Nespresso vs Espresso: Which Machine Reigns Supreme?

Last updated on July 28th, 2023 by Rebekah Pierce

nespresso vs espresso machine

Ah, coffee. It has long been a staple drink in most households, with many variations and brewing methods available today. 

Espresso, including the espresso made by Nespresso machines, is one of the most popular drinks around.

So what’s the difference? Is Nespresso the same thing as espresso – and what are some alternatives to Nespresso?

In this blog post, we will compare Nespresso vs espresso machines made by other manufacturers to help you decide which one is right for you.

Is Nespresso Real Espresso?

Is Nespresso Real Espresso
Easy coffee cravings with coffee pods.
Photo by Sylvain Thrd

To start, let’s define what real espresso is. Espresso is a shot of strong coffee that’s made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. The pressure of the water and the quick brewing process create a rich, full-bodied flavor that’s distinct from other coffee types. 

To be considered an espresso, a shot should be between 1 and 2 ounces and have a crema, which is the foamy layer on top.

Nespresso machines use pre-packaged pods that contain ground coffee. When you insert a pod into the machine, hot water is forced through the pod to create a cup of coffee. Nespresso pods come in a variety of flavors and strengths, and the machines themselves range from small, portable models to larger, industrial-grade machines.

So, is it real espresso? 

The short answer is no. Nespresso is not technically real espresso because the brewing process is different. Again, real espresso is made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans, while Nespresso is made by forcing water through pre-packaged pods. The result may taste similar, but it’s not the same.

That said, some critics of this argument point out that Nespresso does produce a crema on top of the coffee, just like real espresso. Plus, Nespresso pods are made with high-quality, finely ground coffee beans, which produces a rich and flavorful cup of coffee. Some argue that the difference between Nespresso and real espresso is mainly technical.

A Word About Nespresso

A Word About Nespresso
Fresh cup of coffee.
Photo by Aram Grigoryan

Before we start, let’s clarify a few things. Nespresso machines come in 2 different lines: The original line and vertuo line. Original line machines use pods to brew espresso using traditional bars of pressure to extract the brew. The newer Vertuo line of machines use different pods to brew espresso using a centrifusion based system. 

You may also see brands like Breville and DeLonghi authorized to manufacture some of these machines. In our discussion we will be comparing Nespresso to Breville machines strictly licenced to Breville. 

Breville Espresso Machine vs. Nespresso

Breville Espresso Machine vs. Nespresso
Shiny Breville automatic espresso machine.
Photo by ün LIU

Are you a coffee lover? Do you crave a rich and velvety shot of espresso to kick-start your day or to power through the afternoon slump? If so, you have probably heard of Breville Espresso Machines and Nespresso – two of the most popular coffee makers in the market. 

While both of them can produce a delicious cup of coffee, they have significant differences in terms of taste, cost, caffeine, and size.

Nespresso vs Espresso Taste

The taste of coffee is subjective, and what one person likes, another may not. That being said, Breville espresso machines are a better option if you prefer a full-bodied and powerful taste with a rich crema on top. It provides you with the flexibility to customize your coffee to your liking by adjusting the grind size, water temperature, and pressure. 

Nespresso, on the other hand, has a more consistent taste profile that is less customizable but still delivers a pleasant smooth and convenient experience. If you prefer milder or flavored coffee, Nespresso has a wide variety of options to choose from.

Nespresso vs Espresso Cost

The Breville espresso machine is a long-term investment that can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the model and features you want. However, it gives you the ability to grind, tamp, and brew your coffee like a professional barista, which saves you money in the long run. 

Nespresso, on the opposite end, is more budget-friendly with the machines starting at around $100. However, the recurring cost of Nespresso capsules can add up quickly, with each pod costing between 50 cents to one dollar. 

Therefore, if you are a heavy coffee drinker, you may find that the cost of using Nespresso is comparable to or even higher than brewing your coffee with Breville despite Breville’s higher upfront cost.

Nespresso vs Espresso Caffeine

If you are looking for a caffeine boost, both Breville espresso machines and Nespresso can satisfy your needs. Espresso shots from Breville typically have more caffeine than the ones from Nespresso, as the latter uses less coffee to produce a smaller drink. 

However, if you prefer a larger cup of coffee, Nespresso has several options that allow you to brew up to 14 ounces of coffee per pod. In this scenario, you can simply select a higher caffeine option or brew two pods if you want a stronger kick.

Nespresso vs Espresso Size

Another factor to consider when choosing between a Breville espresso machine and Nespresso is the size of the drink. Breville espresso machines are designed to make single or double shots of espresso, which are often consumed as is or used as the base for other drinks like cappuccinos or lattes

Nespresso, on the other hand, offers a variety of cup sizes and drink types, ranging from espresso shots to lungos to Americanos. If you prefer a more versatile machine that can brew different sizes and styles of drinks, Nespresso might be a better choice.

Nespresso vs Automatic Espresso Machines

Nespresso vs Automatic Espresso Machines
High-end silver espresso machine.
Photo by Isabela Kronemberger

Breville’s espresso machine isn’t the only one you should compare with Nespresso to help you make your decision. 

Here are some other makes and models to weigh (as well as some different and more unique options offered by Nespresso itself!) if you’re thinking about purchasing an espresso machine. 

Nespresso vs. Dolce Gusto

Dolce Gusto is another capsule coffee maker that has created a buzz in the market. 

Both Nespresso and Dolce Gusto deliver a consistently good cup of coffee, but the main difference between these two is the variety of drinks. Dolce Gusto offers more options for hot and cold drinks than Nespresso. But, on the other hand, if you want the best coffee experience and rich flavors, then Nespresso is the way to go.

Nespresso vs Delonghi Espresso Machines

Delonghi is known for producing high-quality coffee makers, and their espresso machines are no exception. Delonghi machines produce a richer and more authentic Italian espresso taste. 

They offer more options for brewing control, like grind size and dosage settings. However, they also tend to be more expensive and require more maintenance than Nespresso machines. 

Nespresso vs Gaggia

Gaggia is known for producing traditional espresso machines that deliver barista-style coffee at home. Nespresso machines are relatively simpler to use, and you don’t need to be a barista to make a good cup of coffee. 

The main advantage of Gaggia is the flexibility to change your grind size, which allows you to extract coffee shots with more enhanced flavors. However, Nespresso is a better option when it comes to convenience, speed, and ease of use.

Other Comparisons to Consider

Other Comparisons to Consider
Coffee LED signage.
Photo by Jon Tyson

Nespresso Lungo vs. Espresso

Now, to be clear, these are both offered by Nespresso – the Lungo and the traditional espresso.

Nespresso machines give you the option to make both espresso and lungo. Espresso shot is 25 ml, and a lungo shot is 110 ml. The main difference between these two is the taste. Espresso is more concentrated, and lungo is more diluted. You should choose the type of coffee based on your preference, whether you like a lighter taste or a strong coffee.

Nespresso Ristretto vs. Espresso

Nespresso also offers ristretto, which is a smaller shot than an espresso shot, with a milder taste due to the shortened extraction time. Ristretto shots are roughly 15 ml, while an espresso shot is 25 ml. If you prefer a milder taste and a less intense caffeine kick, then the ristretto is the choice for you.

Nespresso Pods vs. Espresso Machine

The main difference between Nespresso pods and espresso machines is the quality and variety of the coffee. 

Espresso machines give you the option to grind your coffee beans fresh, which provides the highest quality and customized flavor. Nespresso pods are a more convenient option as you don’t have to worry about grinding beans or measuring the correct amount of coffee. 

Nespresso also offers a wide variety of coffee from different countries, and the freshness of each pod is ensured as they are individually sealed.

Nespresso Capsules Lungo vs. Espresso

Again, Lungo coffee is less intense and has a milder flavor compared to espresso. Nespresso’s Lungo capsules come in different intensities, from mild to strong, to suit different preferences. 

The Espresso capsules, on the other hand, are perfect for those who enjoy a more intense and robust flavor. They also have a more concentrated flavor compared to Lungo capsules and can be used for making other coffee-based drinks.

The Final Takeaway

Choosing between Nespresso and other types of espresso machines is not an easy task. Both have their pros and cons, and it ultimately comes down to personal preferences, budget, and convenience. 

Remember, whether you’re a coffee aficionado or a casual drinker, finding the perfect machine can make all the difference in your coffee drinking experience.


Is Nespresso cost effective?

The affordability of the pods compared to frequent cafe purchases, and the time-saving feature of Nespresso machines make it a perfect choice for those who appreciate a quick and easy coffee rush. 

What is the difference between espresso and Nespresso?

Espresso is a brewing method that involves high-pressure and finely ground espresso beans, whereas Nespresso is a proprietary method that uses pre-measured coffee capsules that go through a brewing machine. In essence, espresso is traditionally and freshly brewed, and Nespresso is an automatic brewing process with pre-packaged coffee pods.

Which one is better: Nespresso or espresso?

If you’re a busy individual who is always on the go, or someone who prefers occasional cups of coffee from a machine, then Nespresso might be the better option. On the other hand, for those who prefer the ritual of coffee-making and brewing, or those who have specific preferences for richness or acidity, espresso would be the perfect fit for you.

Is Nespresso just espresso or coffee?

Nespresso, despite its name, doesn’t just offer espresso. There are various flavors available with both coffee and espresso intensity, and you can also find a wide range of roasts and blends. 


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