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How Does a Nespresso Machine Work?

Brewing a Nespresso drink couldn’t be easier. Insert the capsule, choose your drink size, and let the machine do the rest.

But to really understand your Nespresso machine and how it works, you need to dig a little deeper. Read along while we explore what’s happening under that sleek exterior.

How Do Nespresso Machines Work
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Original Line: All About That Pressure

Each Nespresso Original espresso machine has a unique design and configuration, but for the most part, they all work the same way.

With this line of Nespresso espresso machines, you insert a compatible capsule and close the machine. The pod is punctured three times on the top side. When you choose your drink size, the coffee machine pumps the correct amount of water from the water tank to the capsule.

The water line is curled around a heating element, ensuring the water reaches perfect brewing temperature on its journey.

The heated water is pumped into the capsule under high pressure until the broad, foil-covered side of the capsule bursts, releasing rich, crema-topped espresso. A filter inside the capsule ensures that no coffee grounds get into your cup of coffee.

As if using these single-serve brewers isn’t easy enough, clean-up is even simpler. When you open any Nespresso machine to insert a new capsule, the coffee machine automatically ejects the used pod into a built-in waste bin.

VertuoLine: The Magic of Centrifugal Force

It might not seem possible, but Nespresso has managed to make their new VertuoLine Nespresso machines EVEN EASIER to work with. How? Let me explain.

With these Nespresso coffee machines, you don’t even need to push a button to select your drink size. Instead, each Vertuo capsule has a barcode. When you insert the capsule and close the machine, it reads that barcode, and the brewer automatically optimizes brewing parameters for that particular coffee. 

I don’t mean it just adjusts the volume of water for a certain drink size. It also alters brewing temperature, and flow rate, which experts agree should vary depending on the roast (1).

Hotter water is not always best. What we want is water in the ideal temperature range for the level of roast of the coffee we are brewing.

So, the hotter, the better? Not really. And Nespresso knows it.

The Vertuo’s extraction process is also quite different from the pressure-based system of the Original Nespresso Line, a fact that’s immediately clear from the different pod shapes. While Original Line Nespresso capsules resemble small cups, the Vertuo Nespresso pods are dome-shaped.

During brewing, this Nespresso brand coffee maker line injects hot water into the flat top of the pod. The pod is then spun at 7000 rpm to infuse the water and ground coffee beans thoroughly. It then flows out via centrifugal force through a series of punctures around the edge of the capsule. 

This technology, which Nespresso calls “centrifugation,” is nicely demonstrated in this video:

With the centrifugation system, you can make larger coffees up to 14 ounces, and your drinker will have a thicker layer of crema.

Here’s a more detailed comparison both lines.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Now you know what is in your Nespresso machine and what’s really going on inside it. It’s a true testament to technology enhancing our lives right under our noses. Their machines are so easy-to use you don’t even need to understand centrifugal forces to insert coffee capsules and enjoy a delicious espresso or a good cup of coffee.

FAQs

The difference between Nespresso vs Keurig is that the former makes espresso (and coffee, in the case of VertuoLine) while the latter makes drip coffee. Nespresso also uses hermetically sealed aluminium capsules that are superior to Keurig’s plastic K-Cups.

Nespresso does make real espresso, according to many definitions of the drink. However, espresso purists will tell you it’s not the same as espresso. It lacks the depth and complexity of flavor available from freshly ground beans and drinks made with a proper espresso machine. 

Yes, the Nespresso VertuoLine does make regular coffee, though unlike your average drip coffee, it’s topped with a foamy layer of crema. The Original Line doesn’t make coffee, but you can use it to make a tasty Americano.

  1. Randolph, J. (2019, August 9). How to Choose Brewing Temperatures for Different Roast Levels. Retrieved from https://fellowproducts.com/blogs/learn/how-to-choose-water-temperature-for-different-roast-level
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I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.

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