November 30, 2022 6:51 AM   Subscribe

My best friend wants to get a Nespresso machine for his studio and I want to get it for him as a Xmas gift. Google is overwhelming me with options. Can you help?

BFF recently went to France for vacation and mentioned that in every Airbnb they stayed in there was a Nespresso machine. He wants to get one with a relatively low footprint (one cup at a time) for his studio.

BFF has been my hero this year in so many ways and I want to get this for him. I, however, haven't seen a Nespresso machine since I worked in an office with one three or so years ago, and that one was huge.

Ideally it would be a machine that can make an espresso shot but also make espresso-based drinks one cup at a time, using pods. (I'd also like to get him an assortment of pods).

I'm seeing a lot of options online at Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Williams Sonoma but I don't know what the best option would be. He doesn't have a ton of space in the studio and can't hook it up to any plumbing so it would have to be like one of those Keurig machines where you manually refill the water tank periodically.

I'd like to keep the cost under $250 if possible (not including shipping).

I'm not a coffee connoisseur by any means - my boyfriend and I are happy with our cheapy one-cup Keurig machine - so I am a little out of my depth here as to where to source and order this for my buddy. Any links or suggestions would be much appreciated.

posted by nayantara to Food & Drink (17 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: posters request -- frimble

I would go for the older models with the smaller cups. I bought the newer ones with the large pods for the cottage and it's no better, but the pods are way more expensive. One of the basic ones works just great and should only be around $100.
posted by dripdripdrop at 7:08 AM on November 30, 2022

Best answer: I live in Switzerland, where Nespresso is pervasive.

Assuming your friend is not looking to make enough coffees for more than 2-3 people at any given point of time here is what I would do.

Get the smallest footprint machine they offer in a colour your friend will like. If your friend likes things like cappucino consider also getting a milk frother.

Then go to Nespresso's homepage and look at the coffees. They do 'assortments' of pods where you get like 3-5 tubes of pods. Each tube contains 10 pods. That way you can get your friend a variety. They are bound to like some of them.

Should be imminently feasible within your budget.

The huge, plumbed in machines are for commercial/office use. They are much more expensive and use different pods.

Don't get the ones that use the large pods/for mugs of coffee.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:11 AM on November 30, 2022

Just to be clear - get a machine for espresso, not the newer ones with the larger pods. At a push, your friend can just push the button again and have another load of water go through the same, small espresso or lungo pod.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:13 AM on November 30, 2022

Best answer: +1 to getting the older models with the "Originaline" pods. When I bought mine, I recall finding out that they are all pretty much the same inside and repackaged by different brands. The big difference is features for milk (steamer, automatic lattes, etc). For a basic espresso model, any of them will work.

Also, Wirecutter has picks.
posted by AaRdVarK at 7:21 AM on November 30, 2022

I have this model and love it, it was second hand when I got it about three years ago and it's still working perfectly. My biggest tip just looking at the site is get one ordered ASAP, their black Friday deals are really really good and will put you way under budget instead of at top of budget. It has a refillable water tank that lasts about 10 drinks, and the little pods go into a bin you don't have to empty every time, so it would be perfect for a studio/away from a kitchen or sink.

If you're feeling especially nice, a standalone milk frother/heater is lovely to add to something like this if the black friday sale makes it within budget.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 7:43 AM on November 30, 2022

The resulting cup of espresso is the same regardless of the model - I'd go with the cheapest option (Pixie) and throw in the Aerocino milk frother as a bonue.
posted by tmharris65 at 8:01 AM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I bought a Breville Pixie Espresso Machine in 2020 and use it every day, would buy another. It's simple, small, and reliable.

The big question is Original vs. Vertuo pods. I see no reason to buy Vertuo. The other big question is whether you pay extra for a milk foamer. I wouldn't unless you're sure your BFF really wants steamed milk. (It's complicated and messy).

Beyond that the big difference in the variety of machines is in how well it's built and exactly how convenient the water filling is. I'm happy with my Breville Pixie.

For pods, I regularly order this five pack. Honestly they taste the same to me. These flavored coffees are OK if that's someone's thing; the flavors are subtle and not sweetened.

Throw in some recycling bags while you're at it. Recycling is free; you collect used pods in a plastic bag and send them back UPS, no charge.
posted by Nelson at 8:05 AM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Original, we've had one for about a year (not a model I see on the site currently) and we've been very happy with it. These pods are a fun variety to get samples of.
posted by brilliantine at 8:28 AM on November 30, 2022

Ah, a question made for me personally! I am in your friend's boat, the ubiquity in France is exactly what spurred me to get one. First choice to make is capsule type, as others have said you want the "Originaline". The newer one can hold more coffee, so for American coffee it is better, but the capsules are stupidly expensive and use even stupider digital rights management to prevent third-party capsules.

Part of the confusion is that Nestle licensed a number of different manufacturers to make the machines. I have the De'Longhi Inissia, which is not available from Nestle anymore. But it has a small footprint, easy operation, a beautiful design, and has been extremely reliable. You can get it from other retailers. As noted, the 19 bar pressure and mechanism are the same for all models with "Nespresso" printed on the case, so feel free to get the one that fits the space and style you are looking for.

The capsules you can get from anywhere, though I would note that with inflation the price for third-party compatible capsules has surged, while Nestle capsules have more or less remained the same, at least in the US. If your friend likes the French style, be sure to get a medium roast, many of the capsules on the US market, like Peets, Target store brand, and Starbucks have very dark roasts. I find Columbian arabica capsules tend to have that balanced feel that I associate with France. But trying different ones out is part of the fun!
posted by wnissen at 9:17 AM on November 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

James Hoffmann has reactions to the whole line of Nespresso pods. (So does Hames Joffmann.)

Are you open to alternative capsule solutions?

There are a handful of specialty/third-wave rosters making pods and other single-serve coffee devices; whatever machine you go with, I highly recommend checking out third-party roasters instead of increasing Nestle’s dominance of the coffee economy.
posted by supercres at 10:51 AM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

(One high-end example. I know nothing about it but it seems well-regarded by folks I more or less trust.)
posted by supercres at 10:55 AM on November 30, 2022

I've got a Nespresso Vertuo machine. If I had looked into things more before I got it I probably would have gotten an original line one instead so that I could get pods from different suppliers. That being said I'm happy with the whole thing. I'd imagine that all the machines that your BFF saw were just the Keurig-type ones where you don't hook it up to the plumbing and it can only make one cup at a time.

Currently on their Canadian site they are offering up to $100 off a machine plus 50 free pods. I think in the past I have seen offers where they give up to 100 pods with a machine purchase or a free machine if you buy 100-200 pods. So whatever you do don't pay regular price for a machine.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:17 PM on November 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It seems that Nespresso is really pushing the Vertuo machine, and the cost difference shows! It is true that the original has cheaper pods- including many other vendors who now make the pods, and I do love my original machine, still going strong almost 10 years after I purchased it. However, my roommate brought a Vertuo when she moved in, and I think it is a very good machine, and I enjoy the variety of sizes it can make vs. the original that only does espresso shots. I think either would be a great gift, and as many have said there are a lot of variety packs to purchase to go along with the machine. If cost is a consideration, the Vertuo is the way to go. I was originally sold on Nespresso machines after an Italian Artist in Boston had one in her studio and served them during her open studio. The crema on each cup is as close to perfect as any espresso I have ever had, and I am a real coffee snob.
posted by momochan at 1:44 PM on November 30, 2022

We have a De'Longhi Nespresso Machine that we've been using for a couple of years without incident. It uses the original pods.

We originally (in 2013) had the Nespresso frother combined with the Nespresso coffee machine, but the frother died in about a year and got replaced by this Breville frother which is still going strong. The Nespresso coffee machine itself lasted around 7 years.
posted by elmay at 4:30 PM on November 30, 2022

I have bought 2 nespresso machines from Costco. Classic small pods (not Vertuo). I highly recommend them.

One can do American XL which is a nice feature.
posted by KevCed at 6:08 PM on November 30, 2022

Counterpoint to the Vertuo suggestion. Because the pods are proprietary (they even have a barcode) that could be expensive for your friend. I'm currently in an apartment in Europe and we have the Dolce Gusto system in our rental. TBH it is a real pain in the butt when you just want something quick & widely available from the shops. I myself would grab an original system.
posted by socky_puppy at 11:40 PM on November 30, 2022

Daily homemade Nespresso latte maker here: I'm with Any Portmanteau in a Storm in that I have a Vertuo and it is just as good for the quality of espresso as old-school Nespresso, but you are limited in the choice of pods and need to mail-order from Nespresso or go to a Nespresso store and order pods like you're asking for contraceptives in the 1960s. If your friend only drinks espresso, the Vertuo has capabilities they won't be using and the pods are more expensive/inconvenient to purchase, and have less variety.

Also seconding the Breville frother. The surfaces of the Nespresso Aeroccino tended to gum up with milk residue in my experience.
posted by cardboard at 4:32 AM on December 2, 2022

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