Those looking for a new or their first Nespresso machine would understandably try to purchase the best Nespresso machine possible. Clear. Yet in the world of Nespresso machines it is harder to establish which is the “best machine”, even among machines sharing the same name but a different producer. There are multiple reasons as to why this.
Before getting into these, we would like to provide a basic guide on how to choose the best Nespresso machine for your needs.
What are the factors that should make you decide for a machine instead of another? What to consider when shopping for the “best” Nespresso machine?
What should be taken into consideration when buying a Nespresso machine
First of all, a Nespresso machine is quite a peculiar type of coffee brewing machine. The difference with other systems lies in the internal brewing technology that these machines use. Unlike an espresso machine or a filter coffee machine, where each manufacturer uses their own system to brew, with sometimes wild differences in quality, with a Nespresso machine this doesn’t make much of a difference.
Every machine has the same brewing system. Every machine uses the same pods, either Original or Vertuo line ones. The quantity of coffee, water and temperature of the latter is identical across all the machines, depending simply on your choice of cup size (if you want an espresso or a lungo, for example). The coffee extraction happens in the same way whether you are buying a Breville or a Krups machine. This simplifies the choice somewhat but also makes the parameters to consider different than with other brewing systems. Let’s see what these parameters are.
The Nespresso machines have water tanks of variable dimensions. This influences how many cups of coffee you can make before refilling it. If you have small needs, drinking one-two cups per day, it is not of much importance the water capacity of a machine. You will be refilling it rarely anyway, given your low coffee consumption. You can safely ignore how big the water reservoir is.
Instead, for a larger family or if you drink a lot of larger-sized coffee (lungo or longer), you may want to choose a machine that has a tank with a good capacity, more than the average.
Be aware that water left in a container for many days can lead to mold. Opt for a machine that has a water capacity you can use within a week, at most, or be ready to routinely flush all the water and wash it with soap.
Nespresso machines aren’t generally expensive, with some costing just a few tens of dollars/pounds/euros. The more feature rich ones can cost exponentially more though. Are they worth the increased price?
Unless you absolutely need a specific feature, it is our opinion that spending largely more for a fancier machine is not worth it. Decide your maximum budget and keep in mind that if you want to splurge you aren’t doing so for a better cup of coffee nor for more control on the extraction of coffee but you are getting more features, a different appearance, size, and perhaps warranty. Evaluate how much important are these aspects to you and choose accordingly.
Nespresso machines are usually extremely easy to control. Most have like 2-3 buttons max, and can operate with a single pressure of one. No Nespresso machine is hard to use, quite the opposite.
Yet some have even simpler controls. A few can be operated through an app, via Bluetooth. Others have more preset recipes that can make your life easier when brewing more complex drinks, like those with milk and froth. A screen is present on very few Nespresso machines to give more information and signal issues.
These are not absolutely necessary features in most cases. They help in making coffee brewing even easier, and as Nespresso’s chief selling point is convenience, it may be worth spending more for a machine that has one of these simpler controls.
The crucial choice here will be if you want to go with an Original line Nespresso machine or a Vertuo line one. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Vertuo is still a proprietary system of Nespresso. You won’t find any compatible capsules for the Vertuo line except those which have made a deal with Nespresso and are actually produced alongside the official ones. This is the case for Starbucks pods (they are available for the Original line too and we reviewed them already). But aside from this single exception, if you purchase a Vertuo Nespresso machine you are stuck with only official Nespresso pods.
This may not be a bad thing in itself. The Vertuo line has slightly more capsules than the Original line currently, and it has capsules of different sizes. The final cup of coffee can be as large as 420ml, more than thrice the amount that you can usually brew with an Original line pod. If you are a drinker of large mugs of coffee, the Vertuo line has capsules specifically for you. The Original line is more geared towards espresso and ristretto-sized cups, with a few lungo ones. This is the second factor to take into consideration.
Thirdly, Original and Vertuo lines are often rebranded and reshuffled, with a handful or more limited edition pods being released each year. But the pods are different, not only in size but also in taste. Purchasing a Vertuo Nespresso machine will give you access to a set of coffee pods, including limited editions, that differ completely from those made for an Original Nespresso machine. Some may be better, some may be worse. Just consider that you will not have the same pods across the two lines, they are fully independent from each other.
Last but to us not least, compatible capsules. There are none for the Vertuo line. You have to live with Nespresso official pods plus the Starbucks ones for the time being if you opt for a Vertuo Nespresso machine. This may be fine for many, but limiting for others.
Lack of choice is not a problem with an Original Nespresso machine as the patent on the original line of pods expired years ago. That meant that since then several companies have produced Nespresso compatible capsules (some of which we have reviewed), and you can easily choose among hundreds of pods, alternative to the official Nespresso ones. This will give you plenty more possibilities to brew a cup of coffee that exactly matches your tastes.
Buying an Original line Nespresso machine will give you more independence in what you can drink.
Some Nespresso machines come with either a milk frother, like one of the Aeroccinos, or a proper steam wand, as you can find on many espresso machines, like the Nespresso Creatista. If you drink lots of milk-based coffee drinks it goes without saying that a machine that includes the possibility to froth milk will be valuable to you.
Nespresso here gives you flexibility, though. Even machines without any heating and frothing milk capabilities can make you a cappuccino or a flat white by purchasing an Aeroccino as an optional accessory. You can save money by opting for a cheap Nespresso machine and an Aeroccino than going for a full featured one. Of course, the Aeroccino has lower performances and capacities than a large milk reservoir with an included steam wand that some Nespresso machine features.
With a steam wand it is easier to make latte art, if it is something you fancy.
Size and appearance
Nespresso machines come truly in all shapes and sizes. The Inissia, one of the most successful Nespresso machines, is available in up to 6 colors. The Pixie and Pixie Clips can even be customized by attaching plastic sheets on their sides, sold in many colors and designs.
A lot of Nespresso machines come in at least 2-3 colors, even if they are not as customizable as the Pixies. Shape-wise, they go from small and light machines that can fit on plenty of kitchen countertops, to large, professional machines that are heavy and definitely not portable. Something like the Nespresso Expert & Milk is bulky and requires a good deal of space, while a super-portable Wacaco Minipresso can be packed into any small bag and brought with you when traveling.
Colors and shapes are aplenty. It should not be an issue to find a machine that looks nice and has the color that matches your desires.
Most of the Nespresso machines on the market are for consumers’. Small families, needing a few cups of coffee per day at most.
If your needs are larger, like you necessitate a Nespresso machine for your office or plan to use it in a new, small café, you may like to know that Nespresso has its own line of professional machines that have their own capsules’ line and features. Price-wise they are on average more expensive than the normal machines. They can brew hundreds of cups of coffee per month without flinching.
Momento 100 and 200, Aguila 220 and 440, Zenius are only the latest entries in the professional Nespresso machine line. You won’t find them in an electronic store, but you can purchase them online from Nespresso directly or get more info about each at your nearest Nespresso boutique.
A word about Nespresso machines manufacturers
The multiple manufacturers that make Nespresso machines may be a source of great confusion for consumers. This is it because there’s a fundamental split in markets in the world of Nespresso: European and North American. There are companies that only make machines for the European market and others only for the North American one. Some do both, but they are the exception.
It is common then to have a manufacturer to make machines only for the USA and Canada, for instance, and being completely absent on other markets, and vice versa for Europe.
What is confusing here is that Nespresso licenses the model of a machine to a manufacturer and then they sell the machine with the same name, same Nespresso logo on it, with a 100% identical engine but of course with their own logo and branding on it. As an example, you may find a Sage Creatista Plus and a Breville Creatista Plus. They are the same machine, no differences, but the manufacturers are different companies. These machines come out of separate facilities, with a distinct cycle of production, and may use specific materials that make the models slightly different. Of course the various manufacturers will have their own customer support and warranty, thus these factors should be considered when deciding which machine to buy.
What may be even more confusing and making it harder to opt for a machine instead of another, is that no matter what brand a particular machine is sold under, it may actually be manufactured by the same company. A Swiss one, Eugster/Frismag, is one of the largest producers of consumer’s appliances worldwide since decades and is behind the production of many Nespresso machines, independent of the actual name that is impressed on the model itself. Some manufacturers outsource their production to this company, only customizing the last aspects of the machine and taking care of the marketing and selling to the final user parts.
That means that the same Creatista Pro, to continue with our example, may be sold by Sage and Breville in different markets but may be actually the very same machine, produced in the same facility in Switzerland.
This phenomenon was even more common in the past, when a larger share of all Nespresso machines had no other logo than Nespresso’s on it. Despite being made by different companies, like Saeco or De’Longhi, it featured only the Nespresso branding on it. Nowadays this is rarer.
Therefore, it is difficult to decide what to buy as the brands have less of an importance in the world of Nespresso machines than elsewhere. Features, price and availability should be the principal parameters when opting for a machine over another.
This is one of the two main reasons why we said earlier that buying a Nespresso machine is harder than another type of coffee machine. The second main one is the next.
Coffee quality difference among Nespresso machines
Perhaps the most common question when thinking about what machine to buy is if there’s any difference in quality of the coffee among the various Nespresso machines.
Simply put, no, there’s none.
The underneath brewing system is patented by Nespresso and is identical to every machine of the same line (Original or Vertuo). The very idea behind Nespresso is to be able to brew the same exact cup of coffee each time, no matter the machine you use, so it should not be surprising that the machines are all equally capable of making the same quality coffee. Differences are in the speed they can brew, capacity of the water/milk tanks, preset recipes, connectivity, size, shape and colors and other smaller features that are present to make brewing coffee easier. But that’s about it.
This equality in output is comforting, as you can choose across all the spectrum of Nespresso machines without worrying that going too cheap will give you bad coffee; on the other hand, is the second key reason why buying a Nespresso machine is harder than an espresso machine or other coffee makers. The quality of coffee is a parameter that doesn’t exist to differentiate the various machines, making them all much more similar and harder to opt for one over another.
We do suggest that you choose a Nespresso machine according to the features, price and availability. Don’t worry about one making better coffee than another.
Choosing a Nespresso machine is both more straightforward and harder than other electronic appliances. All machines being identical in output and having similar features, it is harder to buy a “bad” machine. Yet it is also harder to make a decision, as they are way too similar in many aspects.
A source of eternal confusion is the number of manufacturers producing machines that are nearly identically named. Luckily, there is hardly a difference between the same models from a different manufacturer. You can focus on price, warranty and availability once you have decided on a model.
As a last advice, do decide early on what pod system you want to be bound to. That is a far more important factor than the particular features any Nespresso machine may possess. Going with Original or Vertuo will supremely influence your life as a Nespresso drinker.
Cover photo thanks to Jacob Bøtter