How to Use a Nespresso Machine (Complete Guide)

How to use a Nespresso machine

Nespresso machines provide an unmatched confluence of convenience, practicality, and a sleek design. They are the go-to machines for espresso lovers who want espresso-style coffee at the push of a button.

Some of the Modern Nespresso models can connect to a mobile device where you can use an app to control the machine to make coffee.

Since the launch of the first Nespresso machine in 1986, Nespresso machines have built a reputation for delivering flavorful espressos with amazing crema that you can drink on their own or add whiteners for softer flavors. Along the way, coffee maker accessories including Nespresso milk fothers and grinders have been added.

Before discussing how to use a Nespresso machine, it is important to understand the categories of these machines.

Nespresso machines come in two lines: Nespresso OriginalLine (classic) and VertuoLine. Although their features slightly differ, their basic functioning is quite similar.

Each Nespresso line uses unique coffee capsules so knowing whether your Nespresso machine is original or vertuo is critical when buying Nespresso pods.

The basic components of a Nespresso machine are

  • Water tank. It holds fresh water that you use for your coffee
  • Lever/Head. The lever opens the capsule holder. For vertuoline machines, the head of the machine lifts to open the capsule chamber. Lifting the lever or head also releases a spent capsule to the waste basket.
  • Capsule holder. A Nespresso capsule goes here.
  • Control buttons. Nespresso classic machines usually have a lungo and a separate espresso button. VertuoLine machines have one button as the machines auto-detect the size of the capsule and auto-brew the right size of cup.
  • Drip tray. Some of the older Nespresso machines such as the Nespresso CitiZ have two drip trays: a foldable one and the removable one at the bottom. Newer machines including the VertuoLine and some of the original line have one adjustable drip tray.
  • Waste basket. Nespresso machines auto-eject the spent capsule into an inbuilt waste basket when you lift the lever/head. The spent capsule basket is usually on the side of the machine.

See the difference between vertuo line and original line.

Tips Before Using a Nespresso Machine for the First Time

Before making coffee with a Nespresso machine for the first time, flush it to remove bad flavors and odors that can impact your espressos.

  1. Remove the water tank and rinse it plus the lid under a running faucet. If there is a frother attachment, rinse the frother cup before use.
  2. Fill the tank with freshwater and replace it in the machine
  3. Place a large mug (about a liter) under the coffee outlet and adjust or remove the cup holder to fit the tall mug
  4. Lift the Nespresso machine’s lever and ensure there is no capsule in the machine
  5. For a Nespresso Original, press either the espresso or lungo button and the two buttons will start blinking as the machine turns on. When the two buttons are steady, press the lungo button. The machine will dispense water. Repeat the process thrice to fully cleanse the coffee maker.
  6. For Nespresso VertuoLine, lift the head and close it and press the button with a cup symbol to switch it on. The button will start blinking and stop when the machine is ready. Press the cup symbol three times within two seconds for the machine to dispense water. Repeat the rinsing process three times.

Your machine is now ready to brew coffee. You may want to perform these cleansing cycles every time the Nespresso machine is not used for a few months so that your coffee smells and tastes fresh.

Key Steps When Using a Nespresso Machine

As we have seen above, Nespresso Original machines have separate lungo and espresso buttons whereas the VertuoLine machines automatically read the barcode on the capsule to auto-detect the size of the capsule and automatically make a corresponding cup of coffee.

In other words, for a Nespresso VertuoLine machine, there are no buttons for cup sizes as the machine is already programmed to make the right cup for the capsule that you use.

Here are the steps to follow making coffee in a Nespresso machine.

Add Water

Add filtered water above the halfway line of the reservoir depending on how many coffees you intend to make. As long as you are using fresh filtered or bottled water, you can empty and rinse the water tank every four days to prevent minerals from settling.

Position the Mug

Depending on the size of coffee that you want to make, adjust the cup holder to accommodate the mug. Ensure the hold is firmly locked before placing the mug.

Turn the Machine On For Prewarming

First, be sure the power cable is connected. Turn a Nespresso Original Line machine by pressing any of the two (espresso or lungo) buttons. Nespresso pixie, however, has a separate ON button.

For a Nespresso Vertuo machine, press the cup symbol. The button will start blinking as the machine starts priming.

Proceed to the next step when the light stops blinking.

Insert a Nespresso Capsule

Nespresso original capsules are different from the dome-shaped VertuoLine capsules.

Both espresso and lungo classic capsules come in one size. When dropping a capsule in the classic machine, the capsule should be lying on its side with the seal facing the front

VertuoLine capsules come in five different sizes: espresso, double espresso, Gran lungo, mug, and Alto. The capsules insert with the seal facing up. Lock the head of the machine.

Simply lift the lever or head, drop the capsule and close the lever.

Make the Coffee

For a classic Nespresso machine, press the desired type of coffee (espresso or lungo), and the machine will start dispensing coffee in about 25 seconds.

For a Nespresso Vertuo, the machine reads the size of the capsule and you simply press the button with a cup symbol for the machine to make the right amount of coffee for the capsule.

Therefore, be sure to use the right mug size for the size of coffee that you intend to make to avoid overflowing issues.

Once the machine has stopped brewing, remove the coffee from the outlet and enjoy your drink.

If you are not happy with the preset amount of coffee that the machine makes, here is how to program the cup sizes in both Nespresso classic and vertuo.

You can adjust the volume of coffee for any Nespresso machine if you don’t like the preset amount.

Proper Care for Nespresso after Making Coffee

Eject the Spent Capsule

Lifting the lever automatically ejects the spent capsule and drops it in the capsule basket. Although not necessary to release the pod after making coffee, you may want to do to avoid some of the coffee residues from oozing and forming ponds in the capsule holder.

Be sure to empty, rinse, and dry the spent capsule basket every 1-2 days depending on how often you use the machine. Leaving spent pods in there is a recipe for breeding bacteria that are likely to spread all over the machine.

Rinse the Machine

If you are done brewing for the day and you have a few seconds to spare, run a brew cycle with just water so that the machine is fresh when you make coffee again. Simply perform the rinse cycle we discussed earlier but this time do it once.

Regular Cleaning

Once in a while, clean the drip tray as standing water can breed molds and algae. Also, wipe the outer parts of the Nespresso machine to remove finger marks.

Nespresso recommends descaling every six months or after making 600 coffees.

Auto Shut Off

Most Nespresso coffee makers are preset to shut down nine minutes after making coffee but you can adjust up to 30 minutes to suit your needs.

To further save on energy, you may consider removing the power plug from the power source after brewing for the day. See how much power coffee makers use.

Wrap Up

Although Nespresso machines are easy to use, some users get stuck due to unknowingly trying to use the wrong capsules in a machine. You can not use Nespresso Vertuo capsules in a classic Nespresso machine and vice versa.

Before using the Nespresso machine for the first time, be sure to rinse the tank and frother (if it’s attached) to avoid getting off-flavors in your coffee. Performing a water-only rinse cycle for your espresso machine after brewing coffee removes the coffee oil that would otherwise lead to funky flavors.

FAQs about How to Use a Nespresso Machine

How to Make Double Shot Espresso with Nespresso

Add water and insert a capsule in a Nespresso OriginalLine machine and close the lever. Place a mug under the coffee outlet and press down the espresso button until about 80ml of coffee is dispensed. You may want to use a lungo capsule for an intense double espresso.

To make double shot espresso with a Nespresso VertuoLine, add water to the tank and turn the machine on. Place a mug under the outlet. Lift the head and insert a dome-shaped double espresso capsule. Close the head and the machine will automatically read the capsule and make a double espresso.

You may want to look at our guide on how to program cup sizes on Nespresso plus how to reset to factory settings..


Patrick is first a coffee lover and then a trained barista. His bucket list includes sky diving and sipping on Java in the Himalayas.

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