What is a Nespresso Machine? (And a Buying Guide!)

What is a Nespresso Machine?

After being popular overseas for many years, the Nespresso has reached full-fledged popularity within the US.  For those not in the know, a Nespresso is a machine that brews espresso-like coffee from single serving pods- almost like a Keurig for espresso.

There is a lot of debate about whether Nespresso actually is Espresso- and while the beverage Nespresso makes possibly isn’t actually espresso, the debate is mostly asking the wrong question.  Both a Nespresso and a traditional espresso machine serve their own purposes and appeal to different segments of the coffee market.  So which is right for you? Let’s take a closer look.

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How does a Nespresso machine work?

While Nespresso machines are all configured slightly different, the general concept is that a pod of espresso is inserted into the front of the machine and water is loaded into a tank.  Upon actuation by the user, water is pumped through a line and often curled around a heating element.  The heated water is then forced through the pod at pressure to produce an espresso like coffee.

What are the differences between Espresso and the coffee a Nespresso makes?

We could go into a lot more detail here but, for now, a simple and short description will suffice: espresso refers to concentrated coffee produced by forcing, under pressure, hot water through compressed coffee grounds.

By this definition, you could probably consider Nespresso to be an espresso as long as the pressure matches that of an espresso.  Industry standard espresso is prepared at 9 bars- Nespresso claims their machines can produce pressure of up to 15 bars!

However, some enthusiasts find Nespresso to not quite match espresso in quality. Many baristas describe the coffee that a Nespresso produces to be more like that of a Moka pot than true Espresso.   The most noticeable difference is probably that Nespresso is a bit less thick.

But, those who are not coffee enthusiasts usually don’t find too much difference between the two.  Nespresso produces relatively rich, tasty and balanced coffee, and could suit your tastes perfectly fine.  The acidity level is also generally very low. 

Which is a better option for domestic use? 

Operating a Nespresso machine is way easier than a traditional Espresso machine. All you have to do is open it, insert the capsule, and start the brewing process.

It requires little or no effort to tune or control. The machine is pre-set to give you a consistent taste very quickly. Some enthusiasts may find that its simplicity takes the charm out of coffee brewing, but it does provide a very consistent beverage in an efficient manner.

In contrast, a traditional espresso machine gives you control over all of the brewing variables- the grinding of the beans, the tamping, and everything relating to the extraction.

The question really is: are you looking to invest time perfecting a new skill/hobby or do you just want a quick cup on the way out without any aggravation?

The Buyers Guide to Nespresso Machines

Sure, Nespresso machines give you the convenience of enjoying a tasty cup of espresso, but not all Nespresso machines are created equal. In fact, given the variety of distinctive features available, choosing one to buy can be quite the challenge!

One challenging aspect of choosing the best Nespresso machine for you is knowing what you are looking for. Here, we will address a few things to consider before purchasing a particular model.

Different Categories of Nespresso Machines and What They Mean

  • Essenza: This simple class of Nespresso is compact and portable, offering only a handful of features. It’s small enough to fit on most kitchen countertops, and its ergonomic design makes it easy to use. Having said that, the Essenza is a bit slower than other models (such as the Pixie).
  • Pixie: Pixies are as affordable and simple to use as an Essenza but, best of all, only take about 25 seconds to reach a desired brewing temperature. We will note that Pixies don’t include any coffee frothers, a staple that many cappuccino connoisseurs have come to expect.  The Pixie has a smaller water tank than either a U-Series or a CitiZ and a foldable drip tray.
  • U-Series: There are three different versions that are part of the U-Series – the U, the U Milk (including an Aeroccino milk frother), and a U Mat (with similar features as the U Milk but includes an elegant matte finish).  The U Series has programmable features for saving favorite drinks.
  • CitiZ: Like the U-Series, the CitiZ has three models to choose from – standard, CitiZ & Milk (with a built in Aeroccino frother), the CitiZ & Co. (essentially 2 different Nespresso machines in 1 for a commercial setting).  The CitiZ has a larger water tank than either the Pixie or the U-Series
  • Maestria/Creatista: These model lets you explore your inner barista as a lot of the work involved with this machine is manual. The steam pipe it includes allows you to establish the texture and temperature of your milk, and extra barista kit can be purchased that includes a cappuccino set and shaker.  The Maestria system is also complete with a cup preheater.
  • Lattissima +: The Lattissima+ model includes a touchscreen and is ideal for milk-based coffee like lattes. It includes both a milk carafe (one-touch) and a milk steamer.  It also auto-cleans. 

Nespresso Machine Reviews

Inissia Espresso Maker

This portable Nespresso machine is ideal for coffee aficionados who don’t have the patience to sit idly by waiting for their coffee to brew.

It doesn’t take more than three seconds to heat the machine up with water, and you’ll be able to hit the perfect temperature and prepare a tasty cup of espresso.

The Inissia comes with a user-friendly, high-pressure pump that delivers as many as 19 bars.  This will allow you to produce coffee that a barista would be proud of.

Additionally, its water tank is big enough to make as many as nine cups of coffee.

The Inissia is tall and cup-friendly, and you can even fold the dip tray. This device has also been given a class “A” rating for energy efficiency.


  • Less expensive in comparison to other types of Nespresso models.
  • Simple to use with a handful of programmable buttons.
  • 25-second pre-heating period.
  • When inactive after about nine minutes or so, the automatic shut-off feature kicks in.
  • The used pods can be conveniently stored in the capsule container.


  • This design doesn’t guarantee that the pods will end up in the correct position, and a number of them might get crushed.

Pixie Espresso Maker

The Pixie is perfect for those who live in condos. This espresso maker doesn’t take up too much room, and the footprint it leaves behind is quite small. In spite of its size, its features are the same as bigger models, and the Pixie’s programmable buttons let you personalize your coffee volume.

The Pixie will also alert you with red backlights when an empty tank is on the horizon. Furthermore, the container for used capsules can house as many as 11 pods. Its fundamental features are no different than other beginner Nespresso models.

Lungos and espressos can be made with buttons that can be personalized for the sake of making bigger cups. 19 pressure bars are produced by the pump, allowing you to make beverages that are on par with those made by the baristas.

For energy conservation, the device shuts off automatically if it’s inactive for nine minutes. It includes a welcome kit of various pods, allowing you to sample a number of popular aromas.

Both Delonghi and Breville make a Pixie, but the primary difference is aesthetic as both conform to the same specifications.


  • This machine is only 4.3 inches wide.
  • Water can be preheated in half a minute.
  • Lungo and espresso can be made easily thanks to the pre-programmed buttons, nullifying the need to manually enter settings.


  • In comparison to other types of Nespresso models, this machine’s water reservoir is smaller.
  • The cup tray is foldable, but not automatic.

DeLonghi Essenza Mini Espresso Machine

If you wish to reproduce coffee shop beverages from the comfort of your own home but you don’t want a bulky machine hogging up your countertop space, then this model from DeLonghi is just the thing you need. It’s the market’s smallest machine that’s capable of making short-but-strong cups of coffee. 

The Essenza Mini comes in three colors. You can choose the all-black model, one with red accents, or a lime green version.

This single-serving machine produces an elegant cup of coffee 30 seconds after pushing a button. It’s the perfect device for those with busy lifestyles, as well as for those who don’t want to compromise their coffee’s quality.

You can make lungo or espresso using a variety of capsules, and the Essenza Mini includes a 16-capsule welcome pack, allowing you to sample tons of options.

For power conservation, the eco-mode can produce a fresh cup of coffee in three minutes or less. If idle for more than nine minutes, the machine will shut off automatically. In short, this package gives you safety, space conservation, and speed. More impressively, this is one of the cheapest Nespresso makers on the market.


  • The footprint it leaves behind is incredibly small, which is ideal for cramped kitchens.
  • It only takes 30 seconds to heat the water up. As such, you won’t have to wait around to get your coffee.
  • You don’t have to decide between short or long coffee, as this machine allows you to make both.
  • The 19 bars of pressure allow you to make traditional Italian espressos in an easy manner.
  • The welcome kit contains 16 different Nespresso capsules, allowing you to make coffee as soon as you open the box.


  • Users have complained about insufficient sturdiness.

Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville with Aeroccino

Using cutting-edge Centrifusion technology, the VertuoLine blends coffee grounds with boiling water at up to 7,000 rpm in order to create a flawless crema.

The capsules this machine uses are from Grands Crus. Its range includes brewed cups of coffee and four different espressos, all of which having unique pod sizes.  Each machine includes a kit that contains a dozen capsules, each of which has a different aroma.  

Brewing is conducted using a one-touch process that begins by shutting the lever. Used pods are automatically ejected once a beverage is ready.  Scanning technology is used by the VertuoLine to match the Grand Cru type before automatically adjusting the brewing perimeters to make it correctly.

It only takes 20 seconds to brew. Furthermore, the cup is supported by three different settings to accommodate cups of all sizes. The included Aeroccino milk frother can produce either hot or cold milk froth.


  • Very short heat-up time.
  • Coffee is blended more gently by way of Centrifusion technology.
  • Simple to maintain and clean.
  • Comes with an Aeroccino Plus frother to create the cup of coffee you desire.


  • Coffee that is steaming hot cannot be produced with this device.
  • These pods are costlier than the initial line.

DeLonghi VertuoPlus Espresso and Coffee Maker

This espresso and coffee maker allows you to enjoy longer types of coffee, as well as a stiff-but-short espresso. All with just the push of a button!

Single-serving coffeemakers are designed around user input and convenience. This Nespresso machine by DeLonghi keeps things short and sweet. You don’t need to tweak any settings, as the device does all the heavy lifting for you. The result is a great cup of coffee every time.

The VertuoPlus comes in minimalist gray, striking red, or matte black. The machine will look great no matter what kitchen countertop it’s on, and it doesn’t sacrifice efficiency over form. No one wants to have a good-looking coffee machine that doesn’t produce drinkable beverages.

For an ultra-streamlined experience, the DeLonghi VertuoPlus is a great option.


  • The proprietary Centrifusion extraction system optimizes each coffee cup, and no user input is required.
  • Pick from either an 8-ounce alto or a 14-ounce option, as well as a small 1.35-ounce espresso.
  • You won’t have to manipulate any settings – the machine does the heavy lifting for you.
  • You can brew coffee with the simple touch of a button. The machine has automatic ejection, streamlining your experience even further.
  • A water reservoir of 40 ounces bypasses any need for ongoing refilling.


  • Vertuo capsules can be harder to find, so be mindful of this before buying.

De’Longhi’s Vertuo Evoluo Espresso and Coffee Machine with Aeroccino

The Vertuo Evoluo is an upgrade of the initial VertuoLine, which contains the same fundamental features, but with a number of upgrades.

This device has a detachable water tank that has a 54-ounce capacity vs. the initial 40-ounce tank. The container for used capsules also holds 17 different pods in contrast to the initial version’s 13.

This upgraded version also addresses a popular complaint that a number of buyers made about the initial VertuoLine – that the coffee that wasn’t hot enough.

The updated version brews coffee at a much higher temperature, satisfying people who prefer piping hot espresso.

Furthermore, the Evoluo’s external design has changed quite a bit. It doesn’t have a rounded head that the original machines had.


  • This upgraded model makes coffee at hotter temperatures than its predecessor.
  • A bigger water tank lets you make more cups in one session before replenishment is needed.


  • Because a barcode is used by the device to establish settings, users don’t have any flexibility to personalize their drinks.
  • The coffee that is produced is quite hot and may not be to everyone’s preference

DeLonghi’s CitiZ Espresso Maker

This model and the CitiZ & Milk version are one in the same; however, the CitiZ Espresso Maker doesn’t come with integrated milk frothers.

The portable design is what makes it an ideal option for those who have limited countertop space. Nonetheless, it still offers a wide variety of features.

It is possible to make lungo or espresso drinks automatically thanks to the device’s programmable buttons. You can have them reprogrammed to produce a volume you desire, creating all kinds of recipes in the process.

The foldable drip tray accommodates larger classes, too.

19 bars are produced by a high-pressure pump to extract the flavor and aroma of your desired coffee capsule perfectly.

This device is ideal for people who want to enjoy a fast cup before rushing to work. That’s because it can be heated up to a desired temperature in about 25 seconds.

For energy conservation, the machine automatically shuts off if it is inactive for nine minutes, but you can prolong this period to a half an hour.


  • The CitiZ makes a high-quality cup of coffee on a regular basis, and fast.
  • Easy to clean.


  • After brewing, some dripping may occur.

GCA1-US-CH-NE VertuoLine Coffee and Espresso Maker

This machine offers you a premium experience, as it’s developed to be compatible with Nespresso Grands Crus pods.

Grands Crus’ gourmet capsules come in two sizes – small (espresso) and large (coffee).

To make sure that each and every cup is brewed perfectly, the Grands Crus pods have barcodes that this coffee maker reads to automatically establish the correct brewing parameters.

You can begin brewing by touching a button. The pod then gets ejected automatically afterward.

Between 13 and 20 pods can be held by the machine’s container.

The VertuoLine is capable of brewing four different espresso and 10 types of coffee. It can accommodate a few cup sizes.

This machine has a removable 40-ounce water tank. Its Centrifusion technology achieves just the right crema by having the coffee blended at 7,000 rpm.

It only takes 15 seconds to heat up, however, this machine doesn’t come with a milk frother from Aeroccino Plus, unlike the other models in the VertuoLine series.


  • It allows you to have premium coffee brewed from the comfort of your own home.
  • The settings don’t have to be adjusted to perfectly brew your gourmet coffee.
  • Nespresso Centrifusion technology


  • The coffee temperatures tend to be insufficiently hot for a number of people.
  • The foamy crema it produces doesn’t satisfy the preferences of many coffee lovers.

Breville’s Essenza Mini Original Espresso Maker

For many coffee aficionados, the Essenza Machine is a dream come true.

Breville’s highly efficient and budget-friendly machine happens to be the smallest of its kind out on the market today.  It’s compact and portable, allowing you to conveniently store it on an office table or kitchen countertop.

It is quite easy to maintain and clean the Essenza Mini. It is also easy to remove the drip tray, cup stand, and water tank. And because this espresso machine uses pods, the used capsules can be stored into a capsule container when you’re done. Since it can store as many as six capsules, it isn’t necessary to clean the machine regularly.  

If you forget to switch it off after finishing your coffee, it will shut off automatically nine minutes later.


  • 2 beverage option buttons – lungo and espresso.
  • Budget-friendly and energy conscious.
  • Compact and portable.
  • Simple to use and clean.
  • 19 pump pressure bar.


  • Small water tank can be inconvenient
  • Brewing can be a touch slow

Our Picks

Our overall best bet is the Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville.  It is feature rich (with Centrifusion technology and Aeroccino frother) and available at a very reasonable price point.  Our budget-friendly/space economy pick is the Breville’s Essenza Mini, as it has a reasonable price point, takes up minimal space, and still makes great coffee.  

Jay Arr

Jay Arr is passionate about everything coffee. What began as a simple interest in the history, production, and brewing of coffee led him to a job as a barista at a national coffee chain. That’s not where Jay’s story with coffee ends, however. Roasting and brewing day in and out, he continued to gather knowledge about all things coffee.

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