Best Nespresso pod machines 2019: coffee made so simple

The market leading capsule coffee maker comes in many flavours. Which is right for you?

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Nespresso is like the Apple or Manchester United of coffee. You might not like it, but you have to admit that a lot of people do. 

That's because, if you can get past the high-ish price of the pods, and the amount of waste that results from using them, Nespresso is a great system. 

In fact, if you love espresso coffee but can’t be arsed with messing around with coffee beans and getting hit-and-miss results, we'd say a capsule-based machine is the best way to go.

Nespresso produces consistently good results, there’s minimal mess involved, and, since a series of lawsuits, the choice of pods from third parties is wide, and growing.

What is the best Nespresso machine?

Given that all Nespresso machines use the same core system to produce essentially identical tasting coffee, it's not difficult to recommend a more reasonably priced model: the Krups Essenza Mini

For under £100, the Krups is attractive enough, even if it's not a work of industrial art like the Dualit or Sage machines, and it produces consistently excellent results. There's no milk frother included with it, but you can always buy your own.

How to buy the best Nespresso machine

Nespresso pods are smaller than those by other coffee capsule brands like Lavazza and Illy, with around five grams of coffee per capsule. So if you like a decent caffeine hit first thing then I’d advise using two pods, one after another.

However, finding the right blend to suit your palette requires sipping through a chocolate box assortment of 29 different flavours and intensities with names like Arpeggio, Kazaar, Bukeela, Roma and Risretto. And that’s just Nespresso’s own selection. 

Look online and in many supermarkets, and you’ll find a host of artisan coffee providers offering their own Nespresso-compatible blends. For instance, UK sells a range of Nespresso compatible pods filled with an interesting variety of bean blends, while Colonna does everything from high-quality espresso to full-on, rare, artisan beans for coffee connoisseurs. And in compostable pods, to boot.

Most of the Nespresso machines reviewed here come with a free selection box of 16 different flavours and blends. The general rule of thumb is that the darker the pod colour, the stronger the blend.

At Nespresso’s own website, every variety is explained in detail. You can even set your own search parameters like intensity, cup size and whether you prefer a fruity, balanced or more intense flavour. Expect to pay between 31p and 39p per capsule.

Most Nespresso machines are sold through the Nespresso website and at stores like John Lewis and Amazon. Some machines are Nespresso branded and made by Eugster/Frismag while others are produced under license by well-known companies like Krups, Sage, Magimix, KitchenAid and De’Longhi.

Machines like the fancy-pants Sage Creatista come with milk frothing systems, but if you’re looking for a simple no-frills budget option then check out the excellent new Krups Essenza Mini. And if you travel a lot and simply can’t survive without a proper morning caffeine hit then make the portable Wacaco Minipresso NS your first port of call. Finally, for those who insist on having their lives tethered to a smartphone app, the Magimix Prodigio pushes all the buttons.

Rest assured that all these models are dead easy to use. Simply drop in a pod, hit the button and out pops a stream of crema-topped black gold every bit as rich and aromatic as the last one.

The best Nespresso machines, in order

1. Krups Essenza Mini

Best affordable Nespresso machine

Width: 8.4cm
Reservoir: 0.6 litres
Frother: No
Reasons to buy
+Great coffee, great price
Reasons to avoid
-No milk frother

This writer has tested and owned innumerable espresso machines over the years, both standard and pod based, and can vouch that Krups machines are among the most reliable and durable.

This elegant, entry-level Krups unit is just 8.4cm wide and perfect for even the smallest of kitchen worktops. It couldn’t be easier and more practical to use. Simply place an espresso cup under the spout, lift the lever, insert a pod and hit either the one-cup or two-cup button. You don’t even need to stand around waiting for the machine to heat up since the coffee is dispensed automatically as soon the boiler reaches optimum temperature, which takes less than two minutes.

Granted, the small used capsule collector fills up pretty quickly but that’s hardly a hassle given that all it takes is to slide out the drawer and empty the contents into the recycling bin.

This slim, keenly-priced gem produces an excellent espresso replete with a decent head of crema. But, as is so often the case with the Nespresso brand, if you like your coffee to pack a palette-smacking punch, you may need to use two pods at a time.

2. Sage Creatista Black

Best high-end Nespresso machine

Width: 17.7cm
Reservoir: 1.5 litres
Frother: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Intuitive controls+Great espresso options+Well built
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive, of course

At the other end of the scale, here’s Sage’s connoisseur entry to the Nespresso roster of third-party machines. The Creatista is superbly built and there’s a reassuringly large amount of metal used in the construction, but, holy mother of pearl, it’s an extraordinarily pricy thing.

What impresses most here is the typically Sage-like intuitive interface, which is so easy to use my cat managed to whip up a flat white without even looking at the instruction manual. There’s an LED panel on top that displays one of eight coffee styles from short-shot ristretto to latte macchiato. Just choose an option and let it do its stuff.

The milk foaming wand is also excellent and almost entirely automatic – simply set the amount of froth required and hit the button for a Matterhorn-like peak of rich, luxuriously creamy froth.

3. Wacaco Minipresso NS

Best portable Nespresso machine

Width: 6cm
Reservoir: One cup
Frother: No
Reasons to buy
+Truly portable+Makes excellent espresso
Reasons to avoid
-Requires strong fingers-A bit fiddly to use

This portable model produces espressos as rich and aromatic as any of the kitchen-bound Nespresso machines.

Just fill the small chamber with hot water (most hotels have a kettle in the room), slap in a pod, seal the lid and add a good dose of hand pressure to squeeze the piston closed. Voila, instant espresso replete with a proper dollop of crema.

If hotel coffee rarely meets your high expectations, you’re out camping in the wilds or visiting a relative who only drinks instant dishwater, pop one of these in the shoulder bag and you’ll never be without a proper caffeine fix. Highly recommended.

4. Dualit Classic 85170

The most stylish Nespresso machine

Width: 17.1cm
Reservoir: 1.2 litres
Frother: No
Reasons to buy
+Great looks+Uses both Dualit and Nespresso pods
Reasons to avoid
-Hard to keep clean-Pricey

This stylish rectangular chunk looks like it’s swathed in chrome but closer inspection reveals it’s actually mirrored plastic. This is easy to clean, but also easy to get mucky: it attracts fingerprints like a cow pat attracts flies.

Dualit makes its own coffee and tea pods and they look remarkably like those made by Nespresso, save an indent or two. That means you don’t have to stick to Dualit’s range of blends (six coffees and five teas at 29p each) because the machine is compatible with Nespresso capsules, too.

Keeping to the industrial retro look, the old-fashioned on/off switch here looks like something you’d expect to see on a 1970s hi-fi system. On the right you’ll find two buttons. Tap the top one and out pops a short espresso. Tap twice and it deposits a lungo/Americano/'large coffee'. The lower button is for making tea though why you’d want to make tea from a pod is beyond me.

If you’re a fan of Dualit gear or simply want a Nespresso-compatible machine that looks the bee’s knees and makes a great little espresso, this one passes much muster.

5. Magimix Prodigio

Best Nespresso machine for tech heads

Width: 21.8cm
Reservoir: 0.8 litres
Frother: Optional
Reasons to buy
+Aeroccino milk frother+Endorsed by dreamy George Clooney+Bluetooth control
Reasons to avoid
-A tad gimmicky, perhaps?

For technophiles who simply must have their lives controlled by AI, this model comes with a smartphone app that tells you when to top up the 800ml water tank, when to empty the 19-capacity used capsule bin and when to descale. It also keeps track of how many pods you’ve used and when to order some more via a simple tap of the ‘give yet more dosh to Nestlé now’ button.

The Prodigio also lets you set a timer or brew up from the couch or your bed. Obviously, you will first have to load a pod, and then get off your jacksy to actually collect the coffee, so maybe this feature isn’t quite so amazing.

As a cappuccino lover, I’d recommend getting the Prodigio & Milk version (£220), because then you get an Aeroccino milk frother too. However, espresso purists can always buy one without the frother.

6. KitchenAid Artisan 5KES0503

Best Nespresso machine for larger kitchens

Width: 20.8cm
Reservoir: 1.4 litres
Frother: No
Reasons to buy
+Large water tank+Sexy, enamelled exterior+Six brew settings
Reasons to avoid
-Rather large

This 9-kilo kitchen cracker sports all the tell-tale olde-worlde design flourishes of KitchenAid's vast range of Artisan food prep machines: the heavyweight die-cast construction; the curved enamelled exterior; the reliable componentry, it’s all here. 

It’s a big thing, mind – arguably somewhat larger than it needs to be – so clear the worktop of all those other small kitchen appliances you’ve hardly used because you’re likely to use this one every day.

The sturdy Artisan warms up in a thrice and comes with a removable 1.4-litre water reservoir and a large used-capsule container with capacity for up to 14 expended Nespresso pods.

The espresso extraction process is a breeze: lift the oversized lever, load your favourite blend of Nespresso, pull down on the lever, choose between the six pre-programmed extraction settings and hit the button. Setting one produces a short, powerful hit while setting six is for those who like a long, mild brew. 

Do you like a choice of colours? Well this one is available in six sexy hues.