Starbucks’ much-awaited home-brewing machine went on sale at its website Wednesday.
Called Verismo, the machine comes in a basic model for $199 and an upscale version for $399.
It is meant to rival Keurig and Nespresso machines, which have become popular worldwide among people who want fresh-brewed coffee by the cup.
Starbucks touts Verismo’s ability to make brewed coffee and espresso drinks using variable water pressure to ensure each drink is properly brewed.
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That’s in contrast to Nestle’s Nespresso machines, which are known for making espresso, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ Keurig machines, known for brewed coffee.
What they all have in common is that customers insert small capsules filled with ground coffee into the machine, fill the machine with water and press a button to make a cup of fresh home-brewed coffee. One cup might be an organic coffee from Sumatra; the next could be a Colombian Fair Trade brew.
For years, Seattle-based Starbucks had a relationship with Kraft, which sold its whole-bean coffee in grocery stores and sold a lesser-known at-home brewing machine for which Starbucks provided capsules.
When Starbucks ditched that relationship a couple years ago amid much public mudslinging, it began selling coffee for Green Mountain’s Keurig machines.
Then last spring, Starbucks announced it had partnered with the German company Krueger to create a new machine that would be incompatible with other brands’ capsules. That day, Green Mountain’s stock plunged 15 percent to $53.11 and continued to fall. It now trades around $30 a share.
A more formidable competitor could be Nespresso, which in 2011 posted sales of $3.8 billion. That compares with sales of $2.7 billion during Green Mountain’s most recent fiscal year.
Nespresso machines, which are sold at Sur La Table and a handful of other Seattle locations, start at $129 and go up to $699. Its capsules are available online and at stand-alone Nespresso boutiques around the world, including in London and on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
Like Starbucks’ Verismo, the Nespresso machine takes only one kind of coffee — from Nestle.
The first capsules available for Starbucks’ machines are for several flavors of espresso and brewed coffee ($11.95 for 12), lattes ($12.95 for 8 drinks), and milk ($9.95 for 12).
The machines and capsules, sold online initially, will be available in some Starbucks cafes and at other retailers, including Macy’s, Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and Bed, Bath & Beyond beginning in October.
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter @AllisonSeattle.