Nespresso vs Espresso Machine – Which One is Better

Coffee is even more delicious when made quickly and conveniently. Both nespresso vs espresso offer these benefits, but there are some huge differences you should be aware of before buying!

From requiring certain skill levels to offering you different coffee selections, each brewing method has earned its fair share of fans. Narrowing things down is difficult – and even off-putting – with so many brands and updated models entering the market. We at Drink Stack know coffee tastes best when you match it with the unique details of your life.

We’ve compiled a detailed guide on nespresso vs espresso to help you determine which one’s a better match for your kitchen. We’ll compare the basics of using each brewing method, then look at current models to help you buy your next dream machine!

What is a Nespresso Machine?

nespresso machines
Image: A.Davey

Are you familiar with the Keurig or the coffee brewing pot? If so, you already have a good idea on what the Nespresso machine does.

The manufacturers at Nestlé designed Nespresso to be one of the easiest and quickest methods of brewing delicious coffee. Each machine is only compatible with their patented Nespresso pods, which are round, aluminum capsules that dispense a mug’s worth of coffee.

Their line-up comes in the original Nespresso machine or the newer Vertuo machine.

What is an Espresso Machine?

choosing the right delonghi espresso machine

If you’ve ever watched a barista grind, tamp, and pour shots at a café, you have another good idea of what an espresso machine does! Whereas the Nespresso machine is a hands-off way to create a quick cup of coffee, the espresso machine leans in the other direction.

Espresso machines are complex little creations that dispense hot water and steam to create highly concentrated shots of espresso. Depending on the model you buy, you can also enjoy features such as a separate hot water spout or a steam wand for frothing milk.

The variety in this area is much larger than Nespresso machines, which is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to differences!

Contrasting the Nespresso vs Espresso Machines

Nespresso vs espresso is a conundrum due to how many benefits both machines offer your busy lifestyle. We have a simple round-up of the details you should consider as you make your purchasing decision.

Pros:
  • Centrifusion Technology
  • Faster Heat-Up Time
  • 19 Bar Pressure
Pros:
  • 15 Bar Professional Pressure
  • Self-Priming Operation
  • Second Tier Drip Tray to Accommodate Larger Cups

What’s the Flavor Like?

Are you the kind of coffee drinker that breathes in the aroma of your mug, then meticulously defines each subtle flavor note as you drink? Or are you content to have that classic coffee flavor greet you each morning?

The potential in each machine is quite different: espresso will give you more variety in flavor notes and aroma, while Nespresso will have consistent and classic flavors.

Then again, this is not a hard and fast rule. Nespresso coffee capsules are more varied than ever before, which we’ll look at in the next section…

What’s the Variety Like?

the variety like

Following hot off the heels of our first question, you need to ask just how much variety you want in your coffee. Coffee beans come in details including (but not limited to) flavor notes, aroma, roast levels, origins, and bean type.

Espresso machines work with any coffee bean you purchase from a grocery store or a roaster. Nespresso will come with a pre-selected range of beans provided by the manufacturer. You’ll get a lot of variety in both, but espresso still wins by a landslide.

What’s the Price Like?

Last but not least, ask yourself what you’re willing to pay for your coffee habit. Are you thinking of shelling out several hundred dollars or do you want to stay in the most affordable range possible?

Both espresso machines and Nespresso machines have a lot of variety in the price range depending on the model, supplemental features, and any discounts going on. We recommend saving up between $150 to $300 for either type.

Five Reasons to Get a Nespresso Machine

breville and delonghi nespresso machines

We’ve briefly touched on what a Nespresso machine has to offer you, but let’s dive in deeper. Below are the five best reasons to get one of these sleek little beauties.

Convenient Coffee With Just the Click of a Button

No more measuring, grinding, or tamping: all you have to do is just stick your Nespresso capsule in and press a button. The hands-off convenience of this machine is one of its best selling points and for good reason.

Nespresso Pods are More Varied Than Ever

While Nespresso machines will never have as many options as purchasing directly from roasters, they still have a seriously impressive variety. The Nespresso line-up alone offers several options in roast levels, origins, and flavor combinations.

Their Dark Roast Pack keeps the coffee rich and intense, ideal for drinkers who love to mix some milk and sugar into their brew. If you want to dabble in iced coffee, check out their Iced Recipe Pack. Still not impressed? They regularly introduce new recipes for individual coffee pods such as their decadent Vanilla Éclair or festive Pumpkin Spice Cake.

You can even dip into single origins with their Papua New Guinea, Colombia, Indian, Indonesian, and Ethiopian capsules. With so many fun options at hand, you’ll still be discovering new favorites months after your purchase.

You Can Still Try Other Roasters (If They Offer Nespresso Pods)

Coffee roasters are still available to you when you purchase a Nespresso machine. As long as you find a roaster that’s created its own line-up of Nespresso-compatible pods, you can further increase your coffee variety.

Busy Lifestyles Will Appreciate the Speed, Size, and Efficiency

When you’re too tired to even get out of bed, fast and easy coffee more than pays for itself. The small size of a Nespresso machine also slots nicely onto even the most cramped kitchen counter or office desk.

Clean-Up is a Breeze (But Still Requires a Little Oversight)

Do you cringe at the idea of fussing with paper filters, milk jugs, and syrup canisters? Since Nespresso handles most of the work for you, clean-up is a breeze: just pop out the used capsule and toss it away.

That said, this clean-up still requires a little responsibility, which we’ll look at in the next section…

Three Reasons Not to Get a Nespresso Machine

All that glitters isn’t gold! Nespresso Original and Vertuo machines still have a few limitations, so let’s take a look at them below.

Coffee Pods Take More Effort to Recycle

The sad nature of convenient coffee pods is that they’re not as recyclable as they seem on the surface. To make a long story short, cross-contamination of different materials makes coffee capsules difficult to break down and reuse at traditional recycling facilities.

Fortunately, Nespresso has a recycling program that comes with the purchase of their products, so you can recycle the pods and compost the coffee. Just visit a Nespresso store in person or drop them off at your local waste collection center. If you order your Nespresso capsules regularly, you can even leave them outside with a note for the delivery person to pick up.

If that sounds like a little too much investment, an espresso machine may be a better fit.

Less Control Over the Freshness and Grind of Your Coffee

Coffee tastes its best when it’s freshly roasted and ground up by hand. Think back to the last time you popped open an ancient can of Folgers in the back of your cabinet: wasn’t exactly a legendary taste experience, was it?

Nespresso coffee tastes pretty nice – and very consistent for those that want to repeat their experiences day after day – but they don’t hold a candle to freshly ground whole bean coffee. Since they’re already roasted and ground up days (or even weeks) before you purchase them, they lose some subtlety.

Fewer Decaf, Half-Caf, and Kosher Options

Although the original Nespresso line-up and the Vertuo line-up have decaf options, they’re few and far in between. If you want more half-caf or kosher options, consider looking up other roasters with Nespresso pod offerings.

Three Reasons to Get an Espresso Machine

reasons to get an espresso machine
Image: Nenad Stojkovic

Purchasing an espresso machine feels like leveling up your life. Why not? With so many mouthwatering recipes now at your fingertips, you no longer have to visit the café to get café-style drinks.

The Possibilities For Coffee Recipes are Endless

Espresso is the foundation of most coffee recipes (many of which we’ve explored in our Coffee Series!).

Espresso straight from an espresso machine is infinitely more thick, rich, and more complex than the best Nespresso pods. Coffee recipes that will reap the benefits of heavy crema and nuanced flavors include (but aren’t limited to)

  • Lattes
  • Flat whites
  • Dry cappuccinos
  • Wet cappuccinos
  • Ristretto

Save Money in the Long Run on Regular Café Visits

This section will only add up if you go to cafés on a daily or near-daily basis, but if so, you could save some serious money. Let’s do a little math below.

The average cost of a latte ranges between $5.00 to $8.00 depending on the milk, flavorings, and particular business you like to frequent. If you get these on a daily or near-daily basis, you could be spending $35 to $40 per week on drinks. That’s $120 to $160 per month and over $1,500 per year.

Imagine sinking that money into a high-quality espresso machine that can easily recreate the café experience without the long lines, commute, or risk of a drink you don’t like.

Greater Selection on the Type, Origin, and Roast of Coffee

There are nearly 1,400 roasters operating in the United States and you’ll get to try pretty much all of them when you get an espresso machine.

Three Reasons Not to Get an Espresso Machine

While espresso machines are spectacular feats of science and art rolled into one shiny package, they’re still not for everyone.

The Learning Curve is Slightly Higher

Espresso machines are rarely just a quick button press. While you can purchase streamlined superautomatic models, all espresso machines will have a slightly higher learning curve than the instantly accessible Nespresso machine.

Superautomatic does most of the work for you when it comes to brewing espresso and frothing milk. Just one or two button presses will give you a delicious, café-style drink.

Semiautomatic gives you a little more freedom to change the settings on your pressure or time your shots, a great option if you’re a passionate homebrewer or former barista.

Decent Espresso Machines are More Expensive

The Nespresso line-up ranges between $180 and $700 depending on the model, size, and color. Espresso machines have a similar price range on the low end of things, but we recommend saving up a little extra money.

Espresso machines in the $75 to $100 range are perfectly fine as novelty gifts that’ll only be used a few times per month. If you want to indulge in your espresso habit on a daily or near-daily basis?

You’ll need a machine that can hold up to the wear and tear of regular usage. Expect to pay between $200 to $800 if you’re an avid espresso drinker.

Espresso Machines Need More Maintenance

If the idea of putting some love, sweat, and tears into your coffee routine turns you off, you may want to steer clear of an espresso machine. Even a simpler model will require you to do a little more cleaning than the average capsule machine.

For starters, you’ll need to clean out the portafilter every time you’re done with it to keep stale bits out of your next drink. You also need to rinse out the group head to clear out excess coffee grounds.

That’s not even taking into account running cleaning protocols every few months (though most models make this easy by providing cleaning solutions and step-by-step instructions).

Best Nespresso Machines

What qualifies as the best Nespresso machine? Well, we’ve chosen a few options that are competitive when it comes to price, coffee selection, and longevity.

Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine by Breville

Small, sleek, and glittering black, the stylish Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine will blend into just about any coffee counter. Don’t let the title confuse you: this is still a machine that uses coffee pods but with a distinctive espresso machine-like result.

The Essenza is for drinkers who crave a simple espresso, whether blended with hot water or mixed into a quick latte. The straightforward user interface makes it instantly accessible to beginners and experienced homebrewers alike. Just wait twenty-five seconds for the water to heat up, then a few minutes for your coffee to brew.

You’ll be able to enjoy coffee immediately with the complimentary starter set of Nespresso capsules. Currently retailing at $180, you can catch this purchase as a discount for your kitchen or as a novelty gift for a loved one.

Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville

Do you get tired of fiddling with your machine’s settings? Instead of messing around with measurements, get a Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee And Espresso Machine that optimizes your drinks for you. Again, to reduce confusion: this is a capsule machine, not an espresso machine!

Vertuo capsules come with a barcode on the pod designed to save you some work. After a quick scan, your machine will automatically change its settings to create the ideal extraction for the coffee you inserted.

Best Espresso Machines

From machine longevity to incredible coffee quality, we have a few fantastic espresso machines you should check out below.

De’Longhi Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

With a marked-down price and the ability to create multiple shots of espresso, the De’Longhi ECP3420 Bar Pump Espresso And Cappuccino Machine is a fantastic entryway into the world of homebrewing. We particularly love the manual milk frother and how accessible it makes complex drinks like cappuccinos.

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine

If you want to step things up a notch with a built-in grinder and a wider variety of settings, the famed Breville line-up is ready when you are. The Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine is equipped with many state-of-the-art features you’d see in a cafe setting.

Want your coffee to taste even better? The preinfusion system will improve coffee extraction with no effort on your part. Eager to bring out the most subtle flavors in your beans? The conical burr grinders are beloved for creating an even grind with just a button press.