I’ve been a lot of things in my time writing for Ausdroid – mobile phone reviewer, watch reviewer, sunglasses reviewer, car reviewer and as of this morning, a stick vacuum reviewer also.

While coffee has undoubtedly powered a lot of my Ausdroid writing – and indeed my day job, too – it hasn’t been something I’ve written about, per se.

That changed today when I finished writing my review of the Nespresso Vertuo Pop coffee machine, and an Australian made specialty coffee blend called Bianco Piccolo, which I’ve been enjoying at home for the last few weeks.

What is it?

Nespresso was one of the first consumer-grade coffee pod systems out there, and it’s been around for a fairly long time. In their existence, they’ve become somewhat a kitchen staple, and led the explosion of competing coffee-pod brands.

The latest from Nespresso – the Vertuo line – is an evolution of the coffee pod concept. Gone are the days of having to remember which button to press, how long to let it brew for, or remembering that certain blends are a long draw and others are a shot… the Vertuo line does away with all of that.

Unlike other brands – and the original Nespresso machines – you don’t need to know anything much beyond how to put the pod in, and push go. The system reads a barcode from the Nespresso Vertuo coffee pod which tells the machine how to brew it perfectly, how much water, how quickly, etc. and out comes your coffee.

The system can handle sizes from Espresso (40ml) through to Mug (230ml), with Double Espresso (80ml) and Gran Lungo (150ml) in the middle. As long as you put water in and the right pod, the machine does the rest.

If you want to do different, though, you can program your designed water volume by pressing and holding the button to achieved the desired volume, and then the system will remember this going forward … but why bother? The machine gets it right every time by itself.

What about Bianco Piccolo? How’s that?

The reason Nespresso sent us a machine to review was to go along with the launch of their latest Australian-styled coffee called Bianco Piccolo. Described as a rich roasted coffee designed to pair with creamy milk in a shorter cup, the Bianco Piccolo blend is sweet and smooth, and the tasting notes report caramel, nutty and biscuity notes.

For those who want to know, BIanco Piccolo is an expertly crafted blend of Arabicas from China, Colombia, Brazil and Ethiopia. It is most definitely a strong, yet smooth taste – and it makes a perfect milk coffee.

I’m not too much of a coffee snob, in truth, but having sampled a few different kinds of pods in the Nespresso Vertuo machine, I can confirm the Bianco Piccolo is probably one of the better partners for your hot milk-based coffee. While you certainly can enjoy it just with milk, I find a small hint of brown sugar gives it the perfect finish, and makes for an enjoyable drink from start to finish.

If you’re not a fan of the dairy milks but still enjoy a milky coffee, Nespresso recommends pairing the Bianco Piccolo blend with Almond, Oat or Soy. Almond milk will deliver a slightly sweeter coffee perfect for the mocha or sweetened coffee types. Oat is a bit more of a neutral partner, but it froths better than some others. Soy is the more traditional plant-based milk and – as tested here – goes rather well, though Oat’s my favourite.

Are they expensive? Worth it?

As noted, I’m not really a coffee snob. I’m happy drinking instant, or sachet coffee if I want something a little different. However… there’s a marked difference between the instant / sachet coffee and what you get when you brew a coffee yourself, even if it is from a pod machine.

At $229, the Veruo Pop isn’t especially expensive, and for a little more, it comes with a milk frother for $319. You can grab them online or in store in a range of colours, including Spicy Red, Mango Yellow, Aqua Mint (which looks really good) or Pacific Blue. There is, of course, a classic black and white option.

Being a newer pod system, you’re going to be pretty well locked into using Nespresso-branded pods only, and if you’re looking for something that can take generic or 3rd party pods, this isn’t really your machine. I’m told they do exist, but they’re nowhere near as common as some others.

That said, Nespresso’s Vertuo pods don’t strike me as particularly expensive. At $0.86 per pod for Bianco Piccolo, you’re getting a decent coffee – with milk – for under a dollar a cup. That compares favourably with sachet coffees which are about $0.70 per sachet plus milk, though it’s a fair bit more than your cup of Nescafe Blend 43 or International Roast for the true bargain coffee drinker.

The good news is you don’t need to order in bulk to get these prices, even just a 10 pack gets you the same price … but there’s no real incentive (beyond convenience) to order in bulk, you won’t save anything by doing so.

The only other thing to bear in mind is that you can’t buy these pods just anywhere; they’re not at Coles or Woolworths, meaning you’re ordering online – which is pretty easy, actually – or from a Nespresso Boutique, of which there are quite a few around (but, annoyingly, none near us).

Would I get one?

Look, I probably would; I haven’t made a bad coffee from this machine in the time it’s been here, and unlike some other coffee systems I’ve tried, it’s easy to use, easy to clean and maintain, and the pods being purely aluminium (and coffee grounds) are easily recyclable.

For $5, Nespresso will send you a postage-paid return satchel to return your used pods in, or you can save them up in a box and drop them off at any Nespresso store for free.

Considering aluminium is nearly endlessly recyclable, the environmental impact is much less than plastic pods, sachet coffees and other things which produce an awful lot of waste which varies between not especially recyclable and just pure waste.

The only qualm I have is that, despite the “smaller” size of the Vertuo line, the Vertuo Pop is still kind of long, and if your kitchen isn’t palatial, it may take up a bit more room than you’d otherwise like. However, this is a minor inconvenience, and if your household gets through a few coffees a day, it might be cheaper than spending $4-6 a cup if you grab one on the way to work or when you arrive.

For the true coffee addict – or, really, regular drinker – there’s a different purchase plan which will make the machine even cheaper. With the Nespresso Machine Subscription, if you commit to spend $600 a year – in the form of $50 a month – you effectively get the machine for $50, and $50 credit each month to spend on whatever coffee pods you like. Whatever credit you don’t use will roll over for use the next month etc, meaning that you effectively get $600 worth of coffee – which you’d otherwise pay for anyway – and a $50 machine.

Of course, you can get different machines and options too, but this is your starting point and .. if this one’s going back to Nespresso, I might just be getting my own.

Nespresso Vertuo Pop is available via Nespresso Stores and online from $229, and with a 15% discount, you can get them from $194.65 at the moment.