Nespresso vs Espresso (Comparison)

Last Updated on September 13, 2021 by John Moretti

While the two words sound pretty similar, there are stark differences between Nespresso and Espresso. If you are a coffee lover, you might be wondering whether Nespresso is the real classic espresso. But, how do the two differ and which of the two machines should you buy?

A Nespresso will easily win you over if you need to spend less on a gadget and have less free time in the morning to brew a cup of coffee. It comes with convenience and consistency, making it ideal for coffee lovers. However, if you are more experienced in rich coffee aromas and quality taste, the difference in a Nespresso will be highly noticeable.

Here is a detailed comparison of Nespresso vs. Espresso that I have complied to help you when deciding which of the two is ideal for you.

What Is Nespresso?

The Nespresso brand is owned and operated by Switzerland-based company Nestle Group. The brand name combines the company’s name Nestle and espresso. The company produces these capsule-based coffee makers alongside the coffee pods used together with these machines. Coffee is brewed from hermetically sealed coffee capsules, also known as pods.

Unlike the traditional espresso, with the Nespresso, the capsules have been pre-portioned for single-use servings to be exclusively used on Nespresso machines. The machine instantly brews espresso from these pods without requiring lots of human input, which minimizes human error.

Because of this convenient system and quickness, the popularity of Nespresso has increased as more coffee-lovers switch from old espresso machines. Initially starting in Europe, Nespresso has seen a double-digit growth in North America.

Despite this popularity, Nespresso has a different machine system and machine type and produces coffee with different tastes and qualities. All these factors make it different from Espresso.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is one of the most famous ways of brewing coffee. It’s very popular in the world because of its versatility. Unlike a mug of coffee, espresso shots can be used to create a variety of drinks, from cappuccinos, lattes, Americanos to iced Americanos.

The first single-shot espresso maker was displayed in 1906 at the World Fair in Milan. The machine created very bitter coffee and used only about a fifth of the pressure that modern espresso machines now use. Eighty years later, the espresso machines are no longer steam-powered but rather intense pumps.

This concentrated coffee serving is known for its intense flavor. Espresso machines work by producing steam, pressurizing it, and forcing the hot water and vapor onto fine ground coffee beans. Unlike Nespresso, espresso requires a lot of human input, and you have to do all the processes manually. Because of this, it takes a lot of practice to produce high-quality espresso.

The difference between brewed coffee and espresso is the extraction process. Although they use the same coffee beans, espresso machines use the pressure to produce a concentrated drink. Apart from the shot, the extraction process also produces a tan-colored foam known as crema, which indicates the coffee beans’ freshness.

What Are The Differences Between Nespresso and Espresso?

Now that you know the key difference between these two. Let’s go into detail and examine how the machines work, what type of machines you should use, the taste and quality, and time and cost.

Machine Type And Operation

Both Nespresso and espresso machines are pressure-based brewing systems, but they don’t work the same way.

The espresso machine brewing process involves first grinding the coffee or tamping it to the right size. You have to pack the super-fine coffee grounds into a portafilter, then attach it to the machine and force hot water through the coffee grounds at around 9 bars of pressure. You decide how much water to use and how long it takes.

There are different types of espresso machines, among them manual, semi-automatic, fully automatic, and super-automatic. The latter is more like Nespresso machines because they take care of the grinding and brewing with the push of a button.

The essential variables to pay attention to are the grind size, tamping, and shot timing.

On the other hand, the Nespresso machine is much easier to operate. You only need to insert a coffee capsule in the machine, which comes in standard, flavored and decaffeinated varieties.

The machine then heats enough water for a single serving and injects it into a capsule at high pressure. The water interacts with the fine coffee grounds and comes out as coffee.

Nespresso machines can hit up to 15 bars of pressure which gives a concentrated shot of crema. The company also introduced the VertuoLine system in 2014, which gives its machines the ability to brew a regular, full-size cup of coffee rather than a shot of espresso. They serve coffee in five different sizes: espresso, double espresso, mug, alto, and gran lungo.

Taste And Quality

Although both Nespresso and espresso are similar in taste and have identical brewing methods, the quality in taste differs. Traditionally, espresso is known for its full-flavored rich aromas and bright acidic punch.

On the other hand, Nespresso shots have a medium body rich flavor, minor acidity, and adequate aromas. Compared to a shot of well-prepared espresso, it’s a little less intense and flavorful. However, it’s much more potent than your regular cup of black coffee.

Keep in mind that the taste of your espresso will also vary according to your expertise and the type of coffee beans used. Because it depends on human input, their shots might not be consistent due to human error. Therefore, if you make a perfect cup of espresso, it will certainly have more flavor than a shot of Nespresso.


Nespresso machines are less expensive than espresso machines during purchasing. Their price ranges from $200 to $500. However, their recurring costs tend to be higher.

Nespresso pods are more expensive than the standard coffee beans, which will require you to spend more. In addition, the machine doesn’t come with a frothing machine; therefore, you might need to buy this separately if you want to make lattes.

Espresso machines tend to be more expensive, with the full and super-automatic options going for approximately more than $1,000. Some espresso machines come with an attached grinder which increases their price. However, it’s advisable to get your own grinder for different coffee beans. Compared to the Nespresso pods, the beans for espresso are more affordable.

In general, the Nespresso might be cheaper upfront, but the recurring costs might be much higher than an espresso machine.


The Nespresso machine is pretty convenient. It requires less human input, making it much faster.

The brewing process is also much simpler; therefore, you’ll spend less time preparing your coffee. It’s much quicker to pop a coffee capsule into the machine, pressing a button and having your coffee ready in 30 seconds. This makes it ideal for your home.

On the other hand, the espresso machine can take some time to master. Although it produces concentrated, rich, aromatic coffee, it needs a lot of practice to make a perfect shot of coffee. However, once you master the process of setting up the grinder, tamping, and shot timing, you’ll spend less time brewing the coffee and will improve the consistency.

How Similar Are Nespresso And Espresso?

Nespresso and espresso are similar because they both brewing processes that create coffee. Compared to a regular cup of black coffee, these two processes produce rich aromatic and flavored coffee. They can also be used as an addition to create more options such as Cappuccinos and lattes.

The machines also use the same processes. Although there are some technical differences, they both require some form of coffee, hot water, and pressure to brew some shots.

Factors To Consider Before Buying A Nespresso Or Espresso Machine

If you are considering between these two machines, here are some essential considerations to make.

•  The Affordability

If you want an affordable machine, the Nespresso might be the best option. There are different types of machines available in the market now, giving room for more options. However, you should keep in mind that you’ll incur recurring costs when purchasing pods. Espresso machines might have fewer recurring costs.

•  The Ease Of Use

A Nespresso may be more convenient for your home if you want to make coffee quickly on the go. The machine doesn’t require you to dial in; they warm up much quicker and produce a consistent shot each time. Espresso machines take longer to warm up and have more activities such as grinding.

•  The Taste

An espresso machine produces coffee with a better taste and aroma. If this is your most important factor, it’s much better to go for this machine. However, you’ll still need to practice more to perfect your coffee shot.

•  Your Coffee Brewing Skills

If you want to perfect your barista skills, you are better off with an espresso machine. The brewing process involves a lot of manual moves than a Nespresso. Therefore, to improve your skills, you can opt to spend more money on the more expensive machine.