Nespresso Vertuo vs. Original: A Comparison

If you’re considering upgrading your home coffee ritual, you’re already aware there are dozens of choices when it comes to brewing methods and machines. If you love the convenience and consistency of making coffee with pre-measured pods, Nespresso machines are a popular choice, but which one of the many options is best for you? The most obvious difference you might notice in Nespresso machines is capsule size; original line machines have a small capsule, and Vertuo machines use a larger, dome-shaped coffee capsule. The differences go deeper, though — the machines have different systems for making coffee, and the capsules available make a difference in the range of coffees, too.

Original Nespresso machines use pressurized water to extract shots of traditional espresso from their capsules, similar to traditional espresso machines. Vertuo machines are more high-tech, with a barcode reader telling the machine how to best extract each pod, which gets a high-speed spin in the brew head during the making process. Vertuo machines make espresso shots but also can make larger cups of coffee, depending on the pod and the setting used.

What is a Nespresso original line machine

Nespresso original line

The venerable original line Nespresso machines were first sold back in 1986, intended to be a convenient, pre-portioned way to brew espresso. The original machine was even designed to mimic a classic espresso machine, and it uses high pressure to brew, just like the real thing. The product was launched in Japan, Switzerland, and Italy with four choices of coffee capsules. Through the years, models were updated and changed many times and a long list of new coffee choices were introduced — but all still focused on the espresso market.

Original line Nespresso machines are simple to operate, with a minimum number of buttons to push to deliver a perfect shot of espresso in three strengths: Ristretto, the most concentrated, normal espresso, and the slightly more dilute lungo. The machines are factory pre-set to deliver the amount of water for these shots, but among the hacks you should know to get the most out of your Nespresso machine, a good one is to learn how to reset the amount to your liking.

You’ll find a number of different original line styles, from small machines that offer two different brew sizes up to top-of-the-line machines with integrated milk foamers and digital displays, but what they all have in common is a focus on espresso-based coffee drinks.

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What is a Nespresso Vertuo line machine

Nespresso Vertuo system

Nespresso / Instagram

Nespresso released Vertuo machines in North America in 2014, realizing that some people prefer bigger cups of brewed coffee rather than espresso. With a larger capacity capsule holding more ground coffee, the Vertuo machines can produce up to five different serving sizes of coffee but also make a good espresso shot. The machines use a patented centrifugal force system Nespresso calls Centrifusion for brewing both styles.

There’s a barcode reader built into the machines that detects what the capsule you insert is best suited for, programming a combination of hot water, extraction time, and how fast the capsule will spin to make the coffee. Just like the original line, Vertuo machines are simple for the user, with just a few buttons to select. You still have some flexibility to override the settings — for example, the so-called expert mode can turn a regular coffee pod into a more concentrated espresso shot with a quick push of a button.

Only Vertuo machines brew coffee and espresso

Nespresso Vertuo XL

Nespresso / Instagram

You’ll find the same optional features in both Nespresso Vertuo and original line machines – built-in milk frothers and steam wands and a variety of sizes and colors. The most noticeable difference between the two machines is that only the Vertuo machines can make both regular coffee and espresso shots — original line machines only produce shots of espresso. Some Vertuo machines even have an extended pod-size capability to brew large 18-ounce carafes of coffee, which is handy if you want to serve multiple cups without waiting for each one to brew individually.

The trade-off, for now, is that Vertuo pods are only available from Nespresso and licensed partners. The smaller original line capsules are no longer under patent protection, so lower-cost coffee capsules are available through multiple sources. The complicated shape and barcode system that Vertuo uses is patented, so you might have to pay a few cents more for the convenience of making multiple sizes and styles of coffee.

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