On a recent trip to Switzerland, I had the good fortune to have access to the airport lounge. I was so impressed by the quality of the coffee, which in prior years I couldn’t even bring myself to drink, that I had two cappuccini. But it was not just the quality, it was the ease of self-serving. All one had to do was chose the type of coffee, press the button, and wait a few seconds. From there on all was automatic: the milk came steaming and foaming into the cup followed by a steady stream of espresso. Bliss. Little did I dream of having such a luxury in my own home.
When people ask me to name my number one comfort food, what springs immediately to mind is cappuccino. It serves as my breakfast (after all it does have milk), my mid-day break, on bad days an extra cup or even two as my go to comforter, and sometimes even an after dinner treat though I am aware that it is a mockery-inviting break with Italian tradition. At least it’s not after dinner latte (thank you Amanda Hesser for teaching me that). Italians drink espresso after dinner.
So when I discovered a few months ago that Nespresso had launched a new line of coffee makers for the home and that the Latissima, a fully automatic model, was available I had to have one. In addition to its speed and ease of producing the perfect cappuccino or latte, I was charmed by the little milk container that gets stored in the refrigerator between uses so that the half gallon milk container one purchases at the supermarket doesn’t have to be accessed and exposed to heat each time you make the coffee. I also appreciated all the custom settings, determining how much frothed milk and how much coffee is dispensed according to one’s own taste. I loved the design of the machine and that it accommodated both tiny espresso cups and tall latte glasses.
I went to visit the Latissima at the Nespresso boutique in Bloomingdales to check it out. The person at the booth gave me a complete demo including a cup of the cappuccino produced by it in under a minute. It seemed pretty terrific but I was still undecided. I loved the Cube Nespresso system and the aerocino, which is a dedicated milk frother, producing the most velvety milk froth ever. But after a few months passed I decided that the shear ease of the state of the art Latissima was too good to pass up so the Cube was retired to our country place and the Latissima proudly took its place in my main location.
Thanks to the fantastic 24-7 tech support line, I quickly learned how to maximize this thoroughbred of a machine. I got to know the names of all the tech people after calling innumerable times and none ever lost patience with me.
Here are some of the important points that will speed the way to a perfect cappuccino should you succumb to temptation:
Best frothing: for the finest froth, use full fat milk (don’t use UFT? as though it foams well it tastes cooked). Try different brands until you find the one in your area that foams the best. Use the middle setting on the little lever that controls the foam or experiment with the two other settings.
Power Saving Mode: It’s fine to leave the machine on as when not in use it goes into standby power saving mode ultimately using only 2% power.
Best temperature: After going into suspend power mode it’s best to run a cup of water without the coffee capsule to ‘prime’ it. Also recommended when making cappuccino is to press the steam-cleaning lever for 5 seconds to ensure the hottest foam.
My preferred settings: After much experimentation I find that using my favorite coffee capsule type (Arpeggio), I set the milk frothing to 16 flashes (the little light flashes quickly while dispensing the froth) and the coffee to 11 seconds. Sometimes I make a double cappuccino—there’s no need to wait for the machine to reheat in between—just insert a second capsule and press the cappuccino button again.
After each use: After ejecting the capsule, press the espresso button to run a little water through to clear any coffee residue. Press the little metal steam-cleaning nozzle for 3 seconds to clean that. This only takes seconds and ensures that the next cup of coffee will be at its very best.
Tip: The machine is so automatic it’s easy to forget that you do still have to insert the coffee capsule!
Here's a photo I took on my Iphone of the new Nespresso Boutique soon to open in SoHo. Love the graphics!