When you think of Nespresso, the first word that enters your mind is likely convenience. Sound about right?
Nespresso machines are the ultimate in convenience, BUT, that’s only half the story.
The other half of the equation is quality. The Nespresso brand really is about quality espresso just as much as it is about ease of use.
If you’re considering a Nespresso you likely understand the value of quality espresso. You can taste the difference between the dessert drinks from Starbucks and a great latte from the local craft coffee shop.
And while you enjoy a great tasting ristretto or cappuccino, you also probably aren’t crazy about the idea of honing some serious at home barista skills. Who has time for that?
That’s the beauty of the Nespresso range of products: great tasting espresso, like your cafe favorite, without all the work on your part.
The Final Shot: If you are looking for a cheap machine and just need straight espresso shots choose the Inissia. If you want lattes go with the CitiZ. If you want to push one button, do nothing else and have a piping hot latte choose the Lattisima+. If you want coffee and espresso pick the Virtuoline. That sums up how to choose! I choose the Citiz for my office.
Anyone who has considered purchasing a Nespresso machine for their home will know that their products come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing the right one can feel overwhelming, especially since they also come with price tags of all shapes and sizes.
I felt that way when I first started looking into a Nespresso for my office (I ultimately ended up with the CitiZ!).
To ease the research burden, this guide will highlight every Nespresso model, the pros and cons of each, who they are best suited for and what to keep in mind when shopping.
I’ve also added in a few bonus sections on the capsule systems, the Aeroccino milk frother and a quick background on the brand in case you want to learn more.
If you want to skip forward to the product reviews, click the button below, otherwise, we’ve put together a comparison chart to get you started on the key features and how each model stacks up.
Water Tank Size
|Inissia||25 seconds||23.7 oz||No||2||Espresso|
|Pixie||25 seconds||24 oz||No||2||Espresso|
|Prodigio||25 seconds||27 oz||Aeroccino||3||Espresso|
|CitiZ||25-30 seconds||34 oz||Aeroccino||2||Espresso|
|Lattisima+||25 seconds||30.5 oz||Auto Frother||5||Espresso|
|Virtuoline||15-20 seconds||30 oz||Detached Aeroccino||2+||Espresso + Coffee|
|Evoluo||15-20 seconds||54 oz||Detached Aeroccino||2+||Espresso + Coffee|
With this article, my goal is to really help you understand what the Nespresso machines do offer, what they don’t offer AND what you should keep in mind when buying one.
There isn’t one machine on here that is a one-size fits all with no exceptions. There is no “best in show.” Different users are going to have different needs and expectations from their machines.
I sure did when I shopped for my Nespresso CitiZ for the office.
There are some key factors to keep in mind as you evaluate each of the models and read through our pro/con breakdowns for the entire line up. I want to highlight just a few before we get started: Price, Features and Aesthetics.
Nespresso machines are priced between $100 and $600 across a variety of different sellers, making them among the most affordable espresso machines on the market.
This is great because it means users with just about any budget can own one.
But keep in mind, the machine itself isn’t the only cost. Nespresso machines are only compatible with Nespresso capsules, which fall somewhere between $0.70 and $1.20 per serving, depending on which line of capsules you buy into.
Some models also require the purchase of additional components, which isn’t always clear from the get-go. An Aeroccino milk frother for specialty drinks, like lattes, is a good example.
Keep this in the back of your mind as you read through the product descriptions and what’s on offer. The price of the actual model you end up buying is more of a starting point, not the ultimate total.
For each of the machines, you’ll need to take note of various bonus features and understand which ones are your must haves. Not every machine from Nespresso functions the same or has the same basic feature set.
Some heat up much faster than others, some yield different serving sizes, some offer a steam wand for frothing milk, and some have touch capabilities.
As I mentioned in the price section, some models also come with optional features to be purchased separately. There are a range of features worth considering, whether you want all the bells and whistles, or a single button and a mug.
I find it’s helpful to list the ones you must have, as well as the features you might like to have.
Nespresso machines come in different sizes, styles, finishes, and colors.
While the aesthetic qualities of an espresso machine may not be at the top of the list of priorities, most of us like to keep our home décor within a certain theme or style, and space isn’t always an abundant luxury in our kitchens.
Keeping in mind the stylistic options that come with each machine may help guide you as a swing-vote toward one model or another.
For example, the ability to steam and froth milk would be among the most important features to consider for those of us who love a good latte. But c compact machine would be important for those of us who don’t have a lot of extra space to dedicate, like an office countertop.
Now that you’re up to date on the basic criteria to use, let’s take a look at some of the more specific ways that Nespresso machines are distinguishable from one another.
Since making its grand entrance on the coffee scene, Nespresso machines have branched off into two separate lines.
Each line has its own style of capsule, and its own range of products. Before diving into the machines themselves, we’ll sort out differences between the two lines and establish some key advantages to each as a baseline.
These machines are designed with one purpose in mind: great espresso.
They feature 19-bars of pressure, which is necessary for the extraction of all of the rich and flavorful aromas contained in the Nespresso capsules.
The high pressure and pump-driven system guarantees a rich espresso, complete with a rich layer of crema, every time.
As a side note, I know from experience, the crema doesn’t disappoint. I was totally blown away after brewing my first pod. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s sort of magical.
The espresso capsules for the OriginalLine machines are all the same size, and the coffee inside is carefully selected to yield an espresso with a unique aromatic profile and well-balanced flavor.
The universal size means that every OriginalLine capsule contains the same amount of ground coffee, enough to yield between 40 and 110 ml of espresso. There are over 20 different capsules of varying levels of intensity, with two limited editions made available every year.
This is the line to choose for the light and fruity espresso, or the dark and bitter brew; it really is the gourmet espresso machine for the everyday convenience user.
This is Nespresso’s newest line of machines.
There are a few key features that set VirtuoLine models apart from the OriginalLine, but they follow the same capsule-based process and offer the same high-quality coffee that made the OriginalLine so successful.
For starters, VirtuoLine machines make use of a patented technology known as “Centrifusion.” This refers to a process by which the capsules are spun at high speeds (up to 7000 rpm) in order to thoroughly blend the coffee grounds and hot water. This method of extraction yields a smooth and silky beverage with intense flavor and richness of body.
There are also entirely different capsules for the VirtuoLine, and it should be noted that these are not compatible with the OriginalLine machines. These capsules come in two different sizes: the larger size yields 7.8 fluid ounces of coffee, and the smaller size yields 1.4 fluid ounces of espresso.
These capsules include a barcode system which contains information regarding cup size, temperature, rotation speed, and other parameters that the VirtuoLine machines regulate. This ensures super precise brewing throughout the different sizes and variations of the VirtuoLine capsules.
Both lines offer high-quality machines that yield excellent espresso, so choosing one over the other boils down to what the machine is ultimately going to be used for. The VirtuoLine was developed in part to meet the demand of North American consumption of larger servings of coffee, which an OriginalLine machine will not do. However, if all you want to do is brew excellent espresso, then the OriginalLine is what you’re looking for.
This is a decision about coffee, and so it will really come down to the coffee varieties and capsules themselves. Espresso only or Espresso + Coffee.
As we’ve established, there are quite a few relevant points of interest in choosing a Nespresso machine.
I’m going to take you through the entire product line and highlight some of the primary advantages and disadvantages that each of the machines have.
With some of them (the Inissia and Pixie especially), it feels almost impossible to understand how they differ at first glance. They look really similar and their feature lists are almost mirror images. I promise they aren’t the same and I’ll help you understand why.
With the exception of the Evoluo and Virtuoline machines at the end of the list, all machines are from the OriginalLine branch of Nespresso machines.
The Inissia is an entry level Nespresso machine. It is compact, sleek, ultra-affordable, and comes with none of the extra features that other machines will.
If you’re interested in testing the waters with Nespresso, but don’t want any frills or something that requires a lot of counter space, then this is the streamlined, simple option for you.
This is a fantastic machine for a college dorm room, or a small apartment where space is in high demand. It is also best suited for those who don’t want to have to think about maintaining or paying much attention to the machine.
The Pixie is another entry level Nespresso machine, ergonomically designed and suited for any space. Like the Inissia, it has a fast heat up time, and demands very little in the way of maintenance and attention.
The Pixie is best suited for the mobile, hassle-free environment. It essentially takes care of itself, and monitors its own water supply level so that you don’t have ever have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Perfect for college dorm rooms, minimalist kitchen spaces, or the office.
The Prodigio is Nespresso’s first machine to be compatible with your smart phone. Yes, that’s a real thing. We’re totally living in the future.
The Prodigio + Milk system also incorporates a built-in Aeroccino, so that recipes for lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos are only a button press away. With the same 25 second heat-up time as the base models, this is the first machine to start to add new and exciting features to the Nespresso line.
This is the machine for those of us who are constantly connected to our smartphones. What else is cooler than waking up to pre-programmed espresso? This machine will fit in perfectly in the modern home, or any place where tech is embraced.
The CitiZ is all about incorporating convenient espresso with an artistic, retro-modern design. This machine is programmable, and comes with an Aeroccino for endless milk-based beverages at the press of a button. While not as technologically advanced as other higher model Nespresso machines, the machine excels at combining simplicity and design with practicality and ease-of-access.
This is the machine I own. If you want to see a more in depth review check it out here.If you want to see a more in depth review check it out here.
This is the machine for the aesthetically minded, for those who want a stylish appliance that delivers great espresso. Also a best pick for those seeking the extra convenience of a larger water tank and an integrated milk frother not found on the preceding basic models.
The Lattisima + is the perfect machine for those who are committed to adding frothed milk to their espressos. If you are looking for the ultimate easy latte machine, then this is the one for you. With a fully integrated milk container and frothing system, there is no need to purchase a separate Aeroccino.
This is an excellent machine for those who are more used to drinking lattes and other milk-based beverages than standard espressos. It opens up an entirely new area of coffee preparation without the relative hassle of the Aeroccino. It isn’t the smallest machine on the line, so it might be better suited to homes with more space than not.
There is a Touch version of the Lattisima + that incorporates a milk frothing button. This opens up a little more possibility by allowing the user to add and regulate the texture of milk froth at will. Froth is the determining factor for most milk-based drinks, so those looking to be involved in the creation process and enjoy a wider range of espresso drinks will find this a really welcome addition to the Lattisima + base model.
The Lattisima Touch also adds two more programmable buttons to the base model, for a total of 6 preset options. This, together with the ability to add milk froth at will, allows for a more experimental approach.
However, be prepared to spend about $100 dollars more for the upgrade.
The Lattisima Pro is the most expensive option on this list, and as you would expect, it comes packed with the most features. It includes pretty much every feature listed on the other machines on our list, AND incorporates a digital touch screen display for navigation and programmability. This is a more pro level machine designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind.
This is the machine for those of us who just want it all. It offers all of Nespresso’s OriginalLine functionalities, and leaves little or nothing to wanting. It is the largest machine on the line, and so will need a home with a fair amount of counter space, though it is not considerably larger than any of the models. Perfect for the modern, established home.
The Virtuoline machine is the first in a line of machines utilizing Nespresso’s Centrifusion technology and a readable system of barcodes on the rim of every capsule.
This machine and the Evoluo are almost entirely different from the machines listed above, and use their own style capsules. If you’re looking for an entirely unique espresso AND coffee experience, then this is the machine for you.
This is a machine for those of us not interested in being strictly held to espresso. If you want a decent sized cup of regular coffee, and like the idea of a layer of crema to accompany it, then this machine will replace the old drip coffee machine taking up space on your kitchen counter. Ideal for a larger kitchen where space is not an issue.
This machine is essentially the next generation VirtuoLine. There aren’t many differences between the Evoluo and its predecessor, and they are pretty comparable in price. Since the Evoluo machine is a direct upgrade from the VirtuoLine machine, we would recommend going with this machine if you want to get into VirtuoLine technology.
This machine is the best option for anyone interested in the VirtuoLine capsule system. It should appeal to anyone interested in the Virtuoline, and as we mentioned, there are really no reasons to choose the Virtuoline over the Evoluo. This machine would be the perfect addition to the modern home, with the prospect of more grand crus on the way.
We’ve been talking about these capsules, but what exactly are they? Where do they come from? Nespresso’s capsule system is one of its biggest draws, so we want to understand exactly what it is that we are investing in.
Nespresso calls its coffees “grand crus,” a term denoting a high-quality food or drink product. The company takes pride in ensuring that coffee beans are carefully sourced, sorted, and graded so that every capsule contains superior quality coffee, which in turn yields superior quality espresso.
The capsules are hermetically sealed, meaning that they are airtight and insulated in order to preserve the coffee and all of its most important aromas inside. They are also made of aluminum, which is an extremely recyclable material. Nespresso encourages its users to recycle the capsules once they have been used in order to help minimize the environmental impact.
Each capsule is designed specifically for use in its respective Nespresso line. As previously mentioned, the capsules are not interchangeable between lines, and so we will need to look at the differences between what the two capsule systems offer.
To make it easier to choose I created a huge guide on the best nespresso capsules. It includes all of my favorites and my favorite variety pack!
There are currently 23 grand crus, offered by Nespresso in six different categories. Three of these categories specify a certain serving size: Intenso, Espresso, and Lungo. Respectively, these capsules are intended for beverages in serving sizes of 25 ml, 40 ml, 110 ml. All of these capsules are blends with unique flavor profiles, and Nespresso is constantly experimenting and offering more.
The other three categories are Pure Origin, Decaffeinato, and Variations. Pure Origin refer to coffees sourced from a single country and territory, which usually have intense or striking characteristics. Decaffeinato capsules, as the name implies, are decaffeinated versions of certain grand crus. Lastly, the Variations are vanilla, chocolate, and caramel flavored versions of one of Nespresso’s most popular grand crus.
For now, there are more options to choose from within the OriginalLine capsules, so if you’re looking for variety and love espresso, OriginalLine will be the better option for you.
There are only 14 grand crus available in the VirtuoLine, and the flavor variety is further differentiated by size denominations as well.
The primary advantage of VirtuoLine over OriginalLine is being able to choose between espresso and coffee, which many people will find essential. These machines are for those who do not like being limited to espresso, and are most popular in North America.
There are four small, espresso sizes, one of which is a decaffeinated version of another grand cru. This makes the decision relatively easy for someone looking into a machine specifically intended for espresso use. The real strength of the VirtuoLine lies in its coffees.
All of the other capsules in the VirtuoLine are made in the larger denomination, intended for a 7.8 fluid ounce cup of coffee. As with the OriginalLine, there are decaffeinated coffees, and a handful of Variations. The most interesting aspect of the VirtuoLine coffee is that the much larger denomination of coffee retains the layer of crema that an espresso has, something unique to the Nespresso brand.
The main point here is whether or not the variety of choice is important to you, and whether or not the machine is going to be used strictly for espresso. Either way, don’t forget to recycle those capsules!
After learning about all of the individual Nespresso models and the capsules, I want to highlight the Aeroccino frother since it is a supplement for many and also an integrated feature on the CitiZ and Prodigio.
The Aeroccino is used to steam or froth milk, allowing you to make lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, or iced coffees.
Milk froth and steamed milk are the cream and sugar of the espresso world. They provide a sweet and creamy texture that rounds out the concentrated, intense flavors of espresso. If you want to sip on all your favorite coffee house drinks, then you will need the Aeroccino.
Like the Nespresso machines, the Aeroccino removes most of the difficulties of frothing or steaming milk from the equation. The newest line of Aeroccinos, the Aeroccino4, has preset options that only require you to press a button and wait. You can pre-select airy or dense froth, and cold or hot milk to suit your needs.
The Aeroccino is sometimes bundled with Nespresso machines, but it can always be purchased separately in the event that you purchase a standalone machine that you want to add to later on.
Some of the pricier machines already comes with an integrated milk frothing system and don’t require the Aeroccino, but all of the lower end models do. If you aren’t sure if you will want to froth your milk, buy the machine on its own first and then add the Aeroccino later, if needed.
Espresso just isn’t like regular drip coffee.
It offers drinkers a unique flavor and sipping experience that is more ritual than expedient morning necessity.
I can’t quite put my finger on whether it is the Italian history seeping through, making it feel like an experience to be savored, or if the taste is so elevated that you can’t help but take notice.
Or maybe it is the novelty of for so long being more of a coffee shop beverage than an at-home drink.
Espresso often requires a considerable amount of pressure and finesse to brew successfully and depending on the machine, some barista skills. This means, early espresso machines were either way too large for the home, or too expensive to be practical for the average consumer.
That really began to change when the Swiss brand, Nespresso, entered the coffee scene in the 1970s and offered their first single-serve capsule brewer in the early 2000s.
Nespressos are pod-based espresso machines pre-programmed to brew espresso from uniquely shaped capsules that are packed with espresso grounds. With the simple press of a button, espresso is available for easy at-home enjoyment.
No hefty machine and no tinkering required. Finesse and pressure are seamlessly engineered into the machine.
Nespressos are iconic for a sleek, low profile design, ease of use, and espresso-based pod brewing.
Other single serve machines have been able to offer the drip-style coffee experience in a pod, but Nespresso is unique in it’s ability to recreate the ritual of espresso in an ultra-convenient mini-package.
Today, Nespresso machines are built across many different manufacturers, with multiple models available for purchase. The Original line offers compact models designed to brew perfect espresso shots (there’s lots of crema!), with the added bonus of a separate frother for specialty drinks. The Vertuoline is changing the game somewhat by offering both espresso AND coffee brewing in a single unit.
Nespresso’s aim isn’t to replace high-end semi-automatic espresso machines. They’re really out to offer a uniquely convenient espresso experience at home or the office, without the need to learn all the ropes of grinding tamping and pulling a shot.
Each of the Nespresso machines is created with design, ease of use, and quality in mind. This really just means that it’s impossible to make a bad choice when buying from either line.
While there may not be a lot in the way of manual, hands-on functionality, the true strength of the Nespresso is in its ability to brew a fantastic espresso or coffee with little to no hassle from the user.
These are convenience machines, they really aren’t for users who want to rival their favorite craft coffee shop barista with the ability to manually pull a perfect shot and whip out some latte art.
As a small side note, some people might be wondering about the difference between Keurig, the other major pod-based brewing system, and Nespresso. In short, Nespresso is solely interested in quality espresso, and with the VirtuoLine machines, coffee. Keurig is far more varied and diverse, with a wide range of drinks, products, brands, and pods.
Also, for the environmentally friendly, Nespresso has to some extent attracted attention for the waste that builds up with single-serving capsules once they are discarded. As we have touched on in this article, the capsules are totally recyclable, and are ultimately up to the user to recycle properly.
Nespresso has taken measures to ensure that it leaves as small a footprint as possible.
So, no matter what your preferences for espresso and coffee, we wish you the best of luck in finding the best Nespresso machine that will suit your tastes!
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Week 1 - Home Espresso Machines
Week 2 - Coffee Beans
Week 3 - Types of Drinks
Week 4 - Advanced Brewing
Join Mike (me) and learn all the basics of making great tasting espresso!
I am a die-hard espresso fan. I love every form of the drink from straight espresso shots to lattes and cappuccinos. I currently use a Breville BES870XL Barista, it is an awesome machine. BUT, my dream machine is definitely an Italian Quickmill Andreja. Those bad boys make badass espresso. I love answering your questions, leave a comment or question below!