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Nespresso machines are great tools that simplify the complicated world of espresso. Get the right machine, and making your morning latte becomes as simple as can be.
If only choosing the right machine were so simple!
Nespresso has many different models, each with different features that are optimized for specific uses and drinks. If you like your morning coffee quick and easy with a generous top-up of steamed milk, you’re in the right place.
We won’t make you wait, either. The best Nespresso machine for lattes is the Nespresso Vertuo combined with an Aeroccino milk frother:
We discuss the Vertuo and some of its close cousins in more detail further down, but first let’s go over some background on Nespresso machines.
Why do you need a Nespresso machine for your latte?
Simply because it makes it that much easier. Espresso machines are complicated mechanisms that require meticulous measurement and brewing in order to get the specific tastes you want. You need to grind the beans just right, measure the perfect amount, tamp them with the right amount pressure, then run the correct volume of water through them at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time. All of this while steaming your milk to get just the right consistency of foam on top of your drink.
Nespresso machines use pre-measured coffee in vacuum-sealed pods and they pull consistent espresso every time. The machine heats up the water to the perfect temperature, punctures holes in the pod and pushes water through it at high pressure to produce espresso in less than 30 seconds. It does the same job as a regular espresso machine without the hassle of grinding, measuring and tamping.
The ease of Nespresso machine use allows practically anyone to brew quality espresso. Even as an inexperienced barista, you can make your favorite espresso drinks at home. The machine works with a simple press of the button, and eliminates any of the mistakes that are commonly made when using a traditional espresso machine.
One downside of Nespresso is that you can’t customize the amount coffee and you have limited discretion over the water volume, but Nespresso does offer pods of different sizes to give you some choice.
The bottom line is these machines give you convenient, quality espresso drinks, and they are great if you are pressed for time.
Nespresso machines are also quite affordable. For the everyday espresso drinker, this machine is more practical than investing hundreds of dollars in a traditional espresso machine.
Nespresso machine components
To help you get a better understanding of how a Nespresso machine works, let’s break down its main components. The different models vary slightly in their parts, but the basic structure and functionality is the same for all.
The tank, sometimes called the reservoir, holds the water that the machine will heat up. You do not have to worry about measuring the amount of water you’ll use every time, because the machine measures it. You just have to make sure you refill it any time the water level gets too low. On some designs the water tank sits at the back of the machine, and on others it sits off to the side.
The controls are simple to use. Some models have buttons that determine the size of the drink, others have little more than a power switch and a lever you lift to insert the pod. You don’t have to stress over pulling the right amount of espresso, because it is all automated with the push of a button.
This is the where the pod sits prior to brewing. After you insert it, you close the lid. As soon as the water reaches the right temperature, the machine punctures a hole in the pod and forces the water through at pressure, extracting the flavor of the coffee.
This is the spout that delivers the high-quality espresso. Nespresso machines deliver espresso with a nice layer of crema on top.
Your cup goes on the drip tray to receive the brewed espresso. The drip tray catches anything that might spill. On many models it can be adjusted to accommodate the height of your cup.
Not all Nespresso machines come with a frother, but many do. Any Nespresso machine can become a latte-making machine with the purchase of Nespresso’s Aeroccino frother as an accessory. Some come bundled with it. The Aeroccino also works with the touch of a button. Higher-end Nespresso models have a more traditional steam wand for steaming the milk that accompanies your coffee.
What is the difference between a latte and a cappuccino?
Lattes and cappuccinos have exactly the same ingredients, so you may be wondering about the difference.
A latte consists of one or two shots of espresso with five or six ounces of steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam on top. The ingredients are the same as a cappuccino, but the proportions are different. You will find a latte’s flavor more subtle, because the ratio of milk to coffee is higher. Lattes are also traditionally served in a larger size cup than cappuccinos—usually eight ounces or more.
These proportions give the drink a creamier texture than a cappuccino, which is light and airy. The milk in a latte is also swirled into the espresso, mixing with the coffee instead of being layered on top.
Lattes typically feature latte art on top, because the drink’s structure provides the stability to create detailed patterns. The foam that sits on top is more dense than it is on a cappuccino.
A cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. The relatively high volume of foam gives the drink a smooth feel in the mouth. In Europe a cappuccino has traditionally been served in a five- or six-ounce size, but in North America they are often served larger, making them difficult to distinguish from a latte.
A traditional cappuccino consists of about two ounces of espresso and two ounces of steamed milk with a generous heap of foam on top, making for an even ratio. This balances the espresso well while still maintaining its strong taste. The airy foam that sits on top of the drink is full of tiny micro-bubbles. A cappuccino tastes rich while still feeling light and airy.
We have much more on the difference between a latte and a cappuccino in another post.
Best Nespresso pods for latte
Experimenting with different pods is half the fun of Nespresso, but you need to start somewhere. Consider two of the best Nespresso pods for lattes: the Bianco Leggero and the Diavolitto. The Bianco Leggero is roasted specifically for milk drinks and is intended to be sweet and smooth. It’s great if your tastes run mild. At the other end of the spectrum, the Diavolitto is as intense as Nespresso gets, with a spicy aroma. It demands to be noticed, even with five ounces of milk on top.
Best Nespresso machines for lattes
Our pick for best Nespresso machine for lattes is the Nespresso Vertuo with Aeroccino milk frother. It will make you feel like a barista right at home. This model comes bundled with the Aeroccino milk frother that allows you to make your beloved lattes with the simple push of a button. This fully automatic machine easily adapts to whatever capsule you put in. It recognizes the size, temperature, pressure and brewing time all by scanning a barcode that’s printed on top of the pod. This machine makes five different cup sizes, so it’s extremely versatile. Along with being able to make a single and double shot of espresso, the Vertuo can also make three different sizes of coffee. It’s great for those who like both coffee and espresso drinks. We love its versatility.
- Automatically adapts to size of the capsule
- Able to make a wide variety of drinks
- One-touch system allows for hassle-free brewing
- Only compatible with Vertuo capsules
Next on our list is the VertuoPlus Deluxe. This is a newer model that comes with upgraded features. The sleek design is a little more compact, and the water tank can be moved around to easily fit your space. The water tank can hold 60 ounces, and the machine heats water in less than 15 seconds. The VertuoPlus Deluxe also automatically recognizes the size of the capsule to make the desired drink. It brews five different sizes—two for espresso and three for coffee. If you are looking for a slightly more compact machine that has convenient features, this one is the best option for you.
- Rotating water tank for easier placement
- Motorized open-and-close component for added convenience
- Comes with milk frother
- Only compatible with Vertuo capsules
- Spent capsule container can only hold 10
The Lattissima Pro is a slightly bigger investment, but it’s made specifically for espresso drinks. No measurement is required here—everything is automated using a digital touchscreen. With a touch of a button you can choose between different espresso drinks such as a cappuccino, latte, or espresso, and it even measures the perfect amount of milk and froth. This Lattissima Pro is probably the closest thing Nespresso has to a regular espresso machine, with its 19-bar high-pressure pump. If you’re looking for professional quality in the comfort of your kitchen, this is a perfect investment for you.
- Digital touchscreen design for added convenience
- Measures perfect amount of milk for you
- High-pressure pump replicates traditional espresso machine
- Only makes espresso drinks
- Takes slightly longer than other models to heat up
- More expensive than other models
The Vertuo Next is another sleek and compact design, similar to the VertuoPlus. It’s slightly smaller, but still versatile enough to make five different drink sizes. It features a one-touch design that adapts brewing parameters based on the capsule you put in. This machine really takes all the guesswork out of making espresso. Some unique features include Bluetooth capability and the component material, which is made from 54-per-cent recycled plastic to help reduce environmental waste. The Bluetooth capability makes sure the software remains up to date at all times. This is a great option if you want the added innovations.
- Made of more sustainable materials
- Versatile five-cup brewing
- Bluetooth capability ensures constant updates
- Only compatible with Vertuo pods
- Has limited pod storage
- Temperature of coffee is not as hot as others
Finally, we round out our list with the most compact Nespresso machine. The Nespresso Essenza Mini, however, doesn’t compromise at all on the quality of your espresso. It is programmed for only two drink sizes, but the machine allows you to easily top up either of them with hot water for an Americano. It features a 19-bar high-pressure pump to imitate the pressure of a traditional espresso machine. An energy-saving component switches the machine off after nine minutes of inactivity. The Essenza Mini is a great compact machine that gets the job done. Not only does it save space, but it only weighs 5.1 pounds and we’ve been known to throw it in the trunk of the car for weekend getaways where the coffee situation is uncertain.
- Lightweight and compact design
- Able to make espresso and coffee
- High-pressure 19-bar pump
- Only two cup sizes
- May be too small for some
- Takes slightly longer to heat up than larger machines
What milk or alternative milks go best with lattes?
The milk is important when it comes to lattes and cappuccinos, because the foam is a large part of what makes up the drink. We recommend whole milk because of its high fat content. This balance of fat, protein, sugar and water produces a more stable foam that holds even tiny microfoam bubbles. The taste and composition can differ depending on the brand of milk, so make sure to find one that works for you.
For non-dairy milk we recommend Oatly Barista Edition Oat Milk. Even if you choose to go with a different alternative milk, always go for the barista edition. Since non-dairy milk does not have the same composition as whole milk, it will not froth as well. Barista editions add stabilizers to help the milk foam. We prefer oat milk because it is allergen-free and has a mild taste that disappears in the taste of the coffee.
How to dispose of Nespresso pods
Although you can just throw pods away or find a way to reuse them, using the Nespresso recycling program is the best way to keep your coffee consumption eco-friendly. To recycle your pods, you can order a free recycling bag from the Nespresso website if you want to mail them in. After filling up the bag, drop it off at any designated location. These include specific waste collection centers, partner stores, or an actual Nespresso boutique. If you are personally dropping them off, they don’t need any special bag. Nespresso then separates the aluminum from the coffee and uses it for compost or new products. This way you can ensure you get high-quality coffee without harming the environment.