Why trust me?
I’ve been trying to consolidate space on my kitchen counter. As a result rid of my OXO coffee grinder and maker in favor of a Nespresso Machine. I thought this would be an ideal time to publish a series of Nespresso reviews.
You’re probably wondering why a coffee snob like myself would consider replacing my coffee maker with a Nespresso machine? Well, my desire for more space has trumped my need for coffee. Plus, have a Moka Pot and Chemex for the weekends.
I spent two weeks absorbing every Nespresso review I could find—YouTube, reddit, Nespresso forums. I asked for input from other Product Dork members . Then I went out and purchased what I thought were the four best nespresso machines on the market: the Essenza Mini, Citiz, Evoluo and Verturo Plus Deluxe. I tested those four machines for six weeks.
Also know that these reviews are not paid or sponsored. Product Dork makes money when you make a purchase through links on this site. I spent about $600 of my own money on these machines and coffee. When the tests were complete, I sold the machines on eBay—well, all but the Evoluo, which I decided to keep.
Testing and analysis
When testing the machines, the two main things I measured were temperature and speed. These results are similar to the Citiz and—I suspect—most other Original Line Nespresso Machines. Where they differ is on design and water and bin capacity.
Testing the temperature of each cup was fairly straightforward. Once the espresso was ready, I used my Javlin thermometer to measure the temperature of the coffee. The temperature range was very consistent and remained within a 4F range.
- Lowest Recorded Temperature: 158.0F
- Highest Recorded Temperature: 161.4F
No notable drop-off in temperature when immediately brewing a second cup of espresso.
To measure the speed of the machine I started a stopwatch on my phone the second I pressed the espresso button and stopped it when the machine stopped dripping.
- Fastest Recorded Time (water pre-heated): 28s
- Slowest Recorded Time (required heating): 58s
Speed was very consistent across all my tests. My guess is the machine is on some sort of timer and the variability comes from how long the excess coffee drips. The only difference is if the machine has pre-heated the water. This only occurs if you plug the machine in and immediately hit brew. It takes about 30 seconds to heat the water and another 30 to brew.
The Essenza Mini has a 20.3oz water tank and a capsule bin that holds 5 empty pods.
Water tank: 20.3oz
Capsule bin: 6 capsules
While that capacity isn’t great, it’s also the smallest Nespresso machine. It’s difficult to save counter space without cutting capacity. All things considered, the it’s very space-efficient.
What I like about the Essenza Mini
The Essenza Mini is an excellent machine—if I had slightly more room and was going to keep my coffee maker, it’s probably the Nespresso machine I’d try and squeeze in.
I like the simple look of the Breville Essenza. It’s not as ornate as the Citiz, and that’s fine. The Essenza Mini is meant for crowded counter tops. It should blend in without commanding attention.
The same pattern of dots used for the empty pod bin and the drip tray is a nice touch. I appreciate the matte plastics and rectangular lines.
Speed and ease of use
Making an espresso is fast, easy and intuitive. As mentioned in my other Nespresso reviews, you cannot insert the pod in the wrong direction.
Drop a pod in, pull the lever and press a button. You’re 30-60 seconds away from your morning espresso. It’s difficult to beat that speed and simplicity.
Small footprint and easy to move
The Essenza Mini is the smallest Nespresso machine you can buy. It has a slim profile and a small 3-by-12-inch footprint. That’s why you’d choose this over another machine.
Additionally, the machine only weighs 5 pounds. It’s an easy machine to pick up and move. That means you can easily throw it in a cabinet or the pantry if you’re not a regular espresso drinker or only use it when guests come over.
When doing research I discovered a reddit review where a guy purchased an Essenza Mini to use while traveling in the US. He keeps it in a canvas tote bag with a collection of capsules.
I purchased the Nespresso to mainly serve as a travel machine as I make really go drip coffee at home and am not giving that up. I also love the cappuccino that I have had in Europe and have been unable to find one in the US.
If that doesn’t convince you of portability, I don’t think anything will.
Pod bin hides empties
Speaking of those dots on the drip tray and pod bin—they are one of my favorite design features of Nespresso machines. They conceal the empties until you’re right next to the machine.
These little holes actually go in at an angle. If you look closely in the picture above, you’ll see that the exit for each is about 45 degrees downward. This means that the empty cartridges are only visible when you’re close to the machine.
I don’t understand why Nespresso didn’t try and use a similar pattern on their Vertuo machines.
While the Essenza Mini is a great machine, there are a few things you should be aware of before making a purchase. It’s has a small empty pod bin, the glossy Piano Black color collects a ton of fingerprints and the water tank cannot be refilled without being removed.
Capsule bin capacity
The empty pod bin can hold 6 or 7 empty pods before they start preventing new empties from dropping into the bin. It’s a small machine so I’m not sure where the space would come from. Maybe make the pod bin drip tray smaller?
The Piano Black color picks up dust and fingerprints
I purchased the black Essenza Mini for this review because it was on sale. However, I tend to dislike shiny black appliances because they show every speck of dust and every single fingerprint. You can get an idea from the picture above.
Smudges and dust on the white model will be much less obvious—even if they are shiny. I don
If anyone purchases the white Essenza Mini after reading this, I’d love for you to post a picture in the comments. I’m curious how it looks.
Water tank must be removed to refill
It might be a little difficult to see in the picture above, but the water tank on the back has a small lever behind the hinge that connects the top. When the top is lifted, that lever pushes against the back side of the machine and forces the tank to pop out.
Someone probably thought this was a clever design, but I think it’s going to be a nuisance for those slotting this machine into a tight space on the counter. I can see people wanting to take a cup and refill the tank without removing it.
A suggestion for the Nespresso or Breville teams—extend the hight of the water tank to be closer to the height of the machine. Remove the hinge with the lever and just allow the top to pop off. This would allow people to refill the machine without having to move it.
Won’t fit large mugs
A regular 12oz coffee cup fits as long as you remove the drip tray—a trivial thing to do. However, my 20oz Yeti Tumbler didn’t fit under the spout at all.
This is an espresso machine, so the only use case I can think of is if you’re making a red eye and are topping off your coffee with an espresso shot.
Essenza Mini comparisons
You might be sold on a Nespresso machine, but are still trying to decide which machine to purchase. If that’s the case, I’d recommend checking out our guide to the Best Nespresso Machine, which highlights all of our research.
If you’re only interested in how the Essenza Mini compares to similar machines, there are a few comparisons below.
Breville vs De’Longhi Essenza Mini
If you saw this review and started searching for an Essenza Mini, you might be confused. That’s because there are two different models of the machine. The better looking, one featured in this review, is manufactured by Breville. There’s also this strange A-shaped one made by De’Longhi that comes in a bunch of crazy colors like green and red.
For whatever reason that is the model both Consumer Reports and The Wirecutter use in their Nespresso reviews. Unless you’re really interested in a green coffee maker, I’d say the Breville model is much more attractive. I’m certain the internals are about the same. You can see a comparison in the video above.
Nespresso Essenza Mini vs Pixie
When planning what Nespresso machines to review , the Pixie was a contender. At a previous company we had a Pixie in the office. That was my first experience with Nespresso. It’s a decent machine.
How does the Nespresso Pixie compare to the Essenza Mini? The Pixie has a larger form factor than the Essenza Mini—about an inch in every direction. It has a similar-sized water tank and twice the empty pod capacity. When it comes ot build, the Pixie has a higher-end feel with more metal parts. As with all Original Line Nespresso machines, the coffee variety and brew times are going to be very similar.
There are a few design desicions that I dislike about the Pixie though. The empty pod bin is made of a clear plastic, so you see the empties. This was probably done because there’s a light that appears in the empty pod bin. It becomes red if the water tank is empty and white if it’s full. The light just ends up illuminating all the empty pods. It seems like an odd decision. The indicator should have been placed on the top of the machine.
Nespresso Essenza Mini vs Citiz
As part of this series to find the best Nespresso machine we did review the Citiz as well as the Essenza Mini. The Citiz was my favorite of all the machines we reviewed.
While similar to the Essenza Mini, the Citiz is larger. It holds almost twice the number of empty pods and has a water tank that holds 12oz more water. The quality of the Citiz feels higher. The design is much more ornate, the shell is metal and it has several chrome accents. The Citiz was easily the most attractive machine we tested.
If you’re sold on a Nespresso machine and are trying to decide between the Essenza Mini and Citiz, I’d say it comes down to space. If you’re worried about space on your counter get the Mini, otherwise the Citiz is an excellent machine.
Who should buy the Essenza Mini?
OK, time for my recommendation.
You’re only interested in quick, easy espresso. You want a morning espresso without the effort, mess and time it takes to make a real espresso shot. Absolutely understandable.
You have limited counter space. The Essenza Mini is about 3-inches wide and a foot deep. You can slide this next to your drip coffee maker or next to your cook books.
You have a drip coffee maker that you want to keep. Because of the small footprint, the Essenza Mini is a nice complement to your existing setup. It’s especially nice for those who want espresso, but don’t want to spend or don’t have space for a real espresso machine. If you’re looking to get rid of your drip coffee maker, take a look at our Evoluo review.
You’re trying to cut down on Starbucks purchases. I have a Starbucks across the street from me. It was a regular habit to run down and grab an Espresso con Panna in the morning. Since buying a Nespresso machine I rarely go. It has probably cut my coffee spending in half.
Coffee Lingo: Red Eye, 1335 Frankford, Published 9/9/2015
Sabrina Imbler, The Best Nespresso Machine (But It’s Not for Everyone), The Wirecutter, Retrieved 1/20/2020
Nespresso Essenza Mini coffee maker, Consumer Reports, Retrieved 2/10/2020
Alexandre Vallières-Lagacé, Nespresso Essenza Mini Review, HipsterPixel, Retrieved, 2/16/2020
OrangeBoxLibrarian, Essenza Mini and new to Nespresso review, reddit, Retrieved 2/16/2020