What Makes Nespresso Vertuo Coffee Machines Unique?

Electric coffee makers are nothing new, with push-button technology making mad-dash mornings a little bit easier. But not all machines are equal, depending on your idea of the perfect cup of java. When coffee capsules, and the machines that power them, started landing in kitchens across the globe, it was transformative for a lot of reasons. Ease of function was certainly a major factor, but the quality of coffee in the capsules tended to be high, coming from major players such as Keurig, Nestle, and even Starbucks via its Nespresso collaboration. 

But Nespresso revealed an even bigger fish in the technology pond when it introduced its Vertuo line of machines and coffees in 2014. Like the original Nespresso machines, the Vertuo delivers coffee via miniature enclosed "cups" of ground coffee, commonly known as capsules or pods. But Nespresso's coffee capsules created for Vertuo machines are considerably larger, made of metal, and have a round shape. These pods come with barcodes imprinted on the rims, which are part of the Vertuo machine's unique patented  Centrifusion extraction technology. 

After placing a pod into the machine's dedicated holder and closing the top, it locks into position, and with the push of a button, a whirlwind of activity begins. It sounds like an energetic hum, but you'd imagine a raging force of nature, considering what's going on inside. Instead of extracting coffee using pumps like other pod-based coffee machines, Vertuo's Centrifusion involves thousands of spinning rotations and the transference of information from individualized barcodes. Believe it or not, you get a highly personalized cup of coffee with no extra programming.

It's all about the barcodes with Nespresso's Vertuo machines

With up to 7,000 revolutions every minute, Nespresso Vertuo machines read the barcode on the rim of the pod, which identifies the kind of coffee within and produces the correct amount of pressure, water, temperature, and infusion time, resulting in a perfect cup of coffee. Some pods are made for concentrated espresso drinks with single or double shots, while others produce standard and flavored cups of coffee, which use more or less water depending on your preferred cup size and coffee strength. The result is a custom cup of coffee that's based on the type of pod, rather than by pushing buttons or programming in the options. 

One thing that's surprising to Vertuo newbies is the layer of natural crema that tops the coffee or espresso drink as it pours into the cup. There's no milk involved; it comes naturally from the rotation speed and inherent qualities of the coffee itself as it's extracted using the Centrifusion technology. The amount of crema differs according to the type of coffee, with robusta beans producing more crema due to having more natural oils than arabica and other coffee bean varieties. 

Seven different Vertuo machines exist now, all using the same technology, with the priciest barista-style Creatista machine having an integrated milk wand for making lattes and cappuccinos. Because the barcodes are exclusive to Nespresso, it's hard to substitute off-brand capsules into the machine. But the company offers dozens of worldwide coffees, and Starbucks even has its own branded Vertuo pods as well.