For consistency, we opted to stick with the scary "flavor" concept known as a Ristretto capsule. We inserted the capsule and pushed the "espresso" button (represented with an icon of the smaller of two cups). The extraction started out promising enough: a laminar flow of medium-to-dark brown crema from the get-go. Impressive at first, but then the pour keeps coming. And coming. And as it did, the richer brown crema turned into a more turbulent flow of what looked like a milky, splotchy hot chocolate with uneven bubbles. In just several seconds, the shot rapidly turned into the meager espresso we experienced with our 2007 Nespresso Le Cube review.
Tasting the shot, it had a much frothier and greater amount of crema than we experienced with the Le Cube. But the crema quality was a bit suspect in taste as well as appearance: thin, one-dimensional, and lacking any flavor richness nor depth. The shot was also too large, resulting in a thinner body and making us wonder what diluted mess the Nespresso would have produced if we pushed the "lungo" button. The espresso itself had a tepid flavor still on par with an average Starbucks and not very far from McDonald's. It has a narrow flavor profile consisting primarily of some mild spices and pepper. And universally, it tastes like it's "missing something" when compared with the real thing.
Our verdict: more crema, but otherwise very little has changed from the last generation of Nespresso machines we tested.