I’ve always had small kitchens, which can make buying new appliances a challenge. Each one not only needs to deliver great results, but also be discreet enough to tuck away on limited countertop space.
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What to look for
There are countless pod-based coffee machines on the market. Finding the right one for you can be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.
Before looking more closely at this particular machine, there are a few questions that are worth considering. This will help narrow down your options.
Can you use ground coffee?
The cost of coffee pods can add up fast. It’s important to be aware that you’ll be investing in this sort of coffee experience over time.
The plus side of that argument though is that you have access to a huge range of flavors. That means you can experiment more freely.
You don’t have to buy anything in bulk, and can instead narrow down to some personal favorites.
Some single serve machines do also include the option to continue using ground coffee though. These typically come with a separate chamber or filter basket for the job.
How big should the water tank be?
If you’re drinking nothing but espresso shots (which are typically 1.5oz or less), then you won’t need an enormous water reservoir.
Do make sure it’s easy to access and remove from the machine for refilling though.
Choosing the right size will ultimately come down to how you yourself plan to use the machine on an individual basis.
Once you know how many drinks you’ll get through each day, you’ll be able to determine the right water tank size for you. Balance that with how often you’ll need to refill the thing.
The water reservoir tends to be one of the larger components on these machines. There’s always going to be a trade-off between size and capacity.
Do you need advanced options?
This sort of machine is designed to be extremely simple – and fast – to use. Only the very impatient would need to set it up ahead of time!
That said, I always think it’s worth looking for a machine that at least has an auto shutoff. That’s good for your power bills and the environment.
Breville’s Essenza Mini is one of the most compact Nespresso machines on the market.The idea here is that you get the same high quality espresso you’d expect from other machines in the Nespresso line. The difference is that it’s delivered in a much smaller form factor.
It’s also designed to be pretty zippy. The machine’s ready to brew its first cup of the day in just under 30 seconds. That’s great if you’re in a hurry in the mornings and don’t have time to wait around.
If you’ve only got a little bit of kitchen space for new appliances, I think the Essenza Mini is a very good option. The dimensions are 3.3 (W) x 12.9 (H) x 8.0 (D) inches -that’s extremely narrow!
Just be aware that you’re limited to using Nespresso pods with the Essenza Mini.
Unlike some other single-serve machines, there’s no – official – way of using your favorite ground coffee. That means you’ll have to commit to buying more pods over time.
- A very compact espresso machine that still delivers knockout coffee.
- Makes a 1.35oz espresso shot and a 5.0oz Lungo drink.
- A starter kit of Nespresso pods comes with the machine.
- Fast heating-up time.
- A well-made machine that feels durable.
- You can only use Nespresso pods, and so the cost of owning the machine increases over time.
- Pods can be harder to source locally than the more popular Keurig capsules.
- Real coffee connoisseurs will find the flavor wanting. It’s fine for the average coffee drinker though.
- Drips a little after the brewing cycle has finished.
- A rather loud machine for its size, although this is a common issue with pod coffee makers.
Nespresso Essenza Mini: Key Features
That’s a very brief overview of the Essenza Mini. Here’s a closer look at some of the machine’s most important features.
To get a decent espresso extraction, you should look for a machine that delivers at 15 bars of pressure or more.
The Essenza Mini performs at 19-bars. That’s enough to get a really rich extraction out of whichever pod you happen to be using.
Pod machines exist to get really good coffee inside you without any hands-on involvement on your part. Speed is another crucial part of the experience.
Most of them will get the job done in under a minute, but the Mini works quite hard to reach its optimum brewing temperature in just under 30 seconds.
The water tank on the Mini seems small at first glance, but remember you’re typically using this machine to make smaller drinks.
It’s also located towards the rear of the Mini. Just make sure you can access it easily from wherever you plan to situate the machine.
In terms of design, I think the Essenza Mini is an unusually striking piece of kit at this end of the market.
It certainly stands out from other machines of its type really well, and I think it adds a bold design element to the kitchen.
Many single serve coffee makers have a very cheap finish to them, but I don’t think that’s the case here.
Although the Mini was designed to be a very simple machine, there are two different settings which provide some degree of flexibility.
First up you can brew a standard 1.35oz espresso shot. This will likely be your go-to drink and it provides an intense coffee.
There are always going to be times when you want a longer brew though. For those occasions, the Essenza also includes what’s called a Lungo setting. This brews a 5oz shot instead.
That’s really useful when you want to make bigger drinks such as iced coffee.
In each case it’s very easy to select the drink you want, with two buttons dedicated for this very purpose.
If the default volume settings aren’t working for you though, it is possible to change the sizes altogether.
It’s a pretty simple process:
- Open the lever, insert your capsule and then close the lever.
- Place your cup underneath the dispenser.
- Press the Espresso or Lungo button.
- Keep it held down.
- Once you’ve reached the desired volume, stop pressing the button.
From now on, whenever you use that button the Mini will produce the new volume of coffee!
Auto Shut Off
If you’re making multiple drinks then you won’t want the machine to power down constantly. It is reassuring to know that an auto shut-off mechanism is featured in the Essenza Mini.
If you want to make multiple drinks then the machine will stay warmed up and ready to go. Once you’re done though, the Mini automatically powers down after nine minutes.
Not only is that good for your power bills, but it’s also kind to the environment too.
Personally I have a bit of a thing about leaving hot appliances unattended as well, so I like the peace of mind this provides.
Extras in the box
To help you get started with the Nepresso Essenza Mini you actually get quite a few welcome extras.
As well as comprehensive instructions, you also receive a bundle of OriginaLine capsules. With those you can start experimenting with some of the flavors.
Some – but not all – pod machine makers provide a similar bonus and I think it’s always very welcome.
If you’re the kind of person to get paralyzed by choice then this is a great way of getting use out of the machine right away!
The Nespresso Essenza Mini Bundle consists of 14 sample pods.
Cleaning & Descaling
It’s really important that you allow a little bit of time here and there to care for this sort of machine.
They’ll last much longer if you care for them, and you’ll get great tasting espresso if the machine is properly cleaned and descaled.
You should take a few minutes each day to empty out the drip tray and also check the capsule container. It’s worth giving the water reservoir a good rinse out every day or two as well.
As for descaling it’s a pretty simple process, although the whole thing does take around 15 minutes and requires you to be on hand.
You add a combination of descaling liquid and water to the reservoir, then put a suitably large container under the dispenser. You then hold down both serving buttons for five seconds.
Next, you have to return the water / descaling liquid to the tank and repeat the process.
Finally, you need to run clear water through the machine one time to remove any of the solution.
It’s not a complex process by any means, but this is particularly important to complete if you live in a hard water area.
Alternatives to the Essenza Mini
There are quite a few options when it comes to choosing a single serve coffee maker like the Nespresso Essenza Mini espresso machine.
Here are a few popular alternatives which you might like to consider:
This alternative machine from Breville offers much more flexibility when it comes to serving sizes.There are five in total, which means you can make anything from a standard 1.35oz espresso shot to a 14oz Alto.
That larger serving will be ideal if you plan to take your coffee on the go and need to fill a travel mug, for example.
To accommodate these larger serving sizes, the water tank size has been increased to 40oz. It’s not the largest on the market, but it’s big enough to make a variety of drink sizes throughout the day.
De’Longhi’s ENV135B features an even larger water reservoir at 54oz. That should be more than enough to get you through the day I think!Like the previous Breville machine it also produces a larger number of serving sizes, from 1.35oz to 14oz.
It heats up even faster as well, with a warm-up time of just 15 seconds. If speed is the most important factor for you, then this is probably the best option within this budget range.
Breville’s Creatista Plus is more of a high-end machine, but it does include a milk frother. That opens up a whole extra world of coffee drinks to you, but you will need to spend a little time getting your milk settings just right for the brew you’re making.
There are many more settings to play around with on this machine, from adjusting the coffee volume to tweaking the milk temperature. This machine is ideal if you’re happy to spend more time getting your drink just how you want it.
It’s also the fastest machine I’ve looked at so far, offering a positively blistering three second warm-up time!
Nespresso machines exist to get great quality coffee inside you quickly, and with as little fuss as possible.
In that sense I think the Nespresso Essenza Mini is a really solid choice. You are restricted to using only coffee pods, but there’s a huge range to experiment with. The quality of the coffee range is very good too.
I like that you can tweak the presets to suit your drink size preferences. The compact size of the machine is another big plus for those of us with smaller kitchens.
Click here to find out more about the Essenza Mini, and read more reviews.