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Last Updated on December 9, 2023
Capsule coffee machines are an increasingly popular choice for home espresso use, and Nespresso continues to be a favored brand as they offer quality, simplicity, and a robust capsule recycling program.
Nespresso’s top models vary in features and complexity, and it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. We’ll do our best to help you along. If you’re looking for a compact machine that still offers versatility, the Essenza Plus from Nespresso’s Original line is a great one to start with.
Nespresso has two lines: the Original line and their newer Vertuoline. The biggest difference is that the Vertuoline offers more brew sizes in an attempt to satisfy drip or “regular” coffee drinkers, and it is only compatible with Nespresso brand capsules.
If you’re looking to create primarily espresso-based drinks, the Original line machines are compact, more affordable, and offer better-tasting espresso.
You should consider a few things before you start your search for a new machine. Our Nespresso Essenza Plus review walks through the particulars of this machine to see if it’s right for you.
Before you begin
Your level of experience, the types of beverages you want to prepare, how much space you have, and your budget will likely be the most important factors when you choose a Nespresso machine. Nespresso has a wide range of machines to cover all of these factors.
However, if a traditional brewed cup of coffee is your preference, or if you’re an espresso aficionado looking to craft the finest barista-level drinks at home, these machines might not be for you. Nespresso machines are for those who want a quick and simple home espresso method that doesn’t require a steep learning curve or lots of cleanup. If this is you, then there’s bound to be a Nespresso machine that suits your needs.
The Essenza Plus is one of our top picks. It’s a simple yet versatile model from Nespresso’s Original line.
Essenza Plus features
In contrast to its cousins—the Nespresso CitiZ, Pixie, and Essenza Mini—which brew only espresso, the Nespresso Essenza Plus offers four brew sizes: traditional espresso and lungo, plus the addition of Americano and Americano XL options. The Americano options are made possible by a dedicated water line that can also provide hot water for brewing tea, without any contamination from coffee. This added versatility really sets the Essenza Plus apart from comparable Nespresso machines, which all feature quick heating, similar water reservoir sizes, and automatic shut-off.
The Essenza Plus also alerts you when it’s time to descale, which keeps you on schedule with your cleaning and descaling to keep your machine running smoothly.
It also has wireless connectivity. An app can allow you to control the machine from your phone, as well as adjust brew sizes, find recipes, and reorder your Nespresso capsules at the touch of a button.
Size and style
The Nespresso Essenza Plus has a slick, streamlined design. It’s compact, lightweight, and portable. You could even toss it in the car for road trips, ensuring you get a great cup of coffee in your hotel or bed-and-breakfast. The water tank is more than 50 per cent larger than the Essenza Mini, while hardly adding any additional footprint to your countertop. It has storage for 11 spent coffee capsules (up from six on the Mini), and comes in three classic colors: black, white, and red. The body is plastic, which makes it lighter than the aluminum Pixie, but also makes it slightly less durable.
Ease of use
Nespresso machines are designed to be straightforward, and the Essenza Plus certainly is. Simply select your favorite coffee capsule—either Nespresso or third party—slide it into the machine, push a button and you’re off to the races.
To access the additional Americano options, press either the espresso or lungo buttons at the same time as the hot water button for either a short Americano (4.2 oz) or the XL option (5.4 oz). These are the default size, and the Essenza Plus comes with instructions for programming these buttons for a volume that will fill your favorite mug.
The Essenza Plus, as with most Nespresso models, automatically turns off after nine minutes, so you won’t be wasting energy if you fly out the door without turning it off.
The Essenza Plus doesn’t have milk-frothing capabilities, but you can buy it with Nespresso’s Aeroccino milk frother as a separate accessory. This will allow you to make hot or cold frothy milk, or hot milk without foam. The Aeroccino is ridiculously simple to use. Many people prefer the taste and texture of Aeroccino microfoam to what is produced by Nespresso machines with integrated milk canisters—particularly if you’re new to making milk-based coffee drinks. If you have some barista experience and really want to take your latte skills to the next level, you might want to invest in one of the higher-end machines with a dedicated steam wand. If you just want that touch-of-a-button ease, the Essenza Plus with Aeroccino is an excellent option.
You’ll notice that the unit above has a slightly different design. That’s because it’s manufactured by De’Longhi rather than Breville. They are essentially the same machine with a slightly different look. We explain Nespresso’s partnerships with De’Longhi and Breville in another post.
The descaling alert (the buttons will flash red instead of green while the machine is heating up) is a reminder to keep up with regular deep cleaning and descaling of your machine. The machine will continue to operate, but regular descaling ensures you’re getting the best cup of coffee, and will prolong the life of your machine. Check out our article on cleaning your Nespresso machine for a more detailed look at cleaning and maintenance.
The addition of the hot water feature makes the Essenza Plus more versatile than it’s cousins, but it doesn’t have quite the same range as the Vertuoline machines. The ability to purchase third-party compatible capsules, however, make the Original line models much more versatile in terms of coffee selection.
The Essenza Plus is one of the more affordable options, both up front and in the long run, as capsules for the Original line are less expensive. With the addition of the Aeroccino milk frother, the Essenza Plus can brew up any of your favorite espresso drinks.
Quality of flavor
Nespresso machines are known for producing rich, espresso with a thick layer of crema, due to the 19 bars of pressure offered by all of their machines. The Original line, although limited in their brew sizes, deliver a better tasting espresso than the Vertuoline machines.
We have seen complaints that the Essenza Plus doesn’t deliver the rich layer of crema that consumers want, but we have never found it lacking. Disappointing crema could be a result of the coffee being used rather than the machine itself. Finding the blend that’s just right for you will take some experimentation. But that’s half the fun!
Waste is a prominent concern with capsule machines, and Nespresso recognizes this. They’ve invested in a robust capsule recycling program that (for the most part) is easy to access and simple to use. Some regions still struggle with access and outreach, but check out Nespresso’s website for the specifics in your area.
Overall, I was impressed with Nespresso’s commitment to a sustainable future for the coffee industry, and you can check out their progress and future commitments in their Creating Shared Value Report. We also take an objective look at their overall sustainability in our Nespresso sustainability article.
This little machine really performs. It’s simple, without too many bells and whistles, but in our experience it really gets the job done. The flavor is there, it’s versatile enough to brew espresso, Americano, and hot water for tea, and it tucks neatly into any corner of the kitchen. The 19 bars of pressure pump out a rich espresso every time, and with a vast range of capsules, both Nespresso and third party, you can really customize your brew. If you’re after a quick, delicious, and consistent espresso, with the versatility to make Americanos, lattes, and cappuccinos, the Essenza Plus with Aeroccino is for you.
Nespresso Essenza Plus specifications
|5.3" W x 9.4" H x 16.5" D
|Used capsule capacity
|after 9 minutes