If you are considering a more convenient coffee solution, you’re likely looking into Nespresso machines. These machines use special coffee pods to create a variety of espresso-based drinks and some will also make regular coffee. But what is the difference between these two systems and which one is ultimately better? I went hands-on to compare to try them out side by side to see.
Nespresso Original versus Nespresso Virtuo: How To Choose, what’s the difference?
Specifically, I’m reviewing Nespresso original versus virtuo here in this video, but I’ve reviewed many more models. Both machines make espresso, the Vertuo line is also designed to brew regular coffees to – all in the same machine.
Nespresso launched the VertuoLine in about 2014 as a way to lure North American coffee drinkers, who are less about espressos than they are about full size coffees.
Coffee pods and capsules: what’s the difference?
First, let’s look at the difference between Verturo and original Nespresso pods. The original Nespresso pods are small and narrow and come in one size only (since they’re really meant for espresso), while the Nespresso Vertuo pods are wide and round and may differ in height depending on what’s inside. With an original pod you can make espresso, double espresso or add water for an Americano. Vertuo coffee pods have special barcodes on the pod that carry specific instructions for how each coffee is to be extracted. The Virtuo lineup offers drinks in five sizes, from a single espresso, to double espresso, a 5 ounce gran luongo/Americano (150ml), a 230ml/8 oz ‘mug’ coffee to a 14 oz Alto coffee.
Milk or no milk?
Let’s move on to another differentiator: milk or no milk?
One of the key differences between Nespresso Virtuo vs original set ups is that none of the Vertuo models come with built-in milk frothers, while Nespresso Original does offer machines that will handle the milk, like the automatic Lattissima here.
But you can bundle a Vertuo with Nespresso’s popular Aeroccino frother —often at a discounted price.When it comes to Choice and availability, The Nespresso Original machine has a far bigger selection of capsules. And because the patent on the capsules has expired, you can get them everywhere – and even fill reusable ones with your own coffee.
Vertuo capsules by contrast are available only from Nespresso because they need a proprietary barcode to be recognized by the Vertuo machine.
Nespresso Vertuo vs Original: Drink options and sizes
Time to talk drink sizing…Nespresso VertuoLine capsules come in three different sizes, so larger drinks can be as strong as smaller ones. In total those three sizes will make 5 different coffee drinks. Nespresso Original Pods only come in one size and are meant to make espresso, double espresso or a luongo.
Now, you can make a bigger coffee with an original pod by adding more water, but it is obviously more diluted… something you don’t get with the Vertuo.
With that said, both the Nespresso and Virtuo machines let you permanently alter the drink size to your tastes – yes even the Nespresso Vertuo capsules with the special barcode can be easily reprogrammed to make the drink you want. I’ve got videos here on the channel that show you how to do that on both types of machines.
I have a how to video that can show you how to do this, right here on the blog.
Nespresso Original Machine vs Vertuo: Coffee quality
Crema is a hot word in coffee circles… Both Original and Vertuo machines and their coffee pods give you a beautiful crema on top of the coffee which a lot of folks really love.
Some say the Vertuo Nespresso capsules produce a thicker layer of crema, and I guess that’s true, but it begins to dissipate almost immediately since it’s mainly a product of all the air in the spinning process. For me, I’d rather a better coffee than taller coffee foam, so I’m not as wowed by that, personally.
I’ve tried dozens of coffee pods from both lineups and I can say there’s lots to choose from and you’ll be able to find something you really like. I find the coffee fresh, delicious, hot and tasty.
Which machine is stronger: Nespresso Vertuo or Original
Brewing pressure is another hot topic, since that helps make a creamier drink.
Despite the seeming higher end feel and more tech smarts of the Vertuo experience, the Vertuo machines use exactly the same amount pressure to extract coffees as the Original line does; you can generally expect 19 bars from both sets of machines.
When it comes to Brew time… Perhaps not surprising but the Original lineup tends to produce faster results. This is likely because original line drinks are smaller.
Coffee should be hot, right? Not so fast. We tend to brew our coffee with boiling water since the temperature can help extract flavours and oils a little easier, but very hot water can make coffee bitter.
You’re probably familiar with cold brew coffee, which essentially replaces heat with time: letting ground coffee sit in cold water for up to 24 hours to extract the same flavors—without the bitterness and acrid taste. For that reason, the Vertuo line uses a slightly lower temperature when making coffee; and here all those rotations help saturate the grounds faster, so not as much heat is needed.
Now for some people this is a problem; coffee that comes out of the machine at any temperature other than volcanic may not be as enjoyable. I guess your temperature and taste preferences are probably very individual. So whether a slightly cooler but more flavourful and less bitter brew will be enjoyable for you is definitely a matter of taste.
For me, I found there were still some Vertuo coffee roasts that did taste bitter, and at the same time I didn’t really notice a huge difference in temperature.
Nespresso Original versus Nespresso Vertuo: which is better?
So…Which to choose? The Original or the slightly more advanced Vertuo line?
Now you know how the key features of Original and Vertuo stack up against each other. In my opinion you should buy a Nespresso Original machine if you want it for espresso or espresso-based drinks. You’ll pay less for the machine and the Nespresso capsules, and you’ll have way more espresso pod choices.
Buy a Nespresso Vertuo machine if you’re more of a coffee drinker and you want the option of making espresso and coffee from the same machine. With the barcoded capsule brewing system, the VertuoLine makes brewing any style and size of drink foolproof, but it is adjustable.
For me, since I want it mainly for espresso, I’m going to stick with my Nespresso Original machine, but I think both of these systems have their benefits. The choice is up to you.
I’d love to hear which line you chose and why, so share your story in comments below.