Starbucks enthusiasts willing to deal with a few hassles and higher per-pod cost will love this machine. But if Starbucks flavor isn't your primary goal, functional difficulties could outweigh the performance of the Starbucks Verismo. If you want a single-serve coffee maker that produces great-flavored coffee for a lower cost, consider the Keurig Special Edition Brewing System (*Est. $150), which also has a wider pod variety.
Genuine flavor but functional problems. There are two versions of the Starbucks Verismo: The basic Starbucks Verismo 580 and the higher-end Starbucks Verismo 585. Overall, the two are similar in function. The Verismo 580, which comes in a choice of four colors (champagne, black, silver and burgundy), can store up to 10 used pods internally before the storage tray needs emptying, while the 585 (which comes in black or silver) can hold up to 30 used pods. The 585 is also equipped with an internal water-filtration system and a larger water reservoir (118 ounces); the 580 has no water filtration system and a smaller water reservoir (34 ounces).
Feedback on the taste of the coffee produced by the Verismo is universal; if you want the genuine taste of Starbucks coffee from the comfort of your own home, this machine is for you. That is, if you're willing to swallow the cost. The Starbucks Verismo runs about $200 for the basic machine and $400 for the more advanced model. In addition, the pods are more expensive than pods for other machines, resulting in a per-cup cost between $1.50 and $2.00, according to calculations by CoffeeStylish.com. Still, this is less than what you'd pay at a Starbucks store.
One panelist who tasted the Verismo's coffee for The Huffington Post says, "Somehow Starbucks has learned the art of coffee making through this machine. It made a latte better than I've ever had in a Starbucks coffee shop." Nearly all of their panelists agree that the taste is that of genuine Starbucks coffee. In a review for The Seattle Times, Brier Dudley writes, "The Verismo latte is pretty good. It has a distinct taste of powdered milk, which some may dislike, but the drink is rich and fresh-tasting, with some caramel flavors of the coffee coming through."
The downside to this machine is its questionable functionality. Reviews cite problems such as pods that fall through to the used pod storage area of the machine, rendering them useless. Owners posting feedback to Williams-Sonoma.com call the Verismo "a total disaster" and report wasting entire boxes of pods in an attempt to get a single cup of coffee. Another user posting on the site says, "As many other reviewers experienced, the espresso pods fail quite frequently and when it does it pours hot water in to your milk. Now your milk is destroyed too." Other users, however, say that once you get the hang of using it properly (inserting the pods carefully and correctly) these problems don't occur.
Internal pod storage a plus but leaks are a problem. Despite its great taste-test feedback, the Starbucks Verismo fails in the ease of use department. While it offers some useful features, such as internal pod storage and a compartment for storing used pods so you don't have to dispose of them each time, we read numerous complaints of ruined pods, leaking units and difficult-to-access water tanks.
Another issue is the ability to fit a standard-size cup in this unit. Dudley, who reviews this model for The Seattle Times, says he had to remove the standard cup platform to fit a 4-inch mug in the machine. He also complains that the unit eats about 10 percent of the pods he inserts.
The Huffington Post has a different take, however, saying, "It was easy to operate, actually sort of fun to play with, and we were particularly surprised at how quickly the machine heats up your water -- the wait between plug-in to pour is only about one minute, which beats the heck out of Keurig machines."
Simplistic design isn't a style standout. We read a number of complaints from owners who say this machine feels cheap, especially the lever, despite its high price tag. Overall, the Verismo line offers a simple design and comes in a black or brushed-chrome finish.
1. The Huffington Post
Review Credibility: Excellent Editors of The Huffington Post review the Starbucks Verismo, praising its sleek design and limitless options thanks to the three different types of pods that can be combined in various ways for a totally customizable brew. Tasters were surprised at how much the coffee produced tastes like the brew bought at Starbucks locations.
Review: Starbucks Verismo Review: The New Home-Brew Coffee Machine, Editors of The Huffington Post, Oct. 5, 2012
2. The Seattle Times
Review Credibility: Very Good Brier Dudley says that while the Verismo line of home coffee makers is expensive, the taste is comparable to that of drinks purchased in Starbucks stores. He does point out that some may not like the distinct powered-milk flavor that comes through, however.
Review: Review: Starbucks Verismo Espresso Machine, Brier Dudley, Oct. 15, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good This coffee-focused blog takes a close look at the Starbucks Verismo, including a useful breakdown of the total cost per cup. According to the author's calculations, the final cost averages between $1.50 and $2.00 per cup, which is more expensive than other pod coffee makers but less than you'd pay in a Starbucks store.
Review: Starbucks Verismo Review: Good, If You Can't Live Without Starbucks!, "Danijela", Sept. 26, 2012
Review Credibility: Fair About 25 owners contribute to an average rating of 2.3 stars out of 5 for the basic Verismo model. Several owners say the pods fall right through to the used pod area, and they sometimes get pierced along the way and become useless. Others, however, praise the quality of taste the Verismo offers.
Review: Verismo 580 System by Starbucks, Contributors to Williams-Sonoma.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Fair About 20 owners review the Starbucks Verismo at Williams-Sonoma.com, where it's sold exclusively. Owners contribute to an overall rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. There are numerous complaints about leaks and the need to clean the unit after each use, although other owners are pleased with the quality of coffee produced.
Review: Verismo 585 System by Starbucks, Contributors to Willams-Sonoma.com, As of November 2012
Review Credibility: Fair This online forum for coffee enthusiasts discusses the Starbucks Verismo single-serve coffee maker. While there is little feedback from owners who have used the machine, there is some useful discussion regarding the mechanics and function of this coffee maker compared with other popular one-cup coffee makers.
Review: New Verismo Single-Serve Machine from Starbucks, Contributors to SingleServeCoffeeForums.com, As of November 2012