Nespresso Original vs Vertuo - which one should you buy?
If you're in the market for a Nespresso machine, you'll need to choose between the Vertuo and Original capsule or pod coffee systems before you decide what machine you buy.
Back in 2017, Nespresso launched its Vertuo range of in the UK. These use a completely different type and size of coffee pod to previous Nespresso machines, meaning you can't use standard Nespresso pods, or the third-party varieties now found in most supermarkets, in the Vertuo models.
We explain the pros and cons of each system, and what type of coffee drinker they suit, to help you choose.
Video: Nespresso Original vs Vertuo
Watch our video for a quick rundown of the main differences between the two Nespresso systems and what kind of coffee drinker they suit best.
Nespresso Original vs Vertuo: which one should you buy?
Choose a Nespresso Original machine if...
You're a dedicated espresso, cappuccino or latte drinker.
You'll get a wider choice of coffee pods to choose from, better budget options and a more authentic espresso experience. We've found some brilliant Nespresso Original machines from around £80.
Choose a Nespresso Vertuo machine if...
You're a fan of longer coffees or want a mugful, and usually opt for an Americano or filter coffee.
Prices for the machines start at around £80, but you'll need to spend more on the coffee, as the capsules are more expensive and currently only available through Nespresso itself.
Nespresso Original vs Vertuo: how they compare
The table below gives an overview of how the two systems compare on key specs. Continue reading for more on what the two systems have to offer and their pros and cons.
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Nespresso Original coffee machines: what they offer
Pros of Nespresso Original
- More choice of coffee machines, and cheaper options available
- More choice of coffee brands and flavours to try
- Cheap and compostable third-party capsules available
Cons of Nespresso Original
- The longest drink you get is 110ml (that’s about half a normal mug, although you can top it up)
Nespresso Original machines generally only make espresso or longer espresso-based drinks. They usually come with a milk frothing option, or can be bought as a bundle with the Nespresso Aeroccino milk frother, so you can froth up milk to make lattes, cappuccinos and other milky coffee-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.
Nespresso Original line machines come in all shapes, colours and sizes, with some super-compact options for smaller households.
Nespresso Vertuo coffee machines: what's different about them?
Pros of Nespresso Vertuo
- Can make bigger and 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 of Nespresso Vertuo
- Limited range of machines and high entry prices
- Locked into Nespresso-branded capsules
- Capsules are much bigger in size
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 (414ml of coffee). This also means they are bigger in size compared to the normal Nespresso pods, which means they need more storage space and the waste pod collection tank can get full quickly.
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 of golden crema on top, created by pressure, a Vertuo coffee has around a centimetre of thick foam. The centrifusion action can seem louder than your standard Nespresso machine.
Nespresso says this means you can make longer drinks but still have the crema experience, although coffee fanatics may not regard it as authentic.
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. If you prefer warm milk with your espresso, you could gently heat some in the microwave first.
Currently, there are three Vertuo machines available, ranging from around £99 up to £199. The main differences are in capacity and looks, but one model has automated opening and closing and a movable water tank.
Nespresso Original vs Vertuo: do you get fewer choices of coffee capsules?
In a nutshell, you'll get a much wider range of coffee options and prices with Nespresso Original machines, as you aren't tied into Nespresso-branded pods.
Here's a quick breakdown of the key differences in capsule range and price:
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Our expert coffee-tasting panel rate the espresso made by each coffee machine, so you can see how both Nespresso systems fare compared with each other - and rival pod coffee brands, such as Lavazza and Illy - in our .
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, although this will cost you twice as much.
- Nespresso has many different types and intensities of Original coffee capsules available, including single-origin, decaf and special-edition versions.
- There is a wide range of third-party Nespresso-compatible capsules to choose from.
- The capsules are smaller and more easily stored.
Nespresso brand capsules are only available from the Nespresso website or in one of Nespresso’s own stores (called boutiques), whereas you can buy Nespresso-compatible pods in just about every major supermarket and online.
Some Nespresso-compatible pods are much cheaper, and there are also options which claim to be compostable (as opposed to the aluminium Nespresso capsules, which you have to send back to Nespresso for recycling).
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, two mug's worth of black coffee
The shorter drink sizes - espresso and gran lungo - are great for people 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.
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.
- Nespresso sells a range of intensities, sizes and styles, and regularly brings out new or limited-edition options.
- There are no compatible options available, so you're tied into the Nespresso Vertuo range.
- The capsules are bigger than the original ones, so you'll need extra storage space.
Choosing the best Nespresso machine
Whether you decide on a Nespresso Original or Vertuo machine, you'll want to find a coffee machine that 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.
Price vs test score for Nespresso machines
What to look for
Key differences between Nespresso machines that 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 - the size of water tank and capsule bin vary between models, which affects how often you'll need to add more water and empty the bin, especially if you're using the largest Vertuo capsules.
- 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 Aeroccino 3 automatic milk frother for around £50 extra.
- Personalisation - some models offer you additional control over the temperature and length of your brew. The allows you 11 different levels of milk frothing, for precise coffee-making.
- Smartphone controls - the Expert machines can be controlled via the Nespresso app on your smartphone or tablet, using Bluetooth.