Coffee enthusiasts know there's nothing worse than starting the day off with a bad cup of coffee. It's almost the equivalent of waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Of course, taste is subjective, so what seems rich, flavorful, and creamy to your friend or co-worker can seem like overkill when you might just want something sweet and light. Since 2001, Nespresso has been a major part of the single serve coffee phenomenon, and loyal fans have stuck with the brand for its depth, bold flavor, and extraordinary crema. However, with the advent of many Nespresso compatible alternatives, coffee enthusiasts have sought options beyond the Nespresso horizon. HiLine Coffee is one such company that seeks to bring the masses a Nespresso alternative that meets a genuine market need. But has HiLine Coffee answered the call? That's what this HiLine Coffee review intends to help you decide.
How Was HiLine Coffee Born and What Makes it Special?
Most coffee companies roast and package their blends outside of their main factory or business center. In fact, many of the most popular brands sit and age for weeks or even months before they're shipped and enjoyed by the customer. HiLine Coffee isn't like most coffee manufacturers–the company actually began by accident. When HiLine co-founder Gene Kakulin, an experienced barista, awoke one morning to discover he and his wife were out of their favorite Nespresso pods, he went into DIY mode. He quickly cut off the top of a used pod, filled it with his favorite fresh ground brew, and sealed the top with aluminum foil. One sip later, he realized he couldn't keep his delicious new findings from the rest of the world. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and the origins of HiLine Coffee are no different.
HiLine was established in 2013 as a boutique coffee company right in the heart of New York. Word of mouth spread and the first HiLine Coffee review encouraged a new wave of loyal customers that seemed to multiply overnight. The company sells everything from individually brewed cups of specialty blends to bagged grounds and bulk capsules. But its online sales focus on fresh coffee that's compatible with popular single brewing systems such as Keurig and Nespresso. All blends start from beans chosen and harvested from local small lot farms. And since the coffee is roasted right on the premises directly before shipping, customers can be assured they're ordering the freshest coffee possible.
How Do the Styles and Flavors Compare to Nespresso?
Taste is subjective. Although Nespresso is based in Switzerland, its most popular pod styles and flavors are adaptations of Italian blends. They tend to be rich, bold, and strong… the type of coffee a serious caffeine addict would associate with “growing hair on his chest”. Nespresso fanatics often swear by the brand for the high quality and flavor they've come to expect. However, many coffee lovers love the Nespresso machines but don't favor the flavor options that are considered by some to be overwhelmingly strong. Again, I realize “overwhelmingly strong” is a very subjective term. But the fact is, there are many coffee lovers that prefer mellow and mild to bold and strong. I'd particularly recommend HiLine Coffee to coffee drinkers that fall under this category.
HiLine Coffee responds with a wide variety of flavors that cover the full range of intensities. Chelsea, Central Park decaf, Grand Central lungo, and dark blends aptly named Liberty, Broadway, Wallstreet, Times Square, and Greenwich Village are among among the fan favorites. Each unique style or blend offers hints of flavors found in various neighborhoods or regions from chocolate and herbs to caramel, syrup, cinnamon, and citrus. Even though HiLine's origin blends are not as strong and bold as Nespresso's versions, they make up for it with delicious dessert blends such as Pumpkin Spice, Hazelnut Cupcake, Sea Salt Caramel, Vanilla Macaron, and Chocolate Donut. And since each capsule reflects the size and shape of Nespresso capsules, they fit in most systems easily. Just poke through the top side of the cup if there's an issue.
What About the Cost?
If a positive HiLine Coffee review doesn't boast about the flavors, it tends to boast about the savings. Cost is one of the main reasons people switch to home-based single serve brewing, but Nespresso's $.65 per average capsule can make the initial investment hard to swing. HiLine Coffee pods, on the other hand, average $.50 per shot. A savings of $.15 may not seem like a lot, but it adds up quickly when bulk purchase price cuts and special shipping breaks or club deals are incorporated. At day's end, it's almost a 25% savings. HiLine Coffee pods are also made of 100% recyclable BPA-free plastic, so there's no extra cost to the planet. If you like the idea of Nespresso-compatible flavor selections at lower prices, HiLine Coffee may become a new household hit.
HiLine Coffee Review Verdict
HiLine Coffee is an impressive step in the right direction when it comes to viable Nespresso alternatives. Their cost per pod is very attractive and their selection is deep enough to keep you coming back for more. In concluding this HiLine Coffee review, it's worth mentioning the coffee's extra mild and mellow flavor may have deterred some from ever giving this brand a real shot (no pun intended). But if you go into this knowing full well that HiLine Coffee caters to subtler palettes of the coffee drinking world, you'll be very pleased with this gem of a find. It's flavorful, smooth, and very cost-effective. Another highly-recommended Nespresso alternative is Gourmesso. For more information, check out our Gourmesso review.