What is Nespresso? Nestlé Nespresso S.A., or Nespresso, is Nestlé’s line of individual-cup espresso and coffee makers. The Nespresso (Nestlé + espresso) brand addresses the need for an easy way to make espresso and other specialty coffee drinks at home with the touch of a button.
The Nespresso brand includes a wide range of premium-priced ground coffee bean-filled capsules or pods to use in their Original and Verturo machines. Accessories such as milk frothers, cups, and mugs are also available.
Ready to brew now? Check out our review of Nespresso’s Top Models:
What are Nespresso Capsules?
The Nespresso coffee machines brew from single-use capsules of roasted and ground coffee and can include flavorings. The coffee used in Nespresso’s espresso machines is roasted, ground, and encapsulated in one of three Swiss factories (Orbe, Avenches, and Romont).
The Nespresso capsule exteriors are made of aluminum, and they are lined with food-grade lacquer. Not only does this maintain the freshness of the grounds, but they are also intended to be recycled.
While both the Original and Vertuo machines are simple to use and provide a quick hot drink, very different methods are used to brew the beverages.
The Original Nespresso Machines
The original Nespresso machine creates a shot of espresso or cappuccino in a matter of minutes with the press of a button. It uses the traditional espresso high-pressure method of brewing.
Upon placing one capsule into the machine, the top is automatically pierced. Heated water is then pumped through the pod at high pressure, rupturing the weaker areas on the pod’s bottom and releasing a single serving into your cup.
You can choose to brew four different quantities of espresso or cappuccino: 0.85 oz, 1.35 oz, 3.7 oz, or 5 oz.
The Vertuo Nespresso Machines
Using patented, unique technology, the VertuoLine machines combine infusion with centrifugal force to extract all the flavor from the coffee capsule. This more efficient brewing method is called “centrifusion.”
From espresso to alto black, the Vertuo capsules have a barcode imprinted on them that instructs the machine of blend-specific brewing requirements. Rotational speed, temperature, infusion time, volume, and water flow can vary depending on the intended style of coffee.
Since the US and Canadian markets prefer larger servings, Nestlé increased the capacity of the Vertuo machines. In addition to the sizes available with the original espresso maker, the Vertuo will brew 8 oz, 14 oz and 18 oz.
To understand if Nespresso’s Original Line or Vertuo Line is a better fit for you, read our thorough review.
Espresso vs Drip Coffee
The original Nespresso machines are considered espresso makers. The process of creating espresso consists of forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. The end product is a ‘shot’ and has three layers – the dark and bitter heart, the caramel-colored body, and the rich and creamy crema. Coffee art on cappuccinos and lattes is made with the crema.
You may either drink the espresso straight or use it as a base for other beverages such as cappuccino, latte, macchiato, ristretto or long black.
The Nespresso Vertuo machines are similar to drip coffee makers. In a traditional drip coffee maker, coffee is made by pouring hot water over coarsely ground coffee to absorb the beans’ flavors and oils. Using gravity, it drips through a filter into a mug or container below.
The patented Centrifusion is a similar brewing process used by Vertuos. Water is injected into the capsule. It infuses with the ground coffee inside as the capsule spins in the machine. However, the Vertuo technology allows for more variety, from a thicker, more robust tasting espresso to a less intense, simpler mug of coffee.
More About Nespresso
Making espresso is a time-consuming and exacting process requiring nine steps, specialized equipment, and a lot of practice. In fact, many coffee connoisseurs recommend against even trying it. Fortunately for espresso lovers, Eric Favre decided that was a problem he could solve.
While working for Nestlé S.A., Favre created, patented, and introduced the Nespresso system in 1975 so everyone could have an affordable espresso machine at home. The resulting Nespresso espresso machine and coffee capsules were designed to serve you a great cup of java at the push of a button.
Both the grinding and packaging of the coffee take place at the same facility. A capsule is sealed within optimal conditions so that the grounds are always the same in quantity and quality.
With the Nespresso machines, your coffee drink is brewed exactly the same each time, ensuring consistency in taste and quality. You can count on a great cup every time.
Nespresso offers dozens of flavors for both styles of coffee makers. The capsules are recyclable, and Nespresso provides a free recycling bag to store your used pods. Pods can be recycled at UPS drop-off sites or Nespresso boutiques.
Need it Fast?
Depending on the machine, Nespresso coffee makers take between 10 and 35 seconds to prepare. Is that fast? Usually, a traditional espresso takes between five and ten minutes to prepare, and some other single-serve coffee makers may take a minute or more. Instant coffee can’t even be made in the time it takes to make a Nespresso.
Cleaning and Care
The most important maintenance is descaling at least once a month to prevent clogging. There is a descaling alert, but it is healthier for the machine to clean before it triggers the alert.
Empty the capsule compartment daily to prevent the used coffee grounds from smelling and mold growth.
Empty the water container at least daily for the best tasting coffee. Older water’s pH balance changes, giving it a “flat” taste. Wash the water container at least weekly.
Empty and wash the milk container after each use. The last thing anyone wants is spoiled milk residue in their coffee.
Nestle is very concerned with reducing waste and minimizing its carbon footprint. Nespresso machines brew each and every cup of coffee with precisely the right amount of coffee, water, and energy.
- The ground coffee capsules contain precisely the correct amount of grounds for the beverage being brewed.
- Capsules can be recycled at UPS drop-off points or any Nespresso Boutique with recycling bags provided free by Nestlé.
- In New York City, used Nespresso capsules can be placed in curbside recycling bins dedicated to metal, glass and plastic.
- Nespresso machines automatically shut off after 9 minutes to save electricity.
- The machines use the exact amount of water needed for a single cup to prevent wasting water.
- To decrease its operational carbon footprint and fight climate change, Nestlé has planted 4.5 million native trees since 2014.
Another Reason to Love Nespresso
Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seals are awarded to farms, forests, and businesses that meet rigorous environmental and social standards. Since 2003, the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program has partnered with the Rainforest Alliance to source over 80% of its coffee from AAA farms and over 40% from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. Nespresso Grand Crus coffee sleeves bear the Rainforest Alliance Certified label.
There’s a Nespresso capsule machine to suit every taste. By simply pressing a button, you can have a cup of coffee in the morning, an espresso in the afternoon, or a cappuccino or latte whenever you want.
A professional barista may say that Nespresso isn’t quite as rich and flavorful as “real” espresso, but for the average coffee lover who wants an easy to prepare, richly flavored, medium-body cup or shot, Nespresso is more than up to the task.