With nearly 18,000 retail stores in 60 countries, Starbucks certainly has a loyal fan base. But not all of its devotees want to schlep to the local coffeehouse for their morning brew. To satisfy their cravings, Starbucks sells its coffees in supermarkets. And now, with the introduction of its single-serve Verismo system, the coffee company has made it even easier to get a cup of joe to go at home. Consumer Reports tested the new machine to see if it delivers that trademark Starbucks taste.
Announced a little more than a month ago, the Verismo pod machine is sold in a $199 basic model and a larger one, for $399, that has added features such as LED lights and temperature control. We tested the $199 Starbucks Verismo 580, alongside two other new models, the $170 Bosch Tassimo T55 and $100 DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Piccolo EDG200T, which we ended up recommending.
Because you have to conduct a rinse cycle between each cup, the Verismo wasn't among the most convenient of single-serve machines in our coffeemaker tests. Other machines we've tested have more flexibility in adjusting brew strength—the Verismo has buttons for coffee, espresso, and latte with no strength variation for any type. And since Starbucks has limited its coffee selection to its own brand, there are only eight varieties so far plus a milk pod for the latte.
So how does it taste? In past tests by our experts, no single-serve coffee has met the standard we expect of good beans brewed in a top-rated drip coffeemaker. And while our experts haven't conducted formal taste tests with the Verismo, a few of us who regularly drink Starbucks medium-roast Pike Place sampled that blend made in the Verismo. From a coffee enthusiast's point of view, the Verismo Pike Place didn't taste much differently than what you'd expect from a Starbucks coffeehouse or what you'd brew at home using the Pike Place supermarket beans.