Nespresso vs. Espresso: Specs, Price, Review
Nespresso and espresso are two words that sound misleadingly similar, but they refer to two completely different coffee making machines.
One is capsule based while the other uses finely ground coffee beans, and the resultant brew that you get is quite different in both flavor and quality.
As you hunt for a machine that makes the best-tasting espresso, you will in many instances have to pick between the Nespresso and espresso machines, and so you need to know how to make the choice.
While this might be a straightforward choice for those that have used both at some point, things can be a little confusing for the first-timers. But with our in-depth comparison below to shed more light on how they differ, picking between them should be easier.
Coffee Type Used
Fine coffee grinds
How Coffee is Made
Fill tank with water, pop a capsule and press brew/start button
Fill tank with water, add fine grounds to portafilter, tamp and then push start button
Under 1 minute
Medium body, rich flavor, adequate aromas, and just minor acidity
Full-bodied, full-flavored, rich aromas and bright acidic punch
Ease of Brewing
Fast, simple and consistent
A little complicated and frustrating
$100 - $500
$100 - $1,000
Nespresso vs. Espresso
Both Nespresso and espresso machines are built for making espresso but the technique and raw material they use to achieve this are different. Also, the two popular coffee makers have different origins and knowing where they come from is a great starting point.
1. Origin of the Coffee Makers
Given that both Nespresso and espresso machines are now used globally, many coffee drinkers still do not know their origins. But, if you are a true coffee enthusiast, it is always nice to know where that machine you love and use every other day to get your caffeine dose comes from.
When compared to the espresso makers, the Nespresso is a relatively new coffee maker given that it has only been around for a few decades, unlike the latter which has been making coffee to at least more than a century.
Nespresso machines are capsule-based coffee makers that are now manufactured by different companies in Europe and USA but they originate from Switzerland.
The name Nespresso is a trade name for Nestle Nespresso S.A which is an operating unit of Nestle group. The first Nespresso coffee brewing system was invented in 1976 by Eric Favre, a Nestle employee and first tested in the Japanese market in 1986 before being introduced to Switzerland and other neighboring European countries.
Nespresso became quite popular across Europe in the years that followed and continued to be improved and made more efficient until it became that highly reliable coffee maker it is today.
Espresso makers have been around for way longer than the Nespresso. The first espresso coffee maker was patented in Italy back in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo.
However, the commercial success of the espresso maker can be attributed to La Pavoni a company that bought a patent for an improved espresso maker design from Luigi Bezzera in 1903 and started selling the espresso maker commercially in 1905.
Since its invention more than a century ago, the espresso maker has continued to evolve and improve, and it is now available in four common types which are manual, semi-automatic, fully automatic and super automatic.
But, with all four types, the method of making espresso is the same as it entails forcing almost boiling water through finely ground coffee at high pressure.
2. How they Work
When shopping for a coffee maker, it is always important to understand how it works as this will help you determine whether it will work for you or not.
Given that both Nespresso and espresso machines are mostly automated, they are both quite easy to use but will employ a different technique to make a shot of espresso.
How Nespresso Works
Despite there being several models of Nespresso machines from different companies like DeLonghi, Breville, and Krups, the method of making coffee remains the same, and it involves the simple steps below.
Step 1: Fill up the water tank
Step 2: Pop your preferred capsule into the machine
Step 3: Place a cup on the brew dispenser
Step 4: Press the start/brew button and your brew should be ready in a few seconds
How Espresso Machine Work
Making coffee with an espresso machine is a more involving process, but with the modern automatic machines, it should be easier than using a manual espresso maker. To make espresso coffee, you should follow the steps below.
Step 1: Fill up the water reservoir
Step 2: Grind your coffee beans to a fine grind size
Step 3: Fill portafilter with the grinds and tamp down
Step 4: Insert the portafilter and place a cup under the dispenser
Step 5: Press start button and you should have an espresso in 20-30 seconds
3. Ease of Use
Any coffee maker that you buy needs to be easy to use because you will hardly ever have a lot of time to waste in the morning trying to make coffee.
When it comes to the ease of use, the Nespresso beats typical espresso machines hands down given that it is one of the easiest coffee makers to use.
The process of getting an espresso shot from a Nespresso machine is fast and simple, and you can always expect consistent results every time. Besides filling up the tank and popping in a capsule, there is nothing much you need to do, and the clean up after brewing is also quite straightforward.
Espresso machines are also not rocket science given that everything is automated, but they can sometimes be frustrating, and this is more so before mastering the grind size and perfect tamping. Also, espresso machines are messier which translates to more cleaning up afterward.
4. Brewer Flexibility
While Nespresso might be consistent and super easy to use, they are also less customizable when compared to espresso machines. With most of these machines, you can only use specific capsules or pods and adjusting things like brew strength is not easy.
When using an espresso machine, and this is more so the semi-automatic types, you will still get some level of control over the brewing process and time which opens up room for more customization.
If you are the kind of coffee lover that likes to experiment with different brews and customize beverages, a semi-automatic espresso machine is your best bet. However, if you are looking for convenience and will not mind not being able to fine-tune your brews, Nespresso will work for you.
5. Resulting Beverage Taste/Flavor
Taste is more subjective because what might be amazing coffee for you might be disgusting for the next coffee drinker. Hence, when picking between Nespresso and espresso it will come down to your preferences and the kind of coffee you like.
However, when both are properly prepared, espresso always seems to come out on top. With a good shot of espresso, you will get a full-bodied and full-flavored brew with some rich aromas and bright acidic punch. The beverage will also be more intense to give you an amazing kick.
For Nespresso, on the other hand, the resulting brew will typically have a medium body and will be rich in flavor and have just adequate aromas and minor acidity. When compared to a well-brewed espresso from an espresso machine, what you get from Nespresso will also be less intense and a little lacking in flavor.
Another thing to keep in mind is that given the human element that goes into espresso, there is a larger margin of error whether it is getting grind size right or tamping correctly. What this means is that with espresso you will not always get consistent brew taste and flavor.
6. Average Cost of the Machines
The cost is where many coffee drinkers will find it hard to pick between the Nespresso and espresso coffee makers. On one hand, a Nespresso will have a lower upfront cost, but if you add in the cost of buying capsules, the numbers start going high.
With espresso maker, the upfront cost will be a little higher than what you would pay for a Nespresso but in the long run, you will not need to spend a fortune buying capsules as coffee beans are all you need.
A good semi-automatic espresso machine will cost around $100 and a good grinder will also cost almost as much, and you can get a tamper for at least $20. If you spend around $20 on coffee beans every month, the total first-year cost of using the espresso machine will be around $500.
With Nespresso, on the other hand, you can spend as little as $100 on the machine. If you use at least two capsules a day with the average price of one being around $0.7, you will spend a little over $500 on capsules every year which brings the total first-year cost to around $600.
What this means is that the price for the first year is almost the same, but in the long run, an espresso machine will be cheaper to own than a Nespresso.
So, Which One Makes Better Coffee?
Both Nespresso and espresso machine are designed to give you a strong and rich cup of coffee but use different methods to make it.
Given that the taste is more subjective, what you choose between them is up to you. For those that love full-bodied and full flavor coffee, want to be able to easily tweak their beverage and are looking to save money in the long run, an espresso machine is the best choice.
If you are one of those coffee drinkers that value convenience over everything else and want something fast and super easy to use, Nespresso is the coffee maker for you.