I’ve always been a sucker for a sugary latte.
So when my wife and I began to consider just how much sugar was in our diet last year, I was not surprised to find out that coffee was a major — if not primary — source for where I was getting it all.
Indeed, making a habit out of drinking syrup-rich lattes (or even worse, a local favorite called the ‘Café Bombón’ which consists of espresso, simple syrup, and sweetened condensed milk) meant that I was drinking far too much sugar on a regular basis. I also knew that my wife was spiking her subpar Keurig coffee with sugar-laden, store-bought creamers in order to make her drink palatable enough to consume.
As someone who has never enjoyed the traditional ‘black coffee’, I began experimenting with drinking espresso at local coffee shops in order to get a rich coffee taste in a sizeable, drinkable package. Months later, I’m totally hooked. Not only is espresso much cheaper than those lattes I was formerly indulging in, it also tastes incredible.
I immediately began scheming to get an espresso machine in our home (and at the same time ditching the dreadful Keurig), but my wife was not so easily swayed. That bold and bright taste of espresso just isn’t for her, much preferring a milder taste that comes with larger, full cup of coffee. In truth, this is the beauty of the bean — there are different drinks for different people, and my wife is an Americano kind of person.
My home lacked the espresso I so desired. Then the VertuoLine was released and I snapped one up immediately.
The Nespresso VertuoLine is the first offering from Nespresso that makes not only espresso, but ‘full cups’ of coffee more in line with what many are accustomed to (especially in North America). If you’re assuming that the machine simply makes the standard espresso and dumps water on top, that isn’t the case. The Nespresso pods come in two sizes; simply pop the desired pod into the machine, and out comes the coffee of your choice with the machine’s signature creaminess and foam.
Anyone who has used another one-cup coffee machine will be both immediately at home to the VertuoLine due to its similarities and more than likely impressed with a few elegant solutions that Nespresso has come up with. This is in many ways a minimal machine. The VertuoLine is not for those who like to fiddle with dials or have control over the output of their coffee maker when it comes to temperature or boldness or anything of the sort. It is truly a ‘one-touch’ device, and makes no apologies about it. For myself, that’s exactly what I want. Being able to, at a moment’s notice, have a consistent cup of espresso is a thing of beauty, and I imagine many others will feel the same way.
The machine has no power button to speak of, instead automatically powering on as soon as a Nespresso pod is placed inside its compartment. The top of the machine has a toggle which locks or unlocks the tray. Open it up, place the pod inside, click it shut, and the VertuoLine instantly turns on with the machine’s single button pulsing white light. The water reservoir will heat up in about fifteen seconds, the glowing light will become solid, and with a single press the Nespresso begins to make your cup of coffee.
As noted, the VertuoLine automatically recognizes when it is to make a shot of espresso or a full cup of coffee, but the water level can be manually modified by clicking the button at any point as it’s making your coffee. This is great for situations which might otherwise end in overflow, or for making iced coffee or milk-based drinks where one wants a bit more than the standard espresso shot but not enough to fill the cup to it’s brim. Push the button, and the cup will come to a foamy end.
I have not found the VertuoLine to make too much noise when making a cup of coffee. The pod actually spins up (at, according to Nespresso, “7,000 rotations per minute”) as the machine pours water through the grinds, producing a satisfying noise as your coffee is made. This procedure is allegedly how Nespresso machines produce the excellent cream on top of each cup, but the noise itself is neither distracting nor overpowering in the kitchen. Do not be worried to start this machine up when others in the home are sleeping nearby.
Whenever you go to make your next cup, the VertuoLine reveals a particularly nice feature that has managed to impress everyone that sees it: When the pod compartment is opened to make your next coffee, the previous (and now used) pod is ‘ejected’ and automatically pushed into the trash compartment that sits on the opposite side of the water reservoir. It’s a simple thing, and saves only seconds, but it truly feels like a marvel of convenience to never touch the leaky pod, or need to take it over to the waste bin across the kitchen.
In my experience, the VertuoLine doesn’t drip in the same way that other one-cup coffee makers might, leaving residue at the bottom of the machine after the cup has been pulled away. However, for when this does happen, a small removable drip-tray can be easily taken out and cleaned. Or it can be pulled away to begin with when one needs that extra inch to fill a slightly larger cup.
This drip-tray is actually made of three components: a small circular metal ring on top, and a square box underneath (with a lid) underneath that will collect each drip instead of letting it leak across your counter. Again, this minor detail may never be fully discovered or used, but the thought that’s gone into each aspect of the VertuoLine is clear.
The machine itself is particularly beautiful when compared to other coffee machines. Where other companies opt for chunky black plastic devices, Nespresso has made the VertuoLine with a fairly opinionated design. Coming in chrome (my choice), black, or red, the top of each machine is a shiny, beautiful silver, made of a material that feels incredibly durable, smudge-proof, and substantially hefty when opening the pod compartment.
The water and trash compartments are made of a translucent and lightweight plastic and have a ribbed design that adds a bit of texture and depth to the otherwise sleek machine. Perhaps the most easily broken piece of machines, the water tank itself feels well made. In similar machines, I’ve found removing and reinserting this tank to be the most fiddly part of the coffee making process, often ending in slightly broken components that leak water and slowly the machine. Here, the process is a breeze, and there’s no question as to how to move it around. The tank itself is large enough to hold the water needed to make dozens of espressos or a good few full cups before needing to be refilled. In the same way, the trash compartment is equally sized, and can take about a week’s worth of pods before requiring dumping.
Speaking of the pods, they’re in their own right worthy of mentioning as they’re incredibly well designed. A bundle of them looks so gorgeous in the kitchen that I’ve never felt the need to hide them away like I did with the K-Cups of the past. Instead of giving each pod a label, every type of coffee is differentiated by a unique color, and Nespresso has chosen hues which are both aesthetically pleasing on their own and complementary to any others that might be sitting beside it. Even the boxes the pods are delivered in are beautiful, and stacked up in my pantry they amusingly remind me of the boxes in Ollivander’s wand shop in Harry Potter.
One of the major benefits that a brand like Keurig has over Nespresso is their dominance in every store, and some might find seeking out VertuoLine pods to be a bit of an inconvenience. Sold in only a few shops and typically reserved for Nespresso boutiques around the country (which only exist in major cities), the best place to order them seems to be from the company’s own website. It should also be noted that the VertuoLine’s coffee pods are different from the company’s previous versions (now called ‘OriginalLine’ capsules), but the price has not been raised substantially. Ordered from the website, each espresso pod costs a whopping 85 cents, and each coffee pod costs $1.10. Compared to your local coffee shop’s prices, these are a bargain, and even with the machine’s price factored in you might find yourself cutting your daily coffee budget by more than half.
In my experience, actually ordering the pods has been both incredibly easy and astonishingly fast. One order I placed just before midnight actually arrived the very next afternoon. For those worried that a missed order might keep you from your daily coffee ritual, it seems Nespresso has you covered.
The VertuoLine offers a variety of flavors (which Nespresso calls a ‘range’ of coffees) with four variations of espresso and a whopping 12 varieties of full 8-ounce coffees. I’m personally partial to the ‘Voltesso’ espresso pod (a light roast), and my wife likes the ‘Melozio’ 8-ounce coffee (a medium roast) and on occasion the Caramelizio (which is flavored, as the name implies, with caramel). Each coffee in the range has been labeled by ‘intensity’ from 1 to 12, as well as by it’s ‘aromatic profile’ (marked by the terms ‘balanced’, ‘fruity’, or ‘intense’). As you can likely guess, each person will find that they favor a particular pod that fits their tastes.
For a machine that costs $199 (the Vertuoline happens to be on sale right now for $170), I can’t speak highly enough about the VertuoLine. It’s great for when company comes over and someone wants a quick cup, it’s great for mornings on the go, and it’s great when I just want to make an espresso, sit down, and enjoy my coffee. It’s also — with an extra bit of work and accompanied by the often included Aeroccino milk brother — perfect for making those lattes which I now try my best to avoid. Although they aren’t right for me, they may be just right for you, and the VertuoLine will happily accommodate.
I have a ritual of leaving for a coffee shop early in the morning, not only to get a little dose of caffeine but also to spend the morning in an environment where I love writing. With the Nespresso VertuoLine, I feel just as ready for the world (and creative tasks) sitting at home, with a cup of Nespresso’s finest and a sparkling water. This is a great addition to any home, and might be just as perfect for your own morning start.