The original concept behind the Nespresso system dates as far back as 1976 and in the past 40 years, nothing much has really changed. You take a Nespresso pod, put it in a Nespresso machine and press a button; in a few seconds, your perfectly brewed pick-me-up is done. Of course, there are only so many ways you can extract a brew, which is why you don’t see us reviewing every new Nespresso machine that comes along. The Prodigio is the first machine to feature a connected concept. When paired (via Bluetooth) with your smartphone and corresponding Nespresso app, you get to keep track of your capsules, receive maintenance notifications and even remotely trigger or schedule a brew away from the machine. Huzzah! After the initial euphoria of having a smart Nespresso machine fades and the cynical nerd in me takes over, I can’t help but feel that every single ‘smart’ feature built into the Prodigio is still half-baked. Let me explain. Connectivity is maintained via Bluetooth, which has a rather short distance in the first place, and since you still need to physically be at the machine to put in a pod and collect your cup, the only time you’ll be triggering a brew from your app is when you’re entertaining guests for that ‘oooh’ factor. Scheduling on the other hand, is actually a very useful feature, but only if you have a military-esque discipline on time. Imagine scheduling your morning coffee for 0700, only to snooze your alarm one too many times. When you finally do roll out of bed at 0720, your coffee is already sad and cold. Also, don’t forget you have to put in a pod before going to bed, or you’ll wake up to an empty cup. There is also one small fact that you can only schedule one cup at a time, and any attempt at making a cup before the scheduled time will reset the schedule. This is probably due to the fact that the Prodigio still only accepts one pod at a time, so the app forces you to remember to manually replace the pod and redo your schedule.
NESPRESSO PRODIGIO TITAN
PUMP PRESSURE: 19 bar
WATER TANK: 0.8 liters
HEAT-UP TIME: 25 seconds
PRICE: $398 (without milk frother)
The app also has a handy capsule counter, which can be set to notify you when your stock runs low. The convenience comes from being able to order more capsules directly from the app itself. What’s not automated though are manual purchases, so if you regularly purchase pods from a physical store, you’ll have to remember to update the counter appropriately. Now, I don’t have a problem with this, but it would be immensely more useful if instead of a simple capsule counter, I could also keep track of individual flavors I have in stock. Now, if you’ve wondering why it seems the review doesn’t match the score to the right, it’s because there is nothing inherently wrong with the machine itself. I mentioned at the beginning, the Nespresso system is well established and the Prodigio performs its primary function as well as any other Nespresso model. In fact, after having used an older CitiZ machine for the longest time, the new generation Prodigio is actually more functional and convenient. Nespresso did away with physical power switches, and the machine powers-on and goes into standby on its own. It also drops pods automatically after brewing. Overall, the Prodigio requires less maintenance before, during and after a brew than previous generation machines. It is also not terribly overpriced for its added connected features. The Prodigio sits in the middle of the Nespresso range. At $398, it is only $60 more than the ‘dumb’ Pixie, and a good choice for your first machine. But if you already own a Nespresso, this is not the game changer you’ve been waiting for. Now, I loved the idea behind the connected features of the Prodigio, but on their own, they are lacking half the equation. If Nespresso wants to fully utilize remote brewing, scheduling and capsule stock management, they’re going to have to come out with an automatic capsule management and loader system. As I sit here looking at the unfulfilled potential of the Prodigio, I truly hope that such an add-on is on its way, as only then will it all make sense.