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Nespresso Original vs Vertuo - which one should you buy?

By Manette Kaisershot

Nespresso now makes two different capsule coffee systems, Original and Vertuo. Our guide will help you decide which is best for you.

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If you're in the market for a Nespresso machine, you'll first need to choose between the Vertuo and Original Nespresso capsule systems before you decide on the specific machine you want.

In late 2017 Nespresso launched a new range of Vertuo pod coffee machines in the UK. These use a completely different capsule system to previous Nespresso machines, meaning you can't use standard Nespresso pods, or the third-party varieties now found in most supermarkets, in these machines.

In this guide we explain the pros and cons of each system, and what type of coffee drinker they suit, to help you decide. Watch our video above to get the key info you need to know before choosing, and read on for more detail.

Nespresso Original vs Vertuo: how they compare

The table below gives an overview of how the two systems compare on key specifications. Read on for more info on what the two systems have to offer.

  Nespresso Original Nespresso Vertuo
Type of drinks Espresso and espresso-based drinks (ristretto, lungo, cappuccino, latte etc) Espressos and longer coffee drinks up to a giant mugful similar to a large coffee shop drink
Milk frothing? Yes - some have automatic frothers built-in, others can be bought with or without the Aeroccino frothing accessory No - designed to go with cold milk, though you can buy one with the Aeroccino as a bundle
Extraction method Pump (up to 19 bars) Centrifusion (capsule spins rapidly once infused with water)
Capsule options

Nespresso Original range (24 varieties plus seasonal variations/special editions)

Third-party capsules from a wide range of manufacturers compatible in most Original line machines

Nespresso Vertuo range (23 varieties plus special editions)

Barcode system brews the right size, temperature and strength for each capsule

No third-party options available

Price and range of machines £50-£500 - wide range of models available. Average price is around £150 for a model with milk frothing. £200 - three machines available, £250 with Aeroccino frother
Our verdict

Best for those who like a traditional espresso shot or a café-style cappuccino/latte etc.

See all our Nespresso Original reviews to find the best option for your budget.

Best if you like a longer coffee, either black or with cold milk

See our Nespresso Vertuo reviews for our full verdict on the coffee.

Nespresso Original coffee machines: what they offer

Pros:

  • More choice of coffee machines and cheaper options available
  • More choice of coffee brands and flavours to try
  • Cheap third-party capsules available.

Cons:

  • The longest drink you get is 110ml (that’s about half a normal mug)

Nespresso Original machines generally only make espresso or longer espresso-based drinks. Drink size options usually range from a ristretto (a short espresso) to a lungo.

Original capsules only come in one size and can therefore only go so far before the drink is too diluted to be palatable. In order to get a longer coffee (such as a double espresso or Americano) you’d have to use two capsules.

Original machines usually come with a milk frothing option, or can be bought as a bundle with the Nespresso Aeroccino automatic milk frother, so you can froth up milk to make lattes, cappuccinos and other milky coffee-based drinks.

The Original Nespresso machines come in all shapes, colours and sizes, with some super-compact options for smaller households.

See all our Nespresso Original coffee machine reviews.

Nespresso Vertuo coffee machines: what's different about them?

Pros:

  • Can make longer filter-style coffees and espressos with one machine 
  • Barcode system adjusts the temperature, length and brewing time to suit the specific coffee you are making.

Cons: 

  • Limited range of machines and high entry price point
  • Locked into Nespresso branded capsules.

Capsules for the Vertuo machines are dome shaped and they come in three different sizes, which can be used to make four different-sized drinks: Espresso, Gran Lungo, Mug and Alto.

Centrifusion technology

Vertuo machines use a completely different brewing technology to Original line models - and most other coffee makers. The 'centrifusion' technology spins capsules at high speed to create a thick foamy crema on top of the coffee. While a standard espresso may have a couple of millimetres' worth of golden crema on top, a Vertuo coffee has around a centimetre of thick foam.

Nespresso says this means you can make longer drinks but still have the crema experience, though it may not be regarded as authentic to coffee fanatics.

Reverso coffee

Vertuo coffees are designed to work best with cold milk. Nespresso has even coined a new drink, the 'Reverso', created by putting milk in your cup first and then allowing the coffee to brew over it, though we found this left us with a rather tepid brew. 

Currently there are three Vertuo machines available, all costing around £199. The main differences are in capacity, looks and one model has automated opening and closing and a movable water tank.

We've tested all three machines. Compare the Nespresso Vertuo range to see which one we rated best.

Not quite sure what coffee you're after? Our guide on how to make macchiatos, flat whites, and other popular coffees explain what the most popular coffee drinks are made of.

Nespresso Original vs Vertuo: do you get less choice of coffee capsules?

 

The machine you choose affects the choice of coffee you will have to drink - and how much it'll cost you. Here's a quick breakdown of the key differences between the two systems. Read on for more info and our verdict.

  Nespresso Original Nespresso Vertuo
Price and availability Ranges from 33p to 41p per capsule, but some compatible options are cheaper (as little as 18p). 39p up to 62p (for largest capsule)
Drink sizes 25ml ristretto, 40ml espresso, 110ml lungo 40ml espresso, 150ml gran lungo, 237ml mug, 414ml giant mug
Range Dozens of different types and intensities of capsule, including single origin, decaf, fair trade and compostable pods, across the Nespresso and compatible capsule ranges. Some tea pods and flavoured pods also available Similar range to the Original Nespresso machines, with a diverse range of intensities and styles. There are sure to be more on offer as the machines become more popular, but you won't have any options beyond the Nespresso-branded ones
Availability

Nespresso pods only available from Nespresso boutiques and online

Third-party compatible pods available online and in supermarkets - see our top-rated compatible capsules.

Only available from Nespresso boutiques and online

Our independent coffee-tasting expert rates the espresso made by each coffee machine, so you can see how both Nespresso systems fare compared to other capsule coffee machines from brands, such as Lavazza and Illy, in our capsule coffee machine reviews.

Nespresso Original and compatible capsules

Nespresso Original capsules come in one size, but can make three different-sized drinks. Some people double up on capsules to make a longer drink that's still nice and strong, though this will cost you twice as much.

The range

Nespresso has many different types and intensities of Original coffee capsules available, including single origin, decaf and special edition versions.

There is also a wide range of third-party Nespresso compatible capsule makers to choose from. While you can only get Nespresso brand capsules online from the Nespresso website or in one of Nespresso’s own stores (called ‘boutiques’), you can find Nespresso compatible capsules in just about every major supermarket and online.

Some Nespresso compatible capsules are much cheaper than the Nespresso brand capsules, which is handy as the costs can really add up over time. You can find also Nespresso compatible capsules that are compostable (as opposed to the aluminum Nespresso capsules, which you have to send back to Nespresso for recycling). Certified Organic and Fair Trade Nespresso compatible capsules are available through online only retailers, such as Gourmesso.

We’ve put Nespresso and Nespresso compatible capsules to the test to find the best-tasting options. See which brands made our pick of the best Nespresso compatible capsules.

Nespresso Vertuo capsules: what's the difference?

The dome-shaped Vertuo capsules come in three sizes, which make four drink lengths:

  • Espresso 40ml, an average espresso size
  • Gran lungo 150ml, a long espresso
  • Mug 237ml, about a normal mug size
  • Alto 414ml, get your Sports Direct mug out, this is two mug's worth of black coffee

The shorter drink sizes - espresso and gran lungo - are great for those of you who prefer a more traditional sized espresso drink. These pods come in a variety of intensities, ranging from mild to very strong. 

If you like long cups of black coffee then the larger two of the capsules. The mug and alto capsules yield huge steaming cups of coffee with lower intensity roasts.

According to Nespresso, the Vertuo capsules each feature a barcode that tells the machine what kind of coffee is inside the capsule. The machine then takes this information and adjusts the temperature, extraction rate and size to maximise each coffee’s specific flavour.

As with the Original capsules, Nespresso sells a range of intensities, sizes and styles, and regularly brings out new or limited edition options. 

Get our verdict on the coffee made by Vertuo machines in the Nespresso Vertuo coffee machine reviews.

Nespresso Original vs Vertuo: which one should you buy?

If you are a dedicated espresso, cappuccino or latte drinker then your best bet is to opt for a Nespresso Original coffee machine.

You'll get a wider choice of coffee options to choose from, better budget options, and a more true espresso experience. We've found some brilliant Nespresso Original machines from around £80.

If you are a fan of longer coffees and usually opt for an Americano, pour over or filter coffee then a Nespresso Vertuo machine is probably a better fit for you.

You'll need to spend more on both the coffee and the machine though, as prices start from £180 for the Vertuo models and the capsules are currently only available through Nespresso.

For more advice on the different machines, see our full Nespresso buying guide.

Choosing the best Nespresso machine

Whether you want a Nespresso Original or a Nespresso Vertuo, you'll want to find a coffee machine that matches your needs, and makes a great coffee. We've tested all the current Nespresso models, and found some brilliant machines that make a truly excellent espresso, and others that fall flat on flavour, under-extracting your brew. 

Price is no indicator of performance either, as the graph below shows, we've found good and mediocre options at every price point. 

Use our independent Nespresso reviews to find the best options for your budget.

What to look for

Key differences between Nespresso machines you'll want to consider are:

  • Size - Nespresso machines range from tiny models around the size of a travel kettle to substantial machines approximately half the size of a microwave.
  • Capacity - how big the water tank and capsule bin are differs by model, and this affects how often you'll need to service the machine.
  • Milk frothing - if you want to be completely hands off, choose a model with automatic frothing from the Lattissima range. Other models either have a steam pipe for manual frothing (like on a traditional machine), or can be bought with the standalone Aeroccino3 automatic milk frother for around £50 extra.
  • Personalisation - some models offer you additional control over the temperature and length of your brew. The Creatista allows you 11 different levels of milk frothing, for precise coffee-making.
  • Smartphone controls - the Prodigio and Expert machines can be controlled via the Nespresso app on your smartphone or tablet, using Bluetooth.

You'll also want to consider the ongoing price of capsules for the machine you chose, as well as the availability. If you are dedicated online shopper then you can get some good deals with third-party Nespresso-compatible capsule makers, or you can even join one of their online coffee clubs. These work a bit like wine clubs - you pay a monthly fee and they send you a selection of coffee capsules each month. 

If you prefer to pick up your coffee in the supermarket, then you'll want to make sure your local shop stocks capsules. Nespresso brand capsules are only available through Nespresso, but your local retailer may stock third-party compatible capsules. 

Is Nespresso your best bet? Check our Best Buy coffee machines to see which models we rate best for coffee overall.

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