Such a substantial departure from the long-established pods that have been churned through Nespresso machines for years is a bit of a risk for such a dominant company. Introducing their new Vertuo line-up earlier this year represented a huge leap for the brand, presenting several models – some made by Breville and DeLonghi – onto the market which make use of the much larger, fatter and refined VertuoLine capsules. It’s said to be just another step towards the perfect single-serve coffee, with a decent range of capsules (hopefully that’ll be built upon in 2018) suited to various tastes no doubt gathered by the company through years of consumer research.
Whether or not it’s perfect would be largely dependent on an individual’s preferences though, but luckily Nespresso have been wise to make their new machine as smart as modern technology allows. Whatever capsule you choose – there are around 20 varieties spanning a great range of blends – is just the beginning of you customising this machine to your tastes. You can simply press the button and watch the coffee pour like a pro, ideal for those who think the “extraction parameters” (more on that below) are exactly to their taste, or hold the button and release to taste so the machine remembers your preferences for next time. Once you get the hang of it, manipulating this machine to your whim is quite easy – impressive for something with only one button.
Now for those “extraction parameters”. The main shtick of this beautifully designed machine is that each coffee capsule features a special barcode on its rim, containing very specific instructions for the machine relating to everything from the flow, volume and temperature of the water (drained from the water tank which you can position on either side of the machine) to the infusion time and rotational speed. The idea is to arrive at the point of perfection, predetermined by experts in the field. Of course, everyone has different tastes and tolerances and the standard for the Vertuo line is fairly strong in terms of coffee; again, just tweak the machine a bit – via those button presses – and it’ll get used to your preferences.
The attractive metallic capsules capture a thoughtful range of tastes and are simply inserted in the machine similarly to previous Nespresso models. Although this time things are just a little bit more high-tech; you simply nudge a silver lever at the top of the machine upwards and a slot automatically opens up with a groove in which to snugly place the capsule. Futurism is a given in the design, and though it’s an unnecessary touch, the automated open/close function is an impressive little detail that mirrors the advancement of the VertuoLine over Nespresso’s previous models.
Once inserted, you just nudge the lever down and press (or hold if you want to guide the machine towards your preferences) the single button on top of the machine. The capsule’s metal pods are spun while pouring to achieve the ideal extraction length encoded in the capsule’s barcode. It’s simple, it delivers on it’s promise of great coffee and leaves the only real decision on your choice in capsule – available in four sizes, from a 40ml Espresso to a 414ml Alto. All pours feature are topping with the super smooth and silky layer of crema Nespresso is known for.
After it’s all done, the used capsule is deposited in an detachable container big enough for 10 capsules (remember, you can’t just throw these in the yellow bin if you want to recycle; they have to be delivered to a specialised collection point or mailed to Nespresso in a special bag via Australia Post).
The taste of a coffee from the Vertuo Plus, whatever the capsule, is about as ideal as you can get from one simple press of a button. However, the palate of some brews is not significantly better than a brew made from one of the earlier, less expensive models (like the exceptionally balanced Essenza mini). You’re shelling out a bit extra for the impressive design and the glow that often surrounds new technology, with the real worth really lying in the kind of VertuoLine capsules Nespresso (hopefully) have in store for us next year. Here’s to hoping those occasional limited releases, like the latest candy-inspired line, become more common in 2018.
Vertuo machines are available now for an RRP of $299. Sleeves of 10 pods cost between $8 and $10 each, depending on size and style. The model this review is based on came with 12 pods and no milk frother.