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Nespresso vs Espresso Machines (2021): Which Machine Should You Get?

Many confuse Nespresso with espresso, but the machine and the coffee they make are not the same. While we highly recommend getting an espresso machine for pulling that perfect espresso shot and smooth micro-foam milk, we get why single-serve espresso machines like Nespresso have won the hearts of many coffee drinkers. They are quick, easy to use, and, if you get the right machine, you can create great-tasting brews with a touch a button.

Nespresso and espresso machines have their own advantages and disadvantages, and we break them down below so you can decide which one suits your taste and lifestyle better. 

Nespresso vs Espresso Machines Comparison Chart

ModelNespresso MachinesEspresso Machines
Best Overallย 

Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo by De’Longhi

Breville the Barista Touch

Best Value for Money

Nespresso Vertuo by De’Longhi

Breville the Barista Express

Best Top-of-the-Line
Nespresso Creatista Plus by Breville
Breville the Oracle Touch
Best Budget Pick

Nespresso Essenza Mini by Breville

Gaggia Classic Pro

Machines & Extraction Process

Nespresso machines use single-serve coffee pods or capsules while espresso machines typically use fresh ground coffee

Nespresso vs Espresso (2)
Nespresso machines use sealed pods (left) while espresso machines use portafilters (right)

Espresso machines can help craft rich, full-bodied espresso with a dense crema, but the process of achieving this is not as easy as we wish. Most espresso machines have a learning curve to extract espresso that’s neither too bitter nor watered-down. There are many factors to consider when making espresso, including ground coffee measurement, tamping pressure, and specific settings for temperature, pressure, and dosage.

Having said that, there are automatic espresso machines such as Breville’s the Barista Touch and the Oracle Touch that can take care of everything for you, including tamping. They are not as affordable as the high-end Nespresso machines, though.

Meanwhile, Nespresso machines extract espresso from coffee pods or capsules. Nespresso provides an efficient and convenient way to enjoy high-quality coffee, which makes it appealing for coffee drinkers who want a quick caffeine fix in the morning. Whether you like long black or decaffeinated coffee drinks, you’ll find a Nespresso capsule that suits your taste. What Nespresso machines don’t offer is the customization possibilities you can enjoy with a regular espresso machine.  

Taste & Quality

Depending on your skill, you can make  better-tasting coffee from espresso machines than Nespresso machines

Nespresso vs Espresso
You can sample a wide range of coffee and espresso recipes from Nespresso’s OriginalLine (left) and VertuoLine (right) 

Nespresso will find it hard to beat the taste and texture of a flawless espresso shot extracted from freshly ground coffee beans. Sure, its capsules are designed to seal in the freshness and flavor of fresh ground coffee, but they are not the same. Nespresso can also create a good crema, but it’s not on par with what espresso machines can pull either. As mentioned earlier, however, you’ll only be able to extract an excellent shot from an espresso machine when you already know the settings that work for you. 

Meanwhile, the upside to Nespresso machines is it lets you try a wide array of flavors. With a regular espresso machine, you typically need to get a bag of coffee beans, and if you don’t like it, the rest of the coffee might end up going to waste. Nespresso machines, on the other hand, come with a complimentary box of coffee and espresso capsule samples that you can try before committing to the one you like. 

Another difference between Nespresso and espresso machines is their steam wands. While some high-end Nespresso machines come with an automatic steam wand, most of them are only compatible with a milk frother. If you want a smooth, velvety micro-foam milk, you’ll need the powerful steam wands that espresso machines are equipped with. Those who want to design latte art will find the regular espresso machines the better option. 

Reddit Reviews

Reddit users say espresso machines can help make better coffee while Nespresso machines offer consistency and convenience

This original poster on Reddit summarized the answers by Reddit users

The Reddit user above asked for advice on whether he should get a Nespresso or a regular espresso machine. As expected, it still comes down to your preference and lifestyle. Some users buy espresso machines like the Barista Express, but end up not using them because they don’t have the time in the morning or the motivation to practice making espresso shots. With Nespresso machines, you can get the same taste easily by using the same coffee capsules. Do not expect third-wave specialty coffee quality, though. 

If you want the convenience without compromising the taste, we recommend the Nespresso Creatista Plus as you can customize the milk texture and temperature settings on this machine. If you want a top-quality taste at the touch of your fingertips, Breville’s the Barista Touch is for you.

Nespresso vs Espresso Reddit

The above Reddit comment brought up another factor to consider when choosing between the two machines: the cost. You’ll have to shell out more upfront with a standard espresso machine, something that makes Nespresso machines more appealing. However, if you consider the cost of Nespresso capsules, which range from .70 cents to $2, you’ll end up saving more with espresso machines in the long run.


Nespresso machines are the better fit  for those with a busy lifestyle while coffee enthusiasts who want more flexibility and customization should go for espresso machines 

To decide whether a Nespresso or espresso machine suits you, think about the time and effort you can allot for espresso-making each day. Do you find yourself often rushing in the morning? Are you too busy to learn the art of pulling the perfect espresso shot? If you are, Nespresso machines suit you better. The Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo by De’Longhi strikes the balance between value and features. If the cost is no object, the Nespresso Creatista Plus by Breville gives some room for customization with its varying milk and texture levels.ย 

If you’re picky with your coffee or you’re interested in becoming skilled at making excellent brews on your own, go for an espresso machine instead. Breville’s the Barista Express offers great value for your money. However, if you want a fully-automated brewing process and don’t mind spending more, consider either the Barista Touch or the Oracle Touch espresso machines.ย 


๐Ÿ“Œ Should I buy a Nespresso or espresso machine?ย 

Among the factors you need to consider when choosing between a Nespresso or espresso machine are your lifestyle, coffee preference, and resources. We discuss this in more depth in the article above.ย 

๐Ÿ“Œ Can Nespresso VertuoLine machines make espresso?

Yes, the Nespresso VertuoLine machines such as the Vertuo Evoluo and VertuoPlus have authentic espresso recipes in addition to their coffee blends.ย 

๐Ÿ“Œ Is Nespresso stronger than coffee?

It depends on the coffee pod you choose. The Nespresso VertuoLine capsules carry a wide array of flavors and recipes, but if you want a strong flavor with more caffeine, try the Nespresso Ristretto, Intenso XL or Double Espresso. Do note that the Vertuo coffee capsules only work with the line of Nespresso Vertuo machines.ย 

๐Ÿ“Œ Can you use Nespresso espresso pods for Lungo?

Technically, you can. However, Fortado Gran Lungo pods are available in the Nespresso VertuoLine, so why not purchase those instead?ย 

Last update on 2022-08-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.