just 13. If you're making a beverage that requires a milk pod, such as a latte, you'll be adding 32 seconds. That level of precision inspires a lot of confidence in the engineering. It takes longer for the Verismo to make a cup of coffee than the other single-serve coffee makers we tested, but it still falls in the acceptable sub-60-second range.

Of course what you really want to know is how it all tastes. As someone well-acquainted with Starbucks coffee, I feel confident in saying that the Verismo does a remarkably good job in matching the flavor and strength of your standard store-brewed grande drip. My fellow taste-testers agreed. When compared with models using Starbucks brand K-Cups and Vue packs, we all chose the Verismo as the model that brewed the closest approximation of authentic Starbucks coffee. If you love your morning cup of store-bought Pike Place Roast, then the chances are good that you'll love the Verismo-brewed Pike Place Roast as well.

The Verismo's espresso shots (brewed with their own separate pods) also fare quite nicely, with a taste that rivals what you'd expect from something brewed in-store. The taste isn't the only impressive part, either; these shots actually look right, with an attractive, frothy layer of crema sitting atop the heart of the shot. It's a difficult thing to reproduce so accurately in such a small machine, and Starbucks deserves a lot of credit for nailing it with the Verismo.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

This brings us to the lattes, one of the Verismo's biggest disappointments. The Verismo makes lattes using a two-step, two-pod process. There's the aforementioned espresso pod and there's a "milk pod," and unfortunately, as good as the espresso is, the milk is equally bad. Some might even hesitate to call it milk. It's a powdered, dehydrated white fluff that the Verismo resuscitates back into milk form with a healthy dose of piping hot water. The result is something that looks like milk, but tastes much closer to baby formula that's been spat back up. Suffice it to say that across the board, our testers found that it made for a particularly unpleasant latte.

For now, Starbucks stands by its milk pods, citing the "innovative, gentle process" used to make the powder, and calling the milk it produces when rehydrated, "sweet, creamy, and frothy." All the same, the fact that the company will soon be unveiling a separate Verismo milk frothing accessory this fall might be a nod to a change in strategy.

The Verismo will store up to 10 used pods in an internal bay, which you will need to empty and clean. With the leftover gunk of discarded pods slowly seeping downward, not to mention the machine's propensity for dripping long after your drink is finished brewing, this can make for quite a messy job. What's more, the bay itself is narrow and concave, meaning that reaching in with a sponge or washcloth can be a tight, uncomfortable fit.

In addition to cleaning out the used pod bay and drip tray, Starbucks recommends rinsing the inner workings of the machine between different types of brews. This is done by running a pod-free espresso cycle. The Verismo will illuminate the espresso button when it detects that the machine needs to be rinsed.

Service and support
Starbucks offers a one-year, limited warranty on the Verismo in the US and Canada. That's a reasonable warranty term, but not as impressive as the three-year policy backing the Cuisinart SS-700. If you purchase your Verismo at your local Starbucks, you'll be able to return and exchange it in-store, as well, should the need arise. Starbucks also offers a comprehensive troubleshooting FAQ at their Verismo Web site, along with toll-free technical support at 1-800-334-5553.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

The Starbucks Verismo 580 is sleek and stylish, and makes for a very tempting purchase for anybody who appreciates the particular taste of Starbucks coffee and espresso. Those who aren't as devoted to the Starbucks brand will be better off with a more versatile unit, such as the Bunn My Cafe MCU, which, for an even lower price than the Verismo, offers full compatibility with both K-Cups and fresh coffee grounds.


Starbucks Verismo 580

Score Breakdown

Performance 8Design 8Features 6Maintenance 6