I've been using the Nespresso Essenza Mini for many years. It's currently the lowest-entry model in the Original range of coffee makers, meaning it's the most basic Nespresso machine you can get.
Nespresso is one of the biggest names in the world of at-home coffee making. Back in 1986, Nespresso released the first ever pod coffee machine after a Nestlé engineer wanted to recreate the dynamics of an espresso machine in a simple format for home use.
Now, the Swiss brand has an ever-growing collection of pod brewers, with some considered to be among the best single serve coffee makers available. They now have two ranges too: the Original Line, and the newer Vertuo Line that offers a completely new method of pod brewing.
So, how does it compare to the best coffee makers? Like all Nespresso machines, the Essenza Mini uses pods to brew espresso-like coffees at the touch of a button. And as it's more affordable than most, it could be one of the easiest ways to bring Nespresso brewing into your home.
I can confidently say that the Essenza Mini is a capable coffee machine, as I've been using it for so long, but I've run through everything it can and can't do to help you decide whether it's right for your kitchen counter.
Dan has tested coffee from all sorts of machines including pod brewers, bean-to-cup and espresso machines. The Nespresso Essenza Mini is the primary coffee maker in their home, and has been for some time, meaning this review is not just an out-the-box experience.
Nespresso Essenza Mini: Key specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0
|Row 0 - Cell 1
|Row 0 - Cell 2
|Water tank capacity
|Row 1 - Cell 2
|Row 2 - Cell 2
|Row 3 - Cell 2
|Row 4 - Cell 2
|Row 5 - Cell 2
|4.3 x 12.8 x 8.1 inches (w x d x h)
|Row 6 - Cell 2
|Row 7 - Cell 2
|Row 8 - Cell 2
Nespresso Essenza Mini: First impressions
My first impressions of the Nespresso Essenza Mini go all the way back to February 2019. It was the main coffee machine at home when I lived with my parents, even before I started enjoying coffee like I do now.
I've always appreciated the pod brewer's simplicity. Making a coffee, clearing out used pods and cleaning the machine are all easy tasks, and from the countless types of Nespresso pods I've tried, I'm yet to find one that doesn't taste good.
The coffee machine was handed down to me in 2022, and since then it has been the primary coffee maker in my home (aside from when I'm testing other machines). This is truly a testament to its durability, and the variety of flavors on offer from Nespresso from such a simple machine.
Nespresso Essenza Mini: Price & availability
The Nespresso Essenza Mini retails for $179. You can find it online at Nespresso, Amazon, Wayfair, and Sur La Table for around $179, or extra if you add a milk frother (such as the Aeroccino XL for just $109 on Nespresso) with the machine. This means several milky brews like latte and cappuccino are easy to make at home in no time.
If the triangular design isn't for you, the Essenza Mini is also available in a sleeker, rectangular model. Both are identical in terms of specs, but with different aesthetics (and the rectangular design is twice as heavy). This alternative model also retails for $179 and can be found at Nespresso, Breville, Amazon, Williams Sonoma, and Target.
It's one of the most affordable coffee machines you can buy from Nespresso: only the Vertuo Pop+ and the VertuoPlus are cheaper. It's the cheapest model in Nespresso's Original range, yet the coffee maker still has the same core functions as most Original models.
Nespresso Essenza Mini: Design
Emphasis on the 'mini' here: this is a compact coffee machine. It's 4.3 inches wide and 12.8 inches deep, and I know from years of experience that it takes up such little space on the kitchen counter that it's hardly noticeable when you're not using it.
This is ideal for anybody with limited space, or for those of us who prefer a cleaner kitchen counter. It's available in black, red or green (and the rectangular model comes in grey, white or black), so you're able to find one that'll suit your kitchen's décor.
The Essenza Mini has two brew options: Espresso and Lungo. Essentially, this means you choose between small or large cups, and you select by pressing one of the two buttons on top of the machine.
Turning the machine on also involves pressing either of the buttons. The button lights will flash for a minute or so as the coffee maker heats up, then once the lights stop flashing and are permanently on, the machine is ready to brew. After nine minutes of inactivity, the Essenza Mini will power off by itself.
The 20.3 oz water tank is removable and can pour around three to five cups before needing to be refilled. In response to a review on their website, Nespresso recommends filling the water tank with warm water as the machine doesn't guarantee a certain temperature — but this inconsistency is something that I've never personally noticed.
Loading up pods is as simple as the rest of the machine, and when you lift up the flap it releases the previously used pod. The pod holder and drip tray slide right out, and can hold six pods before it needs emptying.
Nespresso Essenza Mini: Performance
The key benefit to the Nespresso Essenza Mini is how simple it is, in every regard. It's easy to use, easy to clean, easy to empty, and it brews coffee at an impressive speed. Because of this, it's likely one of the most convenient coffee machines you could own, but with that comes a lack of customization as it doesn't do much else.
You can only brew two cup sizes, and neither of them are that large. Nespresso started as a company that produces pod-based espresso machines, so the two drinks on offer are essentially an espresso or double espresso. This means that, to make a fuller cup of coffee, you'll have to heat your own milk and add it yourself (or top it off with hot water, but I've found that this can make the coffee quite weak).
Saying that, it isn't too difficult to use Nespresso coffees as the foundation for more varied drinks. I brewed 8 easy barista coffees with this Nespresso machine using a milk frother, and there are ways to froth and heat your own milk without a dedicated device.
Drip tray & pod holder
The drip tray seems to be designed for espresso cups as there's very little space to accommodate anything larger than that. This isn't a problem if you're only planning on using the coffee machine for espressos and lungos, but if you're ever brewing a full cup with added water or milk, you'll need to remove the drip tray every time you want a coffee.
This isn't a big or time-consuming issue at all, but it's worth noting that removing the drip tray every time can result in the need for frequent wiping of your countertop, as the machine drips a lot after pouring a cup. Over time however, it's easy enough to time it so that this doesn't happen (as often, at least).
It's no secret that coffee pods can have a pretty damaging impact on the environment. If you live in New York City, your both Original and Vertuo pods can be recycled curbside in your blue bin. Alternatively, you can order recycling bags with your subscription to Nespresso, or drop at your nearest Nespresso Boutique.
This is a great step, but as with any recycling, depends on people's efforts. So until curbside recycling is widely available, a number will inevitably end up in landfills.
Nespresso Essenza Mini: Taste test
At this point, I've made countless coffees with the Essenza Mini. I often buy the Nespresso assortment packs too, so that I can mix up my morning coffees.
After using a Nespresso machine for years, I can confidently say that the pods produce good coffee. There are currently more than 40 different types of Original coffee pods (and 30+ Vertuo pods), and I'm yet to find one that didn't taste like good-quality coffee.
Of course, with such a vast range there are some pods that I've found to be a little too weak or strong to my liking, but it never tastes poor quality. This, to me, is what makes Nespresso stand out as a pod coffee brand. They source coffee beans from around the world, offering a variety of strengths that all taste great.
I'm not a big espresso drinker, so I often heat up milk in the microwave for around 40 seconds before brewing the Nespresso coffee on top. I've found this to be an easy way to get fuller cups of coffee from a machine that exclusively brews espressos and lungos.
And, if you're a fan of more indulgent coffees, you can use the machine's espressos as the foundation for milkier drinks like lattes, flat whites and cappuccinos. I used a milk frother from the JURA GIGA 10 to brew 8 easy barista coffees with my Nespresso machine, but you can also froth and heat milk at home with a microwave and a glass jar.
Thanks to the quality of the espresso poured by the pods in the Essenza Mini, these coffees tasted similar to those you'd get at a coffee shop. The coffee never tasted weak when combined with milk, even when it came to drinks like the latte macchiato which is mostly milk.
Should you buy the Nespresso Essenza Mini?
|Price & availability
|The most affordable Nespresso Original machine, with the same core functions you'll find across the range
|A compact machine that's easy to use
|Simple, good-quality coffee but lacks customization
Buy it if…
You love convenience
Pod machines are among the most convenient ways to enjoy coffee at home, and the Nespresso Essenza Mini is about as easy as it gets. Press a button to turn it on, then press again moments later to pour a cup when the machine is ready.
You're a fan of espresso and have no espresso machine barista skills
Nespresso is first-and-foremost an espresso brand, and the Essenza Mini can brew espressos and lungos (double espressos) at the touch of a button. Espresso machines offer more customization and fine-tuning if you know how to use one, but a Nespresso machine can pour great-tasting cups by itself.
You have your own milk frother
Combining the Nespresso Essenza Mini with a milk frother opens the door to barista drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. Espresso is the foundation of these milky beverages, and the Nespresso machine takes all the work out for you, so that all you need to do is heat, froth, and pour the milk.
Don’t buy it if…
You want customization and large cups of coffee
You can only brew two cup sizes with the Essenza Mini, and neither of them are very big. Customizing coffees from the Essenza Mini requires other tools too, whereas there are machines out there that can do it all in one.
You want to source your own coffee beans
Nespresso offer a great deal of choice when it comes to coffee pods (the Original range has over 40 options), but that's limited compared to the number of different coffee beans out there. You can't grind your own beans to your preferences with this pod machine, and you're restricted to the pre-packaged pods.
How does the Nespresso Essenza Mini compare?
The Essenza Mini is such a strong coffee maker as it can do what most Nespresso Original machines can, for a fraction of the price. More expensive Original machines offer bigger water tanks and milk frothers, but you have to get towards the top of the range to find models that can brew more than espressos and lungos.
Thanks to the milk frother, the Nespresso Lattissima One can brew cappuccinos and latte macchiatos as well as espressos and lungos. The Creatista Plus has a steam wand for latte art, and offers more flexibility in terms of how you can use the machine. Both of these alternatives cost $100s more, and you can achieve similar results for a lot less by investing in your own milk frother and steam wand.
On the other end, the best Keurig coffee makers are much cheaper than their Nespresso counterparts. They generally offer more cup-size options too, but they don't often get praised on flavor as much as Nespresso machines do. The K-Slim is a more affordable alternative, and the K-Duo can brew both cups and carafes of coffee for a similar price.
How I tested the Nespresso Essenza Mini
- Tested intermittently for over three years, then used as the primary coffee machine for over a year
- Tested using a wide variety of Nespresso coffee pods
The Nespresso Essenza Mini was the primary coffee machine in my family home for three years, during which I used it on-and-off whenever I drank coffee at home.
It has been the primary coffee machine in my own home for almost two years, where I usually make one or two coffees a day.
Read more about how we test.