**Update – Read my review of the 2nd generation of the Nespresso Vertuoline machine here: Nespresso VertuoLine Evoluo Product Review
Single serve coffee machines have grown significantly over the past few years. I have used many different models from various companies and one of the big benefits from single serve machines is that they are convenient and easy to use. The problem, is that I have rarely found a single serve machine which is able to make a cup of coffee that rivals anything that can be purchased at a quality coffee shop. Amazon, for many years, has produced machines for making espresso and the espresso that comes out of these machines is GOOD! Extremely popular in Europe, they have had more of a niche market here in Canada and the United States.
Recently Nespresso has released a new machine called the Amazon. Clearly this machine is a way to compete with the likes of Keurig and Tassimo, the VertuoLine brews both espresso and coffee. I was quite excited to try this new machine. If the VertuoLine can brew coffee as well as Nespresso has typically made espresso, I may have a new faith in single serve coffee machines.
The Grand Cru capsules look quite different than the OriginalLine Nespresso capsules. This, more than anything, is due to the centrifusion technology in the VertuoLine machine. Where the OriginalLine Nesspresso machines use 19 bar pressure to extract the coffee, the VertuoLine centrifusion technology spins the capsule to extract the coffee flavour. It is a unique method, but works very well.
There are 12 different capsules to choose from and the machine comes with a sampler pack, with one of each variety. This allows you to try each one to see what you like. Of the 12 capsules, 8 are for brewing a cup of coffee and 4 will make espresso.
Breaking down the 8 coffee capsules there are 4 that offer a range of intensity, from mild to bold. Two of the capsules are flavoured roasts: vanilla and hazelnut. There is also a decaffeinated capsule and even a half-caf option.
The 4 espresso capsules also provide a range of intensity and include a decaffeinated option as well.
The coffee and espresso capsules look quite different from each other. The capsule for brewing coffee is much taller, while the espresso capsule is smaller. This makes sense as the coffee capsule would obviously need more coffee grounds.
The volume of the espresso is 40ml or 1.4 oz and the volume of the coffee is 230ml or 7.77 oz.
The Nespresso VertuoLine borrows some of the innovation found with Tassimo machines in that there is now a bar code on each VertuoLine capsule. They are seen on the outside lip of the capsule.
The top of the machine lifts up to reveal the spot for the coffee or espresso capsule to be placed.
There is a removable water reservoir on the side of the VertuoLine that holds 1.2 litres of water. That is plenty for multiple coffees and espressos. It is simple to remove and put back in place.
The centrifusion technology uses a unique approach to both making coffee and espresso. Once the capsule is in place, there are a number of clamps that grab hold of the capsule. They look like claws and can be seen in the picture above. They hold onto the capsule and spin it fast. And when I say fast I mean really FAST – 7000 RPMs! This happens while the hot water shoots into the capsule. The result is a rich coffee and the wonderful crema.
Operating the machine is very simple and quite like any single serve coffee machine. Select the capsule of choice and place it into the holding base.
Close the lid and then move the lever to the left into the lock position.
The Nespresso VertuoLine takes about 10 seconds to preheat before it is ready to make either a coffee or espresso. It heats up quite quickly and faster than most of the other single serve brewers that I have tried. There is a button on the top of the machine and if the coffee icon in blinking, it means that the water is still heating up. Once it is constantly illuminated, the machine is ready to go.
Simply press the button and the VertuoLine will start to brew. Since there is the barcode on the capsule, the machine knows whether it is to make a full cup of coffee, or a small espresso.
The coffee that comes out of the Nespresso VertuoLine is different in both look and taste compared to other single brew coffee machines. There is a nice crema that is developed and rests on top of the coffee. In many ways it looks closer to a coffee version of an espresso. The VertuoLine is louder than other single serve brewers and the OriginalLine Nespresso machine. This is likely due to the centrifusion technology and the spinning of the capsule. Now it is not as loud as a blender, but it is louder than most coffee machines. The volume picks up a little bit more at the end of the brew cycle and it seems that the spinning goes even faster. The brew cycle is quick and lasts about 15-20 seconds.
During the brewing, I checked the temperature of the coffee as it came out of the machine and it registered at 165F.
The coffee looked good, but I was more excited about the taste. One of my favorite drinks at Starbucks is an Americano, which is an espresso with added hot water. I really like the taste of espresso and I find that an Americano matches that taste better than a traditional brewed pot of coffee.
Taking a sip of the coffee that came out of the VertuoLine, it reminded me of the taste and texture of an Americano. The coffee was smooth, with very little bitterness. On top of the coffee is the layer of crema which brings this cup of coffee to a whole new stratosphere. This machine is obviously made to compete with other single serve brewers like Keurig and Tassimo. I have never tasted a cup of coffee from either of those machines that was anywhere close to the coffee that the VertuoLine can make. On top of the actual brewing method, it is obvious that Nespresso uses high end coffee in their capsules.
Once the machine has finished brewing, it is ready to make another! Simply, move the lever to the right to unlock the lid. As the lid lifts up, the capsule automatically slides back and gets dumped into the disposal bin on the right side of the machine.
I love the automatic disposal feature and the bin on the side holds 12 or more capsules (depending on whether they are the smaller espresso or larger sized coffee capsules). In the picture above, you can see all the little holes from where the claws have held the capsule, while spinning it.
Some people are concerned with the waste that is accumulated from single serve coffee brewers. While they are easy to use and very convenient, they do create far more waste than a traditional brewer. Nespresso has taken steps to address the waste from the machines and they will accept used capsules at their boutique bars and other recycling depots. I love this, as it is a great way for them to handle this valid concern.
After the coffee was done, I wanted to test out and see how the machine makes espresso. There is an adjustable base that can be lifted and locked in a higher spot, perfect for a small espresso cup.
Unfortunately, I do not have a glass espresso cup to see the layering of espresso with the crema. As the espresso came out of the machine, it was rich with a wonderful caramel colour. The espresso did not come out as quickly as the coffee, but as it poured into the cup, there was a wonderful aroma of freshly brewed espresso.
The taste of the espresso was incredible. It actually tastes pretty much the very same as the OriginalLine Nespresso machines. That is great news for previous Nespresso owners, as they can be confident knowing that this new machine produces the same high quality espresso. The Nespresso VertuoLine has really impressed me and I truly hope it catches on. Since it is a brand new technology for Nespresso, they are likely waiting to see the popularity of this model before they introduce new roasts and maybe even other machines using the centrifusion brewing method.
While I love espresso straight up and my coffee black, my wife prefers lattes and coffee with cream and sugar. Nespresso also sells a product called the Aeroccino Plus. This machine can quickly heat and froth milk which is perfect for making cappuccinos and lattes. It is possible to purchase the VertuoLine along with the Aeroccino Plus for a discounted bundle price.
While I love the Nespresso VertuoLine, one of the issues about the machine has to do with the capsules. They are only available through Nespresso, so they need to be purchased through their online store or at one of Nespresso’s boutique bars. Since I live 10 minutes from a boutique bar, it is not a concern for me, but people who live further away are forced to use the online store. That is not a big problem for people comfortable purchasing products online and the website is easy to use and the prices are the same as in the store. The prices of the capsules are $0.75 per espresso capsule and $0.95 per coffee capsule. While the prices are higher than other single serve coffee brewers, the quality is far superior. To put it in comparison, I would rather go to Starbucks for a coffee, than a Coffee Time or Country Style, or even Tim Hortons. In the same way, I would far prefer a cup of Nespresso than one from another single serve brand.
If you like both espresso and quality coffee, the Nespresso VertuoLine is a great choice. It has taken up prime real estate on my kitchen counter now and gets used every single day.
Purchase this machine at Amazon.
Disclaimer: Nespresso provided me with the VertuoLine. They did not pay me for this review and the views expressed above are my honest reactions after trying the product.