If convenience and speed are your coffee priorities, you may be considering a pod-operated coffee maker that can dispense hot coffee drinks within a minute at the touch of a button. Though some coffee snobs may view the taste as subpar in comparison to the coffee made in a drip coffee maker, it’s the user-friendliness, intuitive design, and high-quality coffee capsules that make Nespresso machines—like our favorite Nespresso VertuoPlus by Breville(available at Amazon)—a popular choice for people who aren’t thrilled about fiddling with a French press in the morning.
In our past testings of pod coffee and espresso makers, we tried a handful of Nespresso machines, many of which performed better than their Keurig equivalents.
Here are the best Nespresso machines we’ve tested at Reviewed.
Nespresso VertuoPlus by Breville
Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo by De’Longhi
Nespresso Creatista Plus by Breville
Nespresso Lattissima by De’Longhi
Nespresso Essenza Mini
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
Our clear winner, the Nespresso VertuoPlus by Breville, is exactly what we look for in a single-serve pod coffee machine. With the VertuoLine centrifusion brewing method, our coffee came out with foamy crema on top, a truly luxurious experience. The technology behind this dense, rich, and aromatic coffee is simple—a machine head penetrates the capsules in the center and around the edges, allowing water to enter in the center opening and push through the 20 edge holes, maximizing ground coffee interaction and pressure. It also brews espresso capsules so you can make espresso, double espresso, and regular coffee.
Unlike most of the other pod brewers we tested, the Nespresso VertuoPlus by Breville’s compact design makes it easy to keep on your countertop or store where space is limited. It boasts a 40-ounce water tank that can also swivel out easily. The motorized head opens with a light lift, different from traditional Keurig machines that often require a forced push and thus increase the chance of wear and tear.
The machine can also automatically eject the used coffee pods into a hidden container, saving you from burning your fingertips by manually taking out the pods. And the capsules can be dropped off at various collection sites and their boutique retail stores for the manufacturer to recycle them. Oh, and there’s an additional milk frother—which took first place in our best milk frother roundup—included in bundles if you’re interested in latte or steamed milk in your coffee. As one Amazon reviewer notes, “The Nespresso VertuoPlus by Breville machine is like Keurig on steroids.” It’s true.
Our new winner of the pod espresso roundup, the Nespresso Creatista by Breville, impressed us with its intuitive design, sleek appearance, and delicious espresso. Naming it our favorite was a no-brainer.
This Nespresso was the only machine we tested that didn’t require reading the manual to get it started. Once plugged in, the smart display screen quickly got my attention and led me through the right steps to get the machine ready. This Creatista Plus model has every aspect of a user-friendly espresso maker that my old-fashioned machine lacks: sleek design, intuitive touch buttons and a countertop-friendly size.
This model offers several brewing options. For espresso, you can choose between espresso and lungo, which means “large” in Italian. For coffee drinks, you can select flat white, cappuccino, and latte. Then the machine asks you to select the temperature of the milk to make sure it froths a perfect cup every time. Every shot we pumped came out with light brown, foamy crema on top, and the milk frother also did wonders.
Additionally, because you make the shot first and then start the milk separately, using the Creatista Plus resembles the process of operating a regular espresso maker, which is great for regular espresso machine users like me. The steam pump also self-cleans after each use, and the wastewater automatically goes into the built-in drain. It features the largest water tank of this roundup at 60 ounces. Every espresso shot contains about 1.6 ounces, so there’s definitely no need to refill the tank too often.
The De’Longhi Lattissima is an all-in-one artisanal coffee maker. It allows you to make espresso shots and lattes or cappuccino, all with one touch.
The process is straightforward: Firstly, lift open the head with a slight push and then insert a Nespresso capsule. Then on the control panel, choose from one of four options: espresso, lungo, latte, and cappuccino. Make sure to use a large mug and adjust the tip of the steam wand so the foam doesn’t spill everywhere. Unlike other machines we tested, the Lattissima makes lattes that requires only one push. In our tests, the coffee drinks turned out to be consistently decent, with foamy toppings. It’s easy to clean as well that you only need to remove the parts below the brewing head and throw them in a dishwasher.
The main reason the Lattisima didn’t earn our top spot was its water tank. The very narrow reservoir design makes it exceptionally difficult to pour water in without making a mess, either from the tap or from a water pitcher. De’Longhi probably should consider redesigning this extremely inconvenient water tank. What’s more, the user manual was confusing. The first latte we made left us with a mess with milk spilling everywhere.
I’m Valerie Li, Reviewed’s cooking and kitchen staff writer—and I’m an avid coffee and tea drinker. For me, a day officially starts when I take my shot of espresso, brewed by my beloved De’Longhi machine. From moseying to 7-Eleven for a quick caffeine fix to traveling to Blue Mountain plantation in Jamaica, I’ve sampled coffee of many different origins and varieties. Sharon Franke, who has been testing equipment for more than 30 years, also tested and reviewed products that appear in this guide.
We tested 19 coffee and espresso machines , each under $500, that use capsules rather than ground coffee. We evaluated on design, ease of use, and most importantly, the quality of the cup of espresso and/or latte it delivered.
Since this is an appliance that is going to live on your countertop, how it looks and how big of a footprint it takes up is important to consider. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what appeals to your sense of style and how much space you’re willing to dedicate, but we gave high marks to “heavy builds.”
We considered the clarity of the manual, how easy it was to get the coffee maker up and running, fill the tank with water, use the controls, and clean the machine, as well as how many shots you can expect to brew without refilling the tank.
How to take care of your Nespresso machine?
Aside from routine cleaning, you should descale your machine once every six months. Why is descaling important? While we brew coffee, the water we use is not pure and contains minerals, commonly calcium and magnesium. In the long-term, those minerals can build up and gradually accumulate as limescale. It can affect the taste of your coffee as the water temperature might not be able to reach the optimal brewing level and it could eventually lead to machine malfunction.
Other Nespresso Machines We Tested
Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo
In contrast to the utilitarian line of K-Cup brewers is the elegant Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo. Capable of creating both espresso and regular coffee beverages, the Evoluo is an excellent choice for those who want the convenience of a pod brewer, but aren’t willing to compromise when it comes to overall flavor.
In our tests, we found the resulting coffee from the Evoluo to be superior in terms of taste to anything made by a K-Cup brewer, although coffee experts will say it still doesn’t quite match French press or pour-over coffee. And though VertuoLine puts a killer crema in your cup, it can't make cocoa or iced tea.
Constructed from high-quality materials and sporting a minimalist control interface, the Evoluo wouldn’t look out of place next to a KitchenAid stand mixer or a Viking range. High-end design comes at a cost, however, and the Evoluo is considerably more expensive than any comparable K-Cup brewer. The pods themselves are also priced higher, and are harder to find than their K-Cup equivalents.
Before our most recent update of this guide, our original winner, the Nespresso CitiZ, drew our attention for its compact, sleek design. It also features a versatile foldable cup tray that accommodates taller single-serve coffee or espresso glasses. Every cup of espresso brewed in less than 25 seconds, measured two ounces or less, and was hot enough even if you opt to add a dash of cold milk.
If you like your cup shorter (fewer ounces and more intense) or taller (more ounces but less strength) you can set the volume you prefer by holding down the button as it brews and releasing it when your desired amount is dispensed; the CitiZ will remember the setting. In cup after cup, Nespresso espressos had the combination of bitter and sweet notes that always make espresso so satisfying.
With the new Essenza Mini, you get the same great cup of crema-topped espresso you would expect from even the largest, most expensive Nespresso machine—but you don't have to give up as much of your kitchen's precious counter space. Wondering what you give up? Although it’s attractively designed, the Essenza doesn’t quite have the heft of the pricier models.
Its tank only holds enough water for about 10 shots, but since it’s recommended that you refill the tank with fresh water every day, this won’t be a drawback unless you keep yourself super caffeinated. After every six brews, you’ll need to empty the used capsule holder. If you buy the Nespresso Essenza Mini Bundle—from Breville—you get the same Aeroccino 3 frother that comes with the CitiZ & Milk—but it will sit on your countertop instead of on the machine.
The Essenza comes in two styles, both of which are eight inches deep. The Mini by Breville is 13 inches tall and just 3.5 inches wide, and it comes in black, white, and grey. The Mini by De’Longhi is 12.75 inches tall, 4.5 inches wide at its base, and shaped like a trapezoid. It comes in your choice of black, white, green, or red.
Until the Essenza Mini came along, this model was the smallest Nespresso machine you could buy. It is still a very reliable choice, if every single bit of counter space isn’t precious.
We found this machine slightly sturdier but a little less easy to use, as it is possible to neglect to push the lever all the way down. Do that, and it will pour coffee all over your counter instead of into the cup. The tank holds enough water for about a dozen cups of espresso. You can choose an aluminum or titanium finish.
If you like the latest bells and whistles, the Expert is the machine for you. Its basic usability is the same as other Nespresso machines and you get the same consistently good espresso but you have a broader array of settings from small ristretto to americano as well as hot water. Designed for heavy users, the Expert’s tank holds enough water for about 18 shots and the interior compartment about 10 capsules.
In addition to being able to control the volume each setting delivers, you can easily adjust the coffee temperature. Because you make all these choices before you press the brew button, you do have to check the settings when you change up your drinks.
The biggest innovation, however, is the Bluetooth connectivity which allows you to control your machine and order coffee through an app on your phone as well as receive alerts when the tank is empty or the used capsule compartment is full.
Now, honestly, it’s pretty easy to order new capsules online without the app. And is it really necessary to start the brewing process from your phone, rather than by pressing the button on the appliance itself? We found it more convenient to adjust the amount of coffee for each setting with the app, instead of on the machine, but we'd still caution you to think hard before purchasing the Expert (which doesn’t come with a frother) at a higher price than our other Nespresso picks.
Valerie Li Stack is a senior staff writer for Kitchen & Cooking. She is an experienced home cook with a passion for experimenting with the cuisines of countries she's visited. Driven by an interest in food science, Valerie approaches the culinary scene with a firm grasp of cooking processes and extensive knowledge of ingredients. She believes food speaks to all people regardless of language and cultural background.
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