How Nespresso machines work

How Nespresso machines work
(Image credit: Getty)

If you’re wondering how Nespresso machines work, we’ve got you covered right here. Nespresso coffee makers are highly regarded and feature in our guide of the best coffee makers but what makes these machines work and how does a pod of coffee turn into a tasty drink? 

Nespresso machines are praised for how easy they are to operate and the range of drinks you can make with just the touch of a button. They use coffee pods which you place inside the machine and then it’s just a case of choosing your cup size, depending on which model you have.

There’s a huge selection of pods that can be used in a Nespresso machine, and there are additional appliances that you can buy to froth milk to create a wider range of coffees and hot drinks. 

How do Nespresso coffee makers work? 

There are two different types of Nespresso coffee machines - the Original line and the Vertuo line - and each of these works slightly differently. 

Original Nespresso machines 

Nespresso’s range of Original coffee makers use a heating element to warm up the water you place into the reservoir so that it’s the optimal temperature for brewing coffee. A suitable coffee pod will then need to be added to the pod holder.

Next, the heated water from the reservoir is forced up into the machine by a pump. The machine automatically pierces small holes in the top of the coffee pod which allows the water to slowly drip through the pod and mix with the compacted ground coffee inside. The brewed coffee will then drip into your mug on the cup holder below and is ready to drink. 

How Nespresso machines work

(Image credit: Nespresso)

Vertuo line Nespresso machines

Vertuo Nespresso machines, such as the Nespresso Vertuo Plus, operate slightly differently from the Original line. Rather than using the same pressure and water temperature for every coffee it makes, Vertuo Nespresso machine cleverly scans a barcode on the coffee pod when you place it inside the machine and you select the brew size button of your choice. Once scanned, the machine automatically adjusts the water temperature needed for that type of coffee.

Vertuo machines also differ in the way that the coffee is infused into the water. Rather than piercing holes into the top of the Nespresso capsule, the Vertuo line lets a small amount of water into the top of the domed pod, the capsule itself is then spun at 7,000 rpm to allow the coffee to fully infuse properly - Nespresso calls this process centrifugation.

You can expect a thicker crema (that caramel-colored topping on an espresso) when you use a Nespresso Vertuo machine compared to an Original model because of the centrifugal brewing technique. The used Vertuo capsule can then be recycled after the machine has finished brewing.

Sophie Bird

Sophie writes about all things appliance-related and is currently the Home Editor at TechRadar's sister site, Top Ten Reviews. When she's not testing coffee machines and appliances, Sophie is thinking of eating delicious food, and asking people what they're having for dinner.