Why does Nespresso taste burnt, bitter or bad?

Nespresso coffee is typically robust, with a creamy texture and sharp notes. But sometimes Nespresso machines start producing coffee that tastes burnt.

As you look out, you’ll see that your Nespresso machine is working fine and producing exactly the right amount of coffee or espresso. So what’s the problem?

Stop stressing your mind to figure out the Reasons! In this article, we will discuss why Nespresso tastes burnt, bitter or bad, and ideal fixes to get rid of this problem!

6 reasons why Nespresso coffee tastes burnt or Bitter

After extensive research, we have found six reasons that are responsible for your Nespresso natural flavors being lost or altered and also brewing you a bitter or burnt cup of coffee.

The most common reasons why your Nespresso tastes burnt are: Your machine is dirty and needs to be descaled, Using third-party capsules, Over extraction of coffee, programming the wrong cup settings, or sometimes it may be due to a defect in the machine.

We have also provided guidance to fix these issues, and it will surely help you to make your coffee from bitter to better!

Reason 1: You Are simply Over Extracting the Coffee

The first reason for a burnt or bad cup of coffee is you might be over-extracting the coffee unconsciously.

Vertuo Machines

Vertuo line models work by scanning the bar code printed on pods/capsule, which automatically tells the machine how much water is needed and how long to brew for each type of pod.

In Vertuo Machines, Unless you are using Nespresso coffee pods twice, you don’t need to worry about over-extracting the coffee.

Original line Machines

For Nespresso Original Line machines, over-extracting coffee is a more prominent issue.

There are two cup size options available on original line machines, a smaller one (espresso) on the left and a larger one on the Right (lungo). Espresso pours 1.35 oz, while Lungo pours 3.7 oz. 

You should know that only specific pods can be used to prepare lungo. Use pods with the word “Lungo” in their name if you want to have a larger cup of coffee.

If you try to brew Lungo with Espresso or other pods, you’ll end up with a cup of bitter, burnt, or bad Nespresso coffee. That’s because you’ll actually end up running more hot water to run through the pod than you intended.

Nespresso machines come with default cup size settings for any drink you choose to brew but it also gives you the option to change these default settings.

Sometimes changing these default settings results in burnt or bad tasting coffee or sometimes you change these settings by mistake.

In that case, you must factory reset your Nespresso to the default settings

Reason 2- Nespresso Temperature Setting

Temperature setting is a critical factor in brewing coffee. The ideal pulling espresso temperature is between 92 to 95 °C. Nespresso claims that their machines heat water to exactly 80°C.

The Heating mechanism which is used in Nespresso machines is called Thermo block. Water needs to pass from the Thermo block to the capsule holder through piping.

This is where the problems occur especially if you live in a place where the ambient temperature is too low. Because If this pumping path isn’t hot, the temperature of the water will become cold while flowing through the pipes


To resolve this problem:

1- Run a water-only cycle before brewing coffee. This will pre-heat the machine and not only your coffee will taste better but also it will be hotter.

Read a detailed guide on how to make Nespresso hotter

3) you are Using Expired / Unsealed or 3rd party capsules

 If you’re experiencing a bad, bitter, or burst taste, then there might be chances that the Nespresso pods have passed their expiration date. You can simply check it by gently pushing the foil seal. If the seal bounces back, the seal is tight.

If the seal is not tight, then there is a hole somewhere that has been letting oxygen go inside. This causes the Nespresso coffee grinds to produce a drink that tastes bitter.

Another reason for the bitter or burnt taste of coffee is the usage of 3rd party unapproved capsules. Third-party capsules that are specifically designed to be compatible with your Nespresso Original line machine.

You can only use 3rd party capsules if you have a Nespresso Original line machine. Nespresso Vertuo machine works on barcode technology which means you can only use original Nespresso capsules with a barcode printed on them.

Some of the Nespresso-compatible capsules are actually good but others are really bad. And some are also made of biodegradable or disposable material; that’s where the problem occurs. Because biodegradable packing is semi-permeable which means it can’t keep coffee fresh for a longer period of time.


  • Nespresso pods should be stored properly in a dry and airtight container to avoid moisture.
  • For 3rd party capsules, the only solution is to experiment. You can try different 3rd party capsules and choose the one from which you get the best taste.

My Favorite Nespresso Capsules

Here are some of my favorite Nespresso capsules you must try:

Ethiopia Master Origin (Best Mild Roast)

Kazaar Intenso (Best Dark Roast)

4) Nespresso needs to be thoroughly cleaned

If you regularly and consistently use your Nespresso machine, it gets directly as it accumulates oils and used coffee grounds, and dust particles from the atmosphere.

The flavors of your coffee definitely get affected by the leftover coffee grounds and the dust particulates that have accumulated inside the machine.

Those used coffee grounds will get mixed in and possibly end up in your cup when you go to brew coffee in the future. And will make your coffee taste burnt and bitter

If the water coming out of your machine when you run a water-only or cleaning cycle has a brownish-type tint to it, then your machine needs cleaning.


It is always recommended to eject the used capsule right away after brewing your coffee. If you don’t remove used capsules after brewing coffee, otherwise the coffee grinds will accumulate inside your machine and it will become difficult to clean the machine afterward.

In addition, it is also recommended to run a cleaning cycle every time after using the machine.

For the Original line Machine

Put an empty glass on the cup holder and just run a brew cycle (either espresso or lungo) without inserting any pod into the pod chamber

For Vertuo line Machine

  1. Fill the water reservoir with fresh water.
  2. Open the head of the machine and remove any used capsules from the container.
  3. Place a cup or a container on the drip tray under the coffee outlet.
  4. Turn the machine on press the button and move the lever to the locked position.
  5. Press the button three times within two seconds.
  6. The orange light will start blinking and water will start flowing out in under 2 minutes.

Also, keep cleaning the removable parts of the machine i-e drip tray and water reservoir periodically.

5) You are using High-Intensity Nespresso Pods

High-intensity Nespresso pods typically contain dark roasted beans and a blend of Robusta coffee. They are designed to produce stronger and more concentrated coffee flavors and bitterness is a characteristic of stronger coffee.

So, if you hate the bitterness entirely stick to low-intensity or medium-intensity Nespresso capsules.

6) Nespresso needs Descaling

Regular cleaning, Descaling, and maintenance of the Nespresso machine are mandatory for preserving the quality of coffee and prolonging the life of your Nespresso machine.

And I can vouch for that Nespresso Coffee actually taste way better after descaling.

The reason is the regular usage of the coffee machine causes scale buildup inside the machine, resulting in a burnt and metallic-tasting cup of coffee.

Now the question is how often you should descale your coffee machine?

It is recommended to descale your coffee machine once in 3-6 months or after brewing 300 cups of coffee, whatever will come first.

There is another thing that you should also take into account if your machine is frequently utilized by multiple family members, friends, or colleagues, then your Nespresso will most likely need to be descaled more frequently than every six months.

However, never use vinegar or baking soda as a descaling solution to clean or descale your Nespresso machine, as it is not recommended by the manufacturers and has a negative impact on the taste of your coffee.

We recommend you Choose the Nespresso Recommended descaling solution kit for descaling purposes.

Check Nespresso descaling instructions for Vertuo line machines.

There might be a Defect In your Nespresso Machine

If you have ruled out all the above reasons and still your Nespresso coffee is tasting burnt, bitter, or bad then there might be a chance that your machine has now become defective and requires repairing.

In that case, you can contact Nespresso customers support to seek professional help.

Additionally, if your machine is still in the Warranty period then you are lucky. They may offer you to repair the existing machine. Or if you hate that machine you can also negotiate with them to get your machine replaced with some other better model.

5 tips to make Nespresso Taste better

Here are five ways that guarantee the best coffee brewed by Nespresso machines

  1. Clean your Nespresso machine Regularly
  2. Use Filter water for brewing coffee
  3. Descale your Nespresso machine regularly
  4. Properly warm up your Nespresso machine before usage
  5. Reprogram your Nespresso machine to create the tastiest Nespresso coffee pods.

Also Read: Is Nespresso real Espresso


Being a coffee lover, No one wants to have coffee that tastes bitter or burnt. Coffee is supposed to cheer your soul, provide your energy, wake up your mind and fill your heart with happiness, not to make your mouth pucker in disgust, not.

So you won’t be wondering why your Nespresso coffee tastes burnt the next time you get that burnt sensation. Instead, you’ll jump into action.

However, whatever you do Nespresso makes Espresso styled coffee which is supposed to be a little bitter and highly concentrated in taste. If you are looking to prepare smooth and milder coffee with Nespresso. Read our guides on:

Frequently asked question

How do I know when my Nespresso needs to be cleaned?

Some Nespresso machines have a built-in alert and they start blinking when there is a need for descaling.
For other machines watch out for these signs:
Your coffee starts tasting burnt or bitter
Your coffee is not as hot as it used to be
Your machine is making more noise than usual
Your machine is dripping more slowly than usual
If you notice any of these signs then it is evident that your machine needs cleaning.

Why does my Nespresso taste bad after descaling?

If your coffee is tasting bad after a descaling cycle, then there is a chance that you haven’t descaled your machine properly or you have missed some steps during descaling.
In that case, you have to run a descaling cycle again by properly following the instructions.

Johny Morrisson is a passionate coffee enthusiast and an avid blogger dedicated to exploring the world of coffee.

Whether it's repairing or troubleshooting coffee equipment, reviewing cutting-edge brewing machines, or delving into the latest coffee trends, Johny's writing captivates readers and invites them on a flavorful journey.

When he's not writing, Johny enjoys traveling, seeking inspiration from different cultures and coffee traditions worldwide.

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