At home I'm a purist with a Silvia and a stepless flat-burr grinder. But my workplace has requested my assistance in purchasing a robust and hassle-free system for their new branch, so I'm lowering my standards temporarily to open a discussion on such systems.
They want an espresso machine, which is why I'm posting on this forum. Fairly low-volume, perhaps up to 30 cups a day max. Seems to me the choice boils down to:
1. A pod system (Nespresso etc)
2. All-in-one unit with a water tank, a built-in grinder/doser and (optional) a milk tank.
Of course, we know that such machines produce only mediocre coffee, that's a given. The critical question is therefore to do with cost and hassle. Pod machines are hassle-free, and it's easy to swap between caffeinated and decaf by the cup, but supplies are expensive. All-in-ones have a high up-front cost but low ongoing supply costs; then there's cleaning, servicing and breakdowns to consider.
On the whole I think they will be better served with a straightforward pod unit. So: which system has the best-value pods? Nespresso seems to be the clear market leader (and even then, they appear to offer at least two distinct pod types), so I would expect their pods to come loaded with a price premium. Are there better-value systems out there?
All comments welcome. Feel free to flame me too, if you so wish!