Nespresso Vs Espresso (Differences + Which Machine Is Best)

While a pot of drip coffee is certainly not a thing of the past, it can be a rarity to see one at someone’s home these days. For the sake of time, convenience, aesthetic, and sometimes flavor, many have opted for another kind of coffee brewing machine.  

The Nespresso and espresso machines may sound incredibly similar, but are like night and day in just about everything else. If you’re looking to learn the “ins and outs” of both to determine which is best for your coffee needs, pull up a comfy chair because we’re here to help you out! 

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.  

Preparation

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! 

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!  

History

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 

Nespresso vs Espresso: Differences + Which Is Best for You?  

What do you value most in an espresso machine? Let’s take a look at each to help you narrow things down.  

Ease of Use

When it comes to convenience and ease of use, the Nespresso is unbeatable. All you have to do is simply fill up the water reservoir, put in a pod and press "Brew!" However, there are fully automatic and super-automatic espresso machines that are similar in ease of use. 

Coffee Taste & Variety

With espresso machines, you’re essentially limitless in both coffee taste and variety. You get to customize your espresso to the fullest, while Nespresso only offers 16 flavors, and you can't change how it's brewed at all. 

Cost Per Cup

When talking about price, coffee pods can really add up. They're more expensive than ground or whole coffee beans, and there's also the issue of the trash leftover from them. 

Caffeine

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. 

Consistency

Consistency is one of the best benefits of a Nespresso machine. However, with practice on an espresso machine, you can also achieve this. 

Machine Price

Espresso machines are much more costly upfront than a Nespresso machine. On the lower end of the spectrum, you can find one between $400 and $700, which work just fine. However, if you really want to get a high-quality machine that'll last you more than a decade, it'll set you back around $2,000 - $8,000! A Nespresso machine costs around $100 to $200, though keep in mind the cost of your pods!

Nespresso with mug

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! 


Conclusion

Now that you're pretty much an expert in knowing the differences between Nespresso vs. espresso machine operation and benefits, have you decided which is ideal for your home? Both are excellent options, but it really comes down to what you value most. We hope our guide has been able to help you out!