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People know I’m a Nespresso partisan, so I’m often asked for my thoughts on the best Nespresso machine. And I always respond the same way:
“What do you need it for?”
That’s such an important question to ask when you’re shopping for Nespresso, because they make so many different machines and they all do different things well.
Do you just want a quick shot of espresso in morning? Do you want a regular cup of coffee? Do you want to glide easily between lattes and cappuccinos? Is it just you, or will this machine be serving a large group of coffee drinkers?
Knowing these things will help you choose the right Nespresso machine for your situation.
In this post, I’ve imagined nine situations and given you what I think is the ideal Nespresso machine for each. Your task now is to think about which of these most accurately reflects your needs. Then, the choice should be simple.
But first, there are a couple of important things to know about Nespresso.
Original line vs. Vertuo line
Nespresso makes two very different lines of machines. They started with the Original line, and they now also make the Vertuo line.
The key innovation with the Vertuo line is that these machines will make regular coffee as well as espresso. Original machines will not.
They also take different capsules. Original line capsules are all the same size and they’re shaped like little thimbles. They were once patented, but that patent has expired and these capsules can now be made by companies other than Nespresso. That means Original machines will be able to make a broader range of coffees, including those produced by third parties outside of the Nespresso system.
Vertuo line capsules come in several sizes and are shaped like little rounded domes. When they brew, they get spun thousands of times per second using what Nespresso calls “centrifusion” technology. These capsules can only be made by Nespresso and will only contain coffees procured by Nespresso, so selection will be a little more limited than it is with Original capsules.
The Vertuo line generally consists of larger machines than the Original line.
Nespresso machine manufacturers
Nespresso doesn’t make most of its machines. Instead, it licences its designs and technology to manufacturers who produce the machines and co-brand them along with Nespresso. So you might hear about the same Nespresso machine model made by Breville, De’Longhi or Krups, to name a few.
Don’t sweat these different names. There is little difference in how the machines perform. They might have slight cosmetic differences, so if you like the look of one better than the other, then go for it. You’re still getting exactly the same coffee-making technology.
Now let’s move on to our list of Nespresso machines for every situation.
Best Nespresso machines
Best for latte: Nespresso Lattissima Pro
The Nespresso Lattissima Pro is best for making lattes. Here I’m in disagreement with my colleague Leslie Chang, whose favorite Nespresso machine for making lattes was the Nespresso Vertuo combined with Aeroccino milk frother. She rated the Lattissima Pro third on her list. However, I’m assuming you don’t want to buy a separate accessory to froth your milk, and if that’s the case then Leslie and I agree that the Lattissima Pro is the right choice.
- It’s an Original line machine, so you get a great selection of capsules to choose from.
- You can program drink volumes yourself using its digital touch screen, to get just the right amount of milk and froth every time. (They call it a “latte macchiato,” but it’s a latte.)
- The milk reservoir detaches easily for storage in your refrigerator for next time.
Note that the Lattissima Pro is all about hands-off ease. If you want to steam your own hot milk with a wand and try your hand at some latte art as you pour, then look into the Nespresso Creatista Plus.
Best for cappuccino: Nespresso Lattissima Plus
If you lean toward cappuccinos, then take a step down from the Lattissima Pro and go for the Nespresso Lattissima Plus. A cappuccino requires less milk than a latte, so by choosing the Lattissima Plus and its smaller milk frother you can get everything you need without paying the higher cost of the Pro. You’ll have to be OK with a few other compromises, which include:
- Push buttons instead of a digital display.
- Smaller water tank and spent capsule capacity.
- Slightly longer warmup time of 40 seconds instead of 25.
The Plus is just a slightly less fancy version of the Pro. It will make equally great cappuccinos, and you really don’t need that big milk reservoir so there’s no need to spend the extra money. Of course, it also takes Original line capsules so you still get that wider range of selections.
Best for Americano: Nespresso Essenza Plus
If your drink is the Americano and you seldom stray, then choose the Nespresso Essenza Plus. When it comes to Americanos, your top priorities should be a broad selection of coffees and the ability to control the portion of hot water that goes into your Americano. The Essenza Plus shines on both fronts.
- As an Original line machine, it offers a wide range of capsules and flavor profiles, including third-party capsules that are not compatible with Vertuo line machines.
- Its touch-button hot water dispenser lets you manually top up your Americano with as much water as you want. Further, you can program the one-touch Americano setting exactly to your liking. After you do so, the Essenza Plus will pour just the right amount of hot water to suit your cup every time.
- Compact design is a tidy fit in just about any kitchen.
The Essenza Plus is a compact machine with no milk-frothing capabilities, but if you’re all about the Americano then that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
Best for espresso: Nespresso Essenza Mini
If all you want to make is rich espresso shots, then the Nespresso Essenza Mini is the machine to get. Espresso is a tiny drink, and this is a tiny machine—Nespresso’s smallest, I believe. And if tiny drinks aren’t your thing, you can easily make a double espresso by running two capsules through the machine, one after the other. Among the things we like:
- Takes Original line capsules, which gives you a lot of different espresso flavors to try.
- Occupies very little space in your kitchen. This little machine along with a couple of small espresso cups is a perfect space-saver for a small kitchen or apartment.
- Quick to heat up. Give it about 30 seconds, and then another 30 to brew your espresso. You’re ready to go.
We love this machine’s simplicity. When we serve its dense, creamy cup of espresso to friends who think espresso needs to be a big production involving a $2,000 machine, they can’t believe we did it by simply inserting a capsule and touching a button. But this machine brews at the same 19 bars of pressure as a traditional espresso machine. It really is all you need.
Best for coffee: Nespresso Vertuo
If a regular cup of coffee is all you’re after, then keep it simple with the Nespresso Vertuo. You might consider the Nespresso Evoluo at the same price, but the Vertuo is slightly better rated by users. Like its Vertuo line cousins, the Vertuo specializes in making regular coffee, although you can still get espresso out of it as well.
- Makes five coffee sizes.
- Even the regular coffee comes with a nice layer of crema on top, which we like.
- Uses only the Nespresso-brand Vertuo type of capsule, but selection should be more than enough for most coffee drinkers.
No bells and whistles here, just quick, convenient coffee in the morning.
Best for office: Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe
The Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe is best for serving your office, because in a workplace you have to cater to a lot of different tastes. Some people like espresso, and some people just want a regular coffee. As we explained earlier, machines in the Vertuo line can do both, which makes them great for the office. And the best office machine in the Vertuo line is the VertuoPlus Deluxe, for several reasons:
- It has a 60-ounce water reservoir, by far the biggest in the Vertuo line. Forty ounces is fine for home use, but with all your co-workers coming to this machine you’re going to need more capacity.
- It’s quieter than other Vertuo line machines. If the machine sits anywhere near where people are working, they’ll appreciate that you put some thought into this.
- The water reservoir can swivel around to either side of the machine, or the back, so you’ll be able to fit the machine wherever you want in your office kitchen.
The VertuoPlus Deluxe has five brew settings but doesn’t come with any milk-frothing capabilities. You could always buy an Aeroccino milk frother to go with it, but if your co-workers neglect cleanup like mine do, you might want to skip the milk accessories altogether. People who really want milk can always keep a carton in the fridge and simply top up their coffees with it.
Best for Airbnb: Nespresso CitiZ
If I had to choose one Nespresso machine to serve my Airbnb, it would be the Nespresso CitiZ. As an Airbnb host, you want to provide your guests with a quick, easy, quality coffee experience in the morning, without causing yourself or your cleaners any unnecessary hassles. The CitiZ fits the bill for several reasons:
- It’s very intuitive to use. You can leave the small instruction booklet around for those who aren’t familiar with Nespresso, but the machine’s designs and buttons will make it obvious to guests what they’re supposed to do.
- It’s quick and easy to clean. There aren’t a lot of moving parts on this machine. You dump the empty capsules, rinse out the capsule container and drip tray, refill the water reservoir and wipe the machine down. It’s ready to go for the next guest.
- It takes up very little space. A cluttered counter doesn’t give guests a good first impression. The CitiZ is small enough to stay neatly tucked away until they need it.
This Original line machine makes only espresso and not regular coffee, but your guests can turn an espresso into an Americano easily if your Airbnb includes a kettle. The CitiZ typically comes packaged with an Aeroccino milk frother, which is an added bonus for your guests if you’re OK with the cleanup. Otherwise, you can keep the milk frother for yourself!
Best for beginners: Nespresso Pixie
I wouldn’t be the Nespresso fan I am today if it weren’t for the Nespresso Pixie, so this is a bit of a nostalgic choice. The Pixie was my introduction to the world of Nespresso, when I started at a new workplace that had one on the counter. I avoided it for months because I had no idea how to operate it. Then one of my co-workers showed me how to brew an espresso in 30 seconds and I was blown away.
- Very simple operation that’s almost impossible to get wrong.
- Will make you a Nespresso fan for life.
This is just a good, solid, simple Nespresso machine that really feels like it’s built to last. An excellent choice if you’re not too interested in milky drinks, or you’re just as happy topping up your espresso to make an Americano as you are with a regular coffee.
Best for the money: Nespresso Inissia
The best value Nespresso machine is the Nespresso Inissia. I’d put this Original line machine in the same category as the Pixie in terms of simplicity and ease of use. The difference is in the build, and that’s why the Inissia costs less. It’s mostly made of durable plastic, while the Pixie is mostly metal and built like a brick. Still, there’s a lot to like about the Inissia at its bargain price:
- Pushes out higher wattage than the Pixie, so it should heat up a bit faster and make your coffee slightly hotter.
- Small footprint and lighter build makes it easy to move around.
- Becoming a bit of a retro classic.
The Inissia was Nespresso’s first entry-level machine and is slowly being phased out, but there are still many to be found at a discount as dealers clear inventory. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a nice machine for $50 less than the Pixie, and these classic machine could one day be conversation pieces.
So there you have it, the best Nespresso machine I can think of for just about any situation. But you know what? You might be in a situation I haven’t thought of yet.
If that’s the case, let me know in the comments below what you need your Nespresso machine for, and I’d be happy to give it some thought, answer your question, and perhaps add a few more choices to the list. I appreciate your input!