Seemingly overnight, the coffee pod options for users of the (in my opinion) fantastic Nespresso coffee machine have multiplied to the point where there’s too many to keep track of. Where it was once a closed system now there are dozens of brands trying to get their Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules out to the market.
My earlier review of Caf?Pod capsules seems to have caught the eye of the cleverly-titled Big Cup Little Cup (more on that later) who offered to send me a few capsules for me to test. As someone who is fuelled on caffeine and appreciates a freebie, I of course said “yes please” with this review as the outcome.
After receiving my sample coffee I picked up on that the capsules were similar in design to Caf?Pod which makes sense as it turns out that Peter Grainger from Caf?Pod is one of the people behind BCLC, so there are obvious comparisons between the two products in this review.
What about my Nespresso warranty?
As with all non-genuine Nespresso capsules there’s the possibility of Nespresso refusing to honour warranty on a machine where you’ve not used their own coffee. How likely this is I don’t know and since my own machine is out of warranty I’m happy to run all other brands of capsules through it. That’s my disclaimer out of the way – it’s up to you to make your own minds up.
Big Cup Little Cup, cardboard box
First impressions were good, the branding of the box packaging is very smart and modern, going into a bit of detail for how best to enjoy the variety of coffee – either as a lungo or espersso, hence the name “Big Cup Little Cup”. I think it would have great shelf appeal however at the time of writing this the only way to order BCLC coffee is online so the design of the box is unimportant.
Inside each box are ten capsules within foil pouches. As with Caf?Pod, the reason for this is to ensure that the coffee grounds remain as fresh as possible – as ground coffee oxidises it loses flavour, which is a criticism of some other coffee pod systems out there.
I’m sure people with more evolved taste palettes than myself would be able to taste the difference but truthfully, of the coffee pod brands of tried all seem to produce pretty respectable cups of coffee.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the foil pouches as I feel they take up too much space either on a work surface or in a cupboard. I’ve got a funky little display stand for my Nespresso capsules so it’s a shame not to be able to use that for BCLC. I do completely understand why BCLC choose to wrap their capsules though and would rather they continued to do so than supply their current capsules loose.
I would have liked to have emptied out the boxes into a bowl but sadly the foil pouches are all the same regardless of which variety of coffee is inside. Hopefully this is just an oversight with the brand being new but I would like to see some distinction with the pouches.
As I mentioned earlier, Big Cup Little Cup has influence from Caf?Pod and this is evident in the design of the capsules themselves. Made from partially-transparent plastic and sealed with a plastic film, the capsules are a slightly looser fit than genuine Nespresso capsules. I tested these in both Pixie and Magimix M150 machines and they appear to be a better fit than even the revised Caf?Pods with a more consistent water flow with less wastage in the drip tray.
It’s what’s inside that counts
Enough wasting time with boxes and pouches, on to the coffee!? I’m only testing these coffees in their raw form, so no extra water, milk, sugar or syrups. None of that venti skinny mocha latte nonsense here!? I also go more for the stronger blends in the 8, 9 and 10 range on the Nespresso scale.
…Big Cup Little Cup is a good coffee and definitely a brand I will be buying in the future.
As an espresso, BCLC produces a very good coffee. A good crema (although not as luxurious as genuine Nespresso) and fairly smooth despite the 10-rating on the box. The lungo was pretty much the same, perhaps a little more bitter when drunk black than I would normally like but still very enjoyable. The full Big Cup Little Cup Nespresso-compatible range does have several varieties with more in development so there should be something for most tastes.
Cost-aside, Nespresso does still come out top for taste, variety and ease of use but when I’m handing over my own money cost does factor so Big Cup Little Cup is a good coffee and definitely a brand I will be buying in the future.
Where to buy
I know from my own experience with choosing a coffee machine and from others I’ve spoken to that how and where to buy the coffee is a big deal.
Nespresso makes a big deal about only being able to buy it’s coffee online or by mail order through the Nespresso Club or in a handful of high-end department stores frequented by George Clooney. If like most people, you prefer to buy your coffee at a supermarket with your bread and milk then you’re immediately going to have reservations over choosing Nespresso. This is why I can’t help but feel that it’s a shame BCLC are also going down the online-only route as one of the big Caf?Pod selling points is that it is available in various supermarkets.
Cost-wise, BCLC is priced competitively as you would expect with capsules starting out at 23p a cup (vs 29p for Nespresso). There is also free delivery for orders over ?50 which is also cheaper than Nespresso’s equivalent free delivery minimum amount, but it does mean having potentially 220 BCLC capsules in storage!? A Discover Starter Pack is available which works out as better value than if you were to buy the contents separately – plus qualifies for free delivery!
In order to tempt me to re-order (I didn’t need much encouragement anyway) Joe at Big Cup Little Cup kindly gave me a voucher code for 15% off a first order and is good until 1st December 2013. Just enter JOFF0111 during the checkout process to get the discount, so thanks Joe!