Nespresso VertuoLine vs Original: What’s The Difference?

Nespresso makes the best pod-based coffee makers available.

That’s a fact.

(OK, it’s an opinion, and only one opinion at that!)

In 2014, after years of capsule coffee excellence, Nespresso released their new and improved VertuoLine.

Nespresso customers rejoice!

Or should they?

Before you buy a machine, you need to compare their newer Nespresso VertuoLine vs Original models. I firmly choose one over the over the other.

Which do I like?

Let's get started.

VertuoLine vs Original Brew Sizes

OriginalLine machines offer 5 brew sizes: 0.85 oz ristretto, 1.35 oz espresso, and 3.7 oz lungo. Not every machine offers all three–usually it’s just the espresso and lungo sizes–but these models definitely don’t go higher than a 3.7 oz lungo.

VertuoLine machines offer 5 brew sizes: 1.35 oz espresso, 2.7 oz double espresso, 5 oz gran lungo, 7.8 oz coffee, and 14 oz Alto XL coffee. With the custom sizing feature you can brew up to 17 oz coffees using the Alto XL capsules.

This doesn’t mean you can’t brew coffee with an OriginalLine machine.

OK, so you can’t brew coffee in the most literal sense of the word, but you can brew an Americano. That would be similar to the “Long Black” in the image below, which shows the different kinds of coffee beverages you can make with an espresso base.

types of espresso drinks
You can make a Long Black, similar to an Americano, to get a coffee-like beverage from an espresso machine. (Source)

The VertuoLine Barcode Scanning System

OriginalLine machines don’t have any kind of barcode scanning system. Pop in a compatible capsule and go.

VertuoLine machines feature a barcode scanning system similar to Keurig’s 2.0 technology. The system tells the machine a capsule has been inserted and tailors the brew settings–water volume, brew temperature, capsule spin rate, flow rate, and water contact time–to that capsule’s particular recipe.

Our Complete Guide To VertuoLine Pods has more detail on this brewing system.

Why did Nespresso add a barcode scanning system to their VertuoLine machines?

Two reasons:

  1. To tailor the extraction parameters to the capsule you’re using
  2. To make it more difficult for you to use unlicensed Nespresso capsules

There are a bunch of companies that sell discounted Nespresso compatible capsules, but they all have one thing in common: None of them sell VertuoLine capsules.

Nespresso’s barcode scanning technology has thus far eliminated the competition for VertuoLine compatible capsules.

VertuoLine vs Original Capsule Extraction Method

OriginalLine machines make espresso the old fashioned way: apply pressure and hot water via an internal pump.

VertuoLine machines do something different to brew a more advanced coffee (read: not necessarily better).

Instead of applying pressure, VertuoLine machines use the pressure resulting from Centrifusion for extraction.

What’s Centrifusion? It’s Nespresso’s term for the rapid pod rotation incorporated in the VertuoLine process. This step adds time but also yields a thicker, more pronounced crema. However, many will tell you the OriginalLine brewers actually have a more authentic crema and that the Centrifusion process results in a foamier crema.

The end result: Nespresso VertuoLine machines make an espresso that isn’t as hot and seems underextracted.

VertuoLine vs Original Cost Per Capsule

OriginalLine capsules cost around $0.70-$0.85 per capsule.

VertuoLine capsules cost around $0.90-$1.25 per capsule.

Compared to all pod and capsule-based coffee makers, Nespresso is definitely on the pricier side (as the table below shows).

But OriginalLine owners have another option: 3rd-party OriginalLine compatible capsules. These can be purchased for as little as $0.35 per capsule from brands like Gourmesso. We prefer HiLine Coffee. They cost a little more than Gourmesso's dirt-cheap capsules, but they're freshly roasted and still cheaper than Nespresso brand capsules.

Capsule or PodCost, 1 ServingCost, 365 ServingsSavings Over Coffee Shop
Coffee Shop$3.50-$4.50$1,460$0
Nespresso Original$0.70-$0.85$292$1,168
Nespresso Vertuo$0.90-$1.25$402$1,058
Keurig K-Cup$0.35-$0.65$219$1,241

Your tastes may vary, but judging by espresso quality, capsule compatibility and cost, my recommendation is to stick with an OriginalLine machine.

Which Nespresso models are available?

For anyone who’s tried to decipher the myriad Keurig models, you’ll be happy to know there are far fewer Nespresso models.

By my count, there are 20+ different Nespresso machines across the OriginalLine and VertuoLine universes.

What are the difference between them all?

We break down the product specs in our post dedicated to comparing Nespresso machines, so check that out.

compare the best nespresso machines

At a glance, Nespresso’s machines will across the following major features:

  • OriginalLine vs VertuoLine
  • Water reservoir size
  • Brew sizes (some offer ristretto, lungo, or even long coffee)
  • Whether they come with an integrated frother (e.g., the Lattissima series)
  • Wireless app connectivity (e.g., the Prodigio)
  • Weight and dimensions
  • Power consumption

(Oh, and one model made Oprah’s Favorite Things of 2017.)

Nespresso VertuoLine vs Original: The Verdict

Nespresso VertuoLine vs Original: How are they different?

  • VertuoLine brews up to 17 oz coffees
  • VertuoLine incorporates capsule scanning technology
  • VertuoLine capsules cost more and you can’t find 3rd party alternatives
  • VertuoLine uses Centrifusion (rapid spinning) to extract your coffee; no pump
  • VertuoLine uses lower temperature water to extract

My recommendation: Stick with the OriginalLine machine. Generally they have a lower cost to acquire and use less restrictive and cheaper capsules, and I think they make a better espresso beverage with a more authentic crema than VertuoLine machines.

My favorite Nespresso OriginalLine machine is the Nespresso CitiZ.