The best Nespresso machines maximize flavor and minimize effort thanks to a simple single-pod design. For coffee lovers who prioritize consistency and convenience, Nespresso machines are a game-changer for your morning brew routine. That’s why I rigorously tested some of the brand’s top-selling models, running more than 200 tests across a 20-day period, to find which Nespresso machines are worth your dollars. My best overall pick, the Nespresso VertuoPlus, has technology that scans barcodes on pods to deliver pre-portioned drink sizes, and I only rarely had to clean it or tend to it at all.
After testing eight machines total—sometimes barefoot and frantic, sometimes socked and calm, sometimes in the morning and frequently way too late in the evening—I found five other models worthy of praise. For a Nespresso machine and milk frother duo, I recommend the Nespresso Creatista Pro, which delivered a wide variety of milk-based coffee drinks at the push of a button, while a built-in user-friendly cleaning system kept things tidy. (You can read our in-depth reviews of the Nespresso VertuoPlus and Nespresso Creatista Pro for more details, too.) If you, too, are considering a foray into the pod-coffee mad dash, read on for details about the best Nespresso machines, according to my rigorous testing process.
- Best Nespresso Machine Overall: Nespresso VertuoPlus
- Best Budget Nespresso Machine: Nespresso Vertuo Next
- Best Nespresso Machine For Small Kitchens: Nespresso Essenza Mini
- Best Value Nespresso Machine: Nespresso CitiZ&Milk
- Best Nespresso With Milk Frother: Nespresso Creatista Pro
- Best Nespresso Machine For Beginners: Nespresso Vertuo
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 user-friendly in every sense of the word and costs just $169—on the low end for Nespresso machines. The VertuoPlus uses easy technology; like all Vertuo machines, it automatically scans your selected capsule and brews your drink accordingly. That means just one button yields a number of coffee drinks (in 5 or 8 ounces), espresso and double espresso shots, based on the encoded information on each inserted capsule. (You choose what type of beverage you would like it to brew when you purchase the capsules, and the machine scans those instructions and automatically brews at the click of a button.)
During my testing process, I found the machine to be simple and intuitive to use. It produced drinks that tasted just like the coffee brewed by the other seven machines, which is to say, consistency was not compromised in any way, by any of its features. The VertuoPlus was easy to clean, since there’s just the water tank to intermittently rinse and the used capsule compartment to dump and rinse when full. Another winning aspect of the VertuoPlus is that the positioning of its generously sized water tank is adjustable, so you can customize placement based on your countertop space; the water tank can sit at the back, or on either side of the machine’s body.
There were two small hitches I noted when testing this model. The first is that, if you haven’t used it in over a day, there can be the occasional snag of the last capsule during the automatic ejection process; however, simply prodding the used capsule gently with your finger solves the issue. The other is that, like many of the more affordable Nespresso machines, the VertuoPlus does not come with a milk steaming accessory, which may be a con if you prefer a cappuccino or latte. That said, there are plenty of frothing options available, including the Aeroccino models from Nespresso.
Nespresso Vertuo Next
Dimensions: 16.8 x 5.5 x 12.4 inches | Discarded capsule capacity: 10 capsules | Water tank capacity: 37 ounces | Types of drinks brewed: Espresso and double espresso | Available in: White, Light Gray, Dark Gray, Cherry Red, Black Rose Gold, Black Chrome
- People on a tight budget
- Coffee drinkers looking for easy-to-brew espresso
- Those with little counter space
- You want a machine with a built-in frother
- You don’t want to fiddle with the lock-top mechanism
For fresh espresso without the high price tag, I recommend the Vertuo Next. Available at Amazon for under $150, it includes a streamlined design and functionality that operates pretty similarly to the Vertuo Plus. At first, it was slightly difficult to use due to its lock-top mechanism, which was more complicated than many of the other models that allow you to simply lift a lever or press a button and insert a pod. However, it was pretty easy to operate once I got the hang of it.
As far as capacity and design, I found the relevant main differences between the Vertuo Next and Vertuo (another machine I tested) to be as follows: The Vertuo Next has a slightly smaller water tank, at 37 ounces, than the original Vertuo, at 40 ounces. Of course, this is the difference of only one brewed espresso shot or so, so it hardly bears consideration. (My overall winning pick, the VertuoPlus, has a 40-ounce water tank as well.) The Vertuo Next is slightly slimmer than the Vertuo, by a little under 3 inches; note that the VertuoPlus is the widest of the three models, at 8.7 inches.
But if you’re looking for a Vertuo series model for a tight countertop, perhaps the Vertuo Next would fit the bill best based on its slimness. The Vertuo Next was released in 2020, whereas the Vertuo was released in 2014, so it has more advanced technology that allows it to brew 5-, 8- and 14-oz. drink, as well as single and double espresso shots.
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
What you see is what you get with the Nespresso Essenza Mini, a stately little guy who simply brews espresso (single and double), whenever you want one. Does it have a broad capacity for storing used capsules, or a conveniently large water tank? No, but I’m guessing your countertop space won’t allow for a model that does. If you’re looking for a tiny, functional machine, this is your pick. If you’ve come seeking a Nespresso brand machine and your budget is on the lower end, this is your pick. If you are the type of person who wants the point-and-shoot equivalent of a coffee maker, this is your pick.
Another great perk of the Essenza Mini is that you can transport or store it with ease. If you like to bring a coffee machine with you on frequent road trips, or to combat Airbnbs or hotel rooms that lack a setup, this tiny model would be perfect. And if you need to keep your counter space clear, the Essenza Mini is easy to lift in and out of cabinets.
It is incredibly straightforward to use—put in the pod, close the lever, press lungo or espresso—and as easy as any of the milk-free models to clean. Of note, as compared with the CitiZ&Milk, is that it lacks a milk frother, and also a larger water tank; the CitiZ&Milk has a 33-ounce water tank, while the Essenza Mini tank holds only 20.3 ounces. And compared with the VertuoPlus, the Essenza Mini makes fewer types of drinks, since it lacks the barcode-scanning technology of the Vertuo line that yields both espresso and coffee drinks. In conclusion, the Essenza Mini would be a great starter Nespresso for anyone who enjoys good instant espressos but doesn’t have the space to dedicate to a bigger machine.
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 it’s for good reason. The CitiZ&Milk comes with an integrated Aeroccino steamer, which makes it a great option for those seeking lattes, cappuccinos and Americanos with hot milk. Unless you’re extremely fussy about microfoam (in which case, no Nespresso machine is really for you), the Aeroccino turns out 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 the top into the hot milk by spinning your wrist around as you get ready to transfer the milk to a mug.
Another pro of picking the CitiZ&Milk is that unlike the Vertuo models that use barcoded pods, it uses Nespresso’s original pods, giving users the flexibility to pick their own beverage size. (You also have the option of using less-expensive third-party pods.) To brew your Nespresso, fill the removable tank with water, pop your pod in and simply press one of the two programmable buttons to choose between an espresso or lungo shot. Meanwhile, fill the attached Aeroccino steamer, and press the button near the base.
In terms of aesthetics, the CitiZ&Milk is compact and perfectly suited for small kitchens. And since the Aeroccino is fitted onto an attached stand, it won’t float around your countertop creating clutter the way it would if you just bought a separate frother. Lastly, it’s worth noting that Nespresso does sell a version of this machine without the Aeroccino steamer, but priced at $329, it makes more sense to pay $50 more to get a powerful steamer (which retails for $99).
Nespresso Creatista Pro
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
Like an actual Cadillac, the Creatista Pro required me to embrace a bit of a learning curve, between its extensive descaling at setup and the way the milk frother caused the pitcher to overflow when the milk was sloshed in there in imprecise amounts. But once I got my sea legs, I found that the Creatista Pro turned out drinks that most closely mimicked semiprofessional setups, but with that distinctive Nespresso flavor. And because the wand forces you to set the milk pitcher in place so it can automatically steam, the foam created isn’t as top-notch as something you’d get from a skilled barista, who would move the pitcher around to manually control texture. But it was a decent dupe when you consider the convenience of being able to text back your mom about paint samples while it burbles away, making your frothy, milky drinks for you, all while looking snazzy and sharp.
The Creatista Pro makes your coffee experience as seamless as possible. A touchscreen menu lets you choose between eight drinks—ristretto, espresso, lungo, Americano, flat white, cappuccino, café latte and latte macchiato—and plain steamed milk. You can also press a button to release only hot water if you’d like to use the machine for a mug of tea. Once you decide which drink you want, the Creatista Pro then offers options to customize the volume of the coffee portion and the texture and temperature of the milk portion. While the menu does give you a standard setting for each drink type, you can choose to customize beyond its suggestion. So for instance, if you want a cappuccino with less-frothy foam than the machine suggests, you can program it to steam accordingly on a sliding scale on the touchscreen. The machine also gives you the option to store your customized drink creations under a unique name, so you can instantly rebrew them with just one touch.
Ultimately, when compared to the Lattissima machines I tested, the Creatista Pro fared a lot better thanks to its intuitive scrollable touchscreen, classic silver design (would be great in a farmhouse-style kitchen or a modern kitchen alike) and lack of on-site milk compartment, which would need cleaning after every use to avoid smelly, spoiled buildup. In other words, it functions more like a traditional espresso machine, but at a third of the price. All of that said, if your budget is truly unconstrained and the idea of a touchscreen menu makes you want to crawl into a hole with a weighted blanket and never come out, you may favor a true espresso machine.
Dimensions: 8.3 x 11.9 x 11.9 inches | Discarded capsule capacity: 13 capsules | Water tank capacity: 40 ounces | Types of drinks brewed: A range of coffees, espressos and double espressos | Available in: Titan, Chrome, Red, Black, Matte Black
- People who value an easy to use and straightforward coffee maker
- Coffee drinkers on a budget
- You want a built-in frother
- You’re a seasoned Nespresso user and more advanced features
For beginners who feel intimidated by the more sophisticated Nespresso designs, I recommend the classic Nespresso Vertuo. Straightforward with a sleek design, it’s easy to clean and maintain, which was another plus during testing. It brews four cup sizes, including double espressos and 8-ounce coffee pods. Plus, it can hold up to 13 large capsules in the used capsule container. It features an automatic ‘off’ mode after just 10 minutes, so don’t need to worry whether you turned your machine off after leaving the house. It also has the same cool barcode-scanning technology as the VertuoPlus, which makes it very user-friendly.
Cons include the special lock-top mechanism that is intended to be sleek and hyper-useful once you’ve inserted a capsule; I found it fiddly, and on a day when my hands were stiff, difficult to use similar to the Vertuo Next. In comparison, the lever of the VertuoPlus was much simpler to operate but using the Vertuo isn’t bad for the price, plus it’s fairly easy to use once you’ve figured out the lock-top mechanism.
Other Nespresso Machines I Tested
Nespresso Lattissima One: The Lattissima One is a beautiful and highly functional machine, at a more affordable price point than some of the other milk-inclusive options; my only gripe with it and why I preferred the Creatista Pro (which is, of course, much costlier) 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. The CitiZ&Milk is slightly less expensive and much easier to clean, with roughly the same water tank capacity (33 ounces). I also did not love the boxy design of the Lattissima series, which were visually more evocative of a corporate office space than, say, a home kitchen.
Nespresso Lattissima Pro: I had the same issue with the Lattissima Pro as I did with the Lattissima One: I found it inconvenient to have to clean out the milk chamber after every drink or two. Of course, the Lattissima Pro does have a larger water tank (43-ounce capacity) and holds up to 13 used capsules, as compared with the CitiZ&Milk (33-ounce water tank capacity, holds up to 9 used capsules). The appeal of the Lattissima Pro relative to the Lattissima One seems to be a larger milk tank, but since I was mostly making one or at most two drinks at a time, this actually was more of a bug than a feature, since any remaining milk in the tank would need to be cleaned out between periods of active use. It does also have more preprogrammed drinks than the Lattissima One (seven versus two), so if you are set on getting a Lattissima over a Creatista Pro, and you favor having more options, then the Lattissima Pro model might be worth a look.
How I Tested The Best Nespresso Machines
I ran tests over a 20-day period, brewing more than 10 shots each on eight Nespresso machines that were selected based on customer reviews and rigorous market research. (Yes, my caffeine-dependency levels are at all-time highs; yes, my kitchen countertops have never been cleaner, and my rugs have never been more thoroughly vacuumed; yes, I am going to need to work down a significant sleep debt.) In addition to using whole milk to test the milk frother function on some of the Nespressos, I also used lower-fat and plant-based milks. In between each tasting, I cleansed my palate with sparkling water.
The purpose of a Nespresso machine, it seems, is to produce solid and consistent coffee, while putting in as little effort as possible. This concept served as the basis of my entire testing process, and it helped me to come up with a set of testing criteria, which included 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
The real test for a good coffee machine lies in its ability to brew quality drinks. So I paid close attention to flavor across all eight models. Unsurprisingly, I discovered that the flavor was unwaveringly consistent within the same capsule flavor family. Compared to traditional espresso, Nespresso capsules tend to produce smooth shots or coffee beverages with less intensity; each machine produced shots and coffee beverages with very similar flavor qualities. For Nespressos with built-in steamers, I tested for textures of steamed milk—dry, bone-dry and wet foam—and whether the quality was comparable to an espresso machine.
Aesthetics And Design
I took note of the design of each model. I recorded the size and height of the machines I tested, evaluating how much countertop each occupied. A clunky water tank can prevent a coffee maker from fitting on a compact countertop, so I looked at where the water tank was located, whether it was able to rotate and how easy it was to refill. Lastly, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I evaluated the look and style, making a note of whether it was sleek, old-school or clunky.
How To Pick A Nespresso Machine
If you still can’t decide which Nespresso machine is best for you, consider these factors when making your decision.
First and foremost, is milk mission-critical to your coffee routine? (It is to mine, which is why I gravitated toward the CitiZ&Milk and the Creatista Pro.) If so, do you already have a milk frother, or would you like it to come with your Nespresso machine? If milk is important, consider investing in a machine that comes with an Aeroccino frother, like the CitiZ&Milk, or if you have a bigger budget, choose the Creatista Pro. The Lattissima models also have milk frothers, but I favored them less due to the need to clean out the larger milk chambers in between active use.
Ease Of Use
When it comes to choosing your ideal Nespresso, Madison suggests asking yourself, “What’s your comfort level? What do you need this for? Is it just a capsule for you and your partner in the evening?” If so, and if your comfort level is low, you might select a model like the CitiZ&Milk, VertuoPlus or Essenza Mini, with fewer buttons and options. I found them extremely simple to use, to the point where I would not feel the need to walk a houseguest through the brewing process.
If your comfort level is at the higher end, consider a machine like the Creatista Pro, which does require some eyeballing of milk levels and selection of different settings for coffee and milk preparation but offers you more options and versatility.
How often do you plan on using your Nespresso? If you envision brewing several Nespresso drinks per day, go with a model that has a larger water tank and more capacity for discarded pods, so you have to clean and refill the tank with less frequency, like the VertuoPlus—40-ounce water tank, capacity for 10 large used capsules—or the CitiZ&Milk—33-ounce water tank, capacity for 9 used capsules. I found it frustrating to have to constantly refill the water tank on the Essenza Mini and discard its used capsules, especially when I was just popping by for a quick coffee in the middle of my workday.
And frequency of use aside, how do you weigh that dread of refilling the water tank and dumping out used pods against the reality of your counter space? The answer to that will determine whether you go for a tiny model, like the Essenza Mini, or a larger one, like the VertuoPlus. Like all kitchen appliances, I found the Nespresso models required compromise when it came to keeping them on display; I had to remove some of my other larger countertop tools to make room. (And with a model like the Essenza Mini, you wouldn’t have to do that—not only can it squeeze into tighter spaces, but it can be easily stored; I lifted mine into the cabinet after every use.)
Nespresso’s machines are valued for being streamlined and beautifully designed. But among the bevy of models, there’s a wide range of styles to choose from. For instance, the Vertuo series has machines that are sleeker and more modern looking, with taller, narrower bodies. The original line of machines, like the Essenza Mini and the CitiZ&Milk, reference the nostalgic designs you may picture when you think of a Nespresso machine.
History Of Nespresso Machines
While Nespresso machines have been available in the United States from Nestlé for several decades, single-cup pod coffee really took off in the early 2000s. According to The Guardian, approximately 14 billion Nespresso-brand capsules make their way from factory to consumer each year, and more than 400 Nespresso-brewed drinks are tossed back every second. The brand also offers a pod recycling option to keep Nespresso drinking habits sustainable.
Of course, as I discussed with coffee expert Jesse Hartman, Nespresso is not necessarily espresso. Strictly speaking, espresso refers to a specific brewing process involving tamped down, ideally fresh grounds and lots of high pressure pushing water through. Nespresso machines do, however, produce a product that is similar in many ways, and they eliminate the learning curve and cost barriers to traditional espresso machines. And as coffee educator Candice Madison noted, “They have worked really hard to make coffee taste really good from those pods.”
I have written about food for several years, and my work has appeared in publications like Bon Appétit, Food52 and Saveur. I also write a monthly column for Food52 called “Absolute Best Tests,” in which I conduct a series of head-to-head trials of cooking techniques, so I am no stranger to the process of rigorous evaluation.
Additionally, I have drunk coffee in some form—haughtily brewed Roman espresso, weak and watery airport coffee, a latte out of a hospital vending machine—nearly every day since I turned 13. Along the way, I have encountered my fair share of Nespresso machines, both in the wild (hotel rooms) and in friendly territory (the back cottage of my parents’ home). At home, when I’m not feverishly testing Nespresso machines, I use a Bezzera BZ10 espresso machine for my daily coffee. I also spent a few years working as a part-time barista and learned to correctly pull shots and steam milk into different types of foam.
For this story, I spoke with two experts for about 30 minutes each. I interviewed Candice Madison, founder and CEO of Kandake Boutique Coffees, a small-batch coffee roaster specializing in Ethiopian beans. Madison has many years of experience across the coffee supply chain and 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 was the vice president of the Coffee Coalition for Racial Equity for 2 years in a row.
Additionally, I chatted with Jesse Hartman, host of The Coffee Podcast. Hartman has held several roles in the coffee industry—from customer-facing barista jobs to the service manager at a hospitality group to managing a mobile espresso startup. When he’s not obsessing over coffee, he’s a data scientist at a tech company.
Which Nespresso Is Considered The Best?
While there is no ‘best’ Nespresso machine—the right machine depends on your specific coffee needs, preferences and budget—the Nespresso VertuoPlus (my overall favorite) is simple to use, requires little maintenance, and is reasonably priced. For those looking for a good starter model, I recommend the Nespresso Vertuo, which is slightly more affordable than the VertuoPlus, but offers many of the same features like bar code-scanning technology and the ability to brew four cup sizes.
Which Nespresso Machine Is Best For Lattes?
For whipping up lattes (iced or hot), any of the Nespresso machines from the Creatista line should serve you well. I like the Nespresso Creatista Pro, which comes with a built-in milk frother and intuitive touchscreen. However, this machine (and others from the Creatista line) run pretty pricey. For latte lovers on a budget, you can always pair one of the more affordable Nespresso Machines with a milk frother like the Aeroccino 4, which is available for purchase as an accessory on the Nespresso site.