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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, you need to dig a little deeper. Read along while we explore what’s happening under that sleek exterior.

How Does Nespresso Work
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Nespresso Original Line: All About That Pressure

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

You insert a Nespresso-compatible capsule and close the machine. The pod is punctured three times on the top side. When you choose your drink size, the machine pumps the correct amount of water from the reservoir to the capsule.

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

This 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 reach your waiting cup.

As if brewer weren’t easy enough, clean-up is even simpler. When you open any Nespresso machine to insert a new capsule, the machine automatically ejects the used pod into a built-in waste bin.

Nespresso VertuoLine: The Magic of Centrifugal Force

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

With a Vertuo model, 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 Line, a fact that’s immediately clear from the different pod shapes. While Original Line capsules resemble small cups, the Vertuo capsules are dome-shaped.

During brewing, the machine 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 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 between Nespresso Vertuo and Original lines.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Now you know what is 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. You don’t even need to understand centrifugal forces to insert a capsule and enjoy a delicious espresso.

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. 

Yes, the Nespresso VertuoLine does make regular coffee, though unlike your average drip coffee, it’s topped with a foamy layer of crema. The Nespresso 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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