Long coffees and shorter cups are what the Nespresso Vertuo system is known for, but creativity isn’t it. And yet that’s what the Vertuo Creatista has been built for. Does it work?
Coffee pod machines are known to be quick at delivering some caffeination, but what they’re not exactly known for the sort of creativity your barista will be known for. Milk texturing is typically simple and works, but lacks the layering, giving you coffee without the fuss in a quick and easy cup.
But sometimes you might want the fuss. If you’re someone who fancies themselves a bit of a barista, but wants to keep within the Nespresso pod world — because picking the right blend is a whole other thing — there’s a machine you may want to consider.
Shiny in stainless steel and looking as schmick as a proper espresso machine, the Nespresso Vertuo Creatista doesn’t look like your standard Nespresso machine. It definitely is, but there’s something more to it.
Arriving with a steam wand, jug, and a few buttons to give you some control, it’s less like the automatic espresso experience Nespresso has become known for, and a little more like owning a proper manual espresso machine. Kinda sorta.
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What is the Creatista?
Another of Nespresso’s Vertuo pod machines that deals with coffee pods of various sizes, the Vertuo Creatista is a machine that can make short coffee and long coffee from the large Vertuo pods, and also deal with milk.
Designed and built by Breville, the Vertuo Creatista is a variation on a theme we’ve seen in DeLonghi’s Vertuo Lattissima, whereby you’ll be able to make more than just long coffee, preparing milk alongside.
But while the Lattissima was all about that automatic milk system, the Creatista tries to impart creative control back in your life, thanks in part to an easy control system and some tech on a steam wand.
What does it do?
The steam wand is actually one of the more complex parts of this machine, using a combination of a regular steam wand and a temperature sensor, which Breville has built for some of its bean-based espresso machines in the past.
Essentially, you use the jug Nespresso and Breville provide, pour in your milk, and rest it in the spot where the steam wand sits. Set your settings using the simple buttons — temperature and texture level — and the sensor will monitor the temperature of the milk, steaming it up automatically for you.
You’ll have three settings on each, with super silky smooth on one, more bubbly at three, and a Goldilocks “just right” at two, though it can differ with milk variety, and you may want to change the temperature, as well.
This isn’t like a regular steam wand on any other coffee machine, though, and you shouldn’t try holding the jug against the wand mid-air. Rather, this one needs to sit on the temperature sensor otherwise it won’t deliver you the drinkable outcome you’re looking for.
When you’re done, lifting the steam wand out will initiate an auto-clean process, spraying water into the tray, forcing you to clean that part more regularly.
Outside of the milk frothing, however, the Creatista is basically the same as every other Vertuo model. In fact, technically all Vertuo machines work the same way, with a laser reading the barcode on the coffee pod lip and getting instructions on how to make the coffee, pumping the pod full of water while it spins, and then delivering the coffee through the spout at the bottom.
The water tank holds a large 2 litres while the capsule container will take as many as 6 large capsules or 10 smaller ones, so you can expect to recycle the aluminium remains after a few cups.
Does it do the job?
Load a pod to make your brew and you’ll find the Vertuo Creatista is more or less exactly the Nespresso coffee machine you expect it to be.
There’s no automatic milk option here, not like there is in the Vertuo Lattissima, and so if you want to do milk, you’ll do it separately, either before or after you’ve had the machine make your coffee.
Long pods and cups won’t need to worry about the milk, but anyone keen on blending milk and brew will be doing it themselves, relying on the buttons to do their basic thing when you push them.
There’s an extra feature for the more creative souls, available in “Expert Mode” which lets the machine prepare any coffee style as if you were adding milk anyway.
Press the coffee button twice (instead of once), and the Creatista will blink green as opposed to white, preparing a pod knowing that you’ll be frothing milk for it, essentially easing back on a coffee extraction.
The amount of coffee you’ll get from a regular Vertuo extraction versus an “Expert Mode” extraction appears to be slightly less than half, so if it was normally going to be a longer coffee with extra water, you may get less water to account for the extra milk you’re going to add.
It’s something extra for the machine, but not something we think everyone will rely on.
What does it need?
Instead, we think people would love it if you could froth the milk and extract the coffee from the pod at the same time, but you can’t do that in the Creatista.
At least in the Lattissima, it was taken care of at the end so you didn’t need to worry about it. But heaven forbid you want to froth the milk and get the coffee pod sorted at once, because you can’t do that on this machine. It’s very much a one thing at a time, meaning that easy cup of coffee can take a little bit longer with just a little bit more effort.
If anything, “a little bit more effort” may well be the tagline of this machine, because that’s what it needs. You’ll need to decide on your milk settings manually either before or after you’ve made the coffee, and it really comes down to your time and effort.
The app doesn’t even give you a helping hand, even though it could. Nespresso went to the extent to show you directions on what settings to use for certain milk texture levels, but stopped short of automating it from the app itself.
Like we’ve seen from previous Nespresso machines, the Nespresso app largely exists to help you maintain the machine and spin up cleaning modes, or just offer you coffee pods to buy. It’s not much of an app, that’s for sure.
Is it worth your money?
The other problem we have with the Vertuo Creatista is the value, because at $1099, it just seems more expensive than it needs to be.
Keep in mind that the $1099 price in Australia is its recommended retail price, and the machine can be found for under $900 at the time this was published.
The problem is it’s still more expensive than the automatic milk pouring Lattissima model, and we’re not entirely sure it should be.
On the one hand, you’ll be able to be more creative with your milk. Great, cool, whatever. But on the other, the result is largely the same except with slightly more control that you have to exert.
Breville’s milk texturing tech is still great, but we think the creative control is better with beans, and the machine that sees this technology is the $1200 Barista Touch.
Our issue is we’re not connecting with the more manual process that the Creatista offers. We’re sure some folks will love being able to play with those settings and turn their Nespresso coffee experience into something more like what a barista might offer.
Yay or nay?
We say “might” because Nespresso coffee can be very hit and miss at times, a fact we’ve noted prior. Some pods are fine, but others aren’t, and the only way you’ll be able to tell is either by walking into a Nespresso store and trying them for yourself or ordering blindly and hoping for the best.
Vertuo pods are designed in such a way that you can only buy them from Nespresso, so if you’re thinking of getting the Vertuo Creatista, the pods you’ll be relying on come only from Nespresso. There’s no Vertuo pod found in Coles, Woolies, or any other Australian supermarket, and the barcode on the lip of each pod is a little like a form of digital rights management for the Vertuo pod system.
In short, to use the Nespresso Vertuo Creatista, you’re buying Vertuo pods from Nespresso until you stop using it. You could froth the milk without a pod, sure, but you won’t be prepping coffee without a Vertuo pod. If you don’t like Vertuo coffee, this machine may not be worth the effort.
If you love Nespresso Vertuo coffee and the various lengths, but what more experimentation out of your experience, the Creatista could make a lot of sense. It’ll give you slightly more control of your Nespresso experience.
But at this end of the market, we’d probably look at a more premium machine that takes actual coffee beans. It’ll just give you more future-proofing than some extra milk controls, which is really all this does differently.