I am an espresso/cappucino/latté lover. Once I owned an expensive Pavoni machine, the kind with the manually operated lever arm. I was never able to get a cup of espresso to come out the same way twice. I got rid of it after a few years and bought a Saeco electric pump machine from Starbucks. That machine gave consistent results, but it was a pain to keep clean and maintain. Frothing milk for cappucinos or lattés was more art than science. Took me a long time to figure out how to do it right. I sold it on Craigslist a few weeks ago for $75.
In the meantime, I had a book signing at a local kitchenware store. I was seated next to a display of Nespresso machines. During a break I inquired about them, and a store clerk was nice enough to demonstrate one of the machines. I was completely blown away. Push a button and get a perfectly brewed espresso in a few seconds. The only problem was the cost. We are talking several hundred dollars, especially if a milk frothing device is included. However, given my frugal nature, I vowed to try and beat the system.
I set a budget of $150 for both the coffee maker and a frother. I began haunting eBay and Craigslist. Lots of Nespresso machines were available from both sources. I bid on several of them, but couldn't meet my self-imposed $150 limit. Then, after several weeks of trying, I bid on a "Latissima" model listed on Craigslist and got it for $180. The machine had been given as a wedding gift to a young couple who, as it turns out, hate espresso. They just wanted to get rid of it. They tried to use it a couple of times, so the machine was essentially brand new.
You may well ask why I went over my $150 limit. The answer is that the machine came with nearly 100 Nespresso pods, worth roughly $60, so my net cost for the machine was $120.
The Latissima line is a step up from lower end models in that the machines include the ability to make cappucinos or lattés with the touch of a single button. Lower end Nespresso machines make just the coffee and the milk has to be heated and frothed in a separate machine. The MSRP of the machine I bought is $499, although a lot of places sell it for 20 - 25% less. I got a helluva deal.
I couldn't be happier with the machine. It brews perfect espresso and using it is a no-brainer. The only drawback is the cost of the Nespresso pods, which run from $.55 to $1 depending on who sells them. As it happens, Nestlé's patents on the pods expired not long ago and third party companies are selling compatible pods for less than the Nespresso-branded ones. They typically cost 40 - 50 cents.
That said, you can cut the coffee cost considerably by using reusable or throwaway pods you fill yourself using your own coffee. I've done quite a bit of research on this subject, and the pods most recommended by the "experts" are single-use, disposable pods from a French company called "Capsul-in". You can buy 100 of them from Amazon for less than $25. You can also re-use Nespresso-brand pods. I haven't tried that yet, but I will. There are several videos online that show how to fill or refill pods with your own coffee.
In summary, if you are an espresso lover, you are going to be very happy with a Nespresso machine. They are branded by several companies (e.g., Krups and DeLonghi) but are all made in Switzerland by a company nobody ever heard of that does the actual manufacturing in China. Wikipedia has an interesting article about the history and current status of Nespresso.