How to fix the Nespresso Vertuo capsule not recognised error

The Nespresso Vertuo system is one of the best capsule systems, particularly as it adjusts the brew based on the barcode on the side of a capsule.

It’s all very clever, but can lead to a problem where a Nespresso machine can’t recognise a capsule. It’s happened to our Nespresso Vertuo Next machine.

Fortunately, it’s usually not too difficult to fix and highlights the importance of regular maintenance, such as descaling a Nespresso machine.

What you’ll need: 

The Short Version 

  • Diagnose the problem
  • Clean the barcode reader and capsule holder
  • Rinse the machine
  • Make coffee
  1. Step

    Diagnose the problem

    The first thing to do is diagnose the problem. If you’ve got a Nespresso Vertuo Next machine connected to Wi-Fi, the Nespresso app will tell you what the error message is. If you have a different type of Vertuo machine that’s not internet connected (or you haven’t hooked your Vertuo Next up to your Wi-Fi), you’ll only get a red light flashing on top.

    Make sure that your machine has water in it and that the lid is securely locked into position. If you’ve done this and still get the red light, it could be a problem with the capsule recognition system.Nespresso Vertuo capsule error

  2. Step

    Clean the barcode reader and capsule holder

    To make coffee, the Vertuo system has to read the barcode written on the bottom of the capsule. The barcode reader is the clear plastic surround around the capsule holder. We found that using a damp microfibre cloth worked best, cleaning thoroughly around the capsule holder and just outside of it. 

    The capsule holder is on a spring, so it can be pushed down gently to clean. Make sure that all traces of coffee have been removed. Nespresso Vertuo cleaning

  3. Step

    Rinse the machine

    Next, you should run the rinse programme. To do this make sure there’s no coffee pod and then close your coffee machine’s lid. Place a container 1-litre or bigger underneath (we found that the rinsing programme has enough gaps that we could switch mugs out instead), then press the button on top three times. This will turn the status light orange.

    The Nespresso machine will then rinse water through the system. When finished, the light will turn white. We found it useful to press and hold the button to turn the machine off.Nespresso Vertuo on rinse cycle

  4. Step

    Make coffee

    Now, try making coffee again. If you still have a problem, you may need to give the capsule holder and barcode reader another clean. A toothbrush can help remove very stubborn coffee build-up, but we found that a microfibre cloth was good enough.Nespresso Vertuo Next dispensing coffee


Can a capsule cause problems?

The Vertuo system only works with Nespresso capsules, so only use these. If your capsule is damaged, particularly around the barcode printed around the pod’s rim, try a different one.

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