We still dream of NYC-style espresso trucks doing the rounds, but in the meantime we’ve been testing out capsule coffee to get us through the day. The verdict: Not half as bad as you might think.

Nespresso Pixie

This is coffee as Apple might design it. iLatte, if you like. It’s a sexy little number the Pixie, what with its six color options and satisfyingly neat loading mechanism. Crucially, the coffee it produces is actually rather good, with all kinds of interesting bean profiles available. The latest arrival is the eco-certified Dhjana “Grand Cru” ($10.70 for a ‘sleeve’ of 10 capsules) which boasts a level eight intensity rating (we did warn you coffee was a world of nerds).
$398 from Nespresso Boutique.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto Circolo

Launched here in September, this striking objet d’art produced in partnership with Krups has won numerous awards for design. Its USP is the proprietary milk capsules, dispensing with the need for a separate milk frother. And it can make cold drinks, too. The coffee ($10.90 for 16 capsules) is pretty average, and it’s a pain having to manually stop the drip, but it sure does look pretty on your desk. It’s also by far the cheapest of the three.
$269 from various stores, including Harvey Norman.

CBTL Kaldi

This one-stop system for serving espresso, brewed coffee and brewed tea manages to convincingly evoke the café experience. In terms of taste it sits somewhere between the other two (though the Nespresso really is leagues apart), and is best suited for people who aren’t completely obsessive but want a bit more variety (think Continental Espresso, Viennese Brew, French Brew and quite a few others) than you get with the Nescafé machine.
$389 from all The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlets. Capsules $9.10 for a box of 10.

What’s in a capsule?

It’s basically freshly roasted coffee, ground and measured very precisely. It’s more expensive than ground coffee and the capsules don’t work with every machine, but they can save a lot of mess and fuss. Plus, the result is far more consistent.