When comparing Nespresso Vertuo vs Original, the debate is really between a pure espresso machine and a two-in-one coffee machine. While the Nespresso Original has been using the same extraction technology since the 1970s, the newer Vertuo uses a centrifuge technology that creates a different result.
Meet the Nespresso Original and Vertuo: Turning Kitchens Into Cafés Since the 1980s
If you’re looking for cup-clutching coffee and impression-making espresso, you’ve probably followed the advice of coffee enthusiasts everywhere to look into the Nespresso brand. In my view, this is your gateway to a “café at home” experience with the same temperature, flavor and texture as famous coffee-shop brews.
However you may be caught in a tug-of-war battle between Nespresso Vertuo vs Original. The full Nespresso Original line includes the Lattissima One, Creatista Plus, Lattissima Pro, Gran Lattissima, CitiZ, Essenza Plus, Essenza Mini, Pixie and Creatista Pro. The Vertuo line includes the Vertuo, Vertuo Next, VertuoPlus and Evoluo.
Synonymous with upscale coffee culture since 1986, the Nespresso Original showed the world that capsule technology was the secret behind getting a perfect cup of espresso on your countertop. In 1975, a young engineer employed at the Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland visited Rome to learn the secrets behind producing authentic Italian espresso.
Visiting the coffee bar with the longest line in the city, the engineer discovered that the baristas at this particular spot actually used repeated pumps to increase oxidation to draw out more flavor while also producing a thicker crema (foam).
To recapture this, Nespresso uses sealed pods that keep coffee fresh while recreating the aeration used by the fancy coffee bar in Rome. Once the pod is inserted into the machine, it is pierced before hot water is pumped through with intense pressure.
As pressure grows within the pod, a bursting event allows the finished espresso to pour from the spout. In 2014, the new Vertuo was launched as the first Nespresso system that allows you to brew both mug-sized coffee batches and espresso with same swift flick of a button! It uses a centrifuge system instead of repeated pumps.
Nespresso Original Pros:
- Works with any compatible pod from either Nespresso or a third-party brand.
- The pressure-pump design with pressure range going from 10 to 19 bars gives you piping-hot beverages in minutes.
- Working out to between 70 cents and 85 cents per cup, the Original is the cheaper option.
- Built-in frother.
Nespresso Original Cons:
- The closest thing you can get to a “normal” cup of coffee is a caffè Americano.
- Higher price.
- You can mix and match between espresso drinks and “regular” tall coffee.
- Nice mix of settings for temperature and brewing time.
- Produces a very thick crema.
- The centrifuge method produces beverage that are slightly less hot than the Original.
- Working out between 90 cents and $1.25 per cup, the Vertuo is the pricier option.
- Uses a bar code that only allows you to use proprietary Nespresso pods.
- No built-in frother on any models.
Here’s What You Need to Know When Shopping for Nespresso Machines
Ultimately, the Nespresso Original is a safe bet if you’re just looking for a classic, Italian-style espresso machine without the ease of switching to “tall” coffee whenever the mood strikes.
This is also a budget option within the Nespresso family due to the fact that the Original model does not contain a bar code that prevents you from using pods from other brands.
The Vertuo comes into the picture if you’re looking for a two-in-one coffee/espresso machine. While the espresso might not be as hot and integrated as what’s produced by the Original, you’re still getting a pretty world-class sipping experience.
While some people view the lack of frother on the Vertuo as a downside, you may actually prefer the ease of just being able to use cold milk with this machine.
The big decider here is whether or not you drink both tall coffee and espresso. With the Vertuo, you’re getting one attractive, high-performing machine to make both for you.
However, the original produces what is an arguably better espresso with only an option for using a recipe for an Americana when you want that mug-grabbing coffee experience.
The Features and Benefits of the Nespresso Original and Vertuo
I’m a little bit guilty of oversimplifying the Nespresso Vertuo vs Original debate by boiling it all down to whether you like just espresso. It’s important to drill down on the various features and benefits offered by both to really grasp expectations. Let’s do that know!
I want to start with extraction because this is “where the magic happens” within a Nespresso machine. With the Original Nespresso, you’re getting the fruits of a patented extraction method that has made the brand a global favorite for decades.
Nespresso has basically perfected a method of recreating the same method used at cafés throughout Europe in a compressed countertop version. I think that the result is smooth and hot enough to be confused for something from a Roman coffee bar.
When Nespresso rolled out the Vertuo in 2014, they did something different by introducing a new centrifuge technology. This is what makes the Vertuo a completely different machine instead of a just another “version” of the Original. Once you hit the button, your capsule spins at a rapid speed to create the crema that will crown your coffee.
I give the Vertuo big points for the thickness of the crema. While I’m okay with the thicker crema, some purists prefer the thinner, more authentic crema of the original. I’ll also say that I’m not the only one to notice that the heat and integration of the espresso produced by the Vertuo is lacking the pizzazz of the Original.
The Bar Code
I consider this to be the most controversial point when comparing the Vertuo and Original. It’s the Wild West when it comes to selecting pods for your Original Nespresso because this machine works with more than just licensed Nespresso pods.
Some people love this because it means they can utilize the Nespresso technology while purchasing cheaper pods. It’s one of the “budget” advantages of the Original.
When Nespresso rolled out the Vertuo, they actually added bar codes that register the type of pod you’re using to optimize brewing. If your pod isn’t a recognized Nespresso pod, it won’t work.
It is a very foolproof way to make coffee because you’re getting a built-in barista selecting the perfect settings for you. Nespresso makes a big show of saying that the bar code is there to give you a tailored, perfected brewing experience. However, lots of people feel that this is really just a way to stop you from buying cheaper pods.
Let’s talk about how much each model can brew. This is another one of those points where the two machines are really like night and day. The Vertuo’s maximum brewing capacity is more than three times the max brewing capacity of the Original Nespresso line. You’re looking at a whole-cup versus whole-sip machine.
Vertuo: 18, 14, 8, 5, 2.7, and 1.35 (ounces).
Original Nespresso: 5, 3.7, 1.35 and 0.85 (ounces).
As I touched on earlier, the larger Original models have a very beautiful, high-performance frother integrated into your coffee system. While most people believe that Nespresso pretty much achieved perfection with this, the company decided to do away with the built-in frother with the Vertuo line with mixed results.
I think they were trying to make the Vertuo an easier machine by allowing you to use cold milk. While it is easier, you lose some of that “I just stopped at a coffee bar” experience with the cooler, lackluster output.
This is where things get complicated. While the Vertuo line has a slightly higher starting price than the Original line, the models within the Original line can be double or triple the cost of Vertuo models. While the lowest price within the Original line is $149.00, the highest is $799. On, the other hand the Vertuo line starts off slightly higher at $159 before capping at $299.
Some Things They Have in Common
While I mostly focused on the difference between the Original and Vertuo, I want to briefly touch on some shared points between the two lines. Both offer tons of variety in terms of your capsules. With the original, you’re getting 24 capsule variations before you even touch third-party options. The Vertuo has 23 licensed options.
Both also use an ingenious aluminum design for the capsules that protects the freshness of the coffee inside. This is so important for protecting the freshness of our coffee because the oils inside grinds can evaporate very quickly to produce very stale, bland coffee that even the high-tech, Italian-style technology of your Nespresso machine can’t fix.
The other benefit to these aluminum capsules is that they are recyclable. For this reason, you might want to consider using licensed Nespresso pods over third-party brands even if you do go with the Original. Lastly, both the Original and Vertuo models are made to be eco-friendly machines.
Unlike most run-of-the-mill coffee makers, they are engineered to use the precise amounts of coffee, water and energy needed to produce the perfect cup! I love this because nothing makes me feel guiltier than throwing out cold coffee that was left sitting in my carafe when using an eight-cup or 12-cup machine.
Alternatives to the Nespresso Line of Coffee Machines
What if you’re just not sold on the Nespresso line for some reason? There are some alternatives that will get you a pretty decent “Italian” coffee experience. Check them out.
The Lavazza Classy Plus
The Lavazza Classy Plus is a good choice if you’re specifically looking for an alternative to the Vertuo because this is a two-in-one machine that makes espresso and tall-cup coffee. It also does cappuccinos, macchiatos, lattes and double shots. At $259, this Lavazza model is very similar in price to the Vertuo.
- Vertuo: Uses capsules.
- Lavazza Classy Plus: Uses capsules.
- Vertuo: Two-in-one-machine
- Lavazza Classy Plus: Two-in-one machine.
- Vertuo: Uses proprietary pods.
- Lavazza Classy Plus: Uses proprietary pods.
De’Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine
An elite alternative to the Nespresso Original, this De’Longhi espresso maker is a work of art that makes works of art. This stainless-steel design includes a sensor grinder to allow you to use custom grinds instead of being restricted by pods. This model retails for $849.95.
- Like the Nespresso Original, this model uses an intricate pressure system to apply tamping for perfect results.
- Reaches ideal temperatures for beautiful, flavorful extraction like the Nespresso Original.
- Beats the Nespresso Original in terms of making great Americanos because there’s actually a separate hot water spout to ensure that flavors don’t transfer. You can actually make tea using this spout!
Final Thoughts on Choosing Between Nespresso Original and Vertuo: Is There a Clear Winner?
As you can probably imagine, there’s really no bad choice when it comes to choosing between the Vertuo and Nespresso Original. However, I have my favorite. While I’m heavily persuaded by the tall-coffee brewing feature on the Vertuo, my loyalty remains with the Nespresso Original because I think it produces a superior espresso product. While both espresso styles are good, the Original is slightly better.
I owe the edge that the Nespresso Original has over the Vertuo to that original extraction process that was borrowed from Italian coffee shops back in the 1970s. I don’t think the centrifuge style that was added to the Vertuo in 2014 quite recreates the flavor and heat that you get with its predecessor.
My disclaimer here is that the Vertuo is a better option if you’re shopping for a two-in-one model. You’re also going to be able to get a pretty high-end Vertuo for under $200. Only a “mini” model is available in the original line for below $200.
That leaves price and tall-cup capabilities as my two big deciding factors. While everything else is just part of the details, these two factors are what everything boils down to because even the best espresso in the world won’t be enough for you if you’re looking for a cup of coffee.
What’s more, there’s no reason to deny yourself amazing espresso that you can make at home if you don’t want to spend from $225 to $799 on a Nespresso machine when the Vertuo is right there waiting for you for under $200.
Frequently Asked Questions About Nespresso Original and Vertuo
Which is better Nespresso original or Vertuo?
It’s not copping out to say that it’s a tie! Overall, the original produces a better espresso due to its tried-and-true extraction process that has been replaced with centrifuge technology on the Vertuo model. However, the Vertuo is a better pick if you’re looking for a two-in-one option that can make both espresso and tall-cup coffee in a snap!
Is the Nespresso Vertuo worth it?
Yes, this is a great machine that produces excellent espresso, tall-cup coffee and other coffee varieties. While the espresso isn’t at the same caliber as the Nespresso Original, you’re still getting great flavor. This is a good pick if you like a thicker crema.
Which Nespresso line is better?
For people who really only want the best espresso that can be made at home, the Nespresso original is the winner. However, the Vertuo is a great contender if you want more variety that allows you to brew “normal” coffee without buying two different machines.