As coffee lovers, we can appreciate a nice, lovingly crafted coffee or espresso. Unfortunately, not every lifestyle or budget has the luxury of brewing with more hands-on manual tools or top of the line automatic machines. That’s where pod-brewing comes in, so today we’re comparing two lines from a powerhouse in the capsule brewing community: Nespresso VertuoLine vs Original.
Nespresso is a brand frequently recognized for taking the pod-brewing scene to the next level. It is a branch of the Nestlé Group and is based in Switzerland. They strive to bring you as close to authentic espresso and coffee drinks as possible with capsule brewing technology by partnering with well-known brands such as Breville and De’Longhi.
Additionally, the company strives for sustainability by producing fully recyclable aluminum capsules. They also partner with organizations including The Rainforest Alliance, Fair Labor Association, Fairtrade International, and Fairtrade USA.
Vertuo vs Original Capsules
One of the first big differences you will notice between the lines is the pods. Not only do they have different flavor offerings, but the pods themselves are even shaped differently. While the Original Line has more traditional looking cup-shaped pods, the Vertuo Line capsules have a unique dome shape and come in 3 different sizes.
Both lines have about 28 capsule options with the occasional limited edition capsule thrown in there.
For those of you who just want the big take aways form this section, here are a few highlights:
- For more size options, the VertuoLine has a better range
- The lines are even as far as Nespresso’s offerings, but the OriginalLine has significantly more third-party options available
- VertuoLine capsules make more crema, but the OriginalLine coffee comes closer to an authentic espresso taste
- The OriginalLine has better variety-pack options
Original Line Capsules
The Original line is divided into 6 categories: Intenso, Espresso, Lungo, Decaffeinato, Master Origin, and Crafted for Milk. Additionally, the capsule range is capable of brewing a .85 oz ristretto, 1.35 oz espresso, or a 3.7 oz Lungo. We’ve included the current list of flavors plus the provided description and intensity level.
Furthermore, while Nespresso does offer their own line of OriginalLine compatible capsules, they are also available from numerous third parties including Maud’s, Gourmesso, Artizan, and more. This is not yet true for the VertuoLine.
- Kazaar: Intense and Syrupy (12)
- Dharkan: Long-Roasted and Velvety (11)
- Ristretto: Long-Lasting and Contrasting (10)
- Arpeggio: Intense and Creamy (9)
- Roma: Full and Balanced (8)
- Livanto: Round and Balanced (6)
- Capriccio: Rich and Distinctive (5)
- Volluto: Sweet and Light (4)
- Cosi: Mild and Delicately Toasted (4)
- Envivo Lungo: Potent and Caramelized (9)
- Fortissio Lungo: Rich and Full-Bodied (8)
- Vivalto Lungo: Complex and Balanced (4)
- Linzio Lungo: Round and Smooth (4)
- Ristretto Decaffeinato: Powerful and Contrasting (10)
- Arpeggio Decaffeinato: Intense and Creamy (9)
- Volluto Decaffeinato: Sweet and Light (4)
- Vivalto Lungo Decaffeinato: Complex and Balanced (4)
- Colombia: Winey and Red Fruits (6)
- Ethiopia: Fruit Jam and Orange Blossom (4)
- Nicaragua: Smooth Honey and Sweet Caramel (5)
- India: Woody and Spicy (11)
- Indonesia: Tobacco Leaves and Woody (8)
Crafted for Milk (+Flavored)
- Corto: Spicy
- Scuro: Roasted yet Balanced
- Chiaro: Sweet biscuit
- Vanillio: Vanilla Flavored (6)
- Caramelito: Caramel Flavored (6)
- Ciocattino: Chocolate Flavored (6)
Vertuo Line Capsules
The Vertuo line is different both in shape and function. The barcode on each pod includes information for brewing including water flow and volume, temperature, infusion time, and capsule rotation speed. The capsules come in three different sizes brewing a1.35 oz espresso, 2.7oz double espresso or 5oz Gran Lungo, and a 7.77 oz Coffee or 14 oz Alto XL respectively.
It is important to note that the Vertuo line includes both espresso brewing and regular coffee brewing capabilities, which is relatively unexplored, innovative territory in the capsule brewing world.
- Diavolitto: High Intensity and Powerful (11)
- Altissio: Full-Bodied and Creamy (9)
- Voltesso: Light and Sweet (4)
- Decaffeinato Intenso: Dense and Harmonious (7)
- Double Espresso Scuro: Dark and Bold (8)
- Double Espresso Chiaro: Dense and Wild (6)
Gran Lungo (Americano)
- Fortado: Intense and Full-Bodied (8)
- Arondio: Cereal and Mild (6)
- Alforazio: Floral and Delicate (4)
- Decaffeinato Ontuoso: Malty and Unctuous (4)
- Mexico: Intense and Spiced (7)
- Colombia: Fruity and Red Berry (5) (Fair Trade)
- Intenso: Deep and Dense (9)
- Stormio: Rich and Strong (8)
- Odacio: Bold and Lively (7)
- Melozio: Smooth and Balanced (6)
- Elvazio: Delicate and Fruity (4)
- Giornio: Floral and Velvety (4)
- Solelio: Fruity and Light-Bodied (2)
- Decaffeinato: Round and Malty (6)
- Half Caffeinato: Sweet and Velvety (5)
- Hazelino: Hazelnut Flavored (6)
- Caramelizio: Caramel Flavors (6)
- Vanizio: Vanilla Flavored (6)
- Intenso XL: Smooth and Strong (7)
- Dolce XL: Smooth and Round (4)
Crafted for Milk
- Bianco Leggero: Sweet Biscuit
- Bianco Forte: Dark Roasted yet Balanced
Vertuo vs Original Machines
Nespresso machines use single-step extraction systems, which is pretty standard as far as capsule brewing systems go. However, while the OriginalLine machines use a pressure-based extraction using to 19 bars of pressure, and the VertuoLine model uses centrifugal one.
Additionally, the Vertuo machines have the added component of the barcode reader. As we mentioned earlier, the Vertuo capsules have barcodes on them that contain information regarding proper temperature, water volume, etc. used for brewing. Once in the machine, this barcode is scanned and the machine brews the capsule accordingly, simplifying your interaction with it.
Several OriginalLine models do in fact have built-in milk frothers. However, none of the Vertuo line models have this option. Nonetheless, Nespresso also sells the Aeroccino milk frother seperately and as a part of some bundles.
So on both sides you do have the option to get a milk frothing device. But if you are looking for a built-in, you are going to have to go with the OriginalLine.
The Original Line has a decidedly broader range of machines both when it comes to price as well as functionality. With 12 unique products and 8 base models, the Original still easily outpaces the newer Vertuo line, which still only has 3 models.
The Original lineup includes the Creatista Uno, Creatista, Creatista Plus, Latissima One, Latissima Touch, Latissima Pro, Latissima+, Kitchenaid, Expert, CitiZ, CitiZ&Milk, Pixie, and Essenza Mini. On the other hand, the Vertuo line includes the Vertuo, VertuoPlus, and Evoluo.
Additionally, while the Original Line includes machines produced by other, well-known companies (such as Breville, De’Longhi, and Kitchenaid) the Vertuo Line comes from Nespresso alone.
Nespresso Creatista Plus
If you want a steaming wand on a pod-brewer that may be able to keep up with some serious frothing, you may need to have a look at the Nespresso Creatista Plus by Breville. While you might not be able to produce the most intricate latte masterpieces, you can certainly get a leaf or heart design from this microfilm. It features 8 coffee brewing options, 4 froth settings, and 11 temperature settings. And all of these are accessible from he LCD display menu.
This Pixie Model from De’Longhi might be the most well-love Nespresso model of the entire line-up, Vertuo or otherwise. It has a small footprint and a super user-friendly interface. Plus, it has a metal construction that shows up some of the similar model in the Original Line.
Nespresso Vertuo Plus
The Vertuo plus also brings its A-game when it comes to user-friendliness. With a simple touch, you can drop the pod in and get things going. From there, the Vertuo Plus, reads the barcode on your pod and automatically brews it accordingly. The spent capsule reservoir can hold 9-10 capsules, so you won’t have to worry about recycling them one at a time. This is a huge win for convenience in brewing!
This is actually a step up from the Plus by our standards. With bigger water and spent capsule reservoirs, this is best for someone who wants to use the bigger capsules or simply drinks more coffee. Another pro is that this machine and the other Vertuo machines have a wider variety of size options than the Original Line.
The Crema Debate
One of the big, noticeable differences that Nespresso likes to highlight when comparing their two lines is the amount of Crema you get. In the past, there have been complaints from some customers saying the crema that the OriginalLine pods and machines make is lackluster.
So, when designing and marketing their new line, Nespresso made sure their would be a thick, boisterous layer of crema on top of the new brews. However, now there is some debate as to whether this is actually a sign of better espresso or simply a ploy to get espresso novices to buy from the new line. That’s what we’re going to investigate in this section.
The Real Flavor Factors
So before we dive into the crema, we need to talk about the brew underneath it. As we mentioned before, the two lines have different brew technology. The Original has a classic pump-based, pressure-driven one while the VertuoLine uses a new centrifugal extraction method.
Consequently, the VertuoLine machines use lower temperature than the Original machines. This seemingly minor difference can actually have a pretty big impact on the taste of your brew. The higher temperature means more of the oils will be extracted from the grounds, making for a more flavorful, stronger coffee.
This leaves the Vertuo models producing milder coffee that may even come out closer to lukewarm than piping hot. And while the OriginalLine isn’t going to give you the same heat as a fresh French Press or real espresso machine brew, the cups still tend to be pleasantly warm.
So if it isn’t giving you a stronger or hotter coffee, what is this centrifugal technology doing? It’s making more crema.
What’s with the Crema?
You may have noticed that there is a lot of talk a bout crema in the coffee community. In case you don’t know what exactly is, here’s a simplified explanation:
Crema is the tan-brown, foam-like substance with small bubbles that forms atop a shot of espresso. It results from a couple chemical reactions that occur during the espresso brewing process, involving pH and coffee oils. It’s flavor tends to be slightly acidic thanks to the CO2 and increased pH.
The opinions on crema are a mixed bag some believe it is a sign of better espresso as it can be an indication that the barista used fresh beans. However, many people don’t realize that too much crema is usually an indication that Robusta beans (generally considered inferior) were used in the brew.
So, where does that leave Nespresso? Well, the thinner crema produced by the OriginalLine is actually closer to the real-deal crema you would get from fresh Arabica beans. On the other hand, the extra-thick foam on top of the VertuoLine brews can mean one of two things.
Firstly, it could indicate higher robusta percentages in the vertuo capsules. Alternatively (and more likely, in our option) the “crema” could just be head off foam from the high-speed spinning used in the extraction process.
Despite the potential marketing grab of the Crema, both Nespresso lines do have their individual merits.
If you are a fan of authentic espresso but aren’t looking to invest in a real espresso machine yet, the OriginalLine is for you. There is more potential for espresso and milk based drinks with these machines too. Plus, there are more capsule and machine options to choose from.
However, if you prefer longer drinks that can fill your whole mug without you adding milk or extra water, the VertuoLine is better suited to your needs. Also, if you want a brewer that can make both a decent espresso and some pretty tasty coffee without paying the premium price of a decked out machine, the Vertuo has you covered.
Lastly, Nespresso is one of the best pod-brewing brands out there, so if you’re on the market for a capsule-based system, you can likely find something that’ll suit you between these two lines.