What is it?
The Nespresso Vertuo is the latest Nespresso coffee machine. I wanted to hate it, but I actually love it. Speaking of hating things, some people hate reading long reviews. If you are one of those people, here’s the quick take: This is the best coffee machine for 90% of people. Only the snobbiest coffee drinkers, or those on the tightest budgets should stay away. If you’re already sold you can get it for under $200 by clicking here. If you want to know everything about this machine, stick around for the full review below:
What’s Special About the Nespresso Vertuo?
The Vertuo does two things the original Nespresso did not. It uses new coffee pods to make larger cups of coffee than the original Nespresso system, and, because of “Centrifusion” technology, it creates a foamy top, just like beer, which is notable because no other method of making coffee does this. The most serious coffee snobs will reject this machine for that reason alone, but I think the convenience, taste, and price make this a fantastic machine for 90% of coffee drinkers.
Nespresso is marketed as a luxury item, and has a George Clooney ad campaign and stores on high streets in major cities across the world. In Sydney, the Nespresso store is near the Apple and Louis Vuitton stores, to give you an idea of the market they are trying to target.
Yet unlike Apple or LV, Nespresso is relatively affordable. The machines cost anywhere from $150 to $300 and the coffee pods are about $1 each. This is hardly free, but also objectively cheaper in the long run than getting coffees at Starbucks every day.
What’s my experience?
I initially did not like this machine. It was given to me as a gift by my father. I was skeptical I would really use it, and didn’t think I would like the taste. Going in I knew this was prepackaged, preground coffee and that didn’t make me feel too enthusiastic. To make matters worse, I got a crazy headache after having a single cup. I was about to return it, but I decided to give it one more chance. I brewed another cup of coffee a few days later… and it was good. Then I tried one the next day. It also worked out. I had a decaf after dinner. All fine. Since it never happened again, I decided it was probably a coincidence. And after using the machine, I actually grew to really like it. Here’s why:
Convenience – 9 out of 10
Convenience is the #1 reason to buy this machine
Making espresso drinks at home is very hard for average users, so having a machine that does that for you is very useful. With this machine, if I want a latte, I just heat up some almond milk, then add a 40ml shot of espresso from the Vertuo machine. It tastes just like a café-made almond milk latte. If I want just a regular cup of coffee, I put in the 230 ml size pod, and there you go, a cup of coffee in about 25 seconds,
I wanted to hate it, but I actually love it.
It’s also versatile. Say you want to make an affogato. It’s a pain to do with a French press or a Chemex, which are the methods I had previously used to make coffee. With the Vertuo, you simply press a button.
Cleaning is extremely easy, since you merely throw away—or recycle—those metal pods. This has prompted environmental concerns from some and while I think these are valid, I also know different localities have different recycling policies. How environmentally friendly this machine is depends on whether you can recycle the pods.
Taste – 7 out of 10
A decent, consistent taste that outperforms some fancy coffee.
This does not compare to the best coffee I have ever had. But it is a lot better than the worst coffee I have ever had. It has a consistent and dark, but not burnt, taste. The reason it scored a 7 on taste is because it is actually better than many of the expensive single origin coffees which are sour and acidic that are sold at high end coffee shops. I do not like the trend of citrus-forward coffees which almost always seem to really just end up tasting sour.
Different coffee pods do have a somewhat different taste, but honestly these all tend to be shades of a similar dark but not distinctive coffee flavor. I generally like this flavor, so it gets a decent mark. Honestly, this stuff tastes like the Pike Place roast at Starbucks. Take that as you will.
There are also a collection of caramel and vanilla flavoured pods, which are actually pretty nice. I particularly like making a latte with an espresso pod, then adding a little bit of a caramel pod to spice it up and make it a little stronger.
Amazon has a good return policy, and many Nespresso stores let you try samples, so I’d encourage you to try this out for yourself.
Anyone aside from the most devoted Nespresso salesman will not argue that a pre-ground, packaged coffee pod is going to be as good as a single-origin freshly roasted and ground coffee. It’s just not. But that’s okay. Freshly roasted coffee will go bad and lose its flavor in a couple months tops. These pods will probably taste the same a few years from now. Let’s be blunt: You’re sacrificing some taste for convenience and longevity. Most consumers won’t notice, particularly if they are making a latte or adding a bunch of sugar.
Value – 8 out of 10
Good value compared to Starbucks, poor value compared to grinding your own coffee
The machines retail from $150-$300 depending on the exact model. I’ve never heard of the Vertuo selling for less than $115, and that was on Black Friday. The machines come with some free capsules, but after they run out you’ll need to buy more. In the United States you’ll be spending around $1 per capsule. Given a cup of black coffee at Starbucks costs around $3 and an espresso drink costs $4 or $5, this is not a bad deal. This coffee is cheaper and much more convenient than going out for a coffee, so I think it generally has a good value proposition.
To test that, I quickly ran the numbers and made a graph with these assumptions:
- $4 daily at Starbucks (Yellow)
- $1 daily for Nespresso Vertuo pods + $180 for the machine (Grey)
- $20 for a bag of coffee beans yielding 20 cups + $20 for a french press (Orange)
- $10 for a bag of coffee yielding 45 cups +$20 for a french press (Blue)
On a dollar basis it’s much more than buying a bag of coffee beans, grinding them yourself, and making a filter coffee each morning, but given that your time is valuable, and cleaning regular coffee machine can be a pain, I think the time saved is valuable.
A one pound (16oz) bag of coffee can yield a wildly different number of cups depending on your brew method. For this article, I made two estimates. My first estimate was a $20 bag yielding 20 cups of coffee ($1 per cup). My second estimate was a $10 bag of coffee yielding 45 cups (22 cents per cup). Both estimates included a $20 french press but no grinder.
Based on this chart, we can see that Nespresso Vertuo is much cheaper on a yearly basis than Starbucks, a bit more than home-brewing expensive coffee, and much more expensive than home-brewing cheap coffee.
Questions and Answers
Will coffee snobs like it?
The most discerning and uptight coffee-connoisseurs will not accept this machine. They will criticize the taste, which is merely good and not mind-blowing. I think the convenience and consistency outweighs this for 90% of consumers.
Purists will also criticize the large foam created by the machine. The amount of foam produced varies. It’s small when making a 40ml espresso and very substantial when making a 230 ml drink. I don’t mind the foam, even though it’s not authentic. When mixed with a bit of milk, the foam helps mimic the foam from a latte or cappuccino.
Is this coffee hot?
Yes. It comes out so hot that you might not want to drink it instantly. Only people wanting the very hottest coffee will be disappointed.
What’s the foam taste like?
It’s just a mild preview of the taste of the underlying coffee. You’d sort of expect it to be this way, since it’s just a foamy version of what’s in your cup.
Can you refill the pods?
Basically no, although I’ve read some comments online from people who developed hacks to do so.
What’s it like to have in daily life?
I have found this is an affordable and convenient way to make coffee. I usually use it to make decaf coffee or decaf almond lattes at night. It’s a lot more convenient than a French press and generally tastes decent. I still visit cafes to do work, partially for the ambiance and partially to try single origin coffees, but the Vertuo machine is certainly a good option for when you are at home.
What’s the difference between this and the original Nespresso machine?
- This machine uses new pods with barcodes which make drinks of different sizes.
- These pods are not compatible with older machines.
- The new pods produce large amounts of foam.
- There are no generic or refillable pods for the Vertuo machine.
Otherwise the machines are otherwise the same. They both use pre-ground coffee pods to make coffee. If you have an old machine, or want to use refillable pods, the older machines could be good for you. Otherwise you might as well just get the Vertuo. If you do get an old machine, Amazon reviewers suggest this one.
Which Vertuo machine should I get?
Good question. I have the Vertuo Plus, which has an automatic raising and lowering mechanism, and a larger, adjustable, water reservoir. Other than that the machines are about the same. The non-automatic machine currently costs $140. The automatic one is going for $180. Either way you will be getting good coffee for a convenient price.
Which flavors do you like?
I mostly use this for decaf at the end of the day, and I like all the decaf flavors: Decaffeinato, Decaffeinato Intenso, etc. I usually use the Altissio for espresso-based drinks. I don’t usually like flavored coffee, but the Caramelizio came in a sampler pack, and I think it’s actually quite good.
If you don’t drink coffee, but occasionally entertain guests who do, this machine is a good option.
If you have an office and can afford the $1 per pod price, this machine would be nice for your employees. Nespresso also has a high-volume corporate program for large businesses.
If you are ordering delivery coffee or stopping at a drive-through, this machine will save you money and be more convenient. As a general guide, I think this coffee will be about the quality of Starbucks.
If you want to make espresso-based desserts like an affogato, this machine is a great idea. Very convenient. I recommend these decaf pods for that, or for making decaf drinks in general.
If you are a coffee snob who always gets freshly roasted beans and already makes your own cups of coffee at home, this machine is not for you.
If you want a Vertuo and aren’t sure which to get, I’d recommend this one: The Nespresso VertuoPlus by Breville.
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This review is not sponsored by Nespresso or anyone else, but as with all our product review posts. we may earn a commission on link clicks through Amazon.
Anyone out there with a Vertuo machine? Let us know what you think!