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Pod-based espresso was first dreamt up in the mid-70’s by Swiss engineer Éric Favre, employed by Nestlé at the time. He tinkered with prototypes, sought to perfect the process, but it would be another ten years until Nespresso’s first launch in 1986. Now, the name is synonymous with coffee capsules.
Nespresso machines are widely known for their ease of use—simply pop in the pod and press a button—and the company has expanded its line to include more than a dozen models. Some Nespresso machines can make both coffee and espresso. Some can whip up lattes and cappuccinos. Others are designed to save counter space or heat up quickly and so on. There is a perfect option out there for every coffee lover, and this list will help you find yours.
Here are the best Nespresso machines to buy.
Speedy drink preparation
High-quality coffee and espresso beverages
Beautiful, compact design
Includes 12 coffee capsules
Must use Vertuo coffee capsules
Coffee is on the stronger side
Makes only individual cups
While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Nespresso's Evoluo or DeluxePlus, the Vertuo is still highly reviewed and offers an affordable package that includes the machine and an Aeroccino3 milk frother.
This single-cup brewer makes either coffee or espresso and is designed for use with Vertuo capsules only. The machine uses barcodes on the capsules to change the settings to create the perfect cup every time, and it even makes crema on the larger cup sizes. Besides choosing between coffee and espresso, you can also choose the cup size from a tiny 1.35 espresso shot to a large 14-ounce cup for your travel mug or to share. When it’s time to clean the machine, you’ll get a descaling alert, so you won’t forget that important step.
Another reason we chose this item as the best combination is because you can choose the perfect bundle for your coffee needs: you can simply buy the Vertuo machine by itself, or you can select a two-part bundle of machine and milk frother or the machine and Nespresso capsules.
Multiple functions for coffee and more
Nearly hands-off operation
A professional-grade machine for the home user, the Lattissima Pro offers the simplicity of Nespresso capsules and push-button selection while looking quite impressive on the counter. It can whip up a wide variety of drinks, including ristretto, espresso, lungo, cappuccino, latte, hot milk, and hot water. If any of these terms are unfamiliar, check out our glossary of coffee drinks.
Along with its ease of use, the item also works quickly. The Thermoblock heating system turns cold water to hot in just a few seconds, brewing coffee much faster than you could with a manual espresso maker.
After going through our testing process, our reviewer noted the item's customizable settings—something that further sets the Lattissima Pro apart from many one-touch coffee makers. "Each of the coffee, water, and milk options can be adjusted for the desired volume," she wrote. The machine even "remembers [your preferences] for future use." One of the only things the item can't do, our reviewer added, is "produce coffee in large volumes."
While this might be too costly for the occasional espresso drinker, it will make a statement and produce excellent results without the need to learn the differences between brews.
"It’s hard to argue with the many functions of the Nespresso Lattissima Pro Espresso Machine by DeLonghi—from shots of espresso to lattes to hot milk or hot water—but the steep price tag must be considered." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Slower heat-up time
You know it’s meant to be portable when it comes with a fold-down handle to move it. This compact machine has a small footprint so it’s easy to tuck away in a cabinet or in the pantry when not in use, yet it makes full-flavored espresso every time, with 19 bars of pressure to extract the full-bodied flavor you crave.
This offers two coffee sizes with buttons for Espresso and Lungo, and it heats the water in 25 seconds so you’ll be sipping quickly. The tank holds enough water for 9 cups of coffee, so you won’t have to refill when you’re serving guests, then it turns itself off after 9 minutes if you’re not making more coffee.
You purchase it with or without an Aeroccino 3 that will make hot or cold milk froth for your coffee, or use it to make froth for the kids’ hot chocolate for a special treat. You’ll also get 16 Nespresso capsules, so you can try a variety of flavors to help you choose which you like the best.
Value for money
Multiple drink sizes
Large, removable water tank
Coffee could be hotter
In 2014, after nearly three decades of business, Nespresso added a new series of machines to its coffee-making arsenal: VertuoLine. These machines offer more coffee per serving than the OriginalLine, which is primarily meant for espresso shots.
Our favorite in the Vertuo series is the Evoluo. It clocks in at a similar price point to the other Vertuo options but offers more bang for your buck. The item heats up the fastest, at just 15-20 seconds, and it holds up to 17 used Nespresso capsules before it’s time to clean it out. Its 54-ounce water reservoir is slightly smaller than the VertuoPlus Deluxe (57.5 ounces) but much larger than the other two options in the series, the Vertuo and the VeruoPlus.
The Evoluo can brew five different cup sizes, starting at an espresso shot and ranging to an Alto-sized cup of joe. An automatic shut-off after 9 minutes saves energy (and wandering thoughts on your commute of if you turned the machine off). For an additional fee, you can also pair the Evoluo with Aeroccino3 milk frother to craft tasty lattes and cappuccinos at home.
Integrated milk frother
Multiple drink options
Potential learning curve
Similar price to manual espresso makers
When espresso is a passion and not just a beverage, this is the machine you need. Not only does it make an excellent brew, but it also incorporates micro-foam frothing technology so you can perfect your latte art hearts and flowers, and work your way up to professional designs while doing the morning crossword puzzle in the convenience of your own kitchen. The milk frother is integrated into the machine, so you won’t need a separate device, and you don’t need to pay attention to details since it offers eight different foam textures and 11 different milk temperatures.
Along with the technology comes a high-end look, reminiscent of manual espresso machines, but this is so much easier since you simply choose from ristretto, espresso, lungo, latte, cappuccino, flat white, or latte macchiato, adjust the size of the serving, then choose your milk temperature and texture from a menu. The water heats in just three seconds, so you’ll be sipping in no time. Not only is this smart enough to turn you into a kitchen barista, it also lets you know when it’s time to clean and descale the machine to keep it running at peak performance with its self-cleaning function. If that’s not enough extras, this also includes a variety pack of 16 capsules so you can sample different flavors.
Available in multiple colors
Small capsule container
Slower heat-up time
Small but mighty, this compact espresso maker won’t be hard to find room for, even in a small kitchen. Not much wider than a coffee mug, the water reservoir is behind the machine rather than taking up space on the side, so it will fit into a slim space with ease. Despite the small footprint, this still produces 19 bars of pressure for perfect espresso. This doesn’t have the multiple adjustments that larger machines offer, but that also makes it very simple to operate. Choose between Espresso and Lungo sizes, then just press the button. The water comes to temperature in less than 30 seconds. To save energy, the machine turns off 9 minutes after you stop brewing coffee.
While this machine doesn’t have a lot of frills, it does come with 14 capsules of different types of coffee, so you can discover which you like best before committing to one or two favorites.
"There's a reason hotels and Airbnbs often supply Nespresso machines to guests: They deliver quality flavor and a luxury experience while requiring limited effort and limited space." — Taysha Murtaugh, Associate Editorial Director, Commerce, The Spruce Eats
OriginalLine capsules only
Great for travelers who want their morning coffee before they leave the hotel room, or for folks who like the idea of a bit of espresso at work without leaving the office, this little device doesn’t need electricity to work. All you need is hot water, your Nespresso capsules (or coffee grounds), and just a little bit of effort. There’s a semi-automatic piston inside that injects small amounts of water into the grounds with each press, until it reaches the correct extraction pressure. For more versatility at home, there are water tanks of different capacities available to make different types of coffee in different sizes. A protective case is also available if you will be traveling and bumping it around a lot.
While this doesn’t have the convenience of pushing a button and letting the machine do all the work, it takes very little storage space, whether you keep it in a kitchen cabinet, a desk drawer, or whether it travels with you in your luggage.
Partially made from recycled materials
Connects to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Longer heat-up time
Slightly smaller capsule container
Compact and eco-friendly, this machine brews the drip-style coffee that defines VertuoLine products, and it adds some new twists along the way. The Vertuo Next is one of the slimmest Nespresso machines available, yet it has a fairly sizable water tank (37 ounces) that can be removed for easy filling and cleaning. The device even connects to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—a new feature that allows it to continuously run updates and offer the best user experience. Like most Nespresso products, you can bundle the item with an Aeroccino milk frother to make lattes and cappuccinos, on top of the five preset drink settings.
What really sets the Vertuo Next apart is that it is made from 54 percent recycled material, according to Nespresso. The company has also expanded its capsule-recycling process over the years, offering free bags that can be shipped directly to your home or picked up from a number of locations and then returned to a nearby UPS or Nespresso boutique once full. The recycling bags are only available on the brand website, however, and are not included with purchases from other retailers.
What to Look for When Buying a Nespresso Machine
By Derek Rose
Original or Vertuo
Every Nespresso machine is sorted into one of two categories: Original or Vertuo. Original machines focus on espresso and espresso-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, while Vertuo machines can brew espresso as well as larger drinks akin to standard drip coffee. Deciding which category you prefer is a great place to start to narrow down the options. The company manufactures a greater variety of Original machines, so this category has a wider range of prices, sizes, and features. On the other hand, Vertuo machines are less expensive on average, but they require separate milk frothers and tend to be bulkier devices. Also keep in mind that each category uses its own type of capsules that are not compatible with the other kind of machines.
It’s easy to associate Nespresso with the drink it does best, espresso, but customers are far from limited when it comes to drink options. Many devices can make lattes, cappuccinos, latte macchiato, and even different forms of espresso like ristretto and lungo. Nespresso also has an extensive recipe list for specialty drinks that can be found on the company website; it includes sweet treats like a Peppermint White Chocolate Latte and even alcoholic beverages like a Nespresso Negroni. So consider the amount of drink variety you want in your brewing device and buy accordingly.
While Nespresso machines vary widely in size, the majority 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 countertops beforehand. For those especially interested in saving space, some of the smallest machines are the Pixie, CitiZ, and Essenza, all of which are found in the OriginalLine category. Two other relevant factors to consider are the size of the water reservoir and the number of capsules a machine can hold. Most devices can contain up to 10 used capsules before the container needs to be emptied, though some can hold up to 17 capsules.
Like all brewing devices, Nespresso machines need time to heat up the water before they can make coffee and espresso. Fortunately, their heat-up time is significantly faster than that of real espresso machines, electric drip coffee makers, and many pod-based competitors, including Keurig. Nespresso devices require anywhere from three to 30 seconds to heat up. The majority fall in the middle of that range, averaging around 20 seconds.
The starting price for a Nespresso machine is a little higher than that of most other coffee makers, including Keurigs. Nespresso capsules are also more expensive than other coffee pods, and are certainly more expensive per serving than whole bean or ground coffee. These drawbacks should be taken into account before purchasing a machine. On the positive side, however, the brand does have an extremely wide range of prices once you get past the high starting point. Customers can also save money on capsules by buying in bulk, as they stay fresh for months and even up to years.
Types of Nespresso Machines
The Creatista series, which includes the Creatista Pro and Creatista Plus, offers perhaps the highest quality of any Nespresso maker. Both devices in this line have rapid heat-up times, touchscreen displays, and a powerful steaming wand that lets users add café-worthy foam and milk texture to their drinks. Such quality comes at a cost, however, as these are the most expensive Nespresso machines available—a true luxury option for the die-hard coffee lover.
Nespresso manufactures two different Essenza models: the Essenza Mini and Essenza Plus. Not only are they sold at an affordable price, they are also the two slimmest machines the company makes, helping to save space in the kitchen. The downside is that they lack the drink variety of larger, pricier models. But for a delicious, no-fuss shot of espresso, Essenza is a wonderful option.
A member of the OriginalLine family, Nespresso’s Lattissima machines offer high-end coffee with one-touch convenience. There are three devices in this category: the Lattissima Pro, the Gran Lattissima, and the Lattissima One. They vary slightly in price, size, and the number of drink options, but are broadly quite similar. You can recognize the Lattissima line by its front-attached milk reservoir and frothing wand, which make lattes and cappuccinos automatically, no hands-on effort required.
The Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Maker was the first item in Nespresso’s VertuoLine. Benefits include its reasonable price, fast heat-up time, and signature ability to make both espresso and drip-style coffee. And it is naturally a great place to start for those specifically interested in a VertuoLine machine, rather than an OriginalLine one.
Like most pod coffee makers, Nespresso machines are super easy to use. Preparing coffee is as simple as letting the machine heat up, inserting a capsule, and selecting the desired drink. That’s it. Machines can even be calibrated to brew espresso shots at a specific size and strength; to do this, hold down the brew button for at least three seconds and, after the shot begins pouring, release the button when you have reached the preferred amount and the machine will remember it later on. This is also an effective way to reset a Nespresso machine if you notice drinks becoming too strong or too diluted over time.
Once you’re finished drinking your coffee or espresso, clean-up is just as easy. There are no coffee filters to throw away and no mess of stray grounds everywhere. After daily use, you may want to wipe the spout with a damp cloth and empty and rinse the drip tray. Some owners run a shot of fresh water through the machine before or after use in order to clean out the system.
Nespresso machines do need to be descaled (the removal of internal mineral buildup) like all other electric coffee makers. The brand recommends descaling every three months. There are slight differences from machine to machine, but the basic way to descale a Nespresso maker is this: fill the water reservoir with a descaling solution, let it run through the machine, and then repeat the process with fresh water. Nespresso sells a reasonably priced descaling solution on its website, though an at-home combination of vinegar and water works too.
The amount of mineral buildup is affected by the kind of water you use. Hard water contains a high amount of dissolved minerals, namely calcium and magnesium, so it leads to faster mineral buildup. Soft or filtered water, on the other hand, is easier on your machine and cuts down on the frequency with which you need to descale. Nespresso’s user manuals generally contain a free water hardness testing strip.
The coffee world is teeming with tools, gadgets, and appliances that can improve everything from taste to user experience. And one starting accessory to pair with your Nespresso machine is a capsule storage system. They keep your favorite coffee pods all in one place, instead of strewn about the counter, and can also provide an eye-catching aesthetic in the kitchen. Drawer holders are the most common storage system for Nespresso capsules. The majority are affordable and designed to go underneath your Nespresso machine, saving even more space. The second most common type is a storage rack, whether it’s free-standing or wall-mounted. Many storage systems can hold both Original and Vertuo capsules, but make sure to check ahead of time. Those looking to save a little money and cut down on waste could also look into reusable capsules, which are typically made from stainless steel.
Depending on the type of Nespresso machine you own, a milk frother is another accessory worth consideration. Adding one will let you turn already-delicious espresso into lattes, cappuccinos, and more right from home. Nespresso frequently offers bundle deals that include an Aeroccino frother with the purchase of a brewing device, but for those interested in buying a frother on their own, there are three kinds to know: manual, handheld, and electric. Manual and handheld frothers are smaller, cheaper, and slightly less powerful. Electric frothers, on the other hand, can lead to café-quality drinks but are more expensive. Some of our favorite frothers are made by Bodum, Breville, and AeroLatte.
What’s the difference between Original and Vertuo?
When scrolling through a list of Nespresso machines, you will see them sorted into one of two categories: Original or Vertuo. The difference is that Original machines make espresso and espresso-based drinks, while Vertuo machines brew drip-style coffee along with the brand’s signature espresso. The VertuoLine was introduced in 2014, exclusively in North America at first, but it expanded to other parts of the world following its popularity. Each category uses its own specific type of capsule which is not compatible with the other line.
Do Nespresso machines brew real espresso?
Technically, no. There are certain standards concerning temperature, pressure, brew time, and more that are used to define espresso. Nespresso slightly differs from these standards, which prevents it from being categorized as true espresso. Experts generally consider the taste and consistency of genuine espresso to be of higher quality than what Nespresso produces as well. But, in a general sense, the two drinks are very similar, and Nespresso is an excellent espresso alternative. Both are small shots of coffee topped with crema and made with rapid, pressurized water.
Can Nespresso capsules be recycled?
Yes! Nespresso capsules are made from recyclable aluminum, and the leftover coffee grounds inside the pods can even be composted. To make the process easier, Nespresso offers free capsule-recycling bags that can be dropped off (also for free) at any UPS location or Nespresso boutique. The bags hold up to 200 OriginalLine capsules or 100 VertuoLine capsules. There are two stipulations, however: the recycling bags can only be ordered from Nespresso’s website, not other retail sites like Amazon, Wayfair, etc., and customers must purchase a separate item, whether it be capsules or a Nespresso machine, to receive the bags. New York City residents have the option to recycle Nespresso capsules via normal recycling bins.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer who specializes in product reviews and recipes. Her work has appeared on Serious Eats, Fine Cooking, and her own recipe blog, Cookistry.com. She's also the author of Make Ahead Bread, a cookbook meant to simplify the bread-baking process.
This piece was edited by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. As an espresso alternative, he uses the Bialetti Moka Express, complementing it with a separate milk frother to make lattes and cappuccinos.