Product Review: Verismo by Starbucks

Verismo by StarbucksVerismo (a poorly named product pronounced like ‘gizmo’ preceded by the ‘ver’ as ‘vurr’; vurr-izmo) by Starbucks produces a nicely brewed cup of strong, black coffee.

Bought on sale at a Starbucks near me, and the basic model, pod-based coffeemaker periodically goes on sale for $99, it came with a box of 12 brewed or 12 espresso coffee pods. The instruction manual is well-written, including an easy set-up guide – I’m fairly low-tech and need to read things twice to catch on so I don’t press the wrong button – regular use steps and cleaning guide. I haven’t done the monthly cleaning and maintenance yet and will update accordingly. I like the fact that the machine requires a short cleaning after each idle time. In other words, it shuts down automatically after idle time and then needs a quick cleaning upon startup. This maintains the machine.

I’ve previously used a basic Keurig coffee machine, which I think clogs more easily. In my experience, Keurig customer service is awful. With Verismo, I’m taking any problems to my nearest Starbucks. So far, I’ve found (and Verismo may prove to be a hassle, too) Verismo design superior to Keurig. It’s true that Verismo has fewer pod options than the Keurig-based line of variously branded K-cups (including a wider selection of Starbucks’ own K-cups). But convenience is a plus for me and I am happy with the dark roast choices. Still, I hope they add the French Roast as a brewed pod. Verismo also offers espresso, Americano and milk pod for latte options that lack with the other machines. Tea is also possible with Verismo. Pods are pricey, of course. I buy what I like in greater volume on the Starbucks site for price breaks and I also use coupons, specials, deals and other coffee products such as Starbucks’ Via and free in-store refills with my gold card through Starbucks Rewards program.

Essentially, after initial set-up, here’s how Verismo works: fill the removable water container, turn on the machine and place a cup on the tray. Wait for go signal,¬†pull the silver lever down in one swift motion without a pod inserted, run a short cleaning discharge, then empty the cup of dispensed water. Replace and repeat after inserting a brewed, espresso and/or latte pod this time. Prepare coffee to taste. Voila, enjoy. The whole thing takes a few minutes tops.

Brewed pods (I’ve tried Verona, Sumatra and Pike Place) require removal of a silver tab on bottom that keeps freshness until ready for brewing while espresso and milk pods are ready to drop right in. Spent pods fall into a separate, removable container upon lifting of the silver lever for next use. Empty the spent pods every so often. If it sounds complicated to new single use pod customers, then Verismo will take getting used to. The process gets easier, though. The biggest advantage besides convenience is easy clean-up. The downside so far? A small discharge of water upon lifting the lever and closing it again and a little splatter. Mostly removable parts make using the machine easier and I like the simplicity. I’ve also used Soft Brew and French press systems and I love those for really strong cups of coffee but they’re a major hassle for prep time and cleaning the used coffee grounds. In this sense, I think machines using pods are a major advancement in coffee production. I prefer Verismo to Keurig.

Taste is excellent, though not as robust as a freshly brewed cup at Starbucks, but close and equal to or better than Starbucks’ K-cups. Some Verismo users complain about coffee not being hot enough and this is not a problem for me. I don’t always accept, let alone like, what Starbucks does (as I wrote here) but Verismo is a fine entry-level product for premium coffee drinkers.

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