Nespresso Vs Espresso

You are probably here because you are wondering which is better, Nespresso vs espresso, both in terms of preparation, cleanup, quality, taste and mouthfeel. You might even be wondering whether Nespresso and traditional espresso coffee are really all that different from each other – what distinguishes each type of coffee from the other, and are there any marked differences that the average coffee drinker is going to notice and appreciate?

If you would like to discover the answers to all of these Nespresso vs espresso questions, you have come to the right place. In this article we are going to go over the main differences between Nespresso and espresso that make each cup of coffee unique in terms of preparation and cleanup, coffee beans and capsules, taste and unique mouthfeel. We’re also going to look at some of the best Nespresso and espresso machines and products to help you get started down the Nespresso or the espresso route, depending on what you prefer.

All in all, it really is time to ditch your old French press in favor of a more attractive Nespresso or espresso coffee machine. After all, you deserve to be able to brew a great, barista-quality cup of coffee, whether at the office or at home.

Main similarities between Nespresso vs espresso

From the outside looking in, it can seem like there are not that many differences between Nespresso and espresso machines – or between the cups of coffee each of them produce. But as soon as you become a little more familiar with the different setups and brew methods that distinguishes an espresso machine from a Nespresso machine, you soon begin to see that the two types of coffee machines embody two radically different approaches to brewing and enjoying coffee.

To sum up the main differences between Nespresso and espresso machines, it makes sense to start with the similarities.

First of all, a shot of Nespresso espresso looks very similar to a cup of traditional espresso. Both have a crema, the thin layer of pale brown frothy cream you always see on top of a well-brewed espresso shot, whether it comes from a traditional espresso machine or a Nespresso machine. Both espresso and Nespresso machines deliver a short coffee shot that ticks all of the boxes that would satisfy the vast majority of the coffee-drinking population.

A cup of Nespresso and a cup of traditional espresso are also going to share certain similarities in taste. In fact, an inexperienced coffee drinker might not be able to discern that much of a difference if you were to serve them a shot of traditional espresso and a shot of Nespresso espresso side by side.

However, once you have scratched the surface, the similarities between traditional espresso and its modern Nespresso counterpart begin to dissipate. Let us move on to looking at some of the most crucial differences between the two.

Main differences between Nespresso vs espresso coffee

The most crucial difference coffee lovers are going to notice between Nespresso and espresso coffee relates to the taste. While a cup of Nespresso espresso is going to have a very consistent quality and taste, espressos can vary and fluctuate much more both in terms of the quality and taste. The main reason for this is that Nespresso pods ensure an even and uniform cup of coffee, every time, while brewing a cup of espresso involves many more individual steps and factors that can influence the resulting cup of espresso.

If you were to serve someone who is only used to drinking instant coffee – potentially laden with a lot of coffee creamer and sugar – a cup of classical espresso, chances are they wouldn’t like it very much. To someone who isn’t a coffee connoisseur, a cup of true espresso is likely going to taste bitter and much too strong. Traditional espresso, in a sense, is a fine and acquired taste, something you grow into and come to appreciate more and more as you learn and grow. In fact, appreciating good espresso can be likened to appreciating good wine. To the uninitiated, a cheap sweet wine from the supermarket might appeal as much if not more to the taste buds than a high-quality, specially imported wine might. This is important to keep in mind as you start learning more about true espresso.

Nespresso, on the other hand, is more consumer friendly. This is due to its consistent taste and quality, as well as the fact that a shot of Nespresso, in most cases, is going to taste a little milder and a little softer than a shot of espresso.


Now that you have a cursory overview over what makes a cup of Nespresso different from a cup of true espresso, it is time for us to go into even greater detail on each type of coffee, starting with Nespresso.

Nespresso is a trademarked operating unit under the Nestlé company, based in Lusanne, Swizerland. If you buy a Nespresso machine and notice the De Longhi brand name on any part of the machine or packaging, it is because some of the parts that go into making a Nespresso machine are manifactured by De Longhi.

Nespresso machines have fast become an incredibly popular product, thanks to their ability to brew good quality espresso and coffee from both single-use and reusable capsules.

Nespresso machine and preparation

Nespresso offers an almost fully automated coffee making experience. There are a few different Nespresso machines on the market. Looking at all of them is beyond the scope of this article, so we will be focusing on the three best in class – the Vertuo, the Vertuo Next and the Vertuo Plus.

A cup of Nespresso coffee can be brewed using either single-use or reusable Nespresso capsules (or even unbranded capsules made to fit in the Nespresso machines, although we wouldn’t recommend this option unless you are seriously strapped for cash).

Preparing Nespresso shots couldn’t be any simpler. First of all, you should make sure that there is water in the tank – otherwise your Nespresso machine won’t have anything to work with when you hit the brew button.

Once you have assured yourself that there is plenty of water in the tank, which is located at the back of the machine and has an easy to open an close lid, the next thing you want to do is to ensure that the Nespresso machine is switched on, as it is will take a moment or two to heat up. The way to tell whether your Nespresso machine is ready to start brewing coffee is when the lights on the top of your machine stop flashing and turn solid.

Now the next step is to select your coffee capsule or pod. Nespresso offers a wealth of capsules in different sizes and flavors – for a full overview, head on over to the Nespresso website.

Once the machine is ready, the Nespresso capsules are inserted into the designated slot, located under a lid at the top front of the machine. Note that the capsule only goes in in one direction, so don’t force it to fit upside-down or sideways.

Now place your cup under the spout and press the button that corresponds to the type of coffee you want to brew – the coffee makers in the Vertuo line give you a selection of short espressos or longer coffees.

Nespresso capsules

When the Nespresso machines were first launched, the selection of capsules you could get for them was rather limited. However, recent years have seen an veritable explosion of Nespresso capsules to choose from. Because of the popularity and success of the Nespresso machines, now there are even plenty of other coffee brands that produce Nespresso compatible capsules. Needless to say, the quality of these unbranded coffee capsules may vary.

As for the original Nespresso capsules, their main appeal is that you do not have to contend with grinding, scooping or otherwise preparing your own espresso shot like you have to when brewing coffee using regular espresso machines, and you won’t need a coffee grinder to prepare ground coffe for your machine. There will be no mess of spilled coffee grounds to worry about either. The Nespresso coffee capsules contain the exact measure of pre-ground coffee you need to be able to brew the perfect espresso, every single time.

To boil it down, Nespresso has five different ranges of Nespresso pods to offer – Single and Double espresso pods, Signature coffee pods, barista creations, craft brews and limited edition pods.

Nespresso taste

The Nespresso brewing method results in delicious coffee every time.

Regardless of which flavor, origin or size of Nespresso pod you decided to put in your coffee maker, the Nespresso coffee’s flavor profile is going to be soft, round and relatively mild, while still giving you that caffeine hit hat you crave.

Best Nespresso machines

There is a great many different Nespresso machines on the market, but for the sake of simplicity and quality – which, it could be argued, is what making coffee is all about – we’ll stick to looking the very best Nespresso machines available today.

Nespresso machines work using centrifusion technology to brew a smooth, delicious and consistently high-quality cup of coffee every time, and all Nespresso machines in the Vertuo line are characterized by their fast heat-up times, automatic blend recognition capabilities, and one-touch brewing function.


The Vertuo Nespresso machine is the machine that launched the Vertuo line of coffee makers. It is easily recognizable by its iconic and sleek design, which combines retro and modern elements.

The appeal of the Vertuo coffee machine is that it is able to brew a great variety of different coffees and espressos, all at the click of a single button on the machine’s lid.

The machine head of the Vertuo Nespresso coffee maker opens and closes automatically and its water tank is removable, which makes it very easy to refill as and when needed.

The Vertuo espresso machine is priced at £219 or the equivalent in USD and other currencies.

Vertuo Next

The Vertuo Next is the newest and smallest espresso machine in the Vertuo line of coffee makers.

Vertuo Next possesses all the latest in Vertuo technolgy, but packed into a container measuring only 5.5 inches. Despite its tiny size, the Vertuo Next is not limited in its capacity to produce espresso and other coffee favorites.

Another thing that makes the Vertuo next an attractive choice of espresso machine is its price point: Vertuo Next is available at £149 or its equivalent in other currencies.


The VertuoPlus is described by the Nespresso brand as ‘exceptional coffee made easy,’ a description which perfectly encapsulates the main appeal of the VertuoPlus machine.

Like the Vertuo machine, the Vertuo Plus comes with a removable water tank, a machine head that opens and closes automatically. The VertuoPlus has a few additional features, such as automatic head and capsule ejection, automatic switch-off and a larger capacity water tank.

The VertuoPlus is available at £179 or the equivalent in other currencies.


Now that you have (hopefully) gained a solid grasp on what to expect from a Nespressso machine and from a shot of Nespresso espresso, it is time for us to delve into looking at traditional espresso machines and what characterises true espresso shots.

Espresso is a much older concept than the Nespresso machines that have popularized the drink. Going into great detail about the history of espresso is beyond the scope of this article, so suffice it to say that espresso was invented in Venice in Italy, back in the early part of the 20th century.

Unlike the almost fully automatic brewing process involved in crafting a shot of Nespresso, becoming truly proficient at brewing espresso shots from ground coffee beans involves much more of a learning curve. The rewards, however, can be incredible. Whereas the world of Nespresso coffee is rather limited as you have to stick to the pre-made, pre-ground blends provided by Nespresso and other coffee capsule producers, the world of trad espresso is truly limitless in scope. With the ability to select and prepare your own coffee grounds comes the ability to experiment and tailor-make your own idea of the perfect espresso shot.

Espresso machines, beans and preparation

The first thing to be aware of where classic espresso machines are concerned is the fact that, just like there are virtually endless possibilities available to you when it comes to coffee beans and blends, so there are seemingly endless espresso machine options on the market. Espresso machines vary greatly in both quality and price, so the best way to ensure a great quality espresso stars with selecting a high quality espresso machine.

The fact that espresso machines can vary so greatly is both a pro and a con. Whereas Nespresso machines are all built by the same manufacturer and therefore all conform to the same standard, there is no such thing as an average espresso machine and whether you are using a high-quality or a low-quality espresso machine is one of the factors that is going to have a tremendous impact on how each shot of espresso turns out.

Most modern espresso makers are either manual or semi-automatic machines, and using one of them for making espresso involves several steps, some manual and some automatic.

First and foremost, you need to select and grind the espresso beans you want to use. Of course, you can also op for a pre-ground blend. With traditional espresso machines, you need to be aware of a number of things that you don’t have to think about when using a Nespresso machine with pre-made capsules, such as grind size, and whether or not you have filled the tamper to overflowing.

Once you have ensured that there is water in the tank and that the espresso machine is on, you then fill the tamper with ground coffee and press it down firmly, but not too firmly, inside the tamper. The tamper is then inserted into the designated slot somewhere on the font of the manual or semi-automatic espresso machine. It is important to make sure that the tamper is lodged in place, or you will soon have boiling hot coffee all over your countertop.

The last part of the brewing process involved in crafting espresso using a real espresso machine is usually the same as when brewing coffee using a Nespresso machine – place a cup under the spout and press the brew button.

Espresso taste

Espresso brewed using a real espresso machine can vary greatly in taste depending on the machine yu are using, the coffee beans or brew you have selected , and of course, your own variable skill sas a barista.

Having said that, a traditional espresso shot is always characterized by an intense flavor, delicate crema and instant caffeine hit.

Best espresso machines

With so many different espresso machines on the market, from so many different brand and with such varying price tags, how do you know which espresso machine to choose? Well, we’ll help you narrow down the search.

Casadio Undici A2 Compact Commercial espresso machine

The Casadio company, founded over fifty years ago, has built up a stellar reputation as builders of sturdy and reliable espresso machines. All of the Casadio company’s machines are manufactured by experts in Italy using high-quality aluminium, plexiglass and stainless steel.

The Casadio Undici A2 Compact Commercial espresso machine is as elegant and as high-quality as they come. What’s more, this machine is automatic and surprisingly easy to operate, thanks to the programmable LED display, which lets you program the machine to brew espresso in exactly the doses you prefer. The Casadio Undici A2 also offers top-of-the-line temperature control for a perfect and consistent espresso.

The Casadio Undici A2 is availabe at prices starting from $3,657, with various financing options available and a 12-months parts and labor warranty.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express espresso machine

If the Casadio Undici is somewhat above your pay grde, the Breville BES870XL is another fabulous espresso maker worth considering.

The Casadio Undici promises to prepare a delicious and high-quality espresso from bean to cup in less than a minute. The Casadio Undici is a semi-automatic coffee maker and lets you move seamlessly between manual and automatic functions when bewing your perfect shot of espresso.

With prices starting at around $350, the Breville is an accessible but still extremely high quality espresso maker.

Nespresso vs espresso Q & A

Hopefully, most of your questions about the differences and unique qualities of Nespresso vs espresso coffee have already been answered – but just in case they haven’t, we’ve put together a Q & A section consisting of some of the most commonly asked questions about espresso vs Nespresso coffee and coffee makers.

Is Nespresso just espresso?

From the outside it can seem that Nespresso espresso is exactly the same as traditional espresso. However, there are some marked differences that set Nespresso espresso apart from true espresso.

First of all, Nespresso espresso brewed on either single-use or reusable capsules is going to have a consistent taste and quality, no matter which Nespresso machine is used to brew it, whereas Nespresso espresso brewed from beans is going to be less consistent and more similar to true espresso.

To the lay person a shot of Nespresso and a shot of espresso are going to both look and taste very similarly.

But true or traditional espresso is always going to be the true coffee connoisseur’s choice. While you can get a very good cup of coffee from a Nespresso espresso machine, you can only get a spectacular and unique shot of espresso if you use a classic home espresso machine.

Is Nespresso as good as real espresso?

Whether you would consider a shot of Nespresso to be as good or even better than a shot of true espresso is going to depend on your personal preferences.

A shot of Nespresso is going to have a consistent taste, mouthfeel and quality, while espresso shots can vary wildly in flavor profiles and quality. Nespresso is going to give you a softer, milder taste, while espresso tends to be stronger and more bitter.

Most people might not be able to tell much of a difference between a cup of Nespresso and a cup of espresso, but if you want to have the highest quality coffee experience, go with espresso.

Nespresso vs espresso – wrapping it all up

You have made it to the end of this article and should by now have gained a good understanding of what makes a shot of true espresso so different to a shot of Nespresso.

Ultimately, your quest for the most enjoyable cup of coffee only concerns yourself, so if you genuinely prefer the softer, rounder and milder taste of Nespresso and don’t want to spend too much time, effort and resources in the pursuit of a truly high-quality espresso, a Nespresso machine is probably going to scratch your coffee itch.

If, on the other hand, you want to learn and grow more as a true coffee connoisseur, and if you are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to explore and discover in the realm of true espresso, an espresso machine is what you need, and if you really want to treat yourself you can’t go wrong with one of the best coffee makers on the market, such as for example the Casadio Undici A2.

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