The 6 Best Nespresso Machines
The pod-based espresso was first conceived by Swiss engineer Éric Favre in the mid-1970s, when he was employed by Nestlé. He tinkered with the prototype and tried to perfect the process, but it would be 10 years before Nespresso was first introduced in 1986. Now, the Nespresso name is synonymous with coffee capsules, and the brand produces machines that can brew espresso, coffee, or both.
We tested a dozen of the most popular Nespresso machines side-by-side in our dedicated test kitchen in the lab, rating them for ease of use, heating time, brewing flavor, and ease of cleaning. Most Nespresso machines deliver consistent drinks, but after making and testing more than 50 lattes, cappuccinos and espressos, we were able to narrow down the top coffee machines that ranked higher than all others.
For fast, great tasting coffee, here are the best Nespresso coffee machines you can find today.
Nespresso Gran Lattissima Coffee and Espresso Machine by De’Longhi with Milk Frother, Sophisticated Black
How we tested
Our editors spent a month researching Nespresso coffee machines and developing a standardized method to test them, and then spent a week testing each unit in a dedicated test kitchen in our lab. Overall, we placed great emphasis on ease of use (note the interface and settings) and ease of cleaning.
We also used a stopwatch to record the heating time of each machine (between when the unit was first turned on and when the drink was made). In our taste tests, our editors found that most Nespresso models produced roughly the same quality of espresso through the capsules, however, there were still differences in the texture and taste of the drinks.
We excluded machines that produced a watery texture and recorded bitterness and acidity. The machine’s ability to create velvety oils also ranked high on our list. Finally, we gathered all the data – and the insights of our home testers – and used it to determine ratings and placement on this list.
Other Options We Tested
- Nespresso Vertuo Next: According to Nespresso, the Vertuo Next is known for being made from 54% recycled materials. However, it did not appear on our list because we found its usage to be more confusing than average and there was some coffee sediment at the bottom of the cup.
- Nespresso Creatista Pro: The Creatista Pro is one of the more advanced Nespresso coffee makers, and it offers users a lot of control over their coffee. However, we prefer its newer version, the Creatista Plus.
- Nespresso Pixie: This is one of the fastest and most compact Nespresso coffee makers. While it’s certainly worth it, we chose to showcase a similar machine in the Essenza Mini.
- Nespresso CitiZ: The CitiZ is a compact OriginalLine coffee machine that is available in a variety of colors. Unfortunately, we found the espresso to be too thin for our taste.
- Nespresso Vertuo Plus: The Vertuo Plus performed well during our testing, but the flavor and consistency of the coffee made by the Vertuo won us over.
Nespresso Gran Lattissima Coffee and Espresso Machine by De'Longhi with Milk Frother, Sophisticated Black
What to Look for in a Nespresso Machine
Original or Vertuo
Every Nespresso coffee machine falls into one of two categories: Original or Vertuo. Original machines focus on espresso and espresso-based beverages such as lattes and cappuccinos, while Vertuo machines can brew espresso as well as large cups of drinks similar to standard drip coffee.
Determining your preferred category is a good place to start narrowing down your options. The company makes a wider variety of original machines, so there is a wider range of prices, sizes and features in this category.
Vertuo machines, on the other hand, have a lower average price, but they require a separate milk frother and tend to be larger. Also, keep in mind that each category uses its own type of capsules that are not compatible with other types of machines.
It’s easy to associate Nespresso with the drink it does best: espresso. But when it comes to beverage options, customers are far from limited. Many devices can make lattes, cappuccinos, latte macchiatos, and even different forms of espresso, such as ristretto and lungo.
Nespresso also offers an extensive list of specialty drink recipes, which can be found on the company’s website; it includes desserts such as mint white chocolate lattes and even alcoholic beverages such as Nespresso Negroni. So, consider the number of beverage types you want in your brewing device and purchase accordingly.
While the sizes of Nespresso coffee makers vary widely, most are more compact than regular espresso machines and electric drip coffee makers, so they can save much-needed space in the kitchen. Product dimensions are easy to find online; all you have to do is measure your countertop beforehand.
Some of the smallest machines for those who are particularly interested in saving space are the Pixie, CitiZ and Essenza, which all fall into the OriginalLine category. Two other relevant factors to consider are the size of the tank and the number of capsules the machine can hold. Most machines can hold up to 10 used capsules before the container needs to be emptied, but some machines can hold up to 17 capsules.
As with all brewing devices, Nespresso coffee machines need time to heat up the water before making coffee and espresso. Fortunately, they heat up significantly faster than true espresso machines, electric drip coffee makers and many pod-based competitors, including Keurig.
Nespresso devices take anywhere from 3 to 30 seconds to heat up. Most are in the middle of that range, with an average of about 20 seconds.
The starting price of a Nespresso coffee machine is slightly higher than most other coffee machines, including Keurigs. Nespresso capsules are also more expensive than other coffee pods and are definitely more expensive per serving than whole beans or ground coffee.
These disadvantages should be taken into account before purchasing a machine. However, on the positive side, the brand does have a very wide range of prices once you get past the high starting point. Customers can also save money by buying capsules in bulk, as they can stay fresh for months or even years.
Types of Nespresso Machines
The Creatista range, including the Creatista Pro and Creatista Plus, is probably the highest quality of all Nespresso coffee machines. Both devices in the series feature fast heat-up times, touchscreen displays and powerful steam wands that allow users to add café-like foam and milk textures to their drinks.
However, such quality comes at a price, as these are the most expensive Nespresso coffee machines on the market – a truly luxurious option for hardcore coffee lovers.
Nespresso produces two different Essenza models: the Essenza Mini and the Essenza Plus. Not only are they sold at an affordable price, but they are also two of the slimmest machines the company produces, helping to save space in the kitchen. The downside is that they lack the beverage variety of the larger, more expensive models. But for a delicious, simple espresso, the Essenza is a great choice.
Part of the OriginalLine line, Nespresso’s Lattissima coffee maker offers high-end coffee at the convenience of one touch. There are three devices in this category: the Lattissima Pro, Gran Lattissima and Lattissima One.
They differ slightly in price, size and number of beverage options, but are generally very similar. You’ll recognize the Lattissima line by its front milk reservoir and frothing wand, which makes lattes and cappuccinos automatically and hands-free.
The Vertuo coffee maker and espresso machine is the first product in Nespresso’s VertuoLine. Benefits include its reasonable price, fast heating time and signature ability to make espresso and drip coffee. This is a natural starting point for those who are particularly interested in a VertuoLine machine rather than an OriginalLine machine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Original and Vertuo?
When scrolling through the list of Nespresso coffee machines, you will see that they fall into one of two categories: Original or Vertuo. The difference is that Original machines make espresso and espresso drinks, while Vertuo machines make drip coffee and the brand’s signature espresso.
The VertuoLine was launched exclusively in North America in 2014. As it became more popular, it expanded to other parts of the world. Each category uses its own specific type of capsule that is not compatible with the rest of the line.
Does the Nespresso coffee machine brew real espresso?
Technically speaking, no. There are standards regarding temperature, pressure, brewing time, etc. that are used to define espresso. Nespresso differs slightly from these standards and therefore cannot be categorized as a true espresso.
Experts generally agree that the flavor and consistency of pure espresso is of a higher quality than that produced by Nespresso. However, in a general sense, the two drinks are very similar and Nespresso is an excellent espresso substitute. Both are small servings of coffee, coated with crema and brewed with fast pressurized water.
What drinks can you make with the Nespresso coffee machine?
In addition to brewing coffee, iced coffee and espresso drinks using any of Nespresso’s many capsule options, you can also use the Nespresso coffee machine to make some truly original creations. Nespresso has a wide selection of recipes on its website, such as tiramisu cappuccino and pumpkin spice latte, but there really is no limit. You can use the Nespresso coffee maker to make coffee cocktails, or one of our personal favorites, the Afgado (see the video below).