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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 coffee machines 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.
Here we explain the pros and cons of each system, and what type of coffee drinker they suit, to help you choose between them.
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.
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.
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
Yes - some have automatic frothers built-in, and 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
Pump (pressure up to 19 bars)
Centrifusion (capsule spins rapidly once infused with water)
Nespresso Original range (24 varieties plus seasonal variations/special editions)
Third-party capsules from a wide range of manufacturers compatible with 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
£70 - £219 - three machines available, and it's usually around £50 extra for one with an Aeroccino frother
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.
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.
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:
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)
25ml ristretto, 40ml espresso, 110ml lungo
40ml espresso, 150ml gran lungo, 237ml mug, 414ml giant mug (Alto)
Dozens of different types and intensities of capsule, including single origin, decaf, Fairtrade 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. More are sure to become available as the machines get more popular, but you won't have any options beyond the Nespresso-branded ones
Only available from Nespresso boutiques and online
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 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 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).
The dome-shaped Vertuo capsules come in three sizes, which make four drink lengths:
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.
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.
Key differences between Nespresso machines that you'll want to consider are: