Which coffee shop chain serves the tastiest coffee?Our expert reveals where to get the best coffee

11 July 2013

Cafe-nero

When you next need a caffeine fix and you're out on the high street, our coffee expert recommends you go to coffee chain Caffé Nero.

In our snapshot taste test of high street coffee chains, our expert tested a small Americano and cappucino from Caffè Nero, Costa, M&S Cafè, Pret and Starbucks. 

Caffè Nero scored highest for both its coffees, with our expert praising the quality of coffee and depth of taste.

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Rich, smooth Americano

Caffè Nero offers two shots of espresso as standard in all of its coffees. So although they might cost you a bit more - we paid £2.05 for its Americano, compared to £1.95 at M&S Cafè - they're worth it. 

Our expert Giles Hilton said the quality of the Nero Americano was excellent with a 'rich smoothness you'd expect of a Central American coffee with an edge of spiciness indicative of an African coffee', rating it nine out of ten.

He also like the Costa Americano and praised the 'smoothness and body', scoring it seven out of ten.

However, Pret did not impress. Its Americano was described as 'plain, thin with too much water' - and only scored three out of ten. 

Top cappuccino

Caffè Nero also topped the score board for its cappucino, scoring eight out of ten. Giles said it had the right balance between coffee and milk. He similarly liked the cappuccino from M&S Cafè, giving it a score of seven.

Pret's cappuccino only scored four. It was served with too much milk, which had been overheated and gave a caramelised flavour.

Here are our full findings (with ratings out of ten):

  • Caffè Nero: Both the Americano (9) and cappuccino (8) scored well. Giles thought the balance of both was perfect, with the Americano offering 'good body and density' and the coffee taste really coming through in the cappuccino.
  • Costa: While our expert liked the 'smoothness and body' of the Americano (7), he found the cappuccino (5) 'too bitter with not enough milk to soften the taste'.
  • M&S Cafè: Giles praised the creamy cappuccino (7), which had a good density of foam and said 'it was a pleasure to drink'. He thought that the Americano (6) was a decent coffee but 'it wouldn't set your taste buds alight'.
  • Pret a Manger: Our expert felt the cappuccino (4) was served with too much milk which had been over-heated by the steamer - giving a caramelised taste. He also thought the Americano (3) smelt of burnt charcoal and was served with too much water, maknig it taste 'plain and thin'.
  • Starbucks: The cappuccino (6) was 'a nice milky drink' but was 'a bit low on coffee flavour'. The Americano (5) had a 'good crema and aroma' but was 'a little watery and single-dimensional'

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