Thursday, January 6, 2022

Nespresso Vertuo Next Review

The Nespresso Vertuo Next and Aeroccino.

I love coffee. Since college my reliance on it has grown until now, as a nearly-finished grad student, it has become an essential part of my daily rhythm. Unfortunately, it's not easy to get a perfect cup of coffee at home, at least for me. Drip machines sometimes leave you with weak or plastic-y coffee, percolators sometimes burn the grounds, pour over is good but requires time and patience to be great. 

Enter the pod machines. Like many my first experience with them was Keurig, which at the time was a revelation. However, the machines were expensive and there was no way to recycle the pods. I never bought one for myself, but I do have fond memories of some of its offerings, namely the Newman's Own line of pods. 

I could never justify buying a Keurig machine though. It was good, but not quite good enough to move away from drip coffee. This article doesn't intend to compare Keurig and Nespresso, which I'm sure has been done by others already. Some points of comparison are necessary, but I'll try not to focus on that. Let's move on to the subject, then: it wasn't until this year that I received my first coffee pod machine (as a gift): the Nespresso Vertuo Next. 

What differentiates the Nespresso Vertuo from a Keurig machine is its ability to brew multiple kinds of coffee. Using a proprietary barcode printed on its pods, Nespresso Vertuo machines can determine how much water to use with a respective pod, which can contain traditional cups of coffee to espresso shots, Americanos, and more. The drawback to this barcode system is that you can't really use generic pods (like you can in Keurig machines), though some have discovered workarounds that you can attempt if you wish.

The coffee produced by the Vertuo Next is fantastic. The machine essentially spins the pod at a rapid velocity, infusing it with water such that it creates a layer of crema at the top of your coffee. Below the crema is heartily strong coffee--the extraction process really gets the most you can get out of the grounds. For some it might be too strong, indeed, it is far stronger than what you would get from a drip machine or from a pour over. If that is a problem, you can remedy it with a bit of cream and sugar. 

What I love about the Vertuo Next, which I suppose applies to all of the "Vertuo" systems, is its versatility. Not only can you brew coffee, but espresso as well. Coupled with the "Aeroccino" milk frothing device that you should definitely buy, this enables you to create lattes and cappuccinos that rival more expensive offerings at Starbucks or Peet's Coffee. Since getting the Vertuo Next I haven't purchased any coffee from them, which has saved me a lot of money despite the pods being rather expensive themselves ($1 - $1.10 a pod usually). 

Another problem that Nespresso solved compared to Keurig is the impact on the environment that disposable pods can have. Unlike Keurig pods, which are plastic and unable to be recycled, Nespresso pods are made entirely from aluminum. If you order from Nespresso directly, they will provide you with a large bag with UPS postage prepaid that allows you to ship your used pods to their recycling plant. This isn't a perfect solution, as I am sure many will still throw their pods in the trash, but it's a step forward. 

One of the major complaints I've seen about the Vertuo and Vertuo Next machines is their tendency to break. So far, I have not had any problems (knock on wood). What I imagine is happening is folks are being too rough on the machine. The locking mechanism supporting the pod requires two hands and a light touch to operate properly, for instance, and the water tank needs to be detached and re-attached with care. I can see how things might breakdown quickly if you treat the machine too roughly. I also advise using the self-cleaning function weekly at the very least--some I read only cleaned their machines every six months, which is a recipe for disaster and explains the problems they had with leaking and other blockages. 

Ultimately, if you drink coffee all the time and find yourself gracing the Starbucks drive-through a bit too often, I see no reason why you shouldn't consider a Nespresso Vertuo machine. It easily replaces store bought coffee and espresso drinks, with the exception being those extra sweet specialty drinks places like Starbucks make. For those of you whose go-to is black coffee, Americanos, coffee with cream, or a plain latte or cappuccino, the Vertuo covers all your needs. I'm certainly enjoying mine, and hope to continue benefitting from it for months and years to come. 

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