Nespresso Vertuo Next Review: No Average Joe

Coffee is one of those things that people get territorial about.

Not counting the fact that it’s big business, the myriad styles and brewing methods means you will always get differing opinions about what is best. The same extends to machines, and while the advent of brands like Nespresso have resulted in more people enjoying coffee, it can prove quite divisive too.

Fans of pour over or moka pots for example, may look down on machines, citing purism of the craft, but the fact of the matter is that stylish designs, convenience and a generous helping of George Clooney has made Nespresso synonymous with capsule-based coffee machines.

This brings us to the latest iteration of these devices in the form of the Nespresso Vertuo lineup that launched in South Africa at the beginning of October.

Starting at R3 499 (RRP), this range does not come cheap, but the Nespresso brand has always carried a premium in terms of pricing and that is not going to change anytime soon.

With that in mind, we spent the past couple of weeks with the Nespresso Vertuo Next, along with a wide selection of newly designed Vertuo capsules to see whether this latest innovation from the company is worth it, or money down the drain.

Innovation vs. Exclusivity

Before we delve into that, we need to talk about the key technology at work here – the Vertuo system. As you can see from the images in this review, Nespresso has reworked its capsule design, with domes replacing what was available before.

This new design is two fold, as it affords Vertuo machines the ability to serve up different coffee sizes. Five to be exact, with it ranging from a Carafe Pour-Over Style (535ml), Signature Coffee Mug (230ml), Gran Lungo (150ml), Double Espresso (80ml) and Espresso (40ml).

In order to brew the different sizes, a barcode appears on the rim of the capsules, which is read by the Vertuo machine in order to determine the size of the beverage.

Added to this is a new brewing system that Nespresso calls centrifusion. In spins said capsules at up 4 000RPM, creating the company’s version of a crema first and then the rest of the sweet dark elixir.

The other aspect of the design, which is a bit more harder to sell to those put off by big name brands wanting to garden wall their technology, is the fact that these capsules are more difficult to duplicate and mimic by third parties.

It is well known that third parties made their own variants of the former Nespresso pods, offering consumers a wider selection and more choice in terms of cost.

As such, these new pods feature some interesting technology that we appreciate as tech fiends, but also feel a tad “money grabbing” from a general consumer perspective.

It is therefore the one element of the Nespresso Vertuo Next lineup that divides people, as it is indeed innovative technology, but it makes things even more exclusive than before.

The other aspect we need to address is cost, outside of the outlay of the machine itself.

The new Vertuo capsules range from R95 to R154 for packs of seven to 10 respectively, which may not match up to cost effectiveness of luxury brand instant coffees are indeed freshly roasted and ground beans for traditional brewing.

As such, muck like the instant film on retro-inspired Instax cameras we review regularly, the cost of capsules is something you’ll simply have to get use to, there is no way around it… for now.

Adding up

Now that we’ve unpacked the technology of the Vertuo Next machines and the costs involved, let’s look at the actual everyday experience.

The machine itself is dead easy to set up. Nespresso has done everything it can to ensure there are as few moving parts as possible on this machine. To that end there is a single button atop the Vertuo Next to operate it.

A single press begins the brewing process once the machine is fitted with a capsule and closed. It should be noted that it is fairly loud, but that is something that features on most Nespresso machines we have encountered to date.

Three quick presses of the power button (within two seconds) activates the cleaning process, which can take up to nine minutes to complete. A word of advice is taking an old ice cream tub or similarly sized vessel to capture all the water that runs through the machine to clean it. The water holder, attached to the rear of the machine, should also be topped up before you begin cleaning.

This should be done at least once a week, should you be in a household of four that regularly use the machine, Nespresso’s experts tells us.

As for the coffee itself, we found the grounds too be a little dark for our taste. This is to be expected, especially for pre-ground coffee that is shipped across the world.

It therefore means you’ll need to do some testing out to see what flavours you prefer. Luckily the range of options are quite varied as we found out, with some really “interesting” options such as Vanilla Custard Pie and Caramel Cookie.

That said, there are a fair amount of “normal” blends like Fortado, Altissio and Colombiana.

If there is one major criticism of the machine’s brewing, it is heat. If you are drinking your beverages without any milk or dairy substitute, then it stays warm for a solid amount of time, but the moment a second cold liquid is added to the equation, the core temperature drops significantly.

We understand the laws of thermodynamics necessitates this, but the drop in temperature is more severe than say adding milk to instant coffee or pour over.

As such, you’re likely going to consider buying the Aerochino milk frother, which is an additional cost.

Final verdict

The Nespresso Vertuo Next is expensive, there is simply no getting around it. Starting at R3 499, there is also the consideration of the price of Nespresso’s proprietary capsules, which can end up being quite expensive too, as well as an Aerochino milk frother, of you do not have one already.

As such, if you want to embrace the Nespresso life, it is one that does not come cheap.

If that is something you’re willing to handle from a financial perspective, however, these machines yield tasty and convenient coffee that goes from capsule to cup in under two minutes.

Just don’t expect the moustachioed barista crowd to be impressed by your Nespresso.



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