Nespresso Gran Maestria review: excellent coffee, at a price


Now for something completely different.

Nespresso’s Gran Maestria is a rare treat. It’s a coffee machine so incredibly well designed, it looks bespoke (but isn’t) and makes coffee so quickly that… it doesn’t make it slow. Turn it on, lift the lid, pop in a coffee capsule, press a button and hey presto. Instant, delicious coffee that tastes exactly the same, every time.

Every single day, you can wake up to the same cup of coffee you love. And I can guarantee, your kitchen will smell fucking fantastic. But take a look at the price. The machine costs €549 and coffee capsules are €0.35, if you order online. The price varies slightly per country, and in South Africa the Gran Maestria will set you back R8 000. But for the price, you’ll never have to set foot in an overly hip coffee store again.



There are less expensive machines like the R1 700 Inissia, but it isn’t even a third as sexy as the Gran Maestria. Even the name is smooth and literally translates to “Great Mastery”. The Gran Maestria is something you want, but it may not be the coffee machine you need. I’ll explain.

What I like

I like coffee. I don’t love it, but many do. Those who swear by it sup it down as if it were dark, disgusting heroin and the coffee cup is the needle. For them, the Gran Maestria will represent the peak of their coffee drinking career. For me, it’s just a really cool toy.

It works better than expected. The Swiss-design bleeds through into every titanium orifice, with LED lights and deep greys able to relinquish drool from any lip. The machine (and every other Nespresso) works by shooting hot water through a recently pierced aluminum capsule filled with ground coffee and yeah, any Nespresso can do this, but the Gran Maestria does it with a fair bit ‘o style.



You press a button for an espresso, ristretto or Lungo (like a double shot of espresso) and the machine grinds into life. Like, it actually grinds or at least, that’s what it sounds like. Water is pumped from the easily refilled tank at the rear, and frothy milk is made with as much ease. A cup heater and Aeroccino milk frother are two extras that don’t come with the entry-level machines, and certainly add a whole lot of charm to the overall package. Plus, it’s all integrated so neatly into the Gran Maestria.

Let’s discuss the actual coffee for a second. The Gran Maestria came with a heap of capsules, all brimming with cereal flavours, intense notes and rich, meaty aromas. Since I’m a coffee moron, I left the machine at work to assess its tastes. The office zombies loved the coffee machine, managed to suss it out in seconds and kept coming back for more. The standard office coffee tastes like dirt or death, depending on who I ask, but is made in an extraordinarily expensive machine. In my experience the Nespresso coffee both looks and tastes amazing, the weaker varieties that is. A Carmelito and Vulloto are “cool” for me. But stronger blends like Indriya and Kazaar were way too bitter. There’s a taste for everyone, though.



What I dislike

It’s hard to hate this gizmo. I don’t love coffee, or spending money for that matter, but to own the Gran Maestria you need to spend a small fortune. But if you’re a George Clooney-coffee-drinking-celebrity who has the cash to spend, there are a few negatives to bear in mind. Nespresso could have added an option to dim the intensely bright LEDs that shine from the used coffee pod holder. When faced with these intense lights in the darkness of a bitterly cold Cape Town morning, the LEDs seems like floodlights. Also, the drip tray is tacky and spills far too easily when water is being dumped out of it. For the amount of cash being spent, Nespresso could have invested a little more time in the drip-tray department.

And it’s also a bit of a waste of money, ain’t it? Every Nespresso machine makes coffee just like the last one, hence the fact that they all accept the same capsules. But again, someone purchasing this titanium beast isn’t strapped for cash, and will probably upgrade from their entry-level Nespresso to this.




Verdict: Look how far we’ve come. Humans walk on the face of the moon, computers are now pocket-sized, the reality TV bubble has finally burst and coffee machines have become brilliant. The Nespresso Gran Maestria is cool, just too expensive if you only want a good cuppa coffee. If you want the most handsome machine ever that will lighten the moods of even the most churlish of drinkers, then the Gran Maestria is the machine for you.

Score: 8/10

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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