Swiss-made capsule-based brewers have a worldwide reputation for quality. Both in their coffee and their craftsmanship. Yes, we’re talking about Nespresso. But, there are so many Nespresso models, it can be hard to know which has the exact blend of features to meet your needs. This is where we can help.
Read on for our Nespresso machine buyers guide. Even better, check out our 7 favorite models for 2020.
The award-winning Nespresso CitiZ perfectly balances design, performance, and affordability. It’s a home espresso machine guaranteed to please. CitiZ features a powerful 19 bar pump for premium espresso and plenty of capacity for the average household. It’s the lowest-cost model that can be bundled with an Aeroccino milk frother.
How to choose the right Nespresso machine
With so many models, including partnerships with Breville and De Longhi, choosing a Nespresso coffee machine can feel overwhelming. This guide is here to help you find the perfect one for your lifestyle.
Nespresso versus Keurig
More than 25% of American households now possess a pod coffee machine (1). Yet, when it comes to the best single serve coffee makers, two companies dominate the marketplace, Nespresso and Keurig (2).
Nespresso holds considerable market share throughout Europe and Asia. They also often partner with other brands like Breville and De Longhi to build their machines. To counteract the bad publicity inherent in single-serve brewing, they have also prioritized sustainability.
Nespresso capsules are fully recyclable, their coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified, and they have several initiatives to give back to the coffee growing regions they source from (3).
Coffee production helps to pacify regions. That’s basically because you have families who can produce on small lands, and they have a stable income.
In contrast, Keurig machines are both lower quality and lower priced. Also, they brew drip coffee, rather than espresso. If that sounds more up your alley, we’ve reviewed the best Keurig coffee makers. Keurig’s K-Cups are available from a much larger number of brands, offering greater variety and reduced prices. Unfortunately, they are not yet fully recyclable, which negatively affects the environment.
Nespresso Original or Vertuo
To make inroads into the North American market, where consumers prefer full-sized coffees to shots of espresso, Nespresso released the VertuoLine. This line uses bigger capsules to create larger drinks without diluting the flavor (4). At its core is Nespresso’s innovative Centrifusion technology. The Centrifusion spins the coffee pod at 7,000 rpm, blending the ground coffee and water to achieve optimum extraction.
Machines in the VertuoLine are less expensive than the original models. On the other hand, Vertuo capsules are more expensive.
Their price is due to use of barcode reading technology to scan the capsule upon insertion. Scanning allows the machine to automatically adjust to the optimal brewing parameters. The result is an incredibly user-friendly experience, but it does limit you to the proprietary Vertuo capsules.
How much capacity do you need?
The capacity of a coffee machine is determined by the size of its water reservoir and the size of its used grounds bin. Nespresso machines all feature a used capsules bin. Spent capsules are automatically ejected into it after brewing. Thus, this great feature saves you from scalding when removing a hot capsule.
Surely, you should look for a machine with the capacity to match your household. If you buy something too small, it will be frustrating to constantly refill the water tank and empty the capsules bin. Differently, buying a machine that is too large means spending unnecessary money and occupying extra counter space.
What are your favorite drinks?
Standard Nespresso coffee machines offer two drinks, an espresso shot, and a 5-ounce lungo. One of Nespresso’s smartest decisions was to offer different capsule sizes for each drink. This is distinct from Keurig, where every drink starts with the same capsule, and the larger options are just more dilute.
If you are partial to milky drinks, look for a machine that can be bundled with the Aeroccino. Alternatively, find ones with a built-in frothing option, like a steam wand or a milk carafe. Note that the carafe is easier to use because it allows for one-touch drinks. Steam wands are known for creating more finely textured microfoam, a necessity for latte art (5).
The term ‘microfoam’ describes a quality of frothed milk in which the bubbles are so small and so numerous that they can’t be seen, but they can be felt on the palate—namely as a texture that is something like liquid velvet.
The Aeroccino is an automatic milk frother designed as an add-on for Nespresso machines without a frothing system. It’s incredibly easy to use, as it froths either hot or cold milk at the touch of a button.
The 7 Best Nespresso machines in 2020
Whether you’re looking for a tiny single-serve brewer for your office desk or a fully automatic one-touch cappuccino machine, there’s a Nespresso to meet your needs. Here are our seven favorites from this year.
With its perfect balance of design, functionality, and affordability, the Nespresso CitiZ is our favorite model this year. It’s a sleek little brewer, suited as well to the kitchen counter as the office desk. It was even awarded the Red Dot Award for product design (6).
However, unlike Nespresso’s other compact machines, this one offers a relatively large water reservoir and the used capsules bin. The average household will be more than satisfied with its capacity. Plus, when the water tank does need refilling, it is easily removable.
It heats in just 25 seconds and has a 19-bar pump, generating more than enough pressure for a rich, crema topped espresso. There are two programmed drinks available, an espresso and a lungo. Additionally, there’s the option of automatic flow stop, so you can add as much or as little hot water as you wish. The foldable drip tray can accommodate a variety of mug sizes. Moreover, this is the lowest-price model that you can bundle with the Aeroccino, providing access to lattes and cappuccinos as well.
After brewing, this machine will automatically power off after 9 minutes of inactivity. This great energy-saving feature will benefit both your power bills and the environment.
As compared with previous models, the latest Essenza Mini is even smaller. Now, at just over 3 inches wide, this tiny coffee machine will fit nicely in even the tightest of kitchens, dorm rooms, or office cubicles. It weighs in at only 5 pounds, making it easily transportable. And despite its lightweight, it feels sturdy and durable. So don’t be afraid to pack it up for an RV or business trip.
Fortunately, it’s small size in no way indicates a lack of quality or functionality. It still features the 19-bar pump at the heart of all Nespresso machines. Thus, a guaranteed rich and creamy espresso takes only 30 seconds. Both espresso and lungo are available at the touch of a button. Still, if the pre-programmed options don’t satisfy, you can manually adjust the volume of water. Three minutes after use, the machine automatically enters a low-energy mode, and after 9 minutes, it will shut off.
The only downside to this coffee maker is its relatively small water reservoir, though this helps limit its overall footprint. If you’re looking for a compact machine with a bit more capacity, take a look at our Nespresso Pixie machine review.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Creatista Plus is the incredible aesthetics. Nespresso refers to it as premium design. Its shiny chrome accents and sleek shape recall the original manual espresso machines. You’ll definitely want to display this on your countertop.
The Creatista is more than just a pretty face. It also delivers the best latte or cappuccino you can get from a pod-based system.
By partnering with Breville for this design, Nespresso was able to pair their unmatched capsule espressos with Breville’s legendary steam wand technology. And, thanks to the thermojet heater, this machine is ready to brew in 10 seconds. Again, the 19 bar pump guarantees a properly extracted espresso. Finally, you can use the intuitive LCD to select one of 8 pre-programmed drinks or customize your own.
But it’s the automatic steam wand that makes this machine stand out. Thanks to its steam wand, Creatista Plus offers eight milk texture levels and eleven milk temperatures for a perfect airy cappuccino or creamy flat white. After brewing, the milk frother is automatically sterilized with hot steam.
The only con is that the Creatista is the most expensive Nespresso model. However, its durable materials and timeless design, as well as the inclusion of a steam wand, add considerable value.
The Vertuo line uses a brand-new extraction technology called Centrifusion, which spins the coffee pod at 7,000 rpm. This thoroughly blends the ground coffee with hot water to achieve optimum extraction, whether you’re brewing a large coffee or a shot of espresso.
The sleek and stylish Nespresso Vertuo Plus preheats in under 30 seconds. It offers five cup sizes, up to a 14-ounce large coffee. It’s also equipped with an intelligent extraction system, which reads the capsule’s barcode and automatically sets the best brewing parameters. While this requires that you use Nespresso’s pricey proprietary capsules, the extraction system guarantees a great cup with no user input.
This model is bundled with Nespresso’s Aeroccino frother, one of the simplest ways to prepare frothed milk. The touch of a single button produces warm or cold foamed milk. Plus, it automatically turns off after use.
The Nespresso Inissia is a compact espresso machine, with a stylish design and colorful casing to suit any decor. It’s an entry-level model with an approachable low price, but its 19 bar pump still delivers the premium espresso for which Nespresso machines are renowned.
It’s incredibly simple and efficient to operate. After powering on, it’s ready to brew in 30 seconds. Thus, your drink will be ready in less than 2 minutes. You can opt for an espresso or a lungo, both available at the press of a button. Moreover, the drip tray folds to accommodate a larger mug. When you’re done brewing, it turns off automatically after 9 minutes.
Though the water reservoir is a relatively small 24 ounces, it’s enough for 8 or 10 drinks. The used grounds’ container holds eleven capsules. So, daily maintenance won’t be required for a small household of average coffee drinkers.
Like the rest of the VertuoLine, it uses Nespresso’s Centrifusion technology, which ensures proper extraction and a rich crema. This is true whether you opt for a single shot of espresso or a 14-ounce alto drink. It also features their patented intelligent brewing system. This system scans a barcode on the capsule and automatically adjusts to the perfect brewing parameters for each pod.
A few little design features on this model make a big impact when it comes to user-friendliness. The head is motorized, so it opens and closes at the touch of a button. Cleverly, the water tank is built on a swivel, so it can sit either beside or behind the machine depending on the layout of your kitchen. It has a fast heat-up time of only 25 seconds and shuts off automatically after 9 minutes.
The Nespresso Lattissima Touch can do it all. And, it can do it at the press of a button. Made in Italy, the birthplace of espresso, it offers six one-touch drinks, each extracted with a high-pressure 19 bar pump. The milk frothing is done automatically with the built-in milk carafe and produces rich, long-lasting foam. The carafe holds 12 ounces of milk, making it easy to make several drinks. When you’re done, it can be removed for storage in the fridge.
Cleaning this machine is nearly as simple as operating it. The milk system has a built-in rinse function for quick sterilization after use. Lastly, when it comes to descaling, the Lattissima will alert you when it is needed. Plus, a descaling pump is included to ease the process.
Every Nespresso model offers convenience, high-end manufacturing, and top-quality coffee. Choosing the right one is about finding the features you need at a price you can afford.
For 2020, our overall favorite is the beautifully designed Nespresso CitiZ. This award-winning brewer offers perfectly extracted espresso at the touch of a button and plenty of capacity for the average household. The best thing is that it does so at a remarkably affordable price.
Can you run a Nespresso pod twice?
Yes, you can run a Nespresso pod twice. Just place the used capsule back in the machine and brew it again. Inevitably, the second cup will be a bit weaker than the first.
Can you use a K-Cup in a Nespresso machine?
No, you cannot use a K-Cup in a Nespresso machine. They use different scanning technology and have different shapes and sizes.
How often do Nespresso machines need descaling?
Similar to other espresso machines, a Nespresso machine should be descaled once every 3 to 6 months, depending on how hard the water is in your area.
- Ferdman, R.A. (2016, February 3). America’s Favorite Coffee Trend May Be Coming to an End. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/03/down-go-coffee-pods/
- Contreras, M. (2018, May 31). Why Specialty Coffee Needs to Befriend the Capsule Consumer. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/05/why-specialty-coffee-needs-to-befriend-the-capsule-consumer/
- Gunther, M. (2015, May 27). The good, the bad, and the ugly: sustainability at Nespresso. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/27/nespresso-sustainability-transparency-recycling-coffee-pods-values-aluminum
- Grant, T. (2020, March 30). Why Are Specialty Coffee Capsules Growing in Popularity? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/03/why-are-specialty-coffee-capsules-growing-in-popularity/
- Meister. (2013, December 9). All About Milk Foam and Coffee. Retrieved From https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/12/milk-foam-what-is-microfoam-why-does-milk-foam-what-is-a-cappuccino-coffee.html
- Nespresso PIXIE machine wins Red Dot Award for Product Design. (2011, March 1). Retrieved From https://www.nestle-nespresso.com/media/mediareleases/pixie-machine-wins-red-dot-award