Nespresso Vs Espresso – What’s Better?

If you’re new to the world of brewing coffee, you might be confused about the difference between Nespresso vs Espresso. 

The former’s recognized for its convenient approach to single-serve coffee. Whereas the other encompasses the base of a morning brew for many, regardless of whether it’s a Latte, Americano, or a single shot of pure caffeinated joy. 

If you find yourself asking if you should buy a Nespresso or Espresso machine, keep reading! 

Who are Nespresso in 2020?

Nestle owns Nespresso, and the brand is a portmanteau of their name and espresso. The company is based in Switzerland, and they produce capsule-based coffee makers, along with the coffee pods that are used with these machines.

The Nespresso machine concept was first thought of by Eric Favre, a Nestle employee, in 1975. He was fascinated with how an Italian barista brewed coffee differently from traditional espressos. This method resulted in a more flavorful shot with a thicker crema, and it was patented the following year.

It took a decade before the first Nespresso machine launched, and it soon became a global phenomenon. Today, Nespresso can be found in at least 500 cities all over the world, including cafes run by the giant for a walk-in brew.

The Brewer

There are two models of Nespresso machines, and they use coffee pods exclusive to their line-up. The first is the Original line, which uses Nespresso capsules but also has third-party refill pods similar to as you find with Keurig K-Cups.

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These Nespresso machines work by puncturing capsules and injecting pressurized water through the pod to brew the grounds inside.

The newer Vertuoline was invented to appeal to the demand for bigger servings of espresso Nespresso. Unlike the original Nespresso machine, these coffee makers use Centrifusion technology, which uses centrifugal force to brew Vertuo coffee capsules. 

Along with the fact, Nespresso doesn’t permit third parties to create refill pods due to an extended patent on the idea, which is still valid.

The Coffee

Nespresso has a wide variety of capsules to choose from, and one capsule can hold 5 – 7 grams of pre-ground coffee. They can brew a single, double, or lungo-sized espresso and options for bigger coffee servings depending on the machine.

Their machines also produce 15 bars of pressure, which is more than enough to make a drink comparable to a shot of espresso. The Vertuoline Nespresso machines can sometimes even have a creamier coffee with a thicker crema because of its unique brewing method compared to cheaper espresso makers.

Flavor

A shot of espresso Nespresso can have rich flavors and aromas with a medium body and less acidity. It’s stronger than a dripped coffee, and as a consumer, you can choose from a wide variety of single-origin pods containing a roast you enjoy. 

These coffee pods are also hermetically sealed to ensure that you’ll get a fresh cup of coffee every time you brew. Nonetheless, for purists (myself included), it’s never going to match a semi-automatic espresso machine where I can dial in the parameters myself. 

Also, while it may make for a delicious coffee, you might find yourself limited with the choice of pods you can use. Although, there are options for reusable capsules where you can place on your own grounds with the original line of brewers.

What’s Espresso?

This concentrated coffee serving has been around since the early 1900s when the Italians invented the espresso machine. 

Known for intense flavor through the use of beans ground at a very fine grind size increases the amount of solubles that mix with the heated water.

Brewing Espresso

What makes using an espresso machine different from other coffee-making methods is the pressure, 9 bars minimum to be exact. Espresso machines work by pressurizing steam and forcing down hot water onto fine coffee grounds.

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Unlike a Nespresso machine that does all the work for you, whereas a traditional espresso requires manual work. It takes practice to pull a high-quality espresso where the coffee’s flavor and aroma are at its peak. Give it enough time, and you can pull a great espresso just like a professional barista.

The Shot

A great deal about this drink is the texture from the shots and the crema.

The crema is tan-colored foam on top of a fresh pull of espresso. This bitter-tasting foam is generated from the high pressure of an espresso machine.

Most coffee industry professionals can agree that the crema does not signify that the espresso will be tasty, but it does indicate the coffee beans’ freshness.

Nonetheless, a shot from a Nespresso machine also delivers crema due to the centrifusion technology.

Flavor

Many of us have misconceptions about espresso and that it is very bitter. To be honest, I had assumed so before I started my career as a barista.

The truth is that espresso coffee is known to have stronger flavors compared to other coffee-making methods. This is because it’s made from a medium-dark or dark roast. 

Using pressure magnifies the natural characteristics of your coffee in one shot. This can be overwhelming to a newbie, but you might feel like an expert barista and determine the complexities in a shot of espresso once you get used to it.

With that said, your espresso’s overall flavor will vary depending on the coffee beans, so make sure to choose the right fit for your tastebuds. If you’re unsure, start off with a medium roast espresso blend and figure out what you like before moving onto specific single-origin beans. 

Nespresso and Espresso Compared

nespresso and espresso difference infographic

Taste

The taste between a Nespresso vs Espresso coffee comes down to how intense the flavors can cut through.

While the Nespresso has good flavors, the difference is it’s less intense compared to real espresso. A good quality espresso coffee will have a richer and defined flavor with a full-body and smooth mouthfeel.

One thing to consider in using an espresso machine is that it has a wide margin of error, which can turn out poorly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even if you consider most of the factors to make espresso, sometimes you’re subject to problems such as an incorrect grind, that’ll result in a low-quality shot.

With a Nespresso machine, you’ll achieve a consistent taste in your coffee, but it won’t blow you away in terms of flavor. 

Price

Price-wise, buying a Nespresso Machine is more cost-effective for your home vs an espresso machine. The majority of Nespresso’s line-up falls under $200, with some going around $500. Most inexpensive models can brew original Nespresso capsules while the more expensive coffee makers come with more bells and whistles.

Cost may vary depending on your preferred coffee quality in purchasing a home espresso machine. Prices start at around $100, with many machines going beyond $1000. 

Most espresso machines have an attached steam wand for milky coffee fans, but if you wanna go for Nespresso, you would have to purchase a separate milk frother in the form of an aeroccino. 

Some espresso machines have an attached grinder, but they do cost more, and it is recommended to get a separate burr grinder to get the best quality out of your coffee beans. You can use pre-ground coffee, but it might be better to go for a Nespresso coffee maker instead as the flavors will be roughly the same.

While a Nespresso machine can be cheaper upfront, Nespresso pods cost more per cup than using coffee grounds.

Brewing Difficulty

It’s no wonder why Nespresso is synonymous with convenience. All of these machines can make a cup of coffee just by filling up the water tank, popping in the capsule, and pushing a single button. If you want less of a hassle to make your coffee, it’s best to go for Nespresso vs espresso machine.

On the other hand, traditional espresso machines can provide a rewarding experience, coupled with a steep learning curve. 

You’ll need to learn and adjust the brewing parameters like the dose, grind size, temperature, volume, and even the way you tamp your grounds. With enough practice, you can pull a delicious espresso just like a pro-barista.

If you enjoy the process of dialing in a shot or at-least learning how to do so, a real espresso machine can be a thing of beauty. But, remember, there is much more work involved than simply pressing a button and sipping on your brew. So, it depends on what you prefer. What you enjoy might be someone else’s worst nightmare! 

Nonetheless, there are also more automated alternatives outside of single serve brewing. Including automatic espresso machines that let you program the volume of your espresso shots is less of a hassle than semi-automatic machines, but they cost more!

Summary

The differences between Nespresso vs Espresso boils down to convenience vs quality. Your choice of machine will depend on your preferred way to make your coffee.

If you’re after the full flavors and complexities of coffee, along with complete flexibility, an espresso machine is a right fit for you. 

The Nespresso would be preferable for your home if you want to save time and get a quick caffeine fix. It doesn’t cost as much compared to other single-serve coffee makers as well.

No matter what you do, keep brewing!

Philip Daniel Felongco

Philip Felongco

Ex-Barista and now coffee writer

A life long coffee drinker, Philip has been looking for new ways to enjoy coffee since he started in the coffee industry in 2017. His favorite coffee is a light roast Rwandan single origin. If he’s not binging on food shows or trying out new coffee recipes, you can catch him here at Sip Coffee!