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Nespresso vs. Espresso - Single Serve Machine vs. Espresso Maker

Updated on August 23, 2017

Nespresso Versus Espresso - What Is the Difference?

Espresso or Nespresso, which one is better? what is the difference between the two? The comparison is a bit forced but in the end that is what many of us ask. We want to buy a new fancy coffee machine, that will help us avoid going to Starbucks every day, and we want to know which one is better.

The question is not an easy answer buy an espresso machine or buy the Nespresso, because each of the options has its own advantages. Hopefully, after reading this page you will have all the information to help you take a decision.

Nespresso or Other Espresso Capsule Based Machine - Nespresso Makes Great Shots

Nespresso, is an espresso machine that use capsules to make an espresso. The advantage is that the coffee is ground, measured, tamped, with a higher precision than we are capable of doing. There is very little left for error, so your espresso is great every time. The ground coffee is sealed in a capsule, so it doesn't go stale, as many coffee enthusiasts argue.

As a matter of fact, In the UK, and France, and even in Italy, the country of espresso, many upscale restaurants, serve coffee brewed in a Nespresso machine. Many of these restaurants are starred by Michelin, so their food quality and customer care are impeccable. That tells you something about capsule based espresso.

There are two types of coffee machines that work with capsules: capsule or pad based only, or hybrid, that can brew from a pod, or capsule, or from a portafilter.

Here are the advantages of using a capsule based espresso maker, like Nespresso.

  • Very easy to use.
  • No mess, no grinding, no water, or coffee grinds on the counter.
  • Compact, easy to fit on your counter.
  • Consistent shot every time, with a great foamy layer and perfect espresso taste. You can't make a bad espresso.
  • One button push operation.
  • You can't make a bad shot, even if you wanted.
  • No need for an expensive grinder.
  • The coffee capsules are more expensive than buying regular coffee.
  • If you are an espresso enthusiast, the lack of any control over the brewing will frustrate you.

Nespresso CitiZ Espresso Maker with Milk Frother

The Nespresso single serve coffee machines have a unique extraction system adapted to capsules to deliver a perfect espresso. Designed with renowned partners and designers, to bring out the taste and aromas of coffee and combine quality of design with ease of use.

These are great machines for any espresso, cappuccino, or latte lover.

The fact that you can find reusable capsules on the market makes this machine one of my favourites.

Nespresso Citiz D120-Us-Si-Ne1 Silver Chrome with Milk
Nespresso Citiz D120-Us-Si-Ne1 Silver Chrome with Milk
19 Bars of pressure Brews 40 mL Espresso, or 110 mL (3.7 fluid ounces) for Lungo 1 Liter removable water tank Backlit on/off and coffee volume buttons Automatic and programmable Thermoblock heating element Easy insertion and ejection of capsules, holds 12-14 used capsules Simple descaling mode Lightweight, 6 pounds, is part of their compact line.

Fully Automatic Espresso Machines

The fully automatic espresso machine, or the super automatic, is the best choice for your daily espresso shot. However, when you consider the price of an automatic espresso machine, the decision might not come that easy.

On the other hand, if you can afford a "bean to cup" espresso machine, you can fully automate pulling the espresso shot, while having more control over the brewing. That translates into a perfect espresso, barista grade, that will please even the most perfectionist espresso lover.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of a fully automated espresso machine:

  • You can use any beans, that gives you more flexibility in trying new flavors.
  • One button operation with available settings to further tweak your coffee to perfection, from a regular shot to a long coffee.
  • Cleaning and descaling programs.
  • The built in grinder is a high quality one, so no need for an expensive grinder.
  • Most of the bean to cup espresso machines will have a milk frother for the cappuccino lovers, although there is a learning curve associated with these steamers, and I prefer the specialized electric frothers.
  • The fully automated espresso machine is a bit expensive so, if you are trying to cut the expenses of buying your daily espresso from your favorite coffee shop, you will be disappointed.

If you want to read more about fully automatic espresso machines check this page.

Francis Francis for illy X7.1 iperEspresso Machine

The Francis Francis espresso machines are very similar in concept to the Nespresso. They work with capsules, the brewing is fully automated, for a minimum effort while brewing the perfect cup. The Francis Francis machines work with illy capsules, for any espresso lover the illy name is synonym with exceptional quality, guaranteed taste buds satisfaction, and the ultimate coffee experience. If w wanted to have a true comparison between Nespresso and other systems we had to include another capsule based espresso machines manufacturer.

Francis Francis X7.1 Iperespresso Machine, Red
Francis Francis X7.1 Iperespresso Machine, Red
The iperEspresso from Francis Francis, is a one touch brewing machine, with no mess, no operator errors. The brewing is fully automatic, for consistent, predictable, results every time. It features a 15 bar pump, auto-stop for programmable volume, and a steam wand for frothing milk. This machine is designed to use a two stages brewing process that extracts more aromas and flavors from your espresso beans. The crema is also maximized through this special brewing.

Espresso Poll

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Illy Espresso vs Nespresso, Tasting Video

Krups Espresseria Full Automatic Espresso Machine

If you want to fully automate the espresso making process, and to minimize the risk of various aspects of the espresso making, such as grind size, tamping, and weighing the coffee, the fully automatic espresso machine is the best choice. Once you nail the perfect settings for your new beans you will always use those settings for the same perfect espresso.

In fact this is the best alternative to a Nespresso machine, because it allows you to use your own beans, to tweak the brewing to the perfect balance between aromas, strength, and crema, and to get a perfect espresso without too much know how. With manual espresso machines, you need to perfect your grind size, tamping technique, and trust me, you are going to waste a lot of coffee beans, and you are going to be frustrated for a good while.

KRUPS EA8255001 Espresseria Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Built-in Conical Burr Grinder, Red
KRUPS EA8255001 Espresseria Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Built-in Conical Burr Grinder, Red
The Krups Espresseria - full automatic espresso features: LCD display; granular and precise settings allow a fully customised espresso shot, allowing you to controll all the aspects of brewing 1.8-liter water tank with empty tank detection, removable drip tray with integrated floater; Patented brewing chamber is designed for best heat transfer. After brewing, the excess water discharges automaticall; It also features automatic rinsing, automatic cleaning and descaling programs.

Nespresso with Your own Coffee

If you want to lower the cost of your espresso, you can refill your capsules as the guy in the video does. But this kind of defeats the purpose of owning a Nespresso machine, don't you think? You better buy a regular inexpensive espresso machine.

The Best Inexpensive Espresso machine - De'Longhi 15 BAR Pump Espresso

Is this the best inexpensive machine?

According to Amazon's ratings, this is one of the least expensive machines, and the best rated in its class.

De'Longhi EC155 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker,Black
De'Longhi EC155 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker,Black
You can use either espresso pods, or ground coffee, grace to specially designed port-filter. Even if it's an inexpensive machine, the De'Longhi impresses with an advanced temperature control, to deliver a perfect espresso. What's more impressive is that it has two thermostats, one for the steam, and one for the brewer. People have reported a great reliability, which is also impressive at the price is sold. At last, but not the least, the built in frother will allow you to prepare delicious lattes and cappuccinos.

Espresso Machines - Entry level

The entry espresso machines are not expensive, can pull a great shot, but there are some inconveniences with using them. Here is a list of pros and cons of entry level espresso makers.

  • They are not expensive.
  • The brewing can be very well controlled.
  • They are a bit messy.
  • They require a good coffee grinder, which can be more expensive than the espresso machine.
  • It requires some knowledge, trials, effort and time to make a good shot.

Nespresso or Espresso - Which one Is Your Choice

If I were to sum up the information in this page, this is how I'd put it in a few words:

Nespresso: very easy to use, delivers a great espresso, that will satisfy around 80%-90% of the espresso lovers. No tamping skills, no grinding size adjustments and readjustments, just pop in the capsule and press a button.

Espresso: more control over the quality of the shot, however more prone to errors. It is meant for the 10%-20% of the espresso enthusiasts that want their espresso brewed above perfection. (I know it doesn't make sense. LOL)

What is your choice between the two options? Nespresso or Espresso?

Espresso Equipment (photo by Dorian Bodnariuc)
Espresso Equipment (photo by Dorian Bodnariuc)

Nespresso vs Real Espresso - What Do the Coffee Experts Say

Starbucks Espresso vs Nespresso

There is a heated debate about Nespresso compared to other espresso makers. To compare a shot from Starbucks with one pulled from any other espresso machine is almost not fair. Starbuck's is bitter, with a burnt taste, and little crema. Their machines are great, but the beans that go into these machines are low quality, (masked by over-roasting), and result in the poor quality shot. If we add to this the high price you have to pay for it, the conclusion is clear, stay away from it, unless bitter and burnt taste is your thing, (and I know people who love that taste). This comparison is very simple, 95% of the espresso lovers, will not touch a Starbucks shot, unless they never tasted something else.

When it comes to compare it to other brewing machines, the debate is very intense, the coffee connoisseurs will openly express their despise regarding anything that makes pulling a shot easier. They have various arguments, among which coffee is stale, you cannot control the shot, it is not good, or they will say "espresso is an experience, you cannot reduce it to a capsule". I beg to differ, Nespresso shots taste great, and even the most pretentious connoisseurs will have a hard time detecting a difference between a "real espresso" and a Nespresso.

Now I am going to counterargument some of the above:

  • If the coffee was stale, you wouldn't get much crema, the older the beans or grinds, the poorer the crema.
  • The shot doesn't taste good, blind tests have shown otherwise.
  • The experience thing, well that is a choice, if that's the way you want to spend your life, then Nespresso is not for you.
  • You cannot control the shot, that is absolutely true, but at the same time, it leaves very little room for bad shots. Consistency is one of the great features of this espresso maker.

Now, if you own a "La Pavoni" you know how hard is to get a single out of that. You only use it when you pull at least a few shots. Automatic espresso machines make this a breeze, you can get a shot anytime, without any mess. Having said that, I still own a semi-automatic espresso machine. At the end of the day, it's your decision.

What is your opinion about nespresso vs espresso? Which one do you prefer? Make sure you leave details about your coffee background, (barista, coffee snob, connoisseur, passionate drinker, Starbucks regular, etc...)

© 2012 Dorian Bodnariuc

Your Comments, Please

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    • viktorija mikal profile image

      viktorija mikal 

      6 years ago

      Great article! :)

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 

      7 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      You must know my husband and SIL, they are coffee snobs! We have an old espresso maker, but making the frothy milk can be a challenge. I drink a lot of coffee and love hot and cold coffee drinks :)

    • mariacarbonara profile image


      7 years ago

      For me its all about the taste. and for me the Nespresso machines don't do a bad job. The only problem is you can't really fine tune them according to taste

    • audrey07 profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm a chocolate lover, so no coffee for me. But my husband prefers espresso. He says it tastes more like coffee, whatever that means.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 

      8 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Not sure but my husband loves espresso - I'm just fine with plain ole' coffee :>)

    • Skin-Health profile image


      8 years ago

      I think nespresso, or I should say capsule based espresso machines are more convenient. For me, the Citiz does the job, and I can't tell the difference between my Citiz made espresso and the coffee shop where I go while at work.


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