Nespresso Vs Espresso | (How These Machines differs?)

While Nespresso machines make brewing espresso easy, there are many coffee snobs out there who will argue that Nespresso coffee isn’t a genuine espresso. There’s no doubt that Nespresso has made a place in millions of homes over the years, but the drink they produce isn’t as rich and strong as espresso.

The unique selling point of Nespresso machines is user-friendliness and the convenience these machines offer. Even a beginner can brew a shot of Espresso easily without learning the complex brewing process.

In this article, I will make a detailed comparison between Nespresso vs Espresso machines. The similarities and differences will be listed along with which machine will be a better choice for you.

Nespresso vs Espresso

How does the Nespresso Machine work?

Nespresso machine

Nespresso brand is a subsidiary of a well-known brand Nestle based in Switzerland. Eric Favre an employee of Nestle initially came up with the idea of the Nespresso system. He introduced the repeated pumping system in the Nespresso machines.

Nespresso is well known for its capsule-based brewing system. With these machines, all you have to do is put the capsule in the machine and press the brew button and you’ll have an espresso-styled coffee drink within a minute. As simple as it is!

As stated earlier the unique selling point of Nespresso is convenience and user-friendliness. It is true that this machine cannot prepare the best Espresso drinks, but the fact that it can prepare espresso in under a minute by simply pushing a button is what makes it so popular.

Coffee capsules for Nespresso machines contain around 5 to 7 grams of ground coffee and are sealed in specialized packaging so they can stay fresh for longer. Moreover, these capsules are available in a variety of flavors and intensity levels, so you can select what suits you best.

After you insert the capsule into the machine the boiler heats the water and a stream of hot and pressurized water is forced to pass through the capsule. The water extract flavors from the coffee grounds and delivers a shot of Espresso with rich and thick crema.

Nespresso has two different line machines i-e the original line and the vertuo line. Based on the working principle there are some differences among these lines.

Original Line

Nespresso Original line machines are compatible with both the original and 3rd party coffee capsules.

Inissia, Pixie, Essenza, Lattissima, and Creatista are the part of Original line Nespresso. 19 bars of pressure are used in these machines.

The Inissia, Pixie, and Essenza are entry-level machines that can only prepare a single or double shot of espresso. While Lattissima and Creatista are high-end machines that can brew milk-based espresso drinks that too at the touch of a button.

Vertuo Line

Nespresso vertuo plus machine

Vertuo line brewing system has a special barcode system that makes them compatible with only Vertuo Nespresso capsules. This is both a good and bad thing at the same time. 

The good part is Nespresso makes these capsules themselves and they make sure they are offering quality coffee. 

The bad part is these Nespresso pods are usually more expensive than 3rd party capsules and coffee grounds.

The working principle of the Vertuo line machine is also very different than original line machines. Vertuo line has a centrifugation system instead of pressurized water. In these machines, the capsule rotates 700 times a minute to produce a shot of Espresso with a rich, thick crema.

Vertuo line machine also gives an option for brewing an 8 oz cup of coffee (this option is not present in original line machines). 

The Nespresso Vertuo line has three different models Plus, Evoluo, and the Next.

Also Read: Nespresso Vertuo Next vs Plus

How does an Espresso Machine work

Breville Espresso machine

Traditional Espresso machines have three different types i-e Manual machines, Semi-automatic machines, and fully automatic machines.

Manual Espresso Machines 

In manual espresso machines, you have to generate the pressure manually by applying physical force. There is much hassle involved in brewing a shot of espresso with these machines and also they do not produce a quality shot of espresso. These machines are not recommended unless you want them for portable purposes like traveling or camping.

Super Automatic Espresso Machines

Both semi-automatic and super-automatic Espresso machines are pump driven and force high-pressure water through a puck of coffee grounds to prepare a shot of Espresso.

Super-automatic Espresso machines are similar to Nespresso machines. You just have to push the button and the machine will take care of grinding, tamping, and pulling the shot. 

Compared to Nespresso machines, Super-automatic Espresso machines brew espresso using freshly ground coffee beans instead of capsules. And that’s a big plus point as it makes Espresso shot fresh and more flavorful.

If you are new to Espresso these machines are perfect for you. But these machines are generally very expensive and you must expect to pay around a thousand bucks for these machines.

Semi Automatic Espresso Machines

In semi-automatic Espresso machines, you have to take control of all the brewing parameters like selecting the amount of coffee grounds, grind size of the coffee beans, tamping and distributing over portafilter, and finally pulling the shot. 

These machines are perfect for expert coffee lovers and certainly not recommended for beginners unless you are willing to practice and learn the brewing process.

Once you become an expert at brewing espresso shots with semi-automatic Espresso machines there is nothing that can beat the Espresso shot it brews. 

Read a detailed guide on How to use an Espresso machine

Nespresso vs Espresso Machines | A detailed comparison

Espresso and Nespresso machines are both pressure brewing systems. But that doesn’t mean these machines are exactly similar. 

The traditional espresso machines are generally heavy and bulky and require expertise to operate whereas Nespresso machines are compact, lightweight, and extremely easy to use.

Let’s go through the different features of these machines and see how they compare.

1- Taste

If a shot is prepared with a traditional Espresso machine by an expert person, there is no comparison between the taste of Nespresso and the Espresso machine. 

The espresso machine always brews better shots with a full body, a rich and sweet taste, and a flavorful aroma.

Nespresso also prepares decent shots, they lack the intense flavor and seem to be a little milder.

The difference in taste is mainly due to the difference in coffee to water ratio. Espresso machines usually use a ratio of coffee to water between 1:1.5 and 1:2.5, while Nespresso machines use a ratio of about 1:5. That means espresso machines have more than twice as much coffee per shot as Nespresso machines.

Secondly, Espresso machines use fresh ground coffee beans to brew a shot, whereas Nespresso capsules are also fresh thanks to their specialized packaging, but they’re certainly not as fresh as freshly ground coffee beans.

Taste of Espresso
Characteristics of authentic Espresso (Source: Espresso Italiano)

A bad shot of espresso can easily be obtained if you are not an expert in brewing while using traditional Espresso machines.

The great thing about Nespresso machines is their consistency and you will always achieve the same flavorful and pleasant shot.

2- Crema Layer

A thick caramel-colored layer present on the top of the Espresso shot is a trademark of Espresso. The texture and thickness of the crema layer say a lot about the quality of an Espresso shot.

The Crema layer is actually a thick carbon dioxide layer at the top of the shot that is formed because of the pressurized brewing process.

In Nespresso machines, the crema layer is usually thicker and more aerated because of the high pressure of 15 bars, and it disappears very fast.

In traditional espresso machines, the crema layer has a smooth texture and stays fresh for longer.

3- User-friendliness

No Espresso machine can beat Nespresso in terms of convenience. It is undoubtedly the most significant factor to consider when deciding between these two.

Brewing a perfect shot of Espresso using a standard Espresso machine is much hassle. It starts with grinding the beans, then you tamp and distribute them evenly into the portafilter, and finally, you pull the shot. If you are not an expert, you are very likely to make mistakes and ruin your shot.

On the other hand, Nespresso machines are very straightforward. Just insert the pod into the machine and hit the brew button with your desired cup size and let the machine take care of all the brewing process.

4- Time for brewing

It takes quite a few minutes for espresso machines to reach the right temperature and pressure once they have been turned on. And after that, you have to carry on with the brewing process which is also very time consuming.

The brewing of a shot takes around 5-7 minutes on a standard espresso machine and cleaning the machine afterward also takes much time.

On the other hand, the Nespresso machine heats up in 1 to 1:30 minutes, while a shot will take around 40 to 60 seconds to brew.

That’s just 2 minutes in total and you have to do nothing besides inserting the capsule and pressing the button.

5- Price

Nespresso machines are generally cheaper than good-quality standard Espresso machines. The starter Nespresso machine like Essenza mini costs around 100 dollars while High-end machines like Gran Lattissima can cost up to 600 dollars.

Semi-automatic Espresso machines are also not very expensive you can easily get them for around 200 or 300 dollars. And there are also some really good budget options like Delonghi ECP 3240.

The cost of a high-quality Super Automatic Espresso machine usually hovers around 1000 dollars. These machines have all the accessories and features you’ll need like a grinder, milk frother, and preset drink options.

Another point is that recurring costs with Nespresso machines are very high. Nespresso capsules cost about twice as much as ground coffee. In fact, it’s the main business model of Nespresso, they actually earn more by selling coffee grounds than by selling coffee machines.

However, you can minimize this cost by using 3rd party capsules or using reusable coffee filters (This option is not available for Vertuo line users).

Read a detailed guide on Is Nespresso really worth it

Is Nespresso a Real Espresso?

The short answer to this question is it depends! There is no universal definition of Espresso. Many coffee organizations around the World define Espresso in their way. 

What Is Espresso?

According to Espresso Italiano, the definition of Espresso is: 

The essential requirement is starting from a qualified blend that is processed by means of a qualified grinder dispenser and a qualified machine at the hands of a qualified operator, and complying with a few important parameters:

Necessary portion of ground coffee7 g ± 0.5
Exit temperature of water from the unit88°C ± 2°C
Temperature of the drink in the cup67°C ± 3°C
Entry water pressure9 bar ± 1
Percolation time25 seconds ± 5 seconds
Viscosity at 45°C> 1.5 mPa s
Total fat> 2 mg/ml
Caffeine< 100 mg/cup
Millilitres in the cup (including froth)25 ml ± 2.5

National Coffee Association published some facts about authentic Espresso:

1- Espresso is not a particular type of coffee bean or a particular roast, it is a drink

2- Espresso machines use 132 pounds per square inch of pressure to extract coffee.

3- One shot of espresso requires 50 coffee beans.

4- Brewed espresso has 2.5% fat, while filtered coffee contains 0.6% fat.

According to the specialty coffee Association:

“Espresso is a 25–35ml (.85–1.2 ounce [×2 for double]) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds. While brewing, the flow of espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick, dark golden crema. Espresso should be prepared specifically for and immediately served to its intended consumer.”

So according to the above definitions, Nespresso machines clearly not produces authentic Espresso mainly because of three facts

1- Amount of coffee beans: Nespresso uses 5-7 grams of coffee grounds for a shot of Espresso which is not enough for an authentic Espresso

2- Brewing temperature: The brewing temperature inside the Nespresso machine is around 180 for original line machines and 170 for vertuo line machines. That is less than 195-205 degrees required for authentic Espresso.

3- Pressure: Nespresso original line operates at the pressure of 15 bars which is more than 9-10 bars required for authentic Espresso. While Vertuo line machines have a completely different centrifugation technology.

There are many respected coffee associations around the World having their own definition of Espresso. But does the definition really matter? 

For me, what matters is whether Nespresso produces good coffee, and regardless of whether it qualifies as espresso or not, I think the flavor of coffee from Nespresso is quite good. And the most important thing is flavors are consistent with every capsule. 

Nespresso vs Espresso Machine | Which you should buy?

Both Nespresso and Espresso machines have their pros and cons as discussed in the article. In the end, I wanna summarize the article with What machine is best for you!

If you are someone who takes coffee very seriously, you are into coffee art, you can’t compromise on the taste and quality of your brew, and you are willing to spend time learning the brewing skill then you should definitely go with a standard Espresso machine.

However, if you are really busy, you don’t have a lot of time in the mornings for brewing coffee, and convenience matters a lot for you then you should go with a Nespresso machine.

Also Check out:

Does Nespresso make espresso shots or coffee?

Nespresso Vertuo line Models offer both Espresso shots and coffee drinks while the original line models are only limited to only Espresso and lungo shots.

Are Nespresso Machines Economical compared to Espresso Machines?

Compared to traditional Espresso machines Nespresso machines are actually more affordable. You can easily buy an entry-level Nespresso machine like Essenza mini in 100 dollars range.
However, the recurring cost of coffee capsules that comes with Nespresso machines is significantly higher than the coffee grounds used in Espresso machines.