We studied the solid-phase reaction between a thin Ni film and a single crystal Ge(001) or Ge(111) substrate during a ramp anneal. The phase formation sequence was determined using in situ X-ray diffraction and in situ Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS), while the nature and the texture of the phases were studied using X-ray pole figures and transmission electron microscopy. The phase sequence is characterized by the formation of a single transient phase before NiGe forms as the final and stable phase. X-ray pole figures were used to unambiguously identify the transient phase as the ϵ-phase, a non-stoichiometric Ni-rich germanide with a hexagonal crystal structure that can exist for Ge concentrations between 34% and 48% and which forms with a different epitaxial texture on both substrate orientations. The complementary information gained from both RBS and X-ray pole figure measurements revealed a simultaneous growth of both the ϵ-phase and NiGe over a small temperature window on both substrate orientations.