How Do Nespresso Pods Work?

Finding out how Nespresso pods work may be interesting to you if you own one of these great coffee makers. So, how do Nespresso pods work? Read on to find out.

How Do Nespresso Pods Work
OriginalLine and VertuoLine Machines uses different types of capsules

I invested in a Nespresso coffee maker a few years ago, and have never looked back. Although the espresso these machines deliver may not be considered “true” espresso by some of the more finicky coffee connoisseurs out there, it is close enough to the real McCoy in my books! 

Whether you’re already a proud owner of a Nespresso coffee maker or thinking about investing in one, you may be wondering “How do Nespresso pods work?” Well, the answer differs depending on whether you own an OriginalLine or VertuoLine machine. The former works with a high-pressure pump while the latter uses a centrifugal system.

The Difference Between OriginalLine and VertuoLine Machines

To understand precisely how Nespresso pods work, you need to first know that there are two types of Nespresso machines: OriginalLine and VertuoLine machines. These two types of Nespresso machines use different types of capsules, which cannot be interchanged.

OriginalLine machines, as the name implies, are the original Nespresso coffee makers. These machines are compatible with the small OriginalLine capsules, with which you can brew ristretto, espresso, and lungo beverages.

In response to the demand in the North American market for larger coffee drinks, Nespresso launched VertuoLine machines. They work with the larger VertuoLine capsules, which come in three different sizes. With these capsules, you can brew espresso, double espresso, gran lungo, coffee, and carafes.

How OriginalLine Nespresso Pods Work

a series of Nespresso pods
OriginalLine Nespresso pods are cylinder-shaped

OriginalLine-series Nespresso pods are cylinder-shaped. These machines use a high-pressure pump to force hot water through the compact coffee grounds in a pod. Typically, the pressure is around 19 bars, and the temperature ranges between 93 to 95 degrees Celsius.

To make espresso with this type of machine, you pop a compatible capsule into the chamber and then close it, at which point the capsule is pierced. You then choose the size of beverage you want, and the machine pumps out the relevant amount of water.

The heated water is pumped under high pressure into the holes in the capsule, which then causes the foil-covered side of the capsule to rupture. The brew then flows from the ruptured holes in the foil through a funnel nozzle into the coffee cup. A filter inside the capsule prevents any of the coffee grounds from ending up in the brew.

You may also be interested in our guide on how are coffee pods made.

How VertuoLine Nespresso Pods Work

coffee capsules with a cup and spoon on the top of a plate
VertuoLine Nespressopodsare shaped like a dome

VertuoLine Nespresso pods are shaped like a dome, which means that the OriginalLine pods will not fit into this line of coffee makers. The brewing process in these machines is also different from the original machines. Instead of using a high-pressure pump, these coffee makers work with a centrifugal-type system.

When you place a pod in a VertuoLine machine, you don’t need to select your drink size. Each VertuoLine capsule comes with a barcode, which provides the system with the exact parameters it needs to brew a particular beverage. Apart from the correct amount of water, the system automatically selects the rotational speed, infusion time, water temperature, and flow of water.

When the brewing process starts in a VertuoLine coffee maker, hot water is injected into the middle of the capsule. At the same time, the machine spins the capsule at around 7,000 rpm, which creates a centrifugal force that’s theoretically similar to the 19 bars of pressure applied in the OriginalLine machines.

The water then flows out of a series of punctures around the edges of the capsule. As is the case with the high-pressure water system of the original machines, the centrifugal system provides a thick layer of crema.

The Last Word on How Do Nespresso Pods Work

Whether you opt for OriginalLine or VertuoLine pods, you will receive a top-quality espresso-stylebeverage with a velvety layer of crema on top. If you prefer larger coffee beverages, go for a VirtuoLine coffee maker. However, if the price is a consideration, you should opt for an OriginalLine machine.

FAQs on How Do Nespresso Pods Work

Can You Use Third-Party Pods in Nespresso Machines?

Since OriginalLine Nespresso machines are no longer under patent, you can use third-party and refillable capsules in these coffee makers. However, VertuoLine machines work exclusively with VertuoLine capsules due to the barcode system.

Are Nespresso Pods Recyclable?

Yes, Nespresso Pods are recyclable. Nespresso even provides customers with a free recycling bag.


  • Niki B

    Born and bred in South Africa, Niki B now does her writing from the distant shores of South Korea. A self-proclaimed coffee addict by day, and a writer by night, she gladly shares her knowledge with fellow coffee lovers.