Why does Nespresso taste burnt, bitter or bad?

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Johny Morrisson

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

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?

7 reasons why Nespresso coffee tastes burnt

Here are the seven reasons most plausible reasons why your Nespresso Coffee is tasting burnt or bad:

  • You have programmed the wrong cup size settings by mistake
  • Your machine has accumulated leftover coffee grounds
  • You haven’t descaled your machine for a while
  • You are using low-quality 3rd party or expired Capsules
  • You are using high-intensity coffee pods
  • You are using bad-quality water
  • There might be some defect in your machine

I have been using a Nespresso machine for a while and in this article, I will discuss why Nespresso tastes burnt, bitter, or bad, and ideal fixes to get rid of this problem!

Nespresso tastes burnt

Reason 1: You Are simply Over Extracting the Coffee

One of the most common reasons for a poorly brewed cup of coffee is over-extraction, which can result in a burnt and weak flavor.

I personally experienced this when I mistakenly programmed my Nespresso machine for a larger cup size, resulting in a watery and bitter Espresso.

In that case, it’s advised to restore your Nespresso machine to factory settings and your Nespresso will start producing the right volume.

I am not saying you can’t program the cup size according to your taste but you have to stay in a dedicated range.

For consistently delicious coffee, Original capsules prominently display the recommended extraction size on their sleeves, guiding you to perfection.

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 pods, you’ll end up with bitter Nespresso coffee.

Reason 2: Your Nespresso machine is dirty

In case you don’t discard the used capsules after brewing coffee, it can result in coffee grounds accumulating in the cup holder. This build-up can impair the brewing process and result in a bad cup of coffee.

The used coffee grounds will get mixed in and possibly end up in your cup when you brew your next cup of coffee. And will make your coffee taste burnt and bitter.

Here’s what a dirty Nespresso machine looks like!

Dirty Nespresso Capsule Holder


It is always recommended to eject the used capsule right away after brewing your coffee.

In addition, it is also recommended to clean the capsule holder with a brush and run a cleaning cycle from time to time.

Here’s how you can run a cleaning cycle.

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. Turn the machine on press the button and move the lever to the locked position.
  3. Press the button three times within two seconds.
  4. The orange light will start blinking and water will start flowing out in under 2 minutes.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to clean and descale your Nespresso machine

Reason 3: There is a calcium buildup inside your machine

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 tastes 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.

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

To descale your machine, follow the steps mentioned in the manual of machine.

Always use Nespresso Descaling Kit for descaling your machine and never use vinegar or baking soda as a descaling solution, as it is not recommended by Nespresso and it negatively impacts the taste of your coffee.

Check Nespresso descaling instructions for Vertuo line machines.

Reason 4: you are Using Expired / Unsealed or 3rd party capsules

If you’re experiencing a bitter or burnt taste, then your Nespresso Pods might have passed their Best By date.

Nespresso Pods don’t really expire but they lose freshness with time and go very stale after the best-by date and produce a very dull coffee drink.

Another reason for the bad coffee is using low-quality 3rd party capsules in the Nespresso Original line.

I have tried many 3rd party Capsules some of them are good but some of them are really bad.

Nespresso Capsules


  • You can simply check the freshness of the Nespresso pod by gently pushing the foil seal. If the seal bounces back, the seal is tight and the coffee grounds in it will be fresh. If not, you will get a stale and bad-tasting coffee drink.
  • Store Nespresso Capsules properly in a dry and airtight container to increase their shelf life.
  • 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. I have prepared a list best Nespresso Compatible Capsules, check it out if you want to try something new and good!

Reason 5: You are using High-Intensity Nespresso Pods

If you are using high-intensity Nespresso Pods and complaining about the bitter coffee drink then you are the one who chose the wrong capsule in the first place.

High-intensity Nespresso pods typically contain dark roasted beans and a blend of Robusta beans. They are specifically crafted to produce stronger and bitter coffee drinks.

I am not saying high-intensity Nespresso pods are bad. I personally enjoy them sometimes because of the balance of bitter and sweet flavors and they really go nice with milk-based drinks.

But if you completely hate the bitterness stick with the pods with an intensity level of less than 7.

Reason 6: You are using Bad quality water

Hard water or Tap water with high mineral content is often the culprit behind burnt or off-tasting Nespresso coffee.

The minerals react with coffee compounds, altering the flavor profile and diminishing the fruity, bright notes, leaving you with a flat and dull drink.

Using filtered or bottled water is an easy fix to improve the taste of your Nespresso Coffee.

Reason 7: 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 is a chance that your machine is defective and requires repairing.

In that case, you can contact Nespresso customer 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 Filtered water for brewing coffee
  3. Descale your Nespresso machine regularly
  4. Run a hot water cycle to warm up your machine before brewing coffee
  5. Reprogram your Nespresso cup size to create the tastiest coffee drink according to your preference

Also Read: Is Nespresso real Espresso

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, folks! Now you’re equipped with all the knowledge to troubleshoot why your Nespresso coffee might taste burnt, bitter, or just plain bad.

Whether it’s the wrong cup size, wrong pods, mineral buildup, or the need to clean your machine, this breakdown has got you covered for getting your espresso tasting smooth again!

Let me know in the comments if you tried any of these fixes or have tips of your own for saving burnt Nespresso coffee! I’d love to know what worked to get your morning cup back on track.


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.
If your machine doesn’t have this alert, watch out for these signs:
1- Your coffee starts tasting burnt or bitter
2- Your coffee is not as hot as it used to be
3- Your machine is making more noise than usual
4- 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 might have missed the rinsing cycle after the descaling cycle.
Run 2-5 water-only rinsing cycles without inserting the pod in machine. It will flush out the lingering flavors of the descaling solution.

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About. He knows everything there is to know about coffee and loves sharing his passion with others.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.

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