Nespresso Vs Espresso: Differences And Which Machine Is Best

Nespresso and espresso are two very similar sounding words - but they don't mean the same thing. 

An espresso coffee machine and a Nespresso coffee machine are both popular ways to make coffee, but they are surprisingly different and if you don't choose the right one you might end up with a coffee maker you can't make the best use of. 

But don't worry, because we know everything about coffee machines and in this guide we'll give you the full Nespresso vs Espresso breakdown so you can decide which is best for you. 

No, Nespresso coffee machines are not the same as espresso coffee machines. 

Sure, they are both used for brewing coffee, but the two coffee makers have very different ways of doing it. Plus, the coffee they produce is very different. 

Nespresso coffee makers use a variety of Nespresso capsules filled with pre ground coffee. These come in a range of flavors and each pod produces a single cup of coffee. 

Espresso coffee machines work by forcing pressurized hot water through fine coffee grounds. This produces a short, strong shot of bold and intense coffee which we call an espresso. 

Nespresso coffee makers and Espresso coffee makers are therefore quite different and shouldn't be used interchangeably. 

Can Nespresso Make Espresso Coffee?

Nespresso makes short, robust, and flavorsome coffees - but can you make a Nespresso real espresso? Unfortunately not, a Nespresso cannot make real espresso. 

A traditional espresso coffee is a specific type of concentrated coffee made by forcing pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee beans. It's a unique process, and only a real espresso machine can do it.

A Nespresso coffee maker uses Nespresso capsules which can make strong, delicious coffee. However, it isn't real espresso and a true coffee lover will be able to tell the difference. 

Nespresso vs Espresso: Which Is The Better Choice?  

Now you know that an espresso coffee machine and Nespresso machine are very different, it's time to work out which is best for you. 

Here are the key factors to consider:

Ease of Use

Nespresso machines are much easier to use than your average espresso machine. 

In fact, when comparing Nespresso vs espresso machines it isn't even close. Cheaper espresso machines require you to control the flow of water and direct it through the beans. This isn't too challenging, but takes a bit of practice. 

Nespresso machines are pretty much entirely automatic. All you have to do is simply fill up the water reservoir, put in a coffee pod and press "Brew!" 

You can get an automatic or semi automatic espresso machine which is a bit easier to use, but if you don't have much experience then you're far better off with Nespresso machines. 

Coffee Taste & Variety

An espresso machine definitely offers more variety, but only if you have some experience and know how to use it properly.

Nespresso machines use Nespresso pods in the brewing process. There are over 16 flavors available, including some specialty coffee capsule options, but you have no control over the brewing process involved in creating your coffee drink.

When making espresso with most espresso machines you can choose the type of ground coffee you use, the water ratio, and how strong you make it. Plus, most espresso machines have a separate milk frother so you can create milk based espresso drinks. 

Both Nespresso and espresso machines can give you a variety of coffee tastes, but you have more control over an espresso. 

Cost Per Cup

Making espresso is cheaper than using Nespresso machines. 

Nepresso coffee pods cost between $0.40-$0.50 per pod, which means that's what you're paying per cup of coffee. 

Espresso machines only use pre ground coffee and water. This works out as about $0.15 for each of your espresso shots.

The price isn't always a key consideration for coffee lovers (or they'd all drink instant coffee or drip coffee), but espresso machines are noticeably cheaper than Nespressos.


Surprisingly, Nespresso coffee actually contains noticeably more caffeine more than your average espresso shot.

Caffeine content does vary with the Nespresso pods and ranges from 60 to 150 mg of caffeine each. Of course, the decaf blends never go over 12 mg.

Your average espresso shot contains about 64 mg, so you actually do get more from a pod. Of course, you can make it a double espresso if you want it stronger. 

The exact caffeine levels do vary depending on the coffee beans you use and if you're a true coffee enthusiast then you can tweak an espresso shot to make it stronger. 


A Nespresso gives you a more consistent coffee.

Nespresso coffee machines brew consistently every time because it's essentially an automated process. This means you get the same tasting coffee every time. 

An espresso machine relies on the ground coffee bean of your choice and hot water. How finely it's ground and how you control the flow of water will impact the taste of your shot of espresso, so you're more likely to have a slightly different coffee each time.

With practice on an espresso machine you can become consistent, but it will take some time because there's a steep learning curve. 

Machine Price

Espresso machines are much more costly upfront than a Nespresso machine.

A Nespresso machine will cost you about $100 to $200. You do have to pay for the coffee pods on top of that though. 

The amount you'll pay for an espresso machine totally depends on the type you choose. A semi automatic espresso machine will generally cost $200-400, while an automatic espresso machine can cost $400-$700. 

If you want a top of the range super automatic espresso machine which is barista quality then it could set you back $2000-$8000!

Nespresso Vs Espresso

What is a Nespresso?

So, why the name “Nespresso”? Combine Nestle with coffee, and that’s what you get! We’re sure you’ve at least heard of them before, if you didn’t get to imbibe on their unmistakable Nesquik powder growing up.

Unlike Nesquik, however, with a Nespresso machine, they leave little room for human error. Your coffee will taste consistently high-quality every time and will be brewed in mere seconds.  

Instead of dealing directly with coffee grounds and beans, you have your choice of various flavors of hermetically sealed coffee capsules. All "pods," as they're affectionately called, offer up a single serving and are made for use only with Nespresso machines.  


To make your coffee, you first need the water reservoir to be full, which can be done conveniently at the sink. Next, you'll insert a capsule into the machine where it pumps water from the reservoir, heating it in less than 10 seconds.  

When the capsule is placed in the machine, it punctures a hole in the pod. The hot water then is pushed with high pressure through these holes, extracting the rich flavor and moved out through the other side as coffee! This pushing water with a lot of force through coffee grounds is actually the same concept your traditional espresso machine utilizes, as well.  

Do Nespresso machines make espresso? They sure do! In fact, you have a whopping 16 different flavors to choose from, classified into 4 different types: Espresso, Pure Origine, Lungo, and Decaffeinato.  

  • Espresso capsules are “shorter” coffees and vary in strength and blend.  
  • Pure Origine capsules are also espressos, though are from just one origin location. 
  • Lungo capsules are longer coffees, offering about twice the amount of liquid as your traditional espresso.  
  • Decaffeinato capsules are (as you could probably guess), indeed decaf 

If you live outside of Europe, chances are Nespresso seems like it just came out of nowhere. In actuality, they’ve been around as part of the Nestle Group based out of Switzerland for many years! All of the coffee inside every pod is processed in Switzerland as well.  

But how did they get their start?  

We have to go back to 1975, when one of their employees named Eric Favre, noticed that a certain café where he lived in Italy was doing much better than other local competitors.  He decided to look a little further into what the reason could possibly be, discovering that the difference was that this coffee shop prepared their espresso differently! Instead of using one long pull to pull espresso shots, they pumped the levers many times, which pushed air and water into the coffee.  

This is called "aeration," which manages to concentrate even more flavor and produce better crema. As their coffees were more rich in flavor and texture, it made sense why the shop saw so many more customers! Inspired by this new realization, Favre began to create a prototype for the first Nespresso machine. First released in 1986, it’s only grown in popularity and expanded worldwide! 

Nespresso now engage with top baristas around the world and organisations like the Specialty Coffee Association to help them develop their machines and their coffee capsule range. 

white mug on table

Nespresso Machine: Pros & Cons  

What We Like 
  • Very affordable (much more than regular espresso machines) 
  • Easy for just about anyone to operate 
  • Quick and convenient 
  • Less messy 
  • Space-saving design can be used anywhere 
What We Don’t Like 
  • The flavor isn’t quite as complex in flavor as traditional espresso machines offer 
  • While consistent, isn’t able to be customized in terms of the brewing process 

What is an Espresso Machine?  

What is the main difference between Nespresso and espresso?

There are tons! First off, the espresso machine uses highly pressured, very hot water forced through a “puck” or compacted coffee grounds to create espresso.

Some are steam-driven, piston-driven, pump-driven, or air-pump-driven. These are the machines you’ll almost always see in a coffee shop and are top-notch in terms of flavor and quality.  

coffee machine pouring shot

What is Espresso?

Because not all of us are born knowing everything about coffee, let’s clarify what the difference between brewed coffee and espresso is. It’s all about preparation. Espresso beans are typically roasted longer, and an espresso grind is much finer than other types.  

The main difference, however, is the brewing method. For your regular, ol' cup of coffee, you can use a French press, drip, percolator, or other machines. However, espresso must be made on an espresso machine or AeroPress as it requires very high pressure to properly extract the flavors and texture.  

Remember when we said the great thing about Nespresso was that it takes the guesswork out of it? Well, if you want a delicious espresso every time, it's going to rely a lot on you!

You have to grind the coffee perfectly, and tamp it well. "Tamping" means that you tap the ground coffee while sitting in the filter just the right way to compress the grounds properly.

If they're not properly tamped, the water may flow either too fast or too slow through the coffee, resulting in a sub-par taste.  

That sounds like a lot of work, right? While it takes a bit of practice, it’s pretty rewarding once you get it down. There are also semi-automatic, fully-automatic, and super-automatic machines that do the grinding and brewing for you, which makes it pretty similar to a Nespresso machine!  


Dating all the way back to the 1800’s , Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy, first built and patented the espresso machine at the Turin General Exposition of 1884.

Not too long after, Luigi Bezzera from Milan patented improvements to the machine to make it quicker and more efficient. However, it wasn't until 1933 when the Hungarian-Italian, Francesco Illy, came up with the first-ever automatic coffee machine, which subbed out pressurized water and used steam instead. Deemed the "Illetta," it was essentially what today's espresso machines are based off of.

Espresso Machine: Pros & Cons  

What We Like 
  • Unmatchable flavor and texture 
  • Barista-like results from the comfort of your own home 
  • Very long-lasting, high-quality construction 
  • Allows you to customize your espresso 
What We Don’t Like 
  • Preparation takes a while and can be messy 
  • More expensive 
  • Takes up more space 

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Is Nespresso bad for your health?  

The capsules contain additional furan, which is a carcinogen, though it does fall within safe health limits. However, the Nespresso machine itself is BPA-free, which is a big step in securing their consumers' safety and well-being.  

Why is Nespresso so foamy?

Also called "crema," the foam on top of a pod shot is created due to the pressure the machine creates, pushing oils from the coffee beans, which result in this frothiness. 

How many shots of espresso are in a Nespresso pod?  

As previously mentioned, each pod just contains a single shot. This is a great way to measure your caffeine intake, as well as make sure your coffee is as strong as you want it, every time.  

Can you use a Nespresso pod twice? 

Technically, no. For the intended flavor profile, you should only use it once. However, there are people out there who’ve used pods twice with varying results! 


The espresso Nespresso debate rages on but when it comes to Nespresso vs espresso isn't one with a clear winner. It all comes down to you and your preferences. 

If you don't have much experience brewing coffee then you should go with a Nespresso. It's cheaper, quicker, and easier to use - and it makes high quality coffee. 

If you're a bit more of a coffee aficionado you should consider a home espresso machine. They're more expensive and harder to use, but you can full control over the process so you can make an espresso coffee that's perfect for you. 

Kayla Stavridis

Kayla Stavridis

Kayla Stavridis is the Head of Marketing here at Barista HQ. While keeping up-to-date on the latest trends in coffee, you can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening. She is passionate about keeping you informed about what’s new in coffee.

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