An Original Line machine is the best option for people who prefer espresso and espresso-based drinks such as americanos and lattes. The Original Line also has the widest variety of espresso capsules available, both from Nespresso and from third parties (which can be far cheaper.) A Vertuo Line machine is the best option for people who usually drink regular coffee, especially if you like a big mug. There are espresso capsules available for the Vertuo Line, but the selection is much smaller and more expensive.
Back up. What's a Nespresso machine, anyway?
Nespresso is the ultimate in convenience coffee. I've tried quite a few brewing methods over the years, and I've found Nespresso offers the easiest brewing method with the best-tasting coffee. It's as easy as a Keurig machine with stronger, better-tasting results. It's faster and easier than pour-over, cold brew, french press, and drip with more consistently delicious results. Notice I didn't say it was the cheapest because it's not. The cost of the machines themselves aside, the capsules are not inexpensive.
I chose the particular machines linked in the article because I own them, but any machine within each line should yield the same results. I picked the lower-priced versions of each line; if you want more features, there are more options available. I'm not a milk-in-my-coffee drinker, but if you are, you can buy a machine with a milk frother built in. You can also just purchase a frother separately.
What's the difference between Original and Vertuo?
The Original Line and Vertuo Line machines use two totally different kinds of brewing technology. The Original Line machines use 19 bar high-pressure extraction, which is the closest to what a traditional espresso machine does. The high pressure is what makes espresso what it is: a tiny but very strong coffee with a crema (foam on top.)
The Vertuo Line uses its patented Centrifusion™ to brew the coffee. This method spins the capsule, utilizing centrifugal force to brew. You still get a crema, but some people do not find this method makes as authentic an espresso as the high-pressure extraction. I think it's fine, but I prefer to use my Original Line machine to make espresso drinks.
The Original Line has just one small capsule size. Depending on which button you press (or how long you hold it down,) you can brew three different beverage sizes from one capsule: Ristretto (.85 ounces), Espresso (1.35 ounces), or Lungo (3.7 ounces). Add water to make an Americano, or milk and foam to make other espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos and lattes.
The Vertuo Line has three different capsule sizes that produce five different beverage sizes: Espresso (1.35 ounces) from the smallest capsule, Double Espresso (2.7 ounces) and Gran Lungo (5 ounces) from the medium capsule, and Coffee (7.77 ounces) and Alto XL (14 ounces) from the largest capsule. Each capsule has a bar code which the machine reads, so all you need to do is press the button to get the correct brew. You don't need to worry about which is which, except that you need to be sure to place the right size mug underneath.
Can I buy third-party capsules?
The patent on the Original Line capsules has expired, which means that third parties are free to make compatible capsules. While some are similarly priced to Nespresso's, others are substantially cheaper. Plus, you just get a lot more choices when you factor in the third parties.
The patent on the Vertuo Line capsules, however, is not expiring anytime soon. So if you buy a Vertuo line machine, you must purchase the Nespresso capsules. It's essential to take the cost of the capsules into account even more than the cost of the machine since the cost of the capsules adds up pretty quickly. While all of Nespresso's capsules are recyclable, most third-party capsules are not.
|Original Line||Vertuo Line|
|Capsules available||over two dozen||over two dozen|
|Number of capsule sizes||one||three|
|Number of brew sizes||three||five|
|Maximum size brew||3.7 ounces||14 ounces|
|Brew technology||19 bar high-pressure extraction||Centrifusion™|
|Makes large coffee?||No||Yes|
|Third-party capsules available||Yes||No|
|Limited edition options||Yes||Yes|
|Capsule cost||From $.70||From $.85|
I can't say one line is "better" than the other. Heck, I couldn't even pick for myself, which is how I ended up with one of each. But I can tell you unequivocally that if you prefer espresso and espresso-based drinks, the Original Line is the way to go. It makes the most authentic espresso, and the Original Line Nespresso capsules are cheaper than the Vertuo capsules. You can save even more with third-party capsules for the Original Line machines.
On the other hand, if you enjoy wrapping your hands around a full mug of coffee, you'll want a Vertuo Line machine. Sure, you can fill a mug with multiple Original Line capsules and add water and/or milk to get a big beverage, but it will be more cost-effective to use a single large Vertuo capsule than two or more Original ones.
The larger Vertuo capsules, which make the 7.7 and 14-ounce coffees, do generally cost more than the Original espresso-sized ones, but not double. When I want to sip a big drink, I go for the Vertuo. When I just want a little kick of caffeine but not a big mug, I go for the Original.
Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine (Original Line)
Brew perfect espressos every time
The Original Line machines are ideal for espresso and espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos, Americanos, and lattes. All of the capsules are the same size and can be brewed as a Ristretto (.85 ounces), Espresso (1.35 ounces), or Lungo (3.7 ounces). If you want a larger beverage, you'll either add water or milk or use multiple capsules. There are third-party capsules available for this line, so you can save money on coffee.
Espresso plus coffee
Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Machine (Vertuo Line)
For regular or large-sized coffee most of the time
The Vertuo machines are ideal for the person who usually wants a big cup of joe. Yes, you can still make an espresso with a Vertuo machine, but it's brewed with centrifugal force rather than high pressure. And the capsules cost more for the same 1.35-ounce size drink. A Vertuo machine brews five different sizes: Espresso (1.35 ounces), Double Espresso (2.7 ounces), Gran Lungo (5 ounces), Coffee (7.77 ounces), and Alto XL (14 ounces). You cannot get third-party Vertuo capsules, so you are limited to Nespresso's own coffee offerings.
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