Nespresso machine buying guide
You’ve been searching for a one-cup coffee maker and decided on the Nespresso. Congratulations! But before you head to your nearest department store, there are a few more things to think about.
Nespresso has come a long way since Nestlé launched the first domestic machine in 1986. Today you’ll find a range of options with different features and prices. So how do you know which one is right for you?
Read on, as we take you through some questions that will help you decide.
Is the Nespresso any different to other single cup machines?
First of all, it’s worth being sure that a Nespresso is the right option for you. Nestlé have spent a lot on those celebrity-endorsed ads – but is it any different from other single cup coffee makers?
In a word, yes.
Perhaps most importantly, Nespresso machines give you the option of making coffee with real milk. Alternatives like the Dolce Gusto rely on milk capsules. If you appreciate the difference between fresh cow juice and UHT, that’s a major bonus.
Some of the higher end Nespressos also provide integral milk frothers, and even allow you to customize your foam. If you enjoy flat whites, lattes or cappuccinos, these are a cut above what you’ll get from other brands.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a machine that will handle other beverages, look elsewhere. The Nespresso focuses on coffee. If you regularly drink tea or hot chocolate as well, try the Tassimo instead.
And unlike other one-cup machines, you won’t be able to buy Nespresso pods in the supermarket. They’re more expensive than others too.
Happily, there’s now a range of compatible pods offering new flavors, often at far lower cost.
Beware though – they won’t work on all Nespresso machines. Older and more basic models are the best bet if you want to use compatible pods.
Large or small serving?
One of the major restrictions with one-cup coffee machines is serving size. While many offer different servings, there are only two pod sizes. Any other difference will be a result of the amount of water added. In other words, larger servings mean weaker coffee.
The alternative is to brew two smaller servings using two pods – but that adds to cost and is less convenient. And the smaller Nespresso machines, like the Pixie, only have room on the stand for a small cup.
The Vertuo range, launched in 2017, provides a good answer for fans of longer coffees. The original Nespressos provided a maximum single serving of 110ml. In contrast, Vertuos can handle anything up to 414ml.
The bigger servings shouldn’t mean less flavor. That’s because the Vertuos use a barcode to determine the right temperature, length and brewing time for each pod.
Unfortunately, that bit of ingenuity also means you’re tied into using Nespresso pods forever. So if you’re thinking of buying a Vertuo, check out the available flavors first.None of the Vertuos yet have an integrated milk frother, although you can buy one to work alongside it. But if you love lattes or want greater pod choice, stick to the Original range.
The price tag for a Nespresso varies widely, but they’re generally more expensive than other single cup machines. Prices start at around $100 for entry level models like the Essenza that don’t have milk frothers. You can pick up a discontinued or used machine for a little less.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Creatista will cost you around four times as much. For that, you’ll be able to adjust serving size and milk temperature. It even lets you choose from 8 settings for the texture of your milk.
If you want to create latte art, you can do that too. This YouTube video from Nespresso takes you through the process step by step.
Bear in mind you’ll need to budget for the pods as well as the initial expense of the machine. And remember that if you buy one of the new Vertuo machines, you’ll be stuck with Nespresso capsules.
The price difference can be significant. In 2014, British Nespresso users drinking three cups a day could have saved £130 (about $180) over a year by switching to a supermarket brand.
In response to growing competition, Nestlé have launched their own subscription packages. These combine monthly deliveries of pods with the lure of a low-cost Nespresso machine. If you know you drink a regular amount of coffee a month, they’re worth considering.
Nespresso machines each have their own unique selling points.
For those for whom speed reigns supreme, the Pixie reaches its heating temperature in a mere 25 seconds. The Essenza Mini, on the other hand, is the machine for those with small kitchens. It’s the most compact Nespresso and weighs just five pounds.
For style conscious buyers, the KitchenAid model allows you to match your Nespresso to your stand mixer. And for tech-lovers, the Prodigio uses Bluetooth to allow you to program your Nespresso from your phone.
This YouTube video from Seattle Coffee Gear highlights the key points of the classic models.
Getting the most out of your Nespresso
Whichever machine you choose, there are a few useful steps that will help you get the best results.
First, prime your brewer by dispensing a shot of hot water. This makes sure the internal parts are up to the right temperature before brewing your coffee. Using the water to rinse out your cup will also keep your drink hotter for longer.
Always make sure you’re using the right capsule for your desired coffee size. If you have a Vertuo, the machine will do this for you. If not, check you’re using a lungo pod if you want a longer drink, or a standard one for an espresso.
Last but not least, use filtered water and descale your machine regularly for the best flavors.
We hope you’ve found this Nespresso buying guide helpful. Whatever machine you choose, you’ll be getting consistent coffee with the minimum of fuss. But take the time to think about which features are most important to you.
Do you prefer espressos or cappuccinos? A small cup or an oversized mug? Do you long to turn on your machine from your phone?
Whatever the answer, we hope we’ve shown you there’s a Nespresso to match. Good luck in finding your perfect coffee maker!