For every fifty people who truly appreciate a quality cup of gourmet coffee there are maybe one or two who have the same level of appreciation for espresso.
I'm not talking about espresso-based drinks like the cappuccino you just picked up at Starbucks.
I'm talking about an appreciation of a simple shot of espresso.
Truth be told, a lot of people think that espresso is just espresso – that every shot is more or less the same.
Why is this? I think it's simply because when compared to brewing a cup of coffee, it's generally a lot harder to make espresso. Especially if you are doing it by hand, tamping the ground coffee in the portafilter, and so on.
Put simply, people don't bother with making espresso. And when they do they drown it in frothed milk and whipped cream.
I understand. I really do. I have a semiautomatic espresso maker but generally use it only at the weekends, when I have a more relaxed schedule. It takes time and a lot of practice to make a really good shot of espresso.
During the week I use my Nespresso Inissia.
I love my Nespresso machine because it makes excellent espresso, very quickly.
Does it make espresso that as good as you get from a truly gifted barista using a semi-automatic machine? No. But it makes better espresso than I can make. And it's better than the espresso made by an awful lot of the baristas at the coffee shops I visit.
OK...now we have a machine that can make quality espresso quickly. But what about the capsules you use in the machine?
Well, I think the branded Nespresso capsules are pretty good. But they are expensive.
When the patent protection on Nespresso capsules expired, a lot of companies jumped in and made their own Nespresso-compatible capsules at a lower price.
The trouble is, a lot of those capsules deliver a very disappointing shot of espresso. The quality just isn't there.
But that's changing.
A new breed of companies is taking on the challenge to make capsules that are just as good as those offered by Nespresso, but at a lower price.
One of these companies is Cafe Liegeois. And they were kind enough to send me some samples.
They offer a range of capsules, some of them mild, some bold and some in between. They also offer a decaf option.
Interestingly, they are also tying those different levels of boldness to specific coffee growing regions – just as one would when sourcing a regular gourmet coffee.
For example, their Puissant (Bold) capsules contain coffee from Sumatra. Their Magnifico (Medium) espresso comes from Colombia. And their Subtil (Mild) capsules contain coffee from Ethiopia.
I have tried them all and can vouch for their quality. In fact, using these capsules has helped me further develop my own appreciation of espresso and the different flavors it can offer.
The bottom line is that Cafe Liegeois are offering quality espresso, at an excellent price.
More importantly, I think they offer a pathway for people who up until now have seen espresso as simply being "espresso".
Now, with an entry-level machine like the Nespresso Inissia, and some Cafe Liegeois capsules, you can dive in and enjoy all the variety of tastes and flavors that quality espresso has to offer.
As for Cafe Liegeois' ambitions, I imagine they intend to position themselves as a provider of espresso capsules that meet or exceed the quality delivered by Nespresso.
To be honest, I think they're already there.
NOTE: This product was sent to us free in return for a review. (That said, we always reserve the right NOT to review a free product if we don't like it, or feel you wouldn't like it.)
About the author: Nick Usborne, aka Coffee Detective, is a writer and long-time coffee enthusiast. Read more…