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Starting the day with a smooth espresso or a well-balanced latte offers both a welcome caffeine boost and a hint of indulgence. It's a practical-yet-luxurious form of self-care, and the massive popularity of this strong Italian coffee and its milk-based spin-offs can’t be overstated.
However, anyone who regularly visits their local coffee shop can attest to the fact that espresso drinks aren’t cheap. If you’d like to cut your java bill by making your own espresso at home, then Nespresso, a company that produces user-friendly machines with single-serve pods to brew espresso, is about to become your best friend.
We’ve rounded up the best Nespresso machines available, along with guidance on which model best suits which particular priorities and customers.
Best Overall: Nespresso VertuoPlus + Aeroccino Bundle
What We Love: Easy to operate, consistent, automatic capsule ejection
What We Don't Love: Only works with VertuoLine pods, not as aesthetically sleek as some other models
Nespresso’s Vertuo line sets itself apart from the original Nespresso collection by featuring innovative brewing technology. Vertuo machines read the barcode on each Nespresso pod and use that information to calibrate the water temperature and brewing time, resulting in the best possible cup of espresso.
A more advanced version of Nespresso’s first mega-hit Vertuo, the VertuoPlus is tops thanks to its versatility and remarkable ease of use. This machine does it all with the touch of one button. It can brew both espresso and drip coffee, and the barcode technology means that you don’t need to adjust settings or manually program your brewing time. The VertuoPlus includes automatic capsule (pod) ejection, which pares down your cleaning needs while also preventing you from burning your fingers.
The VertuoPlus uses a 40-ounce adjustable water tank and can make coffee or espresso in 5 different cup sizes (espresso, double espresso, gran lungo, coffee, and alto). This bundle includes Nespresso's milk frother, the Aeroccino, for your cappuccinos and lattes.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 16.7 x 5.6 x 12.8 inches | Capsule Container Capacity: 10 | Reservoir Capacity: 60 ounces
Best Overall, Runner-Up: Nespresso Vertuo Next
What We Love: Made with sustainable materials, versatile, tech-friendly, compact
What We Don't Love: Only works with VertuoLine pods
The newest iteration of the Vertuo series, the Vertuo Next is a genuine “small wonder.” This sleek but powerful machine weighs in at only 9 pounds, and it packs all of the innovation and efficiency of the other Vertuo models into a compact 5.5-inch wide frame ideal for smaller kitchens.
Another notable modernization in the Vertuo Next is its sustainable construction. The machine is made from 54 percent recycled materials, making it the greenest espresso maker currently offered by Nespresso. Also, the Vertuo Next utilizes Bluetooth connectivity, giving you the ability to automatically update its software and keep it running in optimal fashion without going through a tedious process of manual downloads.
The Vertuo Next features a 37-ounce water tank and makes beverages in 6 cup sizes (espresso, double espresso, 5-ounce, 8-ounce, 14-ounce, and 18-ounce carafe). Vertuo Next bundles usually include Nespresso’s Aeroccino milk frother, and if you prefer pour-over-style coffee, you can purchase a Nespresso Pour-Over expansion set.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 14.75 x 5.5 x 12.5 inches | Capsule Container Capacity: 8 | Reservoir Capacity: 37 ounces
Best for Beginners: Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine with Aeroccino Milk Frother
What We Love: Easy to use, heats up quickly, lightweight, compact
What We Don't Love: Fewer cup sizes than others, fewer customizable settings
If you’re new to the world of Nespresso machines, then you may be seeking a model that’s easy to operate, that doesn’t take up too much space, and rings in at a very reasonable price. You’ll find that the Inissia model, made by beloved Italian appliance brand De’Longhi, scores on all three counts. The Inissia brings water up to an ideal espresso-making temperature in 25 seconds flat, and its simple two-button control system (one button for espresso and one for “lungo” coffee) takes any guesswork out of your morning brew.
The Inissia uses a 24-ounce water tank and only produces those two cup sizes. It’s available in three neutral color schemes, and the machine automatically shuts off after 9 minutes to save energy.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 9.1 x 4.6 x 12.6 inches | Capsule Container Capacity: 1 | Reservoir Capacity: 24 ounces
Related: The Best Nespresso Pods
Best for Lattes: Nespresso De'Longhi Lattissima Pro
What We Love: Includes a milk carafe and frother, easy to program
What We Don't Love: Heavy, expensive
Nespresso’s Aeroccino frothing attachment is enormously popular among Nespresso enthusiasts, but if you’re a die-hard latte drinker, then you may want to consider a machine that has a milk frother already attached and integrated. Meet the Lattissima Pro, a sophisticated piece of coffee-making equipment specifically developed to create espresso-and-milk beverages, like lattes and cappuccinos, with the best layering and proportions.
The Lattissima Pro has a 43-ounce water tank and comes with 6 programmed modes for drink creation (ristretto, espresso, lungo, cappuccino, latte, and steamed milk), so you’ll be able to whip up exactly what you want with no threat of error. One bonus of this machine is you simply press the button, and it automatically begins brewing your drink once the water is heated. The milk nozzle can also be used to simply dispense hot water for tea time.
De’Longhi crafted this machine with an auto shut-off feature that can be programmed for up to 8 hours. It comes with intuitive descaling features and rinses automatically.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 13 x 7.5 x 10.75 inches | Capsule Container Capacity: 15 | Reservoir Capacity: 43 ounces, 17-ounce milk carafe
Related: The Best Coffee Makers
Best Mini: Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine
What We Love: Lightweight, compact, affordable, easy to use
What We Don't Love: Some reviewers cite durability issues, fewer customizable settings
A smash hit among solo dwellers and anyone who doesn’t want to sacrifice their love for delicious espresso on the basis of spatial concerns, the Essenza Mini weighs only 5 pounds and is equipped with a 19-bar pressure pump, allowing the machine to optimize water flow and produce smooth and flavorful espresso. The machine’s sleek construction includes a base that measures just 4.3 inches wide, making it possible to store this petite workhorse in even the coziest cabinet or the tightest corner of your countertop.
The Essenza Mini includes a 20-ounce water tank and makes two beverage sizes (espresso and lungo). This is one of the fastest Nespresso machines since the water heats up in only 25 seconds. It comes with a low-eco mode and auto-shutoff and can be used alongside the Aeroccino frother to make lattes and cappuccinos.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 8 x 3.3 x 12.9 inches | Capsule Container Capacity: 6 | Reservoir Capacity: 20.2 ounces
Related: The Best Coffee Travel Mugs
Best Professional-Grade: Nespresso Creatista Plus
What We Love: Includes milk frother, professional-quality espresso, heats quickly
What We Don't Love: Expensive
Some espresso hobbyists prefer machines that enable easy and speedy drink prep with zero bells and whistles, while others yearn to dive into the intricate world of latte art and really stretch their creative muscles. If the latter description sounds like you, then the Creatista Plus could be your Nespresso soulmate. This high-tech model features modern technology that leaves you with a frothy foam that’s ideal for shaping into latte art masterpieces.
With a 60-ounce water tank, the brushed stainless-steel Creatista Plus has an easy LCD interface for creating seven different coffee beverages (espresso, lungo, ristretto, cappuccino, cafe latte, latte macchiato, and flat white). There are also multiple milk temperatures and texture presets, and the steam wand essentially cleans itself. The water heats up in only 3 seconds so you won’t be waiting long for your coffee. This all-in-one machine gives you all of the tools necessary to make lattes that put Starbucks to shame.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 16 x 6.75 x 12.25 inches | Capsule Container Capacity: 12 | Reservoir Capacity: 60 ounces
Related: The Best Espresso Machines
Best Design: Nespresso CitiZ Original Espresso Machine
What We Love: Aesthetically pleasing, heats quickly, includes a milk frother
What We Don't Love: Has fewer customizable settings
Espresso lovers who also value aesthetics will find an equally functional and beautiful Nespresso machine in the CitiZ. This lightweight and streamlined appliance takes style inspiration from retro espresso makers and mid-century modern design, resulting in a powerful little Nespresso. An integrated milk frother further simplifies the process and offers buyers plenty of beverage-making versatility.
While the 8.9-pound CitiZ only makes beverages in 2 sizes (espresso and lungo), it does heat up in less than 30 seconds and has a 33-ounce water tank for multiple cups.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 14.6 x 5.2 x 10.9 inches | Capsule Container Capacity: 9 | Reservoir Capacity: 33 ounces
Related: The Best Coffee Grinders
If you're looking for an all-in-one machine that will satisfy your every coffee need and has all the latest technology, the Nespresso Vertuo Next with Aeroccino bundle (view at Amazon) will keep you caffeinated for years to come. For those who can't make it to dinner without their afternoon latte, we recommend the beautiful Nespresso Lattissima Pro Espresso Machine (view at Williams Sonoma) with its built-in frother and automatic cleaning.
What to Look for in a Nespresso Machine
All Nespresso machines make espresso, but some can also branch out beyond straight espresso shots or Americanos (made by diluting an espresso shot with hot water). For instance, all machines in the Vertuo line also have the capacity to make coffee. In terms of milk-based drinks, like cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes, some machines, like the Lattissima Pro and the Creatista Plus, have integrated milk frothers, which streamlines the creation of these beverages. If you have a Nespresso machine without an included frother, then you can buy an Aeroccino milk-frothing attachment, which can be used with espresso made by any Nespresso machine.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Nespresso machines are designed for easy cleaning; the water reservoirs, capsule containers, drip trays, and milk frothers should all be rinsed separately, and Vertuo line machines can undergo a programmed cleaning procedure that just requires you to press some buttons and wait for the self-cleaning to commence. For Original Line machines, washing the individual components with water and gentle dish soap will work. When in doubt, consult your owner’s manual or the Nespresso website for full cleaning instructions.
In addition to cleaning and rinsing your machine components, you’ll likely want to periodically descale the machine to remove limescale buildup. Nespresso sells a descaling kit with a solution specifically formulated for Nespresso machines, and they recommend a descaling process every 600 coffees or 6 months, whichever comes first.
Nespresso sells a wide range of accessories to use alongside its machines and pods, from coffee cups to capsule recycling bins to descaling kits.
One of Nespresso’s most popular accessories is the Aeroccino, a milk frother meant to accompany Nespresso models that don’t have integrated frothers. This allows users to make cappuccinos, lattes, and other milk-based espresso drinks with any Nespresso machine on the market.
Nespresso’s accessory line also includes ceramic and glass espresso cups, spoons and stirrers, decorative capsule holders, metal milk jugs and travel mugs, and bags, satchels, and canisters designed for capsule recycling.
What’s the difference between the Original line and the Vertuo line?
All Nespresso machines fall into one of two categories: Original or Vertuo. The biggest distinction between these two series involves the brewing technology. All Original machines use pump pressure to brew, while Vertuo machines use a proprietary extraction method powered by centrifugal force. This means the lines also use different pod designs. When purchasing your pods, double-check to ensure that you’re getting capsules designed for your machine type.
The different brewing leads to different espresso, too. The Vertuo brewing process results in a thicker and more voluminous espresso “crema”, while the Original machines create a thinner crema layer. Vertuo's lower brewing temperature results in more delicate and nuanced espresso, whereas Original espresso is bolder and more assertive. Lastly, Vertuo machines can make both espresso and standard coffee, while Original machines only make espresso.
Are Nespresso pods made with real espresso?
The answer to this question really depends on how technically you prefer to define “espresso.” The Espresso National Institute of Italy very narrowly characterizes “espresso” based on its coffee quantity, its brewing pressure and temperature, and its percolation time. According to these rigid parameters, Nespresso is not “real” espresso, and many espresso experts believe that the “real” stuff can’t be made with any capsule-based brewing system.
That said, Nespresso produces a coffee drink that shares the flavor and texture of espresso, so unless you’re a world-class barista, Nespresso’s take on espresso will likely prove satisfactory.
Do you have to use Nespresso-branded pods with a Nespresso machine?
You’re free to use either Nespresso-branded capsules or capsules produced by third-party vendors like Starbucks and Lavazza. Just make sure the capsules are created specifically for your machine's line.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Taylor Tobin is a freelance journalist who specializes in recipe testing and deep-dives into popular dishes and ingredients. A self-confessed caffeine lover and a regular at her neighborhood coffee shop, she recently got her hands on a stovetop espresso maker but is ready to upgrade to a Nespresso and broaden her java-creating horizons.
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