If there’s one thing that even the most ardent coffee fan agrees with, it’s that Nespresso is the best capsule machine, delivering high-quality coffee quickly. However, there are a ton of products to choose from, so getting the best Nespresso machine for your needs isn’t always easy.
We’ve reviewed the bulk of the current range of products, letting us put together this guide with impartial advice to help you get the right product. Out of the list, there are two main products that stand out. The Nespresso Vertuo Plus uses the newer type of capsules, which are incompatible with the original machines but can deliver large mugs full of coffee. If you want a traditional machine but still want to create milk drinks, the Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno is a great choice.
How we choose the best Nespresso machines
Although all Nespresso machines use pods, giving you no control over how the coffee is produced, the difference in quality between machines is more than you’d probably imagine.
To that end, we look at the build quality of each product that we test, making sure that each Nespresso machine is up to scratch and will handle your daily usage.
Next, we test the quality of the coffee on offer, using a variety of capsules to really put each machine through its paces. We measure the quality of taste, how good the crema is, and overall finish of the drink in our taste tests.
For machines that have an integrated milk function, we also pour a cappuccino following the recommended instructions in the manual to create the froth. The final drink is sampled for appearance and taste.
Nespresso Vertuo Plus
- Rich and full-bodied mugs of coffee
- Extremely simple to use
- Excellent build quality
Pods are more expensive than normal Nespresso pods
Larger pods require more storage space
If there’s one issue with the normal Nespresso system, it’s that the pods aren’t designed to make large cups of coffee. If you prefer a mug of rich, full-bodied coffee then the Nespresso Vertuo Plus is the machine for you.
Using Nespresso’s Vertuo system, the capsules can make drinks from 40ml to 414ml in size. Cleverly, the barcode on the side of each capsule tells the machine exactly how much coffee to dispense, so operation is via a single button.
As well as new capsules, the Vertuo Plus uses a new centrifugal system, spinning the pods at high speed for maximum extraction and a full, rich crema of the like we’ve not seen before. This really is a new way of making coffee.
The range of capsules is excellent, with plenty of flavours and sizes on offer, pretty much matching the original range. The only downside is that Vertuo capsules are more expensive than original Nespresso pods.
This machine has no milk option, although you could buy a Barista (see further down), or a Nespresso Aeroccino4 if you wanted to add this option. For those that like that coffee long and strong, the Vertuo Plus is the ultimate choice.
Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno
- Great looks
- Easy to use
- High-quality automatic milk frothing
- Small used capsule container
Nespresso can be accused of taking the art out of coffee making, but the Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno reinjects this ability. With its automatic milk frother and jug, you can free-pour your own steamed milk, giving you control over the final beverage.
For standard coffee, the Sage Nespresso Creatista Uno is excellent. It takes all regular Nespresso capsules and can dispense ristretto, espresso and lungo shots, with dedicated buttons for each. Coffee was excellent, with the machine delivering the full flavour of the capsules that we tested with.
For milk, you can choose the level of froth and temperature, but after that, you’re left to pour the milk yourself. The quality of the steamed milk is excellent, so the only thing to hold you back is the quality of your pouring.
For those that want a premium Nespresso experience with the ability to create their own drinks, this is the best machine to buy.
- Great choice of recipes
- Simple operation
- Produces some stunning drinks
- Doesn’t need a Nespresso machine
- Little control over volume
- Whisk attachment makes pouring fiddly
The Nespresso Barista is something of an oddity on this list, as it doesn’t actually make coffee. Rather, this clever machine is designed to work with espresso made elsewhere (from a regular Nespresso machine, Vertuo coffee maker, or even traditional espresso machine), and can then create several different drinks out of it automatically.
The Barista has a built-in whisk and heater, and a selection of recipes that are easy to follow. The Iced Nitro is a favourite, with the Barista blending a shot of espresso, some water and ice into an amazing, frothy ice drink. Fancy a cappuccino instead? No problem, as the Barista can froth your milk automatically for you.
Up to 13 recipes can be added to the machine directly, giving you one-touch access to your favourites; the app connects your phone by Bluetooth letting you swap other recipes into the memory slots, with 21 options available. The main downsides are that the Barista doesn’t give you a lot of control over the total volume made, and that pouring the final drink can be fiddly as the whisk has a tendency to drop out.
If you like a wide range of coffee drinks beyond the standards, but don’t have the time or patience to make them, the Barista is all you need.
- Changeable side panels
- Lidded water tank
- Basic automated drinks
- No integrated options for milk
The Nespresso Pixie is a baby Nespresso pod machine, taking up barely any counter space: it measures just 235 x 111 x 326mm. That makes it very appealing for anyone that doesn’t have a lot of space, or that doesn’t drink coffee that regularly.
Originally reviewed as the Pixie Clips, which had interchangeable side panels, the current machine comes in a single colour only, choosable at the time of purchase.
The operation is easy, with the Pixie taking standard Nespresso capsules. There are only two drink options with this model, though: espresso and lungo; ristretto is not an option, so those that like very short and strong coffees should look elsewhere.
Larger mugs can fit under the spout if you flip up the drip tray, although this is fiddly and can lead to spillages, so be careful. Drink quality ois excellent, with the Pixie able to produce the full-bodied flavour of our test capsules.
There’s no milk option with this model, but it’s easy enough to add a Barista or Aeroccino4 for this function. Where space is at a premium, or you just want a lower-cost, quality Nespresso machine, the Pixie is a good choice.
- Prepare coffee remotely via an app
- Notifications for maintenance
- Brews multiple cup sizes
- Smart and compact design
- Pricier than standard machines
The Nespresso Prodigio&Milk was the first app-enabled machine, letting you control coffee making from the Bluetooth-connected app. Given that you manually have to drop in a capsule, it’s usually easier to just use the dedicated buttons on top (ristretto, espresso and lungo). The one exception is when you want to schedule yourself a coffee, so you can have a cup of the hot stuff ready when you wake up, for example.
The app also keeps track of the number of capsules you have, subtracting one from the tally each time a coffee is made. This helps it warn you when you’re running low, so you can order more.
A premium Nespresso machine, the Prodigio&Milk was originally available with and without the Aeroccino3 milk option; it’s now only available with the milk option.
Coffee quality is excellent, with the Prodigio&Milk making the most of any capsule, delivering flavoursome coffee with a rich crema. Neatly, the used capsule is automatically ejected into the bin when the coffee has been made.
For milk drinks, an Aeroccino3 can automatically steam and froth your milk. You can get good results, although you can’t pour latté art easily from the canister.
Those were our choices of the best Nespresso machines. If you want to know more about making the right choice, keep on reading.
Nespresso machine buying guide
Nespresso has an excellent range of machines, which can make finding the right one for your needs harder. Here, we’ll take you through all of the important bits of information to help you choose.
Best Nespresso machine – Which capsule type should I buy?
Nespresso has original and Vertuo pod machines available. The main difference is that the original system produces short shots of espresso-style coffee, aping a real barista. The Vertuo system can deliver espresso, but it’s designed for longer mugfuls of coffee. The style of drink you prefer (long or short) should inform your choice.
In terms of the range of flavours, both systems are roughly the same, with a choice of strengths and even flavoured capsules on offer. The main difference is that there are third-party options available for the original system, whereas only Nespresso manufactures Vertuo capsules.
Best Nespresso machine – What options should I look out for?
Vertuo machines dispense the amount of coffee with a single button, reading the volume from the capsule’s barcode. This makes the machines functionally identical.
Original Nespresso machines are different and have physical controls. For the best choice look for a machine that can deliver ristretto (25ml) shots, as well as espresso (40ml) and lungo (150ml). However, if you don’t need the option for the strongest shot, a machine that just dispenses espresso and lungo coffees should be fine.
Best Nespresso machine – Does size matter?
Size is only really important in terms of the space a machine takes up, so pick the one that suits your kitchen. That said, larger machines have more space for used capsules, and larger water tanks, which means you don’t have to interact with them so often.
Best Nespresso machine – What about recycling pods?
All official Nespresso pods can be recycled. When you order capsules (online or in-store), you’ll get a free recycling bag. This can be dropped off to a store, posted for free or collected with your next delivery.
Best Nespresso machine – What about milk options?
If you like lattés and cappucinos you’ll want a machine that can steam milk. Some machines come with Aeroccino milk frothers, which are powered whisks that heat and stir your milk for you; these can be bought separately, which isn’t as neat but lets you add milk features later. Aeroccinos do a good job of frothing, but it’s hard to pour the milk in an arty way.
Look for a machine that can automatically froth milk in a jug for more control: you can set the heat and milk froth for one thing, and pouring from a jug will let you make latté art with some practice.