As a straightforward capsule coffee machine, the Nespresso Vertuo Pop excels – it’s fast and consistently delivers a decent cup. But its multifunction button makes tailoring your coffee harder to do, and the small water tank and limited space below the spout make brewing long drinks a challenge.
If you’re a long coffee drinker, shopping around for a pod machine can be frustrating. Many will only brew shorter drinks, leaving large cups only half full. This is where the Nespresso Vertuo system has found its niche, delivering lungos and mugs full of coffee as well as morning espressos.
The Nespresso Vertuo Pop is the smallest of the family at only 25cm tall, enabling it to tuck below wall cabinets or into a cupboard in the most compact of kitchens. And while it won’t deliver the largest sizes – you’ll need the Vertuo Next for the XL brews – it’ll still produce long drinks packed with plenty of flavour.
Design and build
0.6 litre water tank
Small countertop footprint
Single button operation
To say that the Nespresso Vertuo Pop is minimal is something of an understatement. Besides its diminutive height, it’s just 13.6cm wide (although the depth is 42.6cm) and weighs only 3.5kg. Looks-wise, those who like colour are in luck as there’s a choice of six shades, although one of those is black. The others are white, red, blue, yellow and aqua.
The 600ml water tank is parked neatly at the back, while the left side is home to an internal used capsule container, which slides or tips out for emptying. At the front, you’ll find an optional drip tray/cup platform, though as the spout is low to start with, you’d probably only use this to raise up espresso cups.
The top of the machine is where the action happens. If you’re not familiar with the locking system for capsules, the design can be perplexing at first – to insert a capsule, you’ll need to turn the lever to unlock, before pushing it again to access the chamber inside, then lowering the head and locking it all into place.
There’s a single button for all of the machine’s features, including descaling, something which, along with the multi-language manual, makes getting comfy with its functionality quite difficult. While everyday brewing requires one push and you’re done, there’s an explainer about what all the different light blinks mean and how to get into different menus that makes you wish they’d added one or two more buttons or lights to the sleek exterior.
Rachel Ogden / Foundry
For example, should you want more intense/shorter coffee to pair with milk, you’ll need to click twice on the button quickly – sometimes, we just weren’t fast enough.
Performance and features
Black coffee only
Four drink sizes
Noisy in use
Unsurprisingly for such a small machine, there’s no milk functionality on the Nespresso Vertuo Pop – it’s all about black coffee. Brewing is straightforward – each capsule has a barcode, which tells the machine how to make it, so there’s no need to select a preferred cup size.
Depending on the capsule inserted, it’ll make four drink sizes, ranging from espresso (40ml) to a mug (230ml). Although you can stop dispensing early by pushing the button or tapping it again for more water, you’ll need to be quick: you’re granted 45 seconds after brewing has finished to do so.
The capsules are brewed using what Nespresso calls “centrifusion” – it’s spun as the coffee is made – with a spin afterwards to dry the capsule, resulting in less wet mess than many other pod machines.
As the head of the machine is raised, the capsule is ejected backwards into the internal container. This means it’s a mess-free machine. There’s never any need to fish out used capsules with your fingers – they can be tipped straight out of the container without being touched.
The other beauty of this system is that you won’t have to empty water out of the used capsule container. However, centrifusion is a noisy process and certain to wake up other members of your household if you’re up and making coffee early.
We tried making coffee with both Gran Lungo (150ml) and Mug (230ml) sized capsules. We liked that the Vertuo Pop heated up in seconds (often less than the manufacturer’s estimate of 30 seconds) and that you could pop in a capsule and it would start brewing when it was ready.
However, what quickly became apparent is how limiting the machine’s water tank size was. If, for example, you make just two mugs of coffee, you won’t have enough water for a third without topping up the tank. And, should you take advantage of the ability to change the default dispensing amounts – the largest being 535ml – you will almost empty your tank in one go.
Another issue was the drip tray – it’s redundant unless you’re brewing into small cups, and even then struggles to stay attached to the machine – ours detached every time we moved the machine. Even without the drip tray, there’s not a lot of clearance below the spout for large mugs – we had to select those that would fit under as not all the mugs in our cupboard did.
This meant that once the cup was removed, we ended up with drips on the worktop.
Rachel Ogden / Foundry
Interestingly for an affordable coffee machine, the Vertuo Pop connects to the Nespresso app, which is easily done – but the reward is limited. You can’t tell it to start brewing at a certain time for example, or alter dispensing amounts from here.
What it mostly seems to do is allow system updates and tell you the status of the machine, although there are also handy videos under its help section, which are easier to follow than the included instructions.
Despite some shortcomings, the coffee made by the Vertuo Pop is perfectly good – not too hot, always with a frothy aromatic crema, and flavourful. Some of the capsules we tried had a slight bitter finish to them but always smelled enticing.
Brewing using the intense setting removed the bitter edge and brought out more of the coffee’s sweetness – we only wish it was simpler to select this every time.
Price and availability
The Vertuo Pop is widely available for £99-£100 in the UK. There’s little difference between most retailers’ standard prices but you can buy it from John Lewis (where, at the time of writing, you’ll also get 50 coffee capsules free), Argos and Very.
However, Amazon currently has a limited-time discount that’ll net you £10-£20 off, depending on the colour you want.
In the US, the Vertuo Pop+ is available only from Nespresso for $129.
If you prize consistency and convenience above all else, you’re sure to love the sheer simplicity of the Nespresso Vertuo Pop. Everything has been done for you, from handling the mess of capsules and deciding how much water to use, to turning itself off after two minutes.
And, while you may not have the space for one of the larger Vertuo machines, the Pop’s small size means it’s perfect for those with limited kitchen space or a home office.
However, like all Vertuo machines, you’re limited to compatible capsules, rather than the original Nespresso system, which now offers choice from other roasters.
In addition to this, by making the Vertuo Pop small and simple, there have been concessions in practicality. These may not be an issue for those who only want their coffee hot, black and wet, and don’t mind keeping a water supply nearby.
But for busy households, all-day coffee drinkers and latte lovers, its limitations may prove a frustration too far. Ultimately, how much you love the Nespresso Vertuo Pop will come down to how much versatility you’re happy to sacrifice for the ease of good coffee with one tap.
The question may be whether one of the other Vertuo machines is right for you. Our main bugbear with this machine is its petite water tank. But we’ve also reviewed the Vertuo Next, which has a larger, one litre water tank you can use to fill a carafe, and the Vertuo Plus, which has a 1.2 litre water tank and can accomodate four cup sizes.
For more coffee machine options of all types, have a look at our round-up of the best coffee machines. And to see how the Vertuo Pop fares against other capsule coffee machines, browse the best pod coffee machines we’ve tested.