Nespresso Vertuo Next review: Next-level easy coffee making
Quick verdict: The Nespresso Vertuo Next makes it insanely simple to produce pleasing mugs of steaming hot coffee, although you are locking yourself into a specific Nespresso pod system when you do so.
- One touch coffee making in your preferred cup size
- Strong use of recycled materials
- Makes a pleasing cuppa
- Locked into specific Nespresso Vertuo pods and flavours
- App connectivity doesn’t do much
- Plastic construction might not stand the test of time
Pod coffee is wildly popular for its convenience, with plentiful suppliers of both machines and aluminium pods to choose from. It's a market very closely tied to the Nestle Nespresso brand, but also one that's largely been tied to making espresso style shots from its pods.
The Nespresso Vertuo line takes the simplicity to the next level, with the pods themselves determining not only what flavour coffee you're going to have, but also its capacity. That makes them exceptionally easy to use if you want more than that espresso shot, although the downside here is that it's very much a Nespresso-only zone for now.
- Slender body for easy kitchen bench location
- Large water tank
With pod machines generally selling themselves on convenience, one of the factors of a classic coffee machine that they generally try to sidestep is size. A "proper" coffee machine can be a massive hunk of metal on your kitchen bench, but most pod systems are rather more discrete. That's certainly true for the Nespresso Vertuo Next machine, which measures in at 142 x 429 x 314 mm and a carrying weight of 4kg. That's before you put any water into it, which will add to its weight of course, especially as the water tank has a 1.1-litre capacity.
The body of the Nespresso Vertuo Next is plastic, and that's deliberately so, both to keep its cost low and so that Nespresso can promote it as being environmentally sound, with construction made from 54% recycled plastic. There's a considerable amount of concern around the environmental impact of coffee pod machines generally, so it's good to see at least some attention to detail here. It's not quite entirely a "green" product to speak of, but it's better than it might otherwise be. The one slight catch there of course is that plastic can get brittle over time; I simply haven't had the Nespresso Vertuo Next for long enough to work out whether that's likely to be a concern over the life of the machine just yet. You do at least get a few colour choices for the Vertuo Next machine if you don't like the plain black look on your kitchen bench – or wherever you wanted to place a pod machine.
The top of the Nespresso Vertuo Next houses a simple sliding lock mechanism used to open up the head to place in Nespresso Vertuo Next capsules. Doing so forces the existing capsule (if there is one) to be pushed into the storage bin within the body of the machine, letting you place your fresh capsule in, ready for the coffee making magic to commence.
- Capsule choice determines style and volume of coffee
- Single touch is easy to use
- Coffee quality is good
- Back to the days of custom capsules
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connected app, but it doesn't do much
By now, I doubt there are too many people who don't know how a coffee pod machine works. You put a pod in, the locking mechanism pierces the pod and hot water is squirted through at high speed to make a cup of coffee that should be at least passably palatable, right?
The Nespresso Vertuo Next system does things a little bit differently, and with a slight additional focus on technology. You can opt to connect your smartphone and Wi-Fi network to the machine, but this isn't for automated coffee delivery, as much as I might want that early in the morning. Instead, it's to apply firmware updates and let you know the water and descaling levels of your machine.
I'm not sure what's so hard about looking at the big water canister at the back of the machine, mind you, and I did have some issues getting an iPhone 12 Pro Max to pair with the Nespresso Vertuo Next at all.
The biggest change to get used to here is that it doesn't use those Nespresso pods that we've all gotten used to, instead switching to its own "Vertuo" pod system. The pods are a little bigger, and they've got barcodes printed on each and every pod. They're not there for retail purposes, but instead the Nespresso Vertuo Next system reads that barcode and prepares the coffee according to what it gets told by that barcode.
So instead of holding a button down longer for a larger drink, there's just the one button on the top of the Nespresso Vertuo Next machine. The quantity of fluid that you're going to get is determined by your capsule choice, with 5 sizes on offer. They range from espresso (40ml) to double espresso (80ml) to gran lungo (150ml) to mug (230ml) and finally to alto (414ml). That gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of coffee production, but not so much flexibility if you just want a little more liquid in your coffee than the pods you have would indicate. You can try adding more hot water by holding down the button a second time after coffee production has concluded, but I found that the Nespresso Vertuo Next often ignored me when I did this.
You certainly can't miss the fact that the Nespresso Vertuo Next is kicking into motion, because it uses a centrifugal spinning system that it says delivers a more pleasing cup and crema than the standard hot water injection system of classic pod machines. There's a solid whirring noise as it spins the pod up to speed, followed of course by the coffee delivery.
The big catch here is that because the Nespresso Vertuo Next totally relies on barcode reading, there's not the same kind of competitive pod space as there is with "regular" Nespresso pods. Head to your local supermarket and you'll find countless Nespresso-compatible pods from a variety of makers and coffee styles… but no Nespresso Vertuo Next capsules at all. Right now, you've got to order the official capsules from Nespresso itself, although I did find a few (untested) third party refillable capsules that advertised themselves as being Nespresso Vertuo compatible. It's something of a return to the very beginnings of the Nespresso system, because back then the only pods you could get were Nespresso ones as well.
Pricing for the Vertuo Next capsules varies depending on variety, but you'll typically pay between $0.80-$1 per pod – which is to say per cup – with pod packs typically sold in lots of 10 pods per box.
Naturally, the real question that needs answering here is a simple one. Does the Nespresso Vertuo Next make a decent cup of coffee at a decent price? There was only one way to find out, so I drank a lot of coffee.
Nobody tell my GP, okay?
Many pod coffee systems deliver a better-than-instant-but-no-barista-is-going-out-of-business style cup. Fair if you need that existential caffeine hit, but nothing you'd go out of your way to drink if you wanted to be all civilised and timely with your social coffee habit.
The Nespresso Vertuo Next shoots a little higher than the standard pod systems in terms of coffee, with a generally pleasing crema and mostly fresh taste across the three capsule varieties Nespresso sent me to test. There's definitely something very appealing about the ability to hit a single button and have a determined size of coffee that you expected and will enjoy drinking come out of the machine. Although, the refined coffee drinker will probably still want to stick to a full bean grinding machine with ultimate choice – and more cleaning duties – over the Nespresso Vertuo Next.
Should you buy the Nespresso Vertuo Next?
- Buy it if you want a simple, one-touch coffee machine experience.
- Don't buy it if you don’t want to be locked into Nepresso’s new pod system.
Pod coffee machines will undoubtedly remain contentious amongst the coffee cognoscenti and those who have concerns about the environmental impact of all those coffee pods.
The Nespresso Vertuo Next does a fair job addressing both complaints, although it doesn't 100% solve for either. The coffee you get from it is quite good for a pod machine, but if you're into your finer coffees and don't mind grinding, roasting and cleaning you'll still get a better result from a "real" coffee machine.
On the environmental side, Nespresso's control of distribution means that it offers a closed loop recycling system for all pods, which is great in general terms, although there's still the overall energy and shipping costs to include when working out the green impact of the Nespresso Vertuo Next system. Nothing comes without some level of energy cost.
Where does that leave the Nespresso Vertuo Next? If you're looking for a pod system that delivers consistent coffee, it will do that quite well, and for that it gets plaudits. However, you are locking yourself into a newer and entirely incompatible pod system, and unless you're happy buying pretty much purely from Nespresso itself, that may limit your coffee choices.
Pricing and availability
Where to buy
Images: Alex Kidman