My first encounter with a Nespresso coffee was in Amsterdam over 16 years ago. I found a Nespresso boutique store while walking around the city and had an espresso there.
Back then I had an espresso machine, with a coffee grinder and everything else needed to make my coffee at home.
When Nespresso launched in New Zealand, I bought one of their coffee makers, replacing my manual coffee machine.
The way I see it, Nespresso machines don’t make the best coffee, but it makes consistently good coffee. It saves me the time I’d spend grinding coffee, making coffee, cleaning the espresso machine, etc.
Nespresso’s Vertuo brewing system is a new take on automatic coffee making. It uses pods instead of capsules, and each pod has a barcode with instructions that change depending on the coffee blend used and the drink you are making. The machine will adapt water temperature, extraction time and volume depending on the pod used for espresso, ristretto, long black or one of the many milk-based drinks you can make.
A few weeks ago, Nespresso launched the Vertuo Creatista here in New Zealand, which is similar to my current Nespresso Creatista in some ways. Both have built-in coffee-making and milk-frothing capabilities. But the Vertuo Creatista uses the Vertuo pods instead of capsules and doesn’t have the LCD with on-screen instructions.
Despite this, the Vertuo Creatista allows anyone to make good coffee and coffee-based drinks at home.
Installation is easy: out of the box, attach the drip tray, fill the water tank and off you go.
Operation is simple, too: for a coffee-only drink, such as an espresso, you need to open the top of the machine, drop the capsule with the blend you prefer and close it again. Push a button, and your demitasse will fill with an espresso drink with the right amount of water and temperature.
Making a coffee-based milky drink is easy too: add the amount of milk needed for the drink you want (which will vary depending on if you are making a cappuccino, flat white or café latte) to the supplied milk jug, put it under the steam wand, set the milk temperature and the froth level you want, and the machine will do its work.
Unlike the Nespresso Creatista, which allows you to select which drink you are making and automatically select the proper milk temperature and froth levels, you manually set the Vertuo Creatista to the appropriate milk settings you want.
Once the milk reaches the set temperature, the machine will stop, and you can then prepare the espresso shot needed for the drink.
At this point, you should have a tea towel handy because when you remove the milk jug and let the steam wand return to its original position, the machine will automatically flush and clean the wand, and we will need the tea towel to wipe it to keep the wand’s exterior clean.
After a few minutes, the machine returns to standby mode, saving energy. It will wake up when you open the lid for another coffee or lift the steam wand again.
Like other Nespresso machines, it doesn’t take long to heat up and be ready for a coffee. You can start making an espresso just a few seconds after it comes out of standby. I’d say that coming out of standby and drinking an espresso would be less than 30 seconds, which includes the extraction time.
The machine has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which you configure using the Nespresso mobile app. At this point, it seems to be helpful for any updates it might need and as a quick access to instructions specific to your machine model, including maintenance (descaling, cleaning the steam wand, cleaning the coffee system) and recipes with step-by-step instructions on how to make your drinks. It falls short of controlling the machine, which would put it at the same level as the Nespresso Creatista and its on-screen step-by-step instructions.
As for the taste, I think the coffee tastes better on the Vertuo system, perhaps because it more finely controls the water temperature and time depending on the coffee blend you are using.
The pods are made of aluminium so you can return them for recycling. You can drop these at the Nespresso stores or do like me and drop them at my local garden centre every few months. Quite a few garden centres around New Zealand let you drop your used Nespresso capsules and pods for recycling.
I am happy with the results. I drink a lot of coffee, sometimes up to four or five espressos during the day, and at least one milk-based drink in the morning. It is much faster than a conventional espresso machine, and the results are always good.