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Nespresso Vertuo Next review: Pod coffee gets smarter
Nespresso are back at it, but is the new Vertuo Next pod coffee machine worth the premium price?
The Nespresso Vertuo Next delivers an elegant but sophisticated riff on the pod coffee formula. It's a little more expensive than the average pod machine, but delivers consistent and delicious results that help to justify that premium price.
Something as simple as making a coffee can be as complicated as you want it to be.
For those who want to get their hands dirty, there are plenty of great home espresso options. On the other hand, if you want to streamline the process without compromising on quality or flexing into filter coffee, then the Nespresso Vertuo Next does everything it can to elevate (and narrow) your standards for what pod coffee can look like.
How much does Nespresso Vertuo Next cost in Australia?
Pricing for the Nespresso Vertuo Next starts at $269 in Australia for the solo unit.
Depending on the retailer, a bundle containing a Nespresso milk frother may also be available. Opting for this combo deal usually costs you an extra $100 or so upfront, but can save you money compared to buying them separately.
Nespresso Vertuo Next - setup and features
Like many pod coffee machines, setting up Nespresso Vertuo Next is almost painfully straightforward. Plug it into a power socket and fill up the reservoir, and you're pretty much ready to go. As someone who has become a little too used to messiness of my current home coffee setup, it all felt a little too easy.
Streamlining is the name of the game here. Even if it's not the smallest pod coffee machine you can find, the Vertuo Next comes across as remarkably slim, sleek and minimalist. There's a single button on the top, buffered by a crank that's used to lock in a pod capsule before use and a compact water reservoir that neatly and cleanly detaches from the back of the unit when you need to refill it.
The last design detail worth noting here is the cup mount. This copper-accented attachment slides neatly in and out of three possible height configurations, allowing you to match the layout for beverages as small as an espresso shot and as large as a carafe.
Part of the reason that Nespresso can get away with such a starkly featureless design is the extra tech that's gone into the new Vertuo capsule system.
While Vertuo capsules are a little more pricey than their predecessors, they come encoded with a bar code wrapped around the lip of the pod. When you place the pod inside the Vertuo Next, built-in sensors read this digital signature and extract the information it contains about how best to brew this specific capsule. This includes factors like temperature, infusion time and water flow.
The idea here is to pair up the simplicity, variety and overall ease of use that pod coffee typically offers while delivering results that are a little more exceptional when it comes to taste.
Nespresso Vertuo Next: Pod-economics explained
The Nespresso Vertuo Next has one big drawback when compared to other pod-based coffee machines.
While it is capable of producing more sophisticated pod coffee, you're locked into a proprietary system when it comes to doing this. Unlike other pod-based or even other Nespresso coffee machines, there are no third party pod options.
Vertuo pods also tend be slightly more expensive than standard Nespresso pods, meaning that you're going to be paying more in addition for the privilege of fewer choices. Where regular Nespresso pods start at around $7.90 (for a 10 pack) on the official website, Vertuo pods start at around $8.50. That might not sound like a huge difference, but it adds up quickly over the life of the machine.
Nespresso Vertuo Next - performance and maintenance
As someone who has typically been disappointed by the results that pod coffee delivers, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Nespresso Vertuo Next was more than capable of delivering beverages that lived up to my standards.
Aside from a regular descaling, the only real maintenance here comes down to emptying out old coffee pods and refilling the rear-mounted reservoir. While far from complicated, the former proved slightly tricky for me on multiple occaisions. The tray containing used pods is a two-part system and if you're not careful when removing them the two halves can seperate and leave a ton of mess in their wake.
The popularity of pod coffee systems like the Nespresso Vertuo Next feels like it's dogged by the shadow of what it could become. Yes, pod coffee does make it easy for everyone to have access to decent coffee on a budget. The more nuanced brew possibilities made possible by the Vertuo capsules push things even further in that direction by allowing for more just decent brews but ambitious ones.
However, it's all too easy to see the dark side of this asymmetrical arrangement. Pod coffee omits the human element that you get from your local barista, the variety of trying a new blend and the freedom to put whatever coffee beans you like into whatever you like for relatively cheap.
Even if pod coffee does end up being typically cheaper than on-demand espresso, being bought in on this style of coffee means being reliant on the benevolence of a global company like Nespresso and a proprietary pod system, which might not be for everyone.
Is Nespresso Vertuo Next worth buying?
If you're already won over by the promise of pod coffee, then the Nespresso Vertuo Next is a great option for those who want to elevate the results it yields without adding too much extra complication. You will be paying a little bit more per pod, but the kick of reliable and good coffee rarely comes cheap.
How we review coffee machines
The short answer: by making (and drinking) a lot of coffee. The longer one: We spend some serious time not just using the coffee machines we review, but also thinking about the type of users they're for. We don't just read and regurgitate a spec-sheet. We take stock of what the landscape looks like, and how machines like the Nespresso Vertuo Next fit into it.
Even if there are clear differences between home espresso machines like the Delonghi Magnifica S and cheaper pod-based options, those differences can be bridged by a thorough assessment of how successful both approaches when it comes to solving the problem of delivering the quality homemade coffee possible with as little effort as possible.