If you’re looking for a solid cup of espresso without much fuss, the Nespresso Pixie is a good mid-range option. There aren’t a whole lot of bells and whistles, but it does what it’s designed to do really well.
Other machines in the Nespresso line vary in price, mostly as a result of their construction material. The Pixie sits somewhere in the middle of the Nespresso line. It’s neither the top of the line model nor is it a budget buy.
If you’re looking to get into Nespresso with a reliable and well-built machine or upgrade from one of the cheaper machines, this is a great choice.
Overall score: (8.5/10)
- Value: (9/10)
- Quality: (8/10)
- Style: (8/10)
- Size: (9/10)
Nespresso has been around since 1976, when Eric Favre initially developed the first machine. Since then, Nespresso has grown to become one of the most recognizable brands in capsule based brewing machines.
Most people that buy a Nespresso are looking a convenient and quick way to brew a quality cup of espresso at home without needing to grind and portion out coffee beans.
Nespresso has built a few variations on the Pixie. The four finishes currently available are the Carmine, the Titan, Steel and Aluminum.
Functionally, each of the Pixie models operate exactly the same way – so choose whichever look you like best.
The construction of the Pixie is sturdy. Since this is a mid-range model, most of the material is metal with some pieces being made out of hard plastic.
We found the unit to be surprisingly small at 4.4 x 12.8 x 9.3 in. There was no trouble finding a corner of the counter to leave this out on, and the sleek design made us not want to put it away.
The advantage of using a machine like the Nespresso Pixie for your daily espresso is that the process of making a shot is so simple. Unlike a standard espresso machine, making espresso with the Nespresso (wow, lots of rhyming) can be mastered in all of five minutes – making a consistent drink day after day.
The capacity of the water tank on the Pixie is 0.7 liters or around 3 cups. On average, this good for around 5 shots of espresso, but this will obviously vary depending on how strong you take yours.
Before using the Pixie, make sure that the water tank is filled. If the tank is almost empty, a red in the capsule container will turn on. A visual inspection is probably your best bet though, since the tank is clear and easy to see.
As with any method of coffee brewing, the quality of water that you use will also play a big role. Hard water, or water with a lot of minerals in it, will leave calcium deposits which over time can hinder the performance of the machine. No matter what kind of water you end up using, make sure you regularly take the time to clean and descale your machine.
The heating element of the Pixie takes just 25 seconds to reach its target temperature. That means that in less time than it would normally take to measure and grind beans, your Nespresso can be already pulling a shot while you start working on breakfast.
The machine will begin heating as soon as it is turned on and a light will indicate that heating element is ready to brew.
After the machine is hot, subsequent brews do not require any waiting. Just insert a new capsule and you’re good to go. Double shot anyone?
Once the machine is heated and a capsule inserted, brewing can be started with the press of a button. The Pixie has two different size options which can be programmed to your liking or left on their default setting. By default, the smaller size (espresso) is 1.35oz while the larger size (lungo) is 3.7oz. Either setting can be stopped short of completion by simply pressing the button again.
The default water volumes for espresso and lungo can be adjusted to your preference with a relatively simple process. With a new capsule inserted, simply hold the button you water you program (either espresso or lungo) until the desired level or strength is reached, then let go. Next time you brew with that same button, the setting will be stored.
To reset the system, start with the machine switched off, then hold down the lungo button, and switch the machine back on.
The Pixie has a built-in automatic shut-off timer. This means that if you forget to turn off the machine after brewing a cup or two, it will automatically turn itself off after 9 minutes.
Maintenance and descaling
Maintaining the Pixie comes down a few simple steps. After use, the coffee spout should be wiped down with a wet rag or cloth. Similarly, the drip tray should be removed, taken apart, and cleaned with relative frequency.
The descaling process takes about 15 minutes to complete but does not need to be done very frequently. Nespresso recommends once per year. For a detailed look at the descaling process, check out the video below or refer to the Pixie manual.
Versus other types of espresso makers
Comparing the Nespresso to other forms of making espresso is tough to do. For those of us that really enjoy the entire process of brewing espresso “from scratch”, the convenience of the Pixie probably isn’t worth the additional cost per serving over the life of the machine. There’s an enjoyable art to making a truly great cup of espresso, and the process can be as rewarding as the coffee. There are a lot of decent espresso machines that can be had for less than $200.
If, on the other hand, you’re just looking for a consistent way to make café quality espresso without much fuss, then the Nespresso Pixie is a great choice.
Versus the Keurig
Though not as common in the United States, the function of the Nespresso and Keurig are very similar. Both are solutions for making coffee with a minimal amount of effort. The resulting drink that each machine makes, however, is very different. While the Keurig is designed to make a standard “American” cup of joe, the Nespresso is built to make espresso. If you’re used to using a Keurig, the biggest difference you’ll notice is the amount of coffee that you end up with. The Nespresso will produce a smaller amount, but the resulting drink will be much stronger and more flavorful.