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I like my coffee every which way, usually black and otherwise fitting my setting and mood. That is: Hot when it’s cold, cold when it’s hot, simple during work and maybe indulgent when I have time to appreciate it. To that end, I grabbed Nespresso’s VertuoPlus (with Frother) late in 2019, trialing a “pick up” at Macy’s I’m not likely to repeat — online shopping is quite fine (especially now, of course).
And it’s become one of my favorite coffee makers, more than a year in, both for its consistent simplicity and potential complexity: Your coffee is entirely in your hands and won’t require too much work if you don’t want it to. If you’re a coffee freak (or self-labeled aficionado), you probably want to grind, measure and perfectly soak your coffee with each brew for the optimal cup. Good on you. If you’re like me and want good, strong coffee that might not be peak but is certainly and unmistakably coffee-y, I recommend heading the way of a single-serve coffee maker like the Nespresso VertuoPlus (or competitors like Keurig, Hamilton Beach and Instant Pot cousin Instant Pod).
Even when I’m in the mood for something more complex and put together, I can accomplish some semblance of it at home with the VertuoPlus — the frother-inclusive edition helps in this department, as do Nespresso's fancier flavors — or call it a day and head to a coffee shop where a trained brewer can handle the logistics.
The elegant coffee maker from Nespresso, designed in partnership with DeLonghi, holds a 4.6-star average rating from more than 5,200 reviewers on Amazon (over 80 percent of whom gave it five stars). It’s compact, looks great on a counter and is really and very easy to use (and upkeep).
Nespresso’s VertuoPlus brews single-serve capsules from the brand's Vertuo line (as opposed to its older-but-still-available line of Original capsules. There are many, many options to choose from, from coffee to espresso and from straightforward to infused. Nespresso's cold brew-first capsules are what my wife and I bought and drank consistently through last year's initial summer months. On the Nespresso site, you can scroll your many options, filtering by:
- Intensity: Options range from one to 14
- Size: Espresso (1.35 ounces), Double Espresso (2.7 ounces), Mug (7.7 ounces), Alto (14 ounces), etc.
- Aromatic profile: Fruity or Intense
You buy the capsules from Nespresso or other retailers like Target, Amazon, Macy’s, Walmart and others. They range from just under a dollar each to just above a dollar, striking at one of the core arguments to go with a coffee maker: It’s ultimately a cost-savings measure. It’s got nothing on a French press, of course, or brewing your own pots of coffee. Against those, its value pivots to comfort and ease. But in comparison with store-bought coffee, cups of coffee on this level and at this price make for a great deal. Here are a few reasons why:
- Automation. The coffee maker identifies the amount of water (and air, for crema, a finishing froth that really accentuates your coffee and, honestly, makes it feel slightly more special) your capsule needs and automatically adjusts its output.
- Simple interface. That means you’re pressing just one button, up top — very easy to use.
- Infrequent recharging and versatile design. The 60-ounce water reservoir sits on a rotating base at the back of the slim coffee maker, so you can move it wherever it fits best in your space.
- Speed. When you open the Nespresso top, it begins warming up and is ready to brew in less than half a minute.
Finally: This coffee maker looks really good. It’s not that aesthetics completely make products, but they certainly help when you’re buying in tandem with your partner and your partner values design. To that end, I suggest you consider cranking up looks in the features you’re shopping for when on the prowl for your next coffee maker — and really for anything else, given those options fall within your desired price point.
Other single-serve coffee makers to consider
There are plenty of alternative single-serve coffee makers out there, at different price points and in different styles (for some reason, matte black is not a universally sought-after color). To give you an idea of the latest options, I laid out a few below.
This single serve coffee maker from Keurig goes for less than $120 and brews different K-Cup sizes. It sports a 48-ounce water reservoir and has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 6,700 reviewers on Wayfair.
Forget cups entirely with a programmable coffee maker that deems “single-serve” not a cup but a lesser amount of ground coffee. You can choose between brewing one cup or 12 into a mug or stainless steel carafe in this highly-rated coffee maker. The Hamilton Beach machine also lets you choose your coffee's strength and can keep the pot hot with a warming rack. Over 25,500 reviewers on Amazon left it a 4.6-star average rating.
From the makers of your favorite pressure cooker Instant Pot is a coffee maker that’s already garnered strong reviews and works with both K-Cups and Nespresso capsules (note that’s Original Nespresso capsules, not Vertuo ones). You choose between the two, as well as your preferred cup size, and rely on a 68-ounce water reservoir.
This Nescafé coffee machine is an Amazon bestseller when it comes to espresso machine and coffeemaker combos. It’s compatible with Nescafé Dolce Gusto capsules and easy to use. To make drinks, you just move the toggle-stick to match the LED bars on your chosen capsule, pick between cold or hot and then hit brew. It’s got a 4.5-star average rating from over 1,100 reviewers on Amazon.