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What is a Nespresso Machine & How Does It Work?

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A Nespresso machine is a device for making instant cups of coffee at the touch of a button. All you need to do is insert a coffee pod and press a button to get your coffee drink.

I’ve been using Nespresso machines for many years so I’m very familiar with their workings. That’s why I’m going to tell you all about them and how they work. 

Each machine works a little differently so I’m going to be giving you an overview of the workings of each of them.

I’ll be explaining the following subjects in this article:

So let’s begin.

Key Takeaways

  • Nespresso machines are devices used for making instant cups of coffee
  • Inserting a pod and pressing a button is all you need to do to get your cup 
  • Original Nespresso machines force hot water through a pod to brew coffee
  • High water pressure and hot water temperature crafts a great brew
  • Vertuo coffee machines use centrifusion technology for the brew

What is a Nespresso Machine?

A Nespresso machine is a popular kitchen appliance designed for making a wide range of coffee drinks at home with ease. 

It’s created by Nestlé which means it can be trusted. And over the years, it’s gained immense popularity for its user friendly operation and consistent coffee quality.

These machines use specially designed coffee capsules which contain coffee grounds. That allows users to brew espresso or other coffee drinks with just the press of a button. 

Nespresso machines come in various models, from basic espresso makers to more advanced models that can brew multiple coffee types. These include cappuccinos, mochas and more.

How Original Nespresso Machines Work

The traditional, original Nespresso machines work by forcing hot water into the Nespresso pod, and this brews the coffee. Let’s take a look at how that works:

  • Step 1: The Nespresso machine begins to heat the water that you put into the tank to the desired temperature. This happens super quickly thanks to clever induction heating inside the machine.
  • Step 2: The machine keeps the water at the optimum temperature until you begin the brewing process (after adding the pot, placing a cup under the outlet and pressing the brew button.
  • Step 3: The machine will then puncture the coffee pod so that it can get water through it. After this, it’ll release the water at high pressure into the pod.
  • Step 4: Your coffee pours into a cup, and this takes around 20 seconds.
  • Step 5: You’ll then hear the coffee machine forcing air through the pipes to ensure that no leftover, residue coffee is left behind.
  • Step 6:After that, it’ll discard the pod by pushing it into the internal waste bin (which you’ll need to remember to empty every now and then, by the way!).

The exact amount of pressure required is 19 bars. This is what Nespresso has calculated the sweet spot to be, as anything less than this wouldn’t brew the coffee properly but anything more than this could cause damage to the capsule and again, not brew it properly.

The coffee inside the original Nespresso pods (which won’t work with the newer, Vertuo machines, by the way) has to be super finely ground for this process to work. If it were more coarse, the coffee wouldn’t extract correctly and you’d end up with a very watery cup of coffee.

If you have an original Nespresso machine (such as the Creatista or the Gran Lattissima), this is how your Nespresso machine works. 

How Vertuo Nespresso Machines Work

These days, the most popular Nespresso machines come from the Vertuo line. And the way these machines brew the coffee is quite a lot different to the original line.

These machines, launched in 2014, use a different technique altogether. The technology is based on something called centrifusion, which is a combination of the words ‘centrifugal’ and ‘infusion’.

That means it uses rapid rotation to brew your cup of coffee. But that doesn’t happen right away. Let’s see how the process looks.

  • Step 1: Once you’ve loaded up the pod and pressed the brew button to start the process, the Nespresso machine will add a tiny bit of water into the pod. 
  • Step 2:And the spinning starts, and fast! At peak speed, the pod will be rotating at 7000 times per minute with the water inside it. And this is exactly what creates the extraction. Very smart.
  • Step 3: Now, all you have to do is wait for the extraction to finish and your coffee will be poured. It’s super easy.

Is Vertuo the future?

This form of brewing was quite a technological breakthrough for Nespresso. It’s actually more efficient than the traditional method. This is because it doesn’t need to use as much heat, so it uses less energy overall.

The benefits don’t end there either. The overall taste is actually better because the immersion extraction gets more flavor out of the coffee. The overall product tastes like a great cup of French press coffee.

Another cool thing about the Vertuo line is that you don’t need to pick your drink size. The machine will know exactly what size is required as each pod has a barcode that the machine will recognize. 

It’s very fancy, but it also means that the machine is more consistent and is easier to use. And the barcode also controls other parameters such as the brewing temperature and flow rate. This means you’re going to get perfect coffee at the touch of a button each time. 

The only downside is that the process takes a whole minute, which is three times longer than the original Nespresso machine method. If you’re super impatient, this might not be the best option for you, but I think it’s worth the wait! 

You won’t find this technology on any other coffee machine in the world. It’s totally unique to Nespresso!

Using Your Nespresso Machine: A Brief Guide 

New Nespresso machine? The good news is that they’re super easy to use. But here’s a look at the steps on how to get up and running, just so that you can make sure you’re getting everything right. 

These instructions could vary between models but generally, there’s a lot of symmetry between the lines. So, the vast majority of processes will look like this…

1. Fill the Water Tank

You can usually detach the water tank from the back of the Nespresso machine by lifting it up slightly so that it clicks out of place. Take it to the tap, fill it to the fill line (at maximum, you can pour in less if you’re just making one cup of coffee) and then click it back into place. 

2. Load the Pod Up

Close and lock the machine into the ON position if it isn’t already and then open the top of it. Place your capsule into the machine (you’ll see which way it should go round because of the divot).

3. Choose Your Brew Size 

The machine will now begin to heat up the water. While this is happening, the white light will flash and then when it becomes steady, it means it’s ready to brew.

Some Nespresso machines will have a few different brew sizes to choose from and you can select your preference by pressing the respective button. The smaller button is best for espresso and the larger button is more like an Americano.

3. Lock the Machine

Twist the machine head into the lock position before you trigger the brew. Without doing this, you won’t be able to make the coffee as the machine needs to know that it’s fully prepared and ready to go. 

4. Press the ‘Brew Button’

Next, you’re going to need to put a mug under the outlet of your Nespresso machine and trigger the brewing cycle.

The big button in the center of your Nespresso machine is the one you need to press to do this. 

The process should take around 20 seconds, so sit back and wait for everything to be completed. 

You can also manually top up your coffee by pushing the button again if you want to squeeze a little more out of the pod. I wouldn’t recommend using the larger size twice in a row though, as this will probably leave you with quite a watery tasting coffee.

Extra Usage Tips

As well as the guide above, there are a few extra things you need to know about using your Nespresso machine. Make sure to stay tuned for these handy tips!

Use the right 

Nespresso classic pods cannot be used with Vertuo machines and vice versa. Make sure you order the right one!

Clean your machine every day or two

I recommend cleaning your Nespresso machine every couple of days if you use it a lot. This is going to keep the coffee tasting good and can even prolong the lifespan of your coffee machine. Find out more about what to do and how to do it here.

Know when to descale the machine

It’s also really important to descale your Nespresso machine every 6-12 months as well. How close to each end of the bracket depends on the water hardness in your area, how often you use the machine and a few other points too.

Descaling the Nespresso machine is one of the best ways to keep it operating as smoothly as possible. You can find out how to do this at the link above too.

How Nespresso Machines Work: FAQ

There’s always more to learn about how Nespresso machines work. So here are a couple of extra pieces of information you might want to think about.

What happens if my Nespresso machine stops working?

If you’re experiencing issues with your Nespresso machine, it could be one of a number of things.

But don’t worry. I put together a guide on how to troubleshoot and potentially fix these issues, and you can check it out here. 

Which type of coffee is best for Nespresso machines?

The beauty of Nespresso machines is that they’re super versatile, so brewing any time of coffee will work well.

Any coffee will taste great, so it’s down to your personal opinion as to which one to go for. Need help? Take a look at my directory of the best coffee here.

Last Thoughts on How Nespresso Machines Work

The two types of Nespresso machine work in very different ways. The original line is all about using hot water pressure to brew the coffee over a 20 second period. However, the newer, Vertuo line spins the pod around really quickly to create your brew.

The bottom line is that they both create great cups of coffee. The technology is impressive, and it’s really easy to brew a delicious cup at the touch of a button. 

If you don’t own a Nespresso machine already, it’s worth taking the time to think about which one is going to be best for you. I wrote a guide to the best Nespresso machines to help you make the right call. 

Photo of author


Tim Lee is, as you might have guessed the founder of He is a former barista and a professional web publisher. He has now combined his knowledge and expertise in both subjects to create
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