If you enjoy coffee and value efficiency, you might like a Nespresso machine. The single-cup pod machine is admired for its ability to brew espresso in seconds. I extensively tested some of the brand’s top-selling models over 20 days to narrow down the best Nespresso machines. My favorite overall pick, the Nespresso VertuoPlus, features technology that scans pod barcodes to produce preportioned drink quantities. I only had to clean it or tend to it on rare occasions. The Nespresso Creatista Pro, my top upgrade pick, produced a wide range of milk-based coffee drinks at the touch of a button, while a built-in user-friendly cleaning mechanism kept things tidy. (For additional details, see our in-depth evaluations of the Nespresso VertuoPlus and Nespresso Creatista Pro.)
- Best Nespresso Machine Overall: Nespresso VertuoPlus
- Best Upgrade Nespresso Machine: Nespresso Creatista Pro
- Best Value Nespresso Machine: Nespresso CitiZ&Milk
- Best Nespresso Machine For Small Kitchens: Nespresso Essenza Mini
While Nestlé has sold Nespresso machines in the United States for several decades, single-cup pod coffee emerged in the early 2000s. According to The Guardian, around 14 billion Nespresso-brand capsules are produced yearly, and over 400 Nespresso-brewed drinks are consumed every second. The company offers a pod recycling option to make Nespresso’s drinking habits sustainable. Of all, as I discussed with Jesse Hartman, a coffee specialist, Nespresso is not always espresso. Espresso, strictly speaking, refers to a brewing procedure involving tamped down, ideally fresh grounds, and a lot of high-pressure pushing water through. However, Nespresso machines provide a product that is similar in many ways to regular espresso machines, and they eliminate the learning curve and cost constraints that traditional espresso machines have. And, as coffee educator Candice Madison commented, “They have worked hard to make coffee taste good from those pods.”
Read on for details about the best Nespresso machines based on my extensive testing procedure if you’re considering joining the pod coffee craze.
1. Nespresso VertuoPlus
$127$159Save $32 (20%)
Dimensions: 8.7 x 12.7 x 12.8 inches | Discarded capsule capacity: 10 large capsules | Water tank capacity: 40 ounces | Types of drinks brewed: A range of coffees, espressos and double espressos | Available in: 13 color options
- Anyone who values a straightforward, streamlined encounter with their coffee maker
- People who like to switch between longer and shorter coffee drinks with ultimate flexibility and abandon
- Investing as little time in cleaning and maintenance as possible
- You have very little vertical countertop space; the machine is 12.8 inches tall
- Milk-based coffee drinks are a must and you don’t want to purchase a separate steaming accessory
The Nespresso VertuoPlus is a user-friendly machine in every sense, and it costs only $127, which is on the low end for Nespresso machines. The VertuoPlus use easy technology; like all Vertuo machines, it automatically scans your chosen capsule and makes your drink. Based on the encoded information on each inserted capsule; a single button produces a variety of coffee drinks (in 5 or 8 ounces), espresso, and double espresso shots. When you buy the capsules, you choose the type of beverage you’d like it to brew, and the machine scans those instructions and brews it automatically at the touch of a button.
I found the machine to be basic and easy to use during my testing. It generated drinks that tasted exactly like the coffee the other seven machines brewed, indicating that none of its features harmed consistency. The VertuoPlus was easy to clean because there is only a water tank to rinse intermittently and a used capsule container to dump and cleanse when full. Another appealing feature of the VertuoPlus is that its large water tank can be placed at the back or on either side of the machine’s body, allowing you to customize placement based on your countertop space.
During this model’s test, I noted two minor issues. The first is that if you haven’t used it in more than a day, there may be an occasional snag of the last capsule during the automatic ejection process; however, merely gently poking the used capsule with your finger resolves the issue. The VertuoPlus, like many of the more affordable Nespresso machines, does not have a milk-steaming accessory, which may be a disadvantage if you like a cappuccino or latte. However, numerous frothing options are available, including Nespresso’s Aeroccino models.
2. Nespresso Creatista Pro
$637$850Save $213 (25%)
Dimensions: 16.9 x 12.9 x 7.7 inches | Discarded capsule capacity: 12 capsules | Water tank capacity: 68 ounces | Types of drinks brewed: A wide variety of espresso and milk-based drinks | Available in: Brushed stainless steel
- Those with a generous budget looking for something close to a real espresso machine, but minus the user error on the brewing front
- Anyone who prioritizes a sleek, design-forward appliance
- Coffee drinkers who enjoy experimenting with milk-based drinks
- You prefer not to spend a lot on a coffee maker
- You don’t need a built-in milk frother
The Creatista Pro, like an actual Cadillac, forced me to accept a learning curve, thanks to its thorough descaling during setup and the way the milk frother caused the pitcher to overflow when the milk was sloshed in incorrect proportions. However, as I had my bearings, I found that the Creatista Pro produced drinks that most closely resembled semiprofessional settings but with that distinct Nespresso flavor. Because the wand requires you to set the milk pitcher in place so it can automatically steam, the foam produced could be better than what you’d get from a trained barista, who would manually move the pitcher around to manage texture. But when you consider the convenience of contacting your mom about paint samples while it burbles away, making your frothy, milky drinks for you, it was a decent dupe.
The Creatista Pro makes your coffee experience as pleasant as possible. A touchscreen menu allows you to choose from eight drinks: ristretto, espresso, Lungo, Americano, flat white, cappuccino, café latte, and latte macchiato, as well as plain steamed milk. If you’d like to utilize the machine for a tea mug, you may press a button to discharge hot water. The Creatista Pro offers options to customize the volume of the coffee portion and the texture and temperature of the milk portion after you’ve decided which drink you want. While the menu recommends a common setting for each drink type, you can customize it further. For example, if you prefer a cappuccino with less foam than the machine recommends, you may configure it to steam on a sliding scale on the touchscreen. The machine also allows you to store your customized drink concoctions under a unique name, allowing you to rebrew them with a single tap.
Finally, when compared to the Lattissima machines I tested, the Creatista Pro performed significantly better due to its intuitive scrollable touchscreen, classic silver design (which would look great in a farmhouse-style kitchen or a modern kitchen alike), and lack of on-site milk compartment, which would require cleaning after each use to avoid smelly, spoiled buildup. In other words, it operates more like a typical espresso machine but costs one-third the price. If your budget is unrestricted and the thought of a touchscreen menu makes you want to crawl into a hole with a weighted blanket and never come out, you may want to favor a true espresso machine.
3. Nespresso CitiZ&Milk
Dimensions: 8.6 x 14.6 x 10.9 inches | Discarded capsule capacity: 9 capsules | Water tank capacity: 33 ounces | Types of drinks brewed: Espresso and double espresso, plus steamed milk | Available in: Limousine Black, Cherry Red, Chrome, White
- Budget-conscious coffee drinkers who prefer milk-based drinks
- Those who would rather pick a capsule flavor and brew a single or double shot on a whim, versus letting the capsule predetermine the drink’s volume (as with the Vertuo models)
- Fans of the iconic earlier Nespresso design
- You prefer a machine that can make a variety of drinks
- You like a modern-looking appliance
My value pick is more expensive than my overall pick, but there’s a reason. For those looking for latte, cappuccino, and Americanos with hot milk, the CitiZ&Milk’s integrated Aeroccino steamer makes it a great option. Unless you’re extremely picky about microfoam (in which case, no Nespresso machine is for you), the Aeroccino produces solid, consistent steamed milk; it’s not quite mid-dry cappuccino foam, but it gets the job done, especially if you swirl the dryer foam on top into the hot milk by spinning your wrist around as you get ready to transfer the milk to a mug.
Another advantage of choosing the CitiZ&Milk is that it employs Nespresso’s original pods, unlike the Vertuo models, which use barcoded pods, allowing users to pick their beverage size. (You can also use less expensive third-party pods.) To brew your Nespresso, fill the detachable tank with water, insert your pod, and press one of the two programmable buttons to choose between an espresso or lungo shot. Meanwhile, fill the attached Aeroccino steamer with hot water and press the button towards the bottom.
In terms of design, the CitiZ&Milk is compact and ideal for tiny kitchens. And because the Aeroccino is tethered to a stand, it won’t float around your countertop, producing a mess like a standalone frother. Finally, while Nespresso sells a version of this machine without the Aeroccino steamer at $279, spending the extra $50 to acquire a powerful steamer (which retails for $99) makes more sense.
4. Nespresso Essenza Mini
Dimensions: 4.3 x 8 x 12.8 inches | Discarded capsule capacity: 6 capsules | Water tank capacity: 20.3 ounces | Types of drinks brewed: Espresso and double espresso | Available in: Piano Black D30, Piano Black C30, Intense Grey, Ruby Red, Pure White, Lime Green
- People with tight kitchens and/or small guest rooms to outfit with Nespresso machines
- Coffee drinkers looking for easy-to-brew espressos
- Milk is paramount to your coffee experience and you balk at the thought of purchasing a steaming accessory
- You crave more variety
The Nespresso Essenza Mini is exactly what it appears to be: a dignified little fellow that prepares espresso (single and double) whenever you want it. Is there a huge capacity for keeping used capsules and a convenient large water tank? However, your countertop space won’t allow for such a model. If you want a small, functional machine, this is the machine to pick. This is your pick if you’re looking for a Nespresso machine with a limited budget. If you’re the type of person who wants a coffee maker on a point-and-shoot, this is your pick.
Another great advantage of the Essenza Mini is the ease with which it can be transported or stored. If you like to bring a coffee machine with you on frequent road trips, or if you want to compete with Airbnb or hotel rooms that need a setup, this little model is ideal. In addition, if you need to keep your counter space clear, the Essenza Mini is easy to lift in and out of cupboards.
It’s as easy to clean as any milk-free models: insert the pod, close the lever, and press Lungo or espresso. The CitiZ&Milk features a 33-ounce milk tank, while the Essenza Mini tank holds only 20.3 ounces. Of note, compared to the CitiZ&Milk, it lacks a milk frother and a larger milk tank. Since it lacks the barcode-scanning technology of the Vertuo series, which produces both espresso and coffee drinks, the Essenza Mini makes fewer types of drinks than the VertuoPlus. For someone who appreciates instant espresso but lacks the space to dedicate to a larger machine, the Essenza Mini would be a great first Nespresso machine.
Other Nespresso Machines I Tested
The classic Nespresso Vertuo features a peculiar lock-top mechanism designed to be sleek and hyper-useful once you’ve inserted a capsule; I found it unnecessarily fussy and difficult to use on a day when my hands were stiff. In comparison, the VertuoPlus lever was considerably easier to use. Vertuo is one of the more economical options for the brand. Furthermore, it’s quite simple once you’ve figured out the lock-top mechanism. It also includes the same clever barcode-scanning technology as the VertuoPlus, which makes it extremely user-friendly.
Nespresso Vertuo Next: Similar to the Vertuo, I did not appreciate brewing coffee with the Vertuo Next due to its lock-top system, which was more difficult to use than many of the other models that allow you to raise a lever or press a button and insert a pod. Regarding capacity and design, I found the following significant differences between the Vertuo and the Vertuo Next: The Vertuo Next has a smaller water tank, at 37 ounces than the Vertuo, which has a tank capacity of 40 ounces. This is merely a difference between one or two brewed espresso shots, so it scarcely merits discussion. (My top pick, the VertuoPlus, also features a 40-ounce water tank.) The Vertuo Next is slightly narrower than the Vertuo by about 3 inches; however, note that the VertuoPlus is the widest of the three models, at 8.7 inches. However, based on its slimness, the Vertuo Next would be ideal if you’re searching for a Vertuo series model for small countertop model. Because the Vertuo Next was released in 2020, as opposed to the Vertuo, which was released in 2014, it boasts more sophisticated technology that allows it to brew 5-, 8-, and 14-oz. cups—drink, as well as single and double espresso shots.
Nespresso Lattissima One: The Lattissima One is a beautiful and highly functional machine that is less expensive than some of the other milk-inclusive options; my only complaint, and the reason I preferred the Creatista Pro (which is, of course, much more expensive), is that I found it inconvenient to have to clean out the milk chamber after every drink or two, especially with its fiddly straws and chutes. With nearly the same water tank capacity (33 ounces), the CitiZ&Milk is significantly less expensive and considerably easier to clean. Also, I wouldn’t say I liked the boxy design of the Lattissima series, which seemed more like a corporate office environment than a domestic kitchen.
Nespresso Lattissima Pro: I had the same issue with the Lattissima Pro that I had with the Lattissima. One: I found cleaning out the milk chamber after every drink or two inconvenient. Of course, the Lattissima Pro has a larger water tank (43-ounce capacity) and can keep up to 13 used capsules compared to the CitiZ&Milk (33-ounce water tank capacity, holds up to 9 used capsules). The Lattissima Pro has a larger milk tank than the Lattissima One. Still, since I was mostly making one or two drinks at a time, this was more of a bug than a feature, as any remaining milk in the tank would need to be cleaned out between periods of active use. It also has more preprogrammed drinks than the Lattissima One (seven against two). If you favor a Lattissima over a Creatista Pro and prefer having more options, the Lattissima Pro model is worth considering.
How I Tested The Best Nespresso Machines
I conducted testing over 20 days, brewing more than ten shots on each of the eight Nespresso machines chosen based on consumer feedback and extensive market research. (Yes, my caffeine addiction is at an all-time high; my kitchen countertops have never been cleaner, and my rugs have never been more thoroughly vacuumed; yes, I will need to work off significant sleep debt.) In addition to testing the milk frother function on some of the Nespressos, I used lower-fat and plant-based milk. I refreshed my palate with sparkling water in between each sampling.
The goal of a Nespresso machine is to make solid and consistent coffee with as little effort as possible. This concept served as the foundation for my entire testing procedure, and it assisted me in developing a set of testing criteria that comprised the following factors: function, quality, and physical appearance.
Function And Features
I started out by assessing the water tank capacity, measuring how much water each machine’s tank can hold. I then looked for user-friendly features such as automated steps that can make the brewing process simpler, or add-ons like built-in milk steamers. Nespresso machines tend to have a reputation for brewing a limited number of coffee drinks, so it was crucial for me to test the range of beverages each model could put out. I also evaluated how many used capsules each machine could store before it needed to be emptied. Lastly, I cleaned each of them several times to evaluate the cleaning and maintenance process.
Quality Of Coffee
I began by determining the water tank capacity or how much water each machine’s tank could contain. I then looked for user-friendly features like automated stages that simplify the brewing process or add-ons like built-in milk steamers. Because Nespresso machines are known for brewing a restricted number of coffee drinks, I needed to test the variety of beverages each model could produce. Additionally, I evaluated how many used capsules each machine could store before having to be emptied. Finally, I cleaned them all multiple times to assess the cleaning and maintenance process.
Aesthetics And Design
The ability of a decent coffee machine to brew quality drinks is the true litmus test. As a result, I paid great attention to flavor in all eight models. Surprisingly, the flavor remained consistent throughout the capsule flavor family. Unlike conventional espresso, Nespresso capsules provide smoother shots or less intense coffee beverages; each machine produces shots and coffee beverages with remarkably identical flavor qualities. I tested steamed milk textures—dry, bone-dry, and wet foam—and whether the quality was equivalent to an espresso machine for Nespresso with built-in steamers.
How To Pick A Nespresso Machine
If you still can’t decide which Nespresso machine is best for you, consider the following factors while making your choice.
First and foremost, is milk essential to your coffee ritual? (It is to mine, so I chose the CitiZ&Milk and the Creatista Pro.) If so, do you already have a milk frother, or would you like one with your Nespresso machine? If milk is crucial to you, consider purchasing a machine that includes an Aeroccino frother, like the CitiZ&Milk, or if your budget is larger, choose the Creatista Pro. The Lattissima models also contain milk frothers, but I favored them less due to the requirement to clean out the larger milk chambers between active use.
Ease Of Use
Madison suggests asking yourself, “What’s your comfort level?” when selecting your ideal Nespresso. What is the purpose of this? Is it just an evening capsule for you and your partner? If so, and if your comfort level is poor, you can choose a model with fewer buttons and options, like the CitiZ&Milk, VertuoPlus, or Essenza Mini.” I found them so straightforward to operate that I wouldn’t feel the need to walk a houseguest through the brewing procedure.
If your degree of comfort is higher, consider a machine like the Creatista Pro, which requires some eyeballing of set levels and a variety of several settings for coffee and milk preparation but offers more options and adaptability.
How frequently do you intend to use your Nespresso? If you plan to brew several Nespresso drinks per day, choose a model with a larger water tank and more pods for used pods, like the VertuoPlus—40-ounce espresso tank, clean for ten large used pods—or the CitiZ&Milk—33-ounce espresso tank, clean for nine used pods. I found it inconvenient to regularly refill the Essenza Mini’s water tank and discard its used capsules, especially when I was only stopping by for a quick coffee in the middle of my workday.
Aside from frequency of usage, how do you balance the dread of refilling the water tank and emptying spent pods against the realities of your counter space? The response will determine whether you choose a little model like the Essenza Mini or a larger one like the VertuoPlus. Like any kitchen appliance, putting the Nespresso models on display took some compromise; I had to remove some of my other larger countertop gadgets to take their place. (And with a model like the Essenza Mini, you wouldn’t have to—not only can it fit into smaller places, but it can also be readily stowed; I lifted mine into the cabinet after each use.)
Nespresso machines are admired for their simplicity and beauty of design. However, there is a diverse selection of styles among the plethora of models. The Vertuo series, for example, features machines that are sleeker and more modern in appearance, with taller, thinner bodies. The iconic designs that come to mind when you think of a Nespresso machine are referenced in the original line of espresso machines, like the Essenza Mini and the CitiZ&Milk.
I’ve been writing about food for several years, and my work has appeared in magazines like Bon Appétit, Food52, and Saveur. I also publish a monthly column for Food52 called “Absolute Best Tests,” in which I compare cooking techniques in a series of head-to-head trials, so I am no stranger to the rigorous examination process.
Furthermore, I have consumed coffee in some form or another practically every day since the age of 13—haughtily made Roman espresso, poor and watery airport coffee, and a latte from a hospital vending machine. I’ve met my fair share of Nespresso machines along the trip, both in the wild (hotel rooms) and in friendly territory (my parents’ back cottage). When not busily testing Nespresso machines at home, I make my coffee with a Bezzera BZ10 espresso machine. I also worked as a part-time barista for a few years, where I learned how to pull shots and steam milk into various sorts of foam.
I chatted with two specialists for roughly 30 minutes each on this topic. Candice Madison, founder, and CEO of Kandake Boutique Coffees, a small-batch coffee roaster specializing in Ethiopian beans, was interviewed. Madison has worked as an instructor for the Coffee Quality Institute, director of education at Irving Farm New York, head roaster and head of quality control for Notes Coffee Roasters & Bar, and vice president for two years in a row of the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity.
I also spoke with Jesse Hartman, the host of The Coffee Podcast. Hartman has worked in the coffee industry in various capacities, including customer-facing barista jobs, service manager at a hospitality group, and managing a mobile espresso startup. He works as a data scientist at a tech company when he isn’t obsessed with coffee.