We've long thought the Nespresso Vertuo Plus from Magimix or Krups – they're essentially the same thing, minor aesthetic differences aside – is the Best capsule coffee machine you can buy. If you like the taste and convenience of Nespresso but think the pods are too small for a knock-your-socks-off dose of caffeine, consider the alternative, Nespresso Vertuo system. Where the contents of a standard Nespresso capsule weigh in at a pretty paltry four grams, a single-shot Vertuo espresso capsule contains a much more substantial seven grams, on par with Lavazza Modo Mio and Illy. But it doesn’t stop there because the whole concept of the Vertuo system is to provide a range of coffee styles and five different pod sizes to suit everyone.
To clear up a bit of a conundrum regarding the Vertuo Plus, there are, as noted, two allegedly different machines available: Krups XN903840 and Magimix M600. Aside from some negligibly small differences in dimensions and exterior design, the two machines look very similar and are indeed the same under the bonnet. They were both almost certainly manufactured by the same Swiss company, Eugster/Frismag.
You can buy the Nespresso Vertuo Plus – or VertuoPlus as it's sometimes styled – directly from Nespresso or from stores like John Lewis and Currys. We received the Magimix model so that’s the one we’ll concentrate on here.
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Nespresso VertuoPlus review: design and features
Measuring 14.22cm in width, 32.5cm in depth and 42.3cm in height, the Magimix VertuoPlus takes up very little room on the worktop. Its extra large 1.8-litre water reservoir swivels on a plinth so you can position it to the side of the machine for easier access or, for better space saving, directly behind it. Most capsule coffee machines have relatively small used-capsule containers but this one has space for 10 large or 15 smaller espresso pods and that’s a big bonus.
Swathed in shiny plastic (the kind that easily attracts dust) and available in either piano black, titanium or silver, the VertuoPlus is one of the most simplified coffee capsule machines on the market. To use, tap the silver bar on the front and the motorised lid opens automatically. Now drop in a capsule, tap the silver bar again to close it and press the top button. A bar code on the capsule instructs the machine’s processor to extract the correct measure but you can always stop it mid way or press the button again for a longer extraction. And that’s it – just one do-it-all button for simplified coffee production time after time.
This particular model doesn’t come with a milk frother but, for around £50 more, you can always purchase the excellent Aeroccino 3.
Nespresso VertuoPlus review: how it works
Unlike the majority of espresso capsule machines that use water pressure during the extraction process, this one uses both pressure and centrifugal forces that spin the capsule at up to 7,000 revs per minute. The result is a smooth albeit slightly foamy crema that’s almost as deep as the coffee. Indeed, if you add a splash of warm milk and stir, it’s like drinking a smooth cappuccino.
Rather cleverly, each recyclable foil-covered pod is equipped with a barcode that tailors the size of extraction. Hence, if you put in a small single espresso capsule, it’ll dispense just the right amount of black gold to fill a standard espresso cup. Conversely, if you slap in a larger Alto pod, it’ll extract a full mug’s worth. This make the system perfect for families with different coffee requirements.
Nespresso Vertuo Plus review: the capsules
The Vertuo range is made up of three different sized capsules capable of delivering five different types of extraction: Espresso, Double Espresso, Gran Lungo, Mug and extra large Alto. The single-shot Espresso capsule produces 40ml of coffee, the Double Espresso 80ml, the Gran Lungo 150ml, the Mug 230ml and the Alto a whopping 414ml. As explained above, each capsule comes with a different barcode which the machine reads before extracting the perfect dose.
To make matters a little confusing, some capsules are available in more flavours (or aromas) than others. For instance, the Mug range comes in 11 flavours while the single Espresso only has four and the Double Espresso just two. However, the good news is that there are 29 aromas across the entire range of pods, so chances are you’ll always find the blend that’s right for you.
It has to be said that, while some of the flavours are rich and aromatic, others are too chocolaty or tainted with some other added ingredient. This writer prefers standard single-shot espressos so I stick rigidly to the strongest Diavolitto blend (intensity 11) which is wonderfully aromatic with a great palette-smacking kick.
Vertuo capsules retail between 39p (single espresso) and 67p (Alto). Not cheap, granted, but there’s nothing better out there for outright convenience and versatility. It's worth noting that unlike the standard sized Nespresso capsules, these Vertuo ones don't turn up in most supermarkets. Although at the moment, maybe that is not so much of an issue.
Nespresso VertuoPlus review: verdict
If you prefer the expedience of capsule-based espresso then this model comes highly recommended. It’s an absolute doddle to use, easy to keep clean and it produces brilliant espressos (and a wide range of other coffee styles) with consummate ease.