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As a busy coffee fan, you will have heard of Nespresso. These kings of the single-serve espresso game are all about luxury and bespoke design, with boutiques around the world and machines available at every price-point from the Pixie range at just over $100 to Creatista at closer to $1000.
But what’s Nespresso VertuoLine?
The VertuoLine was introduced in 2014, with the aim of bringing in the US customer base that has so far been elusive for Nespresso.
Is it better than the Nespresso Original line? Well, that depends.
Do you want a variety of long drinks and fancy frothed milks?
Or are you a serious espresso drinker? Or maybe somewhere in between?
Read on for a full comparison of the two systems!
Type of Drinks
As I have already implied, the original Nespresso machines were built for coffee drinkers who really value espresso. Drinks are all short, and flavors are intense.
Nespresso VertuoLine, on the other hand, attempts to open up the world of Nespresso-built coffee pods to those who prefer a latte or a big mug of less strong coffee. The idea with VertuoLine was to tap the US market -- these are customers who are used to bigger and weaker mugs. The Nespresso Vertuo is the machine for the coffee shop addict!
Nespresso’s own site characterizes the original range as ‘the classic espresso experience’ while Vertuo is ‘a full range of coffee styles and sizes, with or without milk’.
The same company is making both these machines, so the basic quality of the coffee and also the build quality of the machines that make it are super similar. The coffee is really good, quite possibly the best available from the popular brands of single-serve coffee machines available in the USA and Europe.
The crema on Nespresso original drinks is particularly exceptional.
Vertuo drinks, especially as they are supposed to be prepared with cold milk, can verge on the tepid or watered down. But that may just be how I feel because I love the intensity of Nespresso original drinks!
Undeniably, it’s easier to get standard Nespresso pods than Vertuo line capsules.
The brand have included an extra step in every way with the barcode reading technology of the Vertuo line machines.
Only Nespresso-built capsules have the barcodes on them that tell the machine exactly what to do with any given capsule -- they have to be brewed differently because of the range of sizes. This means you’ll be paying a premium for your capsules straight from the manufacturer, plus you won’t be able to find the eco-friendly or extra-flavor options you can nab almost anywhere for a standard Nespresso machine.
This will probably change over time, so watch out for updates! Right now, it feels pretty irritating. Especially when the machines themselves start at a much higher price point than most single-serve options, including their Nespresso original siblings.
As I mentioned already, the standard Nespresso pods most of us are used to are available from third-party sellers as well as from the company themselves, and are also produced by third-party sellers in extra flavors. They are available in reusable or eco-friendly form because of this.
The focus of all Nespresso machines is espresso, so flavors available from Nespresso for both original and Vertuo line machines differ in terms of strength, intensity and style but are all very coffee forward.
Vertuo pods include some Barista Creations, which come with flavoring and in some cases milk powder. The most intense are probably their single-origin offerings.
Original pods also come in single-origin varieties, with a few flavored, tea and hot chocolate pods available off-brand.
The original Nespresso makes either two or three sizes of coffee, depending on the exact model you are using.
The exact millimeter and ounce measurements are all available on the Nespresso site. There’s the 25ml ristretto, 40ml espresso, and 110ml lungo.
Only a few original Nespresso machines actually do the ristretto -- I struggle to think of a time I’ve used a three-button Nespresso -- which leaves you with essentially an espresso and a doubles espresso. These are great -- flavorful, intense, a perfect pour pretty much every time, brewed at a perfect just-sub boiling temperature.
Nespresso thought they saw a gap in the market -- longer drinks. This is why they introduced the Nespresso Vertuo line in 2017. In particular, they wanted to corner the elusive US market where bigger, weaker cups of coffee are the norm and competitors who cater to that are beating Nespresso in the coffee game.
So, there are five options for drink size with a Nespresso Vertuo line coffee maker: 40ml espresso, 150ml gran lungo, 237ml mug, and 414ml giant mug.
But the thing is… you can make a long drink with espresso. What do the boffins at Nespresso think has been happening in coffee shops for decades. Or, you know, in Italy… like… forever?
Hot water or milk + espresso = pretty much every other kind of coffee. And you can get a Nespresso milk frother in a bundle with a Nespresso machine. So why the new line?
There’s the argument that not many Americans have kettles, but that’s because most Americans have drip coffee pots of some kind at home and work. AKA, they have the big-mug-of-coffee niche filled.
To me, it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, especially considering the price of the Nespresso Vertuo range, and its pods, vs competitors and the original Nespresso line.
Extraction Method (Barcode Scanning System)
Nespresso shows, in a minute-long guide on Youtube, how the Nespresso Vertuo system works. Basically, though, each capsule has a barcode that tells the Vertuo machine how long to spin it and push in hot water. This varies depending on the drink size the capsule is made for. Nespresso’s centrifuge technology (spinning the pods) apparently extracts more flavor from its coffee.
One issue with this method is that there are various different sizes of capsule, and some coffees are available in multiple sizes.
I haven’t used a Vertuoline machine in my morning scramble, but can imagine finding the correct capsule when I have to think about not only color but also size might be irritating. I mean, obviously these are very first-world problems, but it could cause an overflowing mug and a proper morning meltdown. Especially if I need to walk the dog, or make breakfast for anyone, etc etc etc.
The original line of Nespresso machines use a similar system, sans barcode reading step. Nineteen-bar pressure extraction ensures that the aromas and flavors of each capsule are released, and makes a very good espresso or double espresso.
Of course, what you do after that is up to you, and many people may favor a one-step approach to making their coffee (if they aren’t adding milk, that is).
Nespresso milk heating and frothing pots are called Aeroccino. They make great, silky frothed milk which might not quite be barista-style microfoam come pretty close.
If you’re getting a smaller and cheaper Nespresso machine (the Original Pixie, or the Evoluo from the VertuoLine for example) then the cost of a new Aeroccino may seem daunting. Look around, though, because you can often find a bundle. If that still seems like a lot of cash, there are cheaper off-brand options or more time-intensive but perfectly fine wands on the market.
The top-end Nespresso machines come with a barista-style frother. The Creatista has a frothing wand which can be set to make several varieties of micro-foamed milk, and does it pretty well, but at around 700+ dollars, it’s a huge investment.
One of VertuoLine’s innovations is its Reverso milky-coffee building technique. Basically, cold milk goes into the glass before a Nespresso Vertuo capsule coffee. This separates into pretty layers that have somewhat caught on with Instagram users, but the drink is a little tepid for me.
There’s no doubt about it, you can get more of a bargain with a Nespresso Original machine. Prices start at around $95 but Vertuoline machines start at almost double that.
Nespresso Original machines generally cost between $95 and $250 for most models, while Vertuoline clock in at $159 to $250.
There are a lot of Nespresso machines to choose from, especially with the Original line.
Looking for an overview of the most popular models, my own experience would point me towards the Pixie, which is a very cool, cute and usable model that will fit in any kitchen.
The Creatista is the top-of-the-line pick for many aficionados, but it should be given its highly expensive price tag! The Lattisima, which froths milk for you for around couple hundred dollars, is a good contender if you aren’t made of money.
In terms of the Vertuoline, the Evoluo seems to be on top of almost everyone on the internet’s list (it’s pretty Insta-friendly, especially with the standard VertuoLine glass mug) and the Next is interesting in terms of sustainability, as it’s made partially of recycled materials. It is, however, a little on the expensive side.
We’ll look at that and the Pixie below, as they’re very comparable!
Nespresso Pixie (Original Line)
The Pixie looks great. It’s elegant and ultra-compact, with a titanium and plastic design that comes in black and silver as standard. A large, mechanical handle system for getting the capsule in gives it a cool, industrial feel and makes you (or at least me…) feel a tiny bit like a useful factory worker as I make my super-simple morning espresso!
The Pixie costs anywhere between $120 and $230, depending on where it’s purchased. There are also deals available for capsules and a milk frother from various sites.
Nespresso Evoluo (VertuoLine)
The Evoluo is probably VertuoLine’s most popular machine, but arguably it’s also the most similar to most of the Original Line machines! There’s the option of only two drink sizes, espresso and what Nerdwallet describes as a ‘big plane cup of joe’ -- that is essentially an Americano.
It’s a small machine, and will fit well in most kitchens. This is especially true as it’s available in two kinds of black or chrome!
A VertuoLine Evoluo costs $199 officially from Nespresso, but it can also be found for competitive prices on the obvious, Amazon!
Environment Friendly (Capsules Recycling)
Originally, Nespresso came under fire for their almost impossible to recycle capsules and the huge amount of waste they created. The company have done a lot of work to ensure that they are not only making recycling easy but also becoming environmentally friendly overall.
Nespresso capsules, both original and Vertuoline, can be recycled through the company’s own program. With every order from Nespresso, you get bags for the empty capsules. If you got the capsules elsewhere you need to call for the bags.
DigitalTrends reports that, according to Nespresso, 90% of customers have a recycling solution near them. That means there’s a Nespresso boutique or recycling center that full bags can be dropped off at or that your post person can take the bag when delivering your next order from the Nespresso website. Again, they encourage you to buy straight from them!
Nespresso (and its competitors) also have various quality assurance and fair trade practices with suppliers. This is one of the reasons that, single-serve coffee machines are actually the second-most environmentally friendly way to get your coffee fix, reports Wired.com!
Cost Per Cup
As I mentioned earlier, Nespresso Vertuo line capsules are more expensive than Nespresso Original capsules.
Capsules for the Original Nespresso line cost between 50 and 80 cents from the Nespresso website or boutique stores, so that’s 50 to 80 cents per cup. Single origin capsules are the most expensive, and a large variety of additional capsules are available from third-parties. These can be purchased online, and tend to be cheaper than those made by Nespresso.
For Vertuo machines, capsules cost between 80 cents and 1 dollar 10 cents. Prices may fluctuate, but the capsules can only be bought from Nespresso boutiques or online. As a vague rule, the bigger the drink the more expensive it will be. In addition, single-origin coffees are also pricier.
So, why by taking everything into consideration, here's my take on:
Why Choose Nespresso VertuoLine
If you want a big coffee quickly, and actually a quicker brew time in most cases (though only by about 4 seconds) then the Vertuoline may have something for you! There are more options, including barista-designed capsules.
Overall, VertuoLine machines are for people who want a big cup of coffee every morning that is a little fancier than some of the brand’s competitors deliver.
Why Choose Nespresso OriginalLine
Personally, I love the Original line of Nespresso machines. I’m really fond of the smaller models, and in particular the Pixie and the now unfortunately discontinued Inissia which were tiny, bright and incredibly functional in a small kitchen. They are also really affordable and last at least a couple of years because of their solid build quality.
But the thing is, I love espresso as my regular drink and if I want something else I’m happy to take a couple of minutes of faff making my longer drink. This isn’t true for everyone.
Nespresso Original machines are for anyone who wants a good espresso with a thick and luscious crema.
The final words?
Well, Nespresso created the formula for the best single-serve coffee machine and I don’t think they have quite beaten it yet!
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