Recently, a regular reader of this blog asked me (via Twitter) to write a review of the Verismo. I’ve mentioned the Verismo here and there, but an in-depth article about it, isn’t a bad idea.
Starbucks introduced the Verismo single serve coffee system into their lineup in September of last year – according to this official Starbucks article, it was September 20, 2012. It has the ability to brew a variety of pods, and so you can have a quick cup of coffee, or a fast and easy latte at home.
I have had a Verismo for about one year. The first generation Verismos were encased in a silver. The latest versions for in Starbucks are described as “piano black,” but functionally the same. I do like how pretty the black ones are:
If you’re wanting to buy a Verismo machine, you should look at Starbucks, or consider other retailers such as Williams-Sonoma. The basic version is on sale at Starbucks right now for $99, and that sale ends January 6, 2014. Williams-Sonoma has an enhanced version of the Verismo, though to be totally candid, I think the basic one is quite fine! I’m not sure I’d spend extra for the added features of the Williams-Sonoma version of the Verismo. The Williams-Sonoma version of the Verismo has some temperature controls, and I think it might be possible to brewer hotter espresso than the Starbucks basic version.
If you’re looking for Verismo pods, there are three main resources: Actual Starbucks stores, Williams-Sonoma, and StarbucksStore.com. The vast majority are available on StarbucksStore.com, so when in doubt, order from there. You may find some Verismo pods at your local grocery store too.
One of the things about the Verismo pods offered is that it rotates often – just as Starbucks offers many seasonal coffees that come and go quickly from the stores, so too are there seasonal Verismo pods that come and go quickly from Starbucks stores. For example, this fall Starbucks offered Anniversary Blend in the Verismo pod format, found in stores only. It was really wonderful, and just as Anniversary Blend came and went quickly from the stores, so too did the Verismo pods for Anniversary Blend.
Generally speaking, if your looking in the actual Starbucks stores, you’ll find the following Verismo pods:
Starbucks in-store pods:
- Pike Place Roast brewed coffee pods (both regular and decaf)
- Verona Blend brewed coffee pods (a dark roast)
- Milk pods (you can buy a box of just milk pods. I’ve heard that separate milk pods are not sold in Starbucks Canada.)
- Latte boxes – This is a combination of milk pods and espresso pods in one box.
- Espresso Roast espresso pods (both regular and decaf)
- Teavana Chai Tea pods
- Rotating seasonal pods – Past, fall 2013 – Anniversary Blend. Current, winter 2013 – Christmas Blend brewed coffee pods, Holiday Blend brewed coffee pods. and Christmas Espresso Roast pods. Coming soon – January 2014, Casi Cielo brewed coffee pods.
- Veranda Blend blonde roast brewed coffee pods. (I know I’ve seen those in stores in the past, though I didn’t find them when recently looking. They’re still on StarbucksStore.com)
Shopping for pods on StarbucksStore.com:
- Guatemala Antigua espresso pods
- House Blend brewed coffee pods
- And, you can find almost all of the in-store pods on StarbucksStore.com, except that the seasonal offerings come and go quickly.
Shopping for Verismo pods at Williams-Sonoma: Starbucks does offer certain Verismo pods that are exclusive to Williams-Sonoma, and some of them are otherwise hard to find.
- Kenya espresso pods – I think most all Williams-Sonoma have this.
- Guatemala Antigua espresso pods – Also easy to find at Williams-Sonoma.
- Colombia brewed coffee pods – This are a wonderful find. A medium roast beautiful coffee.
- Ethiopia Yirgacheffe espresso pods – This is a Williams-Sonoma exclusive.
- Sumatra brewed coffee pods – This is also a Williams-Sonoma exclusive. Wonderful dark roast coffee in Verismo format.
I mostly use my Verismo for brewed coffee and I love it. It’s a pretty quick, hassle free, easy single cup of coffee. I really liked this fall’s Anniversary Blend pods. Right now, the current Holiday Blend brewed coffee pods are an unsung hero – really does make a soft, round, medium cup of coffee. I’ve used the Sumatra pods too and love them.
The wonderful aspects to the Verismo:
You can get some great Starbucks coffees as Verismo pods. And the Teavana Chai Tea pod with a milk pod is nearly heaven – that is a great Chai Tea Latte! It is so good! It does make a nice espresso latte too. I drink a lot more brewed coffee, but a milk pod, and espresso pod is all you need for the very basics of a short latte. I particularly like the Guatemala Antigua espresso pods. You can even buy small sizes of the Vanilla or Hazelnut syrups for your kitchen. It’s a very versatile machine in the sense that you can easily make a latte or a cup of brewed coffee at home. If you want to get fancy, you can buy a frother for your milk. If you want a really quick peppermint mocha type drink, take a stick of the Peppermint Mocha Via and combine it with a milk pod from the Verismo, and you’ll get a delicious peppermint mocha!
At one point, when my Verismo was new, I had experimented with combining just about every kind of Via Ready Brew with a Verismo milk pod. The Peppermint Mocha Via (a winter seasonal Via) was the clear winner, in my humble opinion, followed by the Pumpkin Spice Latte Via. I had even tried the Cool Lime Refresher Via with a milk pod – that’s not recommended. In fact the Lime Via makes the milk curdle a little. Don’t repeat that experiment at home!
The downsides to the Verismo:
I’ve never had a Keurig brewer so I can’t really compare to that, but over the year I’ve own mine, I’ve gotten a sense of the kinds of things that are the downsides to the Verismo. One thing for sure, the selection of pods is much smaller than what you’d have with some other single-cup brewers. However, the Verismo is a newer system to the market, and I am very confident that Starbucks is quickly trying to remedy that. I’ve been told that even more pods are coming to Starbucks stores in 2014. Some of the basics that many single-cup owners would want are things like perhaps another tea pod option, more decaf options, a hot chocolate pod, and even possibly a flavored coffee pod. I wouldn’t ever make Vanilla coffee my go-to coffee, but I’ve seen Starbucks Vanilla coffee in the Kcup format in grocery stores. However, no such pods exist for the Verismo.
From reading social media sites, I get the sense that some people think the Verismo is too messy, noisy, and not hot enough. It is a little bit noisy. I’d expect to clean up after any means of making coffee.
I don’t think there is anything else as versatile as a Verismo in the $99 price range. I would buy one for myself if I didn’t have one, or give it as a gift. If you have a Verismo now, try Holiday Blend pods! I realize that once the pods become more varied and easy to find, maybe more people will be tempted by the Verismo, but even now, it gets a near two thumbs up.
In the past, I’ve been asked if it is possible to switch and use different brand pods in your Verismo. The answer is a clear “no.” The closest other-brand pods are the Coffee Bean & Tea pods. The CBTL pods are about the same shape, and do fit in the Verismo. But to be clear, I do NOT recommend that you use the CBTL pods in your Verismo. I’ve experimented with the CBTL pods too. As you know, you’ll void your warranty of the Verismo, and the pods aren’t designed for the Verismo. It may look like it will work just fine, but the CBTL brewed coffee pods have their internal filter on the other side of the pod, as compared to the Verismo, so you won’t get the right extraction or flavor. The only exciting discovery from that series of experiments with CBTL pods was that the CBTL hot chocolate pods produced a pretty nice cup of hot chocolate with the Verismo. However, I still don’t recommend you try that at home. And on top of that, I think that CBTL has since discontinued their hot chocolate pods! The bottom line is that you should only use Verismo pods in your Verismo.
Bottom line – the Verismo is versatile, (make a chai tea, a latte, brewed coffee, and more) has great Starbucks pods, and a great price. Downside: Needs more pods. I have seen social medias that some people wish the Verismo brewed a little hotter, but it’s fine in my book.
I have to disclose that my Verismo at home came to me as a gift from Starbucks.