Compact, connected and not just for coffee: upgrade your drinks menu with this hi-tech milk frother
- Makes effortless iced drinks and hot chocolate
- Dishwasher-safe parts
- Multiple recipes via app
- Can’t be activated via app
- No measurements on jug
You’d be hard pressed to tell by looking at it, but the Nespresso Barista is no ordinary milk frother. This souped-up coffee assistant whisks up instant iced coffee, hot chocolate made from squares of the proper dark stuff, and different densities of fabulously frothy milk. And unlike others, it connects via Bluetooth to the Nespresso app, so you can add new recipes, select existing ones and discover how to make them step-by-step.
Used in conjunction with a coffee machine (which doesn’t necessarily have to be a Nespresso model), the combinations for hot and cold beverages are practically endless.
Nespresso Barista: What you need to know
Costing as much as most coffee machines, it follows that the Barista is more than a milk frother. Rather than rely on a small spring or disc like most, it employs a two-part whisk that’s as wide as the jug base and uses induction to spin at ultra-high speeds. The effect is more like whizzing the liquid in a blender.
Its jug has a greater capacity than sister products, such as the Aeroccino, so you can make frothy milk for more than one drink or a good-sized iced coffee, plus it warms and whisks vegetable-based milks. It’s also made from stainless steel, which means it can be cleaned in the dishwasher and it retains heat like the jugs used by baristas. As well as being a large enough jug to scrape out with a spatula, there’s a slim spoon to assist in creating latte art.
Nespresso Barista: Price and competition
The Barista is one of the most expensive milk frothers on the market – only Krups offer one over the £100 mark, with most costing around £50-60. Considering that you can pick up a basic model that heats milk for less than £25, it’s best to think of the Barista less like a high-end milk frother and more like a hot and cold drinks maker.
However, the Barista boasts far more features than an average milk frother, greater recipe potential (as you can remove recipes from its menu you don’t use and add your favourites) and is easier to keep spotlessly clean, all of which contribute towards its price tag.
Nespresso Barista: Features and design
It’s the Barista’s Bluetooth connectivity which really sets it apart. By using the Nespresso app on your device, you can ‘personalise’ the choice of recipes on the Barista’s menu, see a step-by-step breakdown of each (helpfully, it also comes with a physical recipe book) and select a recipe for the Barista to make. The only thing you can’t do from the app is start the Barista – for that, you’ll still need to press the button on the front.
Like some frothers, the removable jug sits inside a base unit and contains a whisk. However, in this case, the whisk consists of a flat, magnetic base and a loose, fluted disc, so that when the former spins, the fluted part does the hard work of mixing or frothing. Rather than have measurements on the jug, a min, max and an intermediate level are marked on the stem of the whisk, so it always needs to be positioned with the markings at the front. The lack of millilitre measurements is frustrating at first, but after a while you do begin to get a feel for what different amounts look like.
The programme selected is shown on the base unit’s LED display, with left and right arrows for scrolling through manually and the same central button used for turning it on, starting it and turning it off again. One nice touch is that it switches itself off after 3 minutes of inactivity.
On top, there’s a small hole in the lid for venting steam. Unlike other frothers which will sometimes let you get away without fixing the lid in place, this one needs to be firmly attached. The Barista’s whisk can spin at such high speed that a loose lid is guaranteed to result in leakage.
Nespresso Barista: Testing
Connecting the Barista to a phone or tablet is straightforward, but there is one downside of adding recipes via the app: the Barista will only hold 13 at a time – if you want to include something new, you’ll have to pick one to sacrifice first.
It’s also noisier than an Aeroccino, especially once it gets up to high speeds, and some of the recipes take longer than if you were just making frothy milk – the milk for a latte macchiato, for example, took two minutes. However, the result was exceptionally creamy and visually impressive. A word to the wise: it’s a little awkward to hold the whisk and decant milk at the same time (as the whisk isn’t attached to the jug), so it’s easier to remove the whisk altogether before pouring.
Making cold drinks was just as fuss-free – for an iced lungo, I added ice and coffee to the jug, which it whisked into a chilled drink that was frothy without including any milk. The hot chocolate was a bit more challenging – in just under 2 mins 30, it transformed squares of chocolate and milk into a sweet hot drink without any residue, but it was lacking in foam. However, it would be easy to make extra milk froth as a topping.
Nespresso Barista: Cleaning and maintenance
Leftover milk never smells good, and thankfully it’s easy to keep the Barista spotlesssly clean. All the parts that come into contact with milk – the jug, whisk and lid – are dishwasher safe and easy to wash by hand. An extra plus is that the lid’s silicone seal has a small tab that means it can be removed repeatedly so it’s squeaky clean. The whisk can also be split into two parts to clean but it’s not a must-do with every use. If a foul-smelling frother is one of your bugbears, the Barista is a perfect low-maintenance upgrade.
Nespresso Barista: Verdict
The increased capacity of the Barista and easy cleaning are big wins over lesser frothers. And while those attributes alone aren’t enough to justify the price tag, the ability to make much more than foamed milk in a relatively compact package is; never again will you have to drag the blender out of a cupboard for iced coffee or heat milk in a pan for hot chocolate. The clincher is that the results are consistently excellent.
There is room for improvement. For instance, it would be great if there was an option to start it from the app so you could activate it at the same time as a Bluetooth-connected coffee machine, such as the Expert or Prodigio.
However, these features may come in time. Indeed it’s the future-proofing possibilities of the app that sets the Barista apart, as it opens the door to a world of new and improved recipes further down the line. But even if we were stuck with the recipes on offer right now, you wouldn’t find us moaning. The Barista is brilliant just as it is.