Nespresso machines have been well known for brewing really good coffee and having a very large variety of flavors available, but they’ve also been known to become quite expensive in the long run.
However, they brew REALLY good espresso, so for some people, the steeper price point may be justified. A friend of mine has a Nespresso machine and the beverages it brews looks like they came out of a magazine, and tastes like a cup of heaven.
The specialty of Nespresso machines, similar to Keurig machines, are the pods. The pods contain coffee grounds and flavorings and using pressure extraction, the machine brews a really nice shot or two of espresso.
That’s how it worked with the OriginalLine machines, at least.
In 2014, Nespresso released a new “technology” for brewing coffee and called it Vertuoline.
I’m not sure how they come up with the names, but I’m guessing the “vertuo” makes it sound techie, or Italian, depending on your perception!
Related: Compare VertuoLine and OriginalLine
What is Vertuoline and how does it work?
Vertuoline still uses pods, but Nespresso cites three new changes/innovations in the way it works:
1) Centrifusion technology
While most espresso machines use pressure to extract the flavor from coffee grounds, Vertuoline machines do it using a centrifuge, which means they spin the grounds very fast, up to 7000 times per minute.
This is a neat idea, since the idea behind using pressure is applying force, and in a centrifuge, you’re also generating force.
When the machine spins the pod, the grounds/water mixture is thrown to the sides of the pod, and the continuous spinning motion keeps pushing the mixture to the side, sort of how gravity pulls you towards an object.
This is known as centrifugal force, if you’re a physics or science aficionado.
If you’ve ever gone to an amusement park and ridden in those giant centrifuge rides where you can stick to the walls, that’s how your coffee grounds probably feel!
Through this process, they manage to create a richer crema or foam on top of the espresso.
2) Automatic blend recognition
Each Nespresso Vertuoline pod has a barcode on the underside of the rim.
When you place the pod into the machine, the barcode sits on top of a reader. The reader then scans the barcode, which contain instructions for how to brew the coffee.
Instructions are probably limited to how much water to use, what temperature to use, how long to brew it, and how fast to spin. That’s pretty much it.
The beauty of coffee machines is that brewing coffee is a really simple task, but machines can be so wonderfully complex.
For some people, that’s a huge bonus, as they like gadgetry and bells and whistles.
For others, that’s a bit of a drawback, as they may be more traditionalists.
Is this really that much of an improvement?
Nespresso cites on their page:
Centrifusion technology to gently and fully extract all the aromas
Gently? Sure. Centrifugal force, at least the amount being used in this machine is probably less than the several bars of pressure used in normal espresso machines.
Many consumers note that Vertuoline coffees are sometimes underextracted.
I feel that the main benefit of Vertuoline is the extra crema. If you like a really creamy, frothy espresso, then sure, the Vertuoline pods are a good choice. But if you prefer more intense flavor, then you may want to try both and then see which one you like best.
The Vertuoline pods
Nespresso Vertuoline pods come in two sizes: espresso and coffee. Naturally, coffee is a slightly larger pod, since it’s a bigger serving than just a shot of espresso.
You put the pods into the machine with the dome facing downwards, so that the machine can read the barcode and brew accordingly.
Vertuoline pods are not cheap, that’s for sure!
But neither are Keurig pods, when you come to think of it.
Let’s have some fun.
Let’s do some math!
Assuming you have a cup of coffee every morning…
The cheapest latte at Starbucks is around $3, and the most expensive one runs up to $5.
If you average it out at $4, you’re spending 365 * 4 or $1460 per year on coffee
Nespresso OriginalLine pods average $0.75 to $0.85 per serving(a pack of 40 pods sells in the $30-40 range, normally).
Averaging out at $0.80, if you drank one Nespresso OriginalLine per day, you’d spend $292 per year on coffee.
The Nespresso VertuoLine pods are a little bit more expensive, averaging $0.90 to $1.25 per serving, so if you drank one Nespresso VertuoLine per day, you’d spend $402 per year on coffee.
Just for comparison sake, let’s throw in a Keurig as well.
Keurig pods average $0.35 to $0.65 per cup(not carafe or mug, this is the smallest size), so if you drank one Keurig cup every day for a year, you’d spend $219.
So from the raw numbers themselves, it’s pretty clear that it’s far more economical to use a home espresso machine.
Of course we’ve not factored in the cost of milk and electricity, but still, the point stands valid.
Even if you spent $1000 on a machine(and there are some machines that cost that much, and more), you’d still spend the same for one machine plus a years’ supply of pods as you would have by going to a Starbucks.
Reducing the cost even more
The economics of Nespresso Vertuoline are certainly favorable when compared to Starbucks.
But coffee pods do have a hidden cost which many people are concerned about: trash.
Every day, you would end up throwing out a used pod. Over the course of a year, that adds up to a lot of trash!
One way to reduce the environmental impact is by opting to use Vertuoline reusable pods.
Reusable pods are also going to end up being more cost-effective per cup, too, since you can buy coffee powder in bulk for far cheaper than individual or even sets of pods. Some people have been drinking the same brand of coffee for years, so they may wish to stick with that roast!
The only time pods would be more sensible are if there is a very specific pod flavor you like, or you like to mix it up and don’t want to have too many small bags of coffee lying around.
The downsides, however, are:
- There’s some additional moving parts
- You’ll have to spend some time getting everything ready vs the literal one-touch espresso with a pod
- You’ll have to clean everything up
At this time, there is only one kind of reusable kit available for Vertuoline pods: the MyCap V-Pack
To let you make your own Vertuoline pod, the V-Pack comes with four parts that go inside one another to form a makeshift pod.
At the bottom of the pod, you’d insert the filter, inside of which you’d put the grounds, then the foil seal, and finally the reusable cap.
Compared to the reusable pod for Keurig machines, which is simply a net filter basket, this is quite complex. But if you’re a Nespresso person, you’re a Nespresso person!
As you can imagine, you’ll require a supply of foils and filters to stay in business, so there certainly is a running cost here, but it’s still more effective than actual pods.
The kit linked to above has 20 seals and 20 filters, and then you’ll have to keep a supply of filters in stock. The filters are roughly $0.75 per foil when you buy in bulk, and the filters are $0.15.
You’ll be buying multiple packs, of course.
- My-Cap vPACK – Complete Solution to Make Your Own Capsules for Nespresso VertuoLine Brewers
- My-Cap’s Cap to Reuse Capsules for Nespresso VertuoLine Brewers
- My-Cap Foils to Reuse Capsules for Nespresso VertuoLine Brewers
How viable is this option?
Using the reusable system certainly generates less trash, but it’s more inconvenient than the regular pods. Also, you must make sure you have all supplies in stock, since you can’t make a Nespresso Vertuoline coffee using the reusable pods unless you have a filter, foil seal, and coffee grounds. If you’re missing any one, then you’re stuck.
I personally would like to use the reusable system for everyday coffee, and have a bunch of pods I keep as backups for special treats and emergency situations where I’ve run out of filters or seals 🙂
Vertuoline flavors for coffee and espresso
Vertuoline machines have 4 different espresso blends to choose from
- Diavolitto: Powerful and strong flavor
- Altissio: Creamy, rich espresso
- Voltesso: Light, pleasant tasting
- Decaffeinato Intenso: Decaf but still intense
Which one you go for is a matter of personal choice!
I prefer creamy and rich, so my choice is the Altissio.
There are a lot more varieties for coffee:
- Intenso: Intense, as the name suggests
- Stormio: A strong blend, it’ll create a storm in your mouth
- Odacio: Very pronounced and distinct flavor
- Melozio: A mellow and neutral flavor
- Hazelino: Hazelnut
- Vanizio: Vanilla
- Caramelizio: Caramel
- Elvazio: Fruity notes and light flavor
- Giornio: Floral notes and smooth taste
- Solelio: Very light coffee
- Half Caffeinato: Half caffeinated, light and soft
- Decaffeinato: Decaffeinated
I’m a sucker for caramel notes in my coffee, as unorthodox as that may be, so you’ll probably find me sipping Caramelizio or Vanizio, the next best thing for me.
Note: The links above will take you to a search results page on Amazon where you can compare the prices for the different quantities available for each coffee/espresso. The Solelio link, for example, will bring up a variety of options for Solelio pods: tasters, a month’s supply, and so on.
Are Vertuoline pods really that big of a deal?
I think so – personally, the way Nespresso brews coffee certainly produces a really exquisite cup(especially if you’re using a demitasse cup where you can see the shot, crema, and foam in all of their layers and glory).
The different flavors you can sample are really good ways to experience a wide variety of coffees, and the ability to use reusable pods(makeshift as they may be) certainly lets you customize to whatever degree you wish.
At the end of the day, Nespresso machines are capable of making really exquisite drinks with the push of a button.
They’re costlier than regular drip coffee makers(those are boring) but far more economical than heading down to a coffee shop every day.
The one question you have to ask yourself at the very end is if you prefer the frothier centrifugal VertuoLine brews or the stronger OriginalLine brews.