Tom's Guide Verdict
The Nespresso Vertuo takes up a lot of space, and while it’s good at what it does, there are smaller and cheaper Nespresso Vertuo machines that are just as capable.
Water container easily accessible at the side
Space for taller cups
Simple one-button operation
Can’t produce milky coffee
Used capsules are visible through the clear plastic container
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Cup capacity: espresso, double espresso, 5oz, 8oz (U.K. cup sizes: espresso, double espresso, gran lungo, mug)
Size: 9 x 12.3 x 12.2 inches
Weight: 10.85 pounds / 4.92kg
Pod type: Vertuo Line
Automatic capsule detection: Yes
Centrifusion brewing: Yes
Removable water reservoir: Yes
Milk frother: No
Strength settings: No
Iced coffee: No
The Vertuo line of coffee capsules is Nespresso’s latest coffee innovation, and the Nespresso Vertuo was the first compatible machine. Since the launch though, the Vertuo range of machines have grown to include models that are more compact and wi-fi enabled, as well as cheaper options.
The Nespresso Vertuo can make four different size coffees, and features the signature centrifusion brewing system employed by all Vertuo machines, and smart capsule detection technology. But it can’t produce milky drinks and at first glance, it doesn’t appear to offer any functions or technology than the cheaper Vertuo models. So we’ve put the Vertuo through its paces to test how it performs, and whether it’s worth the investment.
Nespresso Vertuo review: Price and availability
The Nespresso Vertuo is one of the more expensive models in the Vertuo range. It starts at $150 / £219 but prices in the U.S. vary, going up to around $250 depending on the capacity and color you choose. It’s available through Nespresso or on Amazon, as well as several other appliance retailers. However, if you want milky coffees you’ll need to factor in the additional cost of a milk frother.
There are several colors to choose from so you can coordinate the Vertuo with your kitchen. The options are black, red, matte black, or chrome, with an additional gray color called Titan available in the U.S. Breville is often partnered with this machine’s design in the U.S. too.
The Vertuo capsules start at $0.98/48p for a single espresso, slightly more expensive in comparison to the Nespresso Original capsules that start at around $0.80/39p. Capsules are readily available online, you can order directly from Nespresso, and plenty of other retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.
Nespresso Vertuo review: Design
One of the things that first struck me about this Nespresso machine is its size. The footprint on the counter is almost double that of the Vertuo Next. And while its 54oz/1.2 liter water container is larger, there doesn’t appear to be any other reason for its cumbersome stature. So if space is tight in your kitchen, this is certainly something to bear in mind.
Unlike many Nespresso machines where it’s usually at the back, the water container is located on the side of this machine, which makes access much easier. Plus, it’s especially helpful if you want to push the coffee machine right to the back of your counter and don’t want the hassle of pulling it forward to access the water tank.
To balance the machine, the design of the used capsule container mirrors that of the water container, and it’s located on the opposite side of the machine. However, the transparent fluted plastic does mean you’ll be able to see the used capsules sitting inside it, which might look untidy to some people.
On top of the Nespresso Vertuo there’s just one button — that’s it, absolutely no other controls or buttons. This is made possible thanks to the clever capsule recognition technology that n reads the capsule and automatically dispenses the appropriate amount of water, no matter whether the capsule is for an espresso, double espresso, gran lungo, or mug.
Though it’s very clever and automatically detects the capsule, thankfully this machine still allows you to programme the water volume, so you can adjust it to pour just the right amount of coffee for your favorite mug. Once programmed for a specific capsule size, every time that size capsule is inserted, it will deliver the programmed volume of coffee unless you reset it.
A simple lever on top pushes to the right to unlock the capsule slot, which then lifts so you can add a capsule. Then it needs to be pushed down and the lever moved to the left to lock it ready for brewing. Below the spout, the cup support can sit at two different levels to cater for different height cups. Or it can be removed completely, as can the drip tray beneath it. This then allows space for taller cups up to 6.7 inches/17cm to sit directly on the counter.
Nespresso Vertuo review: Performance
When first switched on, the light on the button flashes to indicate the Nespresso Vertuo is heating up, but it’s ready to go in a speedy 12 seconds. The machine brews a single espresso in around 40 seconds, while a double espresso takes approximately 60 seconds. These brew times are longer than most Nespresso machines that use original capsules. But it’s around 10-15 seconds faster than the Vertuo Next, which is one of the latest models.
The average espresso temperature I recorded was around 157 degrees Fahrenheit and this was the same for double espressos too. It’s one of the quietest Nespresso machines I’ve reviewed, with the maximum reading on my noise meter hitting an average of 64 decibels. The noisiest part of the brewing cycle is right at the end, thanks to the whirring sound of the capsule spinning.
The espresso produced by Vertuo machines does have quite a bubbly crema. It’s far from the thick robust crema you’ll get from a barista style espresso machine. Likewise, the flavor of the capsules tends to be less fruity and well rounded in my opinion. But this does also depend on which capsules you buy; there’s a vast selection available. The quality of coffee produced by this machine was comparable to the Vertuo Next.
I monitored energy use and it used 0.007 kWh to brew an espresso, which totalled 0.013 kWh including the energy used to heat up. This is marginally higher than the Vertuo Next, but since the numbers are so small, the difference isn’t significant. To save energy it switches off after 9 minutes of no use — newer models like the Vertuo Next only stay on for 2 minutes.
Nespresso Vertuo review: Ease of use and cleaning
By their very nature, Nespresso Vertuo machines are very easy to use. The clever capsule detection system that allows for single button operation, means there’s very little thinking involved in getting your morning brew.
The used capsules are automatically ejected every time the top is opened and the container has the capacity to hold up to 13 used capsules. Emptying it is easy, simply tilt it away from the side of the machine, flip up the lid and upend the capsules into an appropriate recycling bag. There’s a hole in the bottom of the container, and a well beneath it to allow any excess liquid to drain out of the capsules. The only caveat is the well isn’t removable, which means you have to manually mop out any liquid that’s collected there. However, it’s worth noting that even after several coffees, no liquid accumulated in mine.
Both the used capsule bin and water container have a finger indent in the lid, to make it easy to tilt them away from the machine for removal. The water container is similarly easy to remove and also has a flip up lid. There are no minimum or maximum water lines and although it’s clear plastic, the fluted texture can sometimes make it tricky to see the water level.
I found the lever to lock a capsule into position has to be pushed quite firmly to the left. On a couple of occasions, it looked like I’d pushed it all the way round, but it was slightly short of fully locking and the Vertuo wouldn’t brew. But I soon got the hang of making sure it was fully locked into position.
This machine has a great automatic cleaning cycle to flush through the internal workings. You can use it as often as you like — it simply requires three quick presses of the button and a full water container. Similarly, there’s an automatic descale function and the descale light alerts you when to do this. Instructions in the manual guide you through the process, but it’s straightforward enough.
The water container, used capsule bin, cup support and drip grid are all removable, and just need occasional hand washing with warm soapy water. The exterior of the machine can be wiped down with a damp cloth. All in all, the Nespresso Vertuo is easy to clean.
Nespresso Vertuo review: Verdict
The Vertuo might be the original Nespresso Vertuo coffee machine, but arguably its successors like the Vertuo Next now take up less room on your counter and offer just as much functionality for less money. The Vertuo brews coffee a little faster and has a slightly bigger water container than the Vertuo Next, but these are really the only benefits that I can see to buying this bigger, pricier machine.
All Vertuo machines use centrifusion brewing and capsule recognition technology, so the quality of coffee is similar no matter which you choose. Unless you have a specific reason to buy this model, like wanting a water container accessible at the side of the machine for instance, my advice is to check out the Vertuo Next as it’s likely to meet your needs, while saving space on your counter.
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!