Tom's Guide Verdict
The Nespresso Essenza Mini is a simple, space-saving coffee maker that’ll fit anywhere. However, it doesn’t heat milk or dispense hot water.
Delivers coffee from cold to hot in under a minute
Coffee crema is weak
Capsule container can’t hold many used capsules
Small water container
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Cup capacity: espresso, lungo
Size: 12.8 x 8 x 4.8 inches
Weight: 5lbs/ 2.3kg
Pod type: Original Line
Automatic capsule detection: No
Centrifusion brewing: No
Removable water reservoir: Yes
Milk frother: No
Strength settings: No
Iced coffee: No
Nespresso coffee capsules take the thinking out of making your morning cup of Joe. There are plenty of models available, but the Nespresso Essenza Mini is the most compact option in the current range. So if you’re tight for space, or even if you just want to keep your counters neat and streamlined, this model is worth considering.
It’s a small, good value coffee machine with just two buttons to deliver either espresso, or lungo coffee. The uncomplicated setup means it’s the perfect entry level machine. However,don’t expect it to steam milk or dispense boiling water, as this is the no-frills option.
We tried this Nespresso machine to see if it’s up to the task despite its tiny size, scroll down to read our full Nespresso Essenza Mini review, and to see if it’s one of the best Nespresso machines.
Nespresso Essenza Mini review: Price and availability
The Nespresso Essenza Mini is a bargain price at $179/ £90. It’s available direct from Nespresso or via Amazon, as well as many other retailers both online and in store. It’s one of the cheapest Nespresso machines you can buy, as well as being one of the smallest. So whether it’s your budget or space that’s tight, this might be the Nespresso that ticks your boxes.
It uses the Nespresso Original capsules which start at $0.80 for an espresso, or 39p if you’re in the UK. Capsules are readily available online, you can order direct from Nespresso as well as through plenty of other retailers such as Amazon and Walmart in the US.
Nespresso Essenza Mini review: Design
The Nespresso Essenza Mini is available in gray, white, or black. These muted color options combined with its small size make this model a discreet and subtle addition to your kitchen counter. In fact, it’s so small it’ll slot neatly onto a shelf or in a pantry, without you even noticing it’s there. And at just 5lbs, it’s super lightweight and easy to move around.
It’s easy to use with just two buttons — one for espresso and one for lungo. So there’s no need to spend hours pouring over the manual to get to grips with how to use it. It’s designed to be simple and intuitive.
At the back of the machine you’ll find the removable 20oz water container. Flipping up the lid unlocks it from the base and allows it to be taken to the sink for cleaning or refilling. Bear in mind, there’s no handle, but since it’s so small, a handle isn’t really necessary. The clear, plastic design makes it easy to see the water level at a glance, and there is a max fill line that’s only visible once it’s removed.
The small drip tray is removable, which is handy since there’s only space for cups up to 3.5 inches/ 9 cm tall otherwise. This is fine for small espresso cups but for anything larger like a standard mug, you’ll need to remove the drip tray and place the mug directly on the counter. This allows space for mugs up to 5 inches/ 13 cm.
The used capsule bin is located just behind the drip tray, and sits on top of another drip tray to allow excess water to drain from the capsules. It might not be the most robust setup for used capsules, but it’s compact, does the job and slots together neatly.
Nespresso Essenza Mini review: Performance
Despite being a compact, simple machine, the Essenza Mini’s performance is comparable to similar models, such as the Nespresso Pixie. Once switched on, it heats up and is ready to go in around 28 seconds. The time to pour an espresso varied slightly between capsules, but on average it was around 22 seconds, while a lungo needed about 37 seconds. So regardless of brew size, it’ll be in your cup around one minute from switching on the coffee machine — making it convenient for busy mornings.
Coffee temperatures come out at approximately 151°F for an espresso and 157°F for a lungo which is typical of most Nespresso Original machines. And with a max reading of 70 dB on my noise meter, it’s one of the quietest Nespresso models I’ve recently reviewed.
Energy consumption is 0.005 kWh to pour an espresso, but when you include the energy it uses heating up, it comes to a total of 0.012 kWh. Again, this is pretty typical across the Nespresso range. In addition, it goes into sleep mode after 9 minutes of no use, to save energy.
The coffee flavor very much depends on the capsule you choose to use, and the crema consistency can also vary by capsule as well as cup width.. Generally, the crema isn’t thick, velvety and robust in the same way that you’ll get from a barista style machine. But with that said, I don’t think you’re buying this machine for gourmet coffee. What it does well is offer speedy, consistent coffee each time, without any mess and hassle.
Nespresso Essenza Mini review: Ease of use and cleaning
Since there’s no milk frother, controls are limited to just the two cup sizes, making this machine uncomplicated and effortless to use. Pushing either of the two buttons wakes it up, and both buttons flash during the warm up process. They then remain solidly lit when it’s ready to brew coffee.
The lever makes it easy to add your capsule while simultaneously dropping used capsules out into the container. The used capsule container can only hold six capsules, so needs to be emptied frequently. But, arguably when you buy such a compact machine, it would be unrealistic to expect it to have space for more. Similarly, the drip tray doesn’t have a big capacity, so it’s worth emptying this alongside the used capsules. Since they slide out of the front of the machine together, it does make sense to empty and clean both at the same time.
At the back, the small water container releases from the machine by flipping up the lid and tilting it. Repositioning it when full of water also requires flipping up the lid to get it to click back into position. While this feels awkward and fiddly at first, after doing it a few times, you get the hang of it.
There is a max fill line but not a minimum fill line on the water container, however the clear plastic makes it easy to see when the water is running low. If you forget to check the water level and try to dispense coffee while it’s empty, the machine will still attempt to brew the coffee, but nothing will come out. Bear in mind, there’s no alert or indicator to warn you that it’s out of water, so you will need to keep an eye on this.
In addition, there’s nothing in the manual to indicate that the removable parts can be cleaned in a dishwasher. But, since all the parts are so small, washing them by hand with hot soapy water is a speedy process.
The only other bit of maintenance is the descaling process, which you’ll have to perform after every 300 espressos if you live in a hard water area. The descaling process cleans and descales the inner workings of the coffee maker and it’s automatic. You simply add the descaling solution to the water tank, and follow the instructions in the manual for the button combination that starts the process. It’s simple and essential for keeping the machine in tip top condition. Unfortunately there's no alert or indicator to remind you when it’s time to descale, so you’ll have to create a calendar reminder instead.
Nespresso Essenza Mini review: Verdict
The biggest selling feature of the Nespresso Essenza Mini is undeniably its space-saving size, followed by its wallet-friendly price tag. It’s one of the smallest coffee machines I’ve ever reviewed — ideal for tiny homes or cluttered kitchens. In fact, it’s so small it’s likely that your stock of coffee capsules will take up more space than the appliance itself.
However, with the small size comes some compromises — like the small used capsule container, as well as the small water container. But, these are minor snags, which are to be expected. Like many other Nespresso machines, it doesn’t deliver premium barista quality espresso, but it’s good quality considering it’s from a capsule. Plus, you can enjoy a quick and easy coffee-making experience from a machine that won’t take over your kitchen.
The Nespresso Pixie offers a similar size and comes at a slightly more expensive price of $229. There’s not much difference in the performance, but the metal side plates do give it a more sturdy feel. Alternatively, the Breville Nespresso Creatista Plus is worth checking out if you want a built-in milk frother. We found it created the perfect texture of frothed milk.
Helen started reviewing home and kitchen appliances in 2007 at the Good Housekeeping Institute and has never looked back. She’s now freelance and reviews all sorts of appliances from her home in a pretty village in the UK. Despite having reviewed hundreds of coffee machines in her time, she’s only recently developed a love for coffee and a daily coffee habit, which makes tasting all those coffees much more enjoyable!