Nespresso were the first pod (or capsule) coffee machines available on the market, and as such managed to build up a strong brand affinity that has remained with them to this day. Indeed, if you ask the average person on the street to name a brand of coffee pod machine, chances are that Nespresso would be the first name off their tongue. As the inventors of the single-serve coffee capsule, they have a great pedigree in this market, so it’s easy to understand why many users looking for a pod machine jump straight to, “I want a Nespresso”.
In this article, we take a look at five of the best Nespresso machines and pick out some of their good points and flaws to help you make an informed decision. We also look at some of the history behind the Nespresso brand, and how it came to be synonymous with coffee pod machines for so many. You can read more of this at the bottom of the page or by clicking here. But if you want to just get straight down to the best machines, then let’s get started.
Note: you may find many of the models selected here also available with an ‘Aeroccino’ inclued as part of a package deal. Not sure what an Aeroccino is or if you want one? Then click here to read our explanation
The Vertuo by Krups is an elegantly designed Nespresso machine that would look great on any kitchen counter. The 1.2 litre water tank is a very generous size when it comes to pod machines and is neatly housed on the side of the unit, rather than the back which many pod machines seem to opt for, making access to change water or top it up nice and convenient.
Once you have finished making your coffee of choice, as you lift the lid the used capsule is autmatically popped out and drops into the pod recycling tank (this is housed on the opposite side on the machine shown in the picture and essentially looks like a second water tank, giving the unit a nice symmetry). This means that you never have to fiddle about prising boiling hot pods from a pod holder, and the recycling tank holds around 13 large Nespresso pods – so you won’t be forever emptying it.
As well as this Vertuo model, there is also a Vertuo Plus, which will set you back a bit of extra cash, and provides a few additional features such as an automatic opening and closing lid, a bigger water tank of 1.7 litres, which is moveable to make filling even easier. In my opinion, the extra features are nice to have but probably aren’t worth the cost.
Overall, this is a really good Nespresso machine. It doesn’t have too many frills but it does what it does very well and would be a solid purchase for the majority of customers.
The Essenza Mini from Magimix is a neat little, entry-level Nespresso unit. As the name implies, the Essenza Mini is a really compact unit, measuring just 32cm high, 11cm wide and 20.5cm deep so would make a good choice if limited kitchen counter space is an issue. The Essenza mini is available in four different colours; black, white, green and the red shown here.
Even though it is little, it performs well. The machine heats up in just 25 seconds and is ready to use, and has a programmable water control to allow you to fine-tune your coffees.
The downside of the compact size of course is the small water tank of just 0.6 litres. This is roughly 3 cups of coffee, so if there are a couple of people using this machine you may find that you are filling the water tank a fair bit (which, incidentally, is housed at the back of the unit, making it a little tricker to access) – just something to bear in mind.
The pod recycling container is reasonably large given the units overall size, and will hold 5 or 6 used pods before it needs emptying.
This is one of the cheaper Nespresso machines on the market, but the performance and aesthetic belies its low price tag.
The De’Longhi Lattissima Touch is a step up in Nespresso machine, and a little step up in price too. It is available in three colours – black (shown here), white and silver.
Personally, I’m not a massive fan of the way it looks, but this is clearly subject to opinion. With the additional cost comes additional features including a built in milk frother, programmable personalised drinks and descaling and cleaning alerts.
The aforementioned milk frother can prepare cappucinos at the touch of a button – so if milky numbers such as cappucino or latte machiatto are your go-to drink then this may be a good purchase for you.
Performance is generally good, with the unit heated and ready to go in 25 seconds – although the milk could have done with being heated a tad hotter in my opinion.
The Pixie from Magimix is so named for it’s ultra-compact footprint. It is just 11cm wide – so similar in size to the Essenza Mini discussed above. In fact, the Pixe is very similar to the Essenza Mini in many ways, but it feels like a bit of an upgrade in build quality, with a lot less plastic on show and metal sides prevalant.
The Pixie is available in aluminium (pictured here), chrome or carmine red. Overall this makes for a really attractive unit that I would be happy to place on my kitchen worktop for all to see.
In terms of features, there isn’t too much to shout about over and above the Essenza Mini – it is a fairly basic machine, although there is a nice folding drip tray that lifts up to accomodate bigger mugs – but if you are interested in the aesthetic and build quality of the product then this would be a worthy purchase.
The first thing to say about the Creatista Plus is that it is nearly three times the price of any of the other models on this page. So what do you get for that extra money?
Well, there is the build quality, with the model shown here being fully brushed stainless steel – although it is also available in champagne, black and black-truffle (However, I’m not 100% certain what the difference is between these last two to be perfectly honest)!
There is also the performance, with the unit heating up and ready to go in a blisteringly fast three seconds – which is probably quicker than the user can get a cup out of the cupboard and a pod selected!
Lastly there is the features. The Creatista Plus has a large 1.5 litre water tank, a built in milk frother, an included stainless steel milk jug, a pop out cup holder to give the option of using a small espresso style glass or a taller class or cup, LCD colour screen, adjustable milk temperature, adjustable foam texture, on-screen cleaning prompts and more. That is a lot of features, particularly when compared to some of the more basic models included elsewhere on this page.
Whether or not you will make use of many of these features is probably down to the individual, but if you want a highly customisable coffee with the convenience of the Nespresso pods then this is a stellar buy.
Downsides wise, the price is steep for a pod machine, and you could get an entry-level bean to cup machine for the same spend. Also it is a big boy, measuring nearly 31cm wide and 39cm tall. But if you’ve got the counter space and want the rolls-royce of coffee pod machines – this may be just up your street.
Nespresso Machine FAQs
What is a Nespresso Machine Anyway?
To answer this, we need a little bit of coffee history. As far back as 1976, Swiss milk-lovers Nestlé designed and patented the Nespresso system. The word Nespresso is a conjunction of Nestlé and Espresso (see what they did there) and was the first coffee pod system in existence. Nestlé promised that the Nespresso system would:
“enable anyone to create the perfect cup of espresso coffee, just like skilled baristas”.
At first, the system actually didn’t go down so well with customers, and it wasn’t until the Mid-1990s that Nespresso started to take off, with sales initially being online-only before Nestle opened their first store in 2000. You can read more detail about the rise of the Nespresso brand on the Nestle website here.
So having come up with the system and it starting to gain some momentum with consumers, Nestlé expanded the number of Nespresso compatible machines being produced by signing contracts with traditional coffee machine brands including Krups, Magimix, Siemens and De’Longhi. This is why you will see machines from various different manufacturers bearing the Nespresso brand. Nespresso is just the capsules and the delivery system.
Add into the mix those iconic adverts featuring George Clooney (see below for the latest Game of Thrones rip-off, featuring Natalie Dormer) and it is easy to see why Nespresso is a go-to coffee capsule brand.
So Nespresso Machines are Just Coffee Pod Machines Then?
Essentially, yes. Nespresso capsules have some unique properties that distinguish them from other coffee pods, such as the fact that Nespresso pods are made from aluminum, which Nestlé claims provides a superior airtight seal – ensuring that moisture, oxygen, light and heat is kept away from the coffee. But in the sense that these are single-serve, coffee capsule machines – yes, Nespresso is essentially just the same as any other pod machine on the market (in fact, you may be interested to read our article on the top coffee pod machines available).
Can I Use any Capsules With My Nespresso Machine?
No, you will have to buy Nespresso compatible pods. Until 2011, that meant you had to buy pods produced by Nestlé. However, that year Nestlé lost a court battle with a budget supermarket that was selling Nespresso compatible pods for half the price. This opened up the market for many others to follow suit and produce coffee pods for the Nespresso system. Nestlé valiantly battled against this with various law-suits, but they essentially lost them all – and today you can find a whole variety of Nespresso compatible capsules on the market.
That’s not to say all of them are great quality of course, but at least it provides the consumer with the choice and doesn’t keep them locked into paying exorbitant prices for the ‘real-deal’, should they not wish to.
What is an Aeroccino and do I Need One?
An Aeroccino (pictured below) is basically a Nespresso branded milk frother. It is worth noting, that there are other brands of milk frother available that do exactly the same thing that may be cheaper and/or better than this specific Nespresso model (many even look very similar), so it is worth shopping around.
As to whether or not you need one, that all depends on whether you like to drink frothy milky coffees such as a cappucino, and whether your Nespresso machine comes included with a milk frother (such as the De’Longhi Lattissima Touch listed above) or not.
If you want to make your own frothy coffees and your Nespresso machine doesn’t have an included milk frother, then an Aeroccino or its equivalent may well be a useful purchase for you.