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On a tight budget and trying to decide between an espresso machine or a Nespresso?
While the words may sound almost identical, don’t be fooled into thinking both coffee makers brew coffee in the same way. One machine excels at simplicity, and the other calls for a bit more skill.
Though both produce “authentic” quality tasting espresso, one is quite different from the other.
If you’re on the fence and not sure where to spend your hard-earned money, keep reading.
In this article, I have highlighted the pros and cons and answered many of the common questions surrounding both machines.
Let’s dive in.
If you’re really into your coffee, then the espresso machine will probably be right up your alley.
Sure, it requires a bit more skill and tinkering to nail the perfect espresso, but nothing beats the feeling once you’ve dialed in that perfect shot.
But not all of the best espresso machines are created equally.
Automatics And Semi-Automatics
When it comes to espresso machines, you can separate them into two distinct categories – automatics and semi-automatics.
Want a more hands-off approach to making espresso? The automatics will best fit your needs.
They’re relatively simple to use, and the machine handles most of the operation with a simple touch of a button. You only need to worry about the correct grind, the dosing of ground coffee, proper tamping and distribution, and to make sure the water reservoir is full.
Simply put. The automatic espresso machine takes all of the guesswork out of pulling a shot of espresso. You’ll have a quality espresso ready to be enjoyed in less than 2 minutes.
If you appreciate tinkering with various coffee brewing variables and enjoy getting your hands dirty. If that sounds like you, the semi-automatic espresso machine is definitely a great choice.
This type of machine still does some of the work for you but gives you just enough control so you can learn more about the craft of espresso making.
Like the automatic machine, you have to handle the coffee dosing, grind, and tamping. But, with the semi-automatic, you also take charge of when the espresso stops extracting, which is a skill all in itself.
Taking this extra step means you have more control, from start to finish, and ultimately the taste of your espresso.
The semi-automatic takes a bit of practice and a lot of patience; if you’re looking for a push-button coffee maker, this isn’t it.
How Easy Is It To Use?
Both the automatic and the semi-automatic espresso machines require more skill to use than the Nespresso, which I will touch on later.
If you enjoy the art of creating espresso and want a machine for the home, both types of machines are an excellent investment.
The semi-automatic gives you just enough control to play around with your extraction and the brewing ratios but helps you along the way.
With your new found knowledge, you can then invest and upgrade to a full-sized espresso machine where you control every part of the machine.
Cost Per Serving
Another factor that needs to be considered is cost analysis; how much is each shot of espresso going to cost you?
Taking the Specialty Coffee Association Of America espresso standards as a guide, we can break down the cost per serving as follows.
- A single shot of espresso: 11 grams of ground coffee.
- Double shot of espresso: 17 grams of ground coffee.
- 448 grams per pound.
- $8.20 per lb (espresso cost) of ground coffee.
- 41 single shots per pound = .20 cents per single shot.
- 26 double shots per pound = .32 cents per double shot.
Accessories And Other Investment
Also, don’t forget that accessories make up a big part of an espresso machine investment.
It’s almost unheard of to buy just an espresso machine, and you’re all set to start pulling great shots of espresso.
You need to purchase a good quality coffee grinder, a weighing scale, an espresso tamp, and/or a distribution tool.
Plus, If your machine doesn’t come with a steam wand, you also need to buy a milk frother too.
The cost of these extra components can quickly add up, and it’s not uncommon for the price of a high-end coffee grinder to be in the same ballpark as the initial cost of the espresso machine.
Convenience. Convenience. Convenience. That pretty much sums up the Nespresso.
Is it easy to use? – hell yeah!
Does it produce the best-tasting shot of espresso?
Well, that’s debatable?
But for what Nespresso does, the shot of espresso is reasonably decent.
Comparing the Nespresso to an espresso machine, they are smaller, a lot cheaper to buy, and make a shot of espresso differently.
– it’s not an authentic textbook espresso.
With the Nespresso, everything is done for you, from the correct dosing of coffee to the proper extraction and all other brewing variables along the way.
All you have to do is insert a pre-filled coffee capsule and press a button. Easy peasy!
How Easy Is It To Use?
It’s effortless. Like super easy.
The Nespresso machine works with coffee capsules that are filled with ground coffee and nitrogen sealed for peak freshness.
The coffee pods are available in various coffees, from fruity and vibrant Colombian coffees to rich and woody Indonesian coffee.
You can literally sample the world of espresso coffee with one Nespresso coffee pod assortment – and the world is your oyster if you decide to use Nespresso compatible pods.
Each pod comes in different serving sizes for single, double, or lungo espresso. And the correct amount of coffee is locked in each pod to ensure the best tasting espresso possible.
All you have to do is insert your preferred coffee capsule, close the lid, place your coffee mug under the nozzle, hit the corresponding button as indicated for your pod, and the machine does the rest.
Unlike an espresso machine that works with high pressure, the Nespresso works with centrifusion technology for the extraction process.
The technology behind making espresso is pretty neat.
Nespresso uses its own method that combines centrifugal action and water infusion to spin the coffee pod around in the machine at up to 7,000 RPMs.
The coffee machine penetrates each capsule directly in the center and punches 20 holes around the edge.
So when the water is forced through the center hole, the espresso coffee is expressed out of the holes around the edge and down into your waiting cup.
Even though the process sounds like something from a Star Trek movie, all that’s needed from you is to press a button. It works quickly and is a straightforward process.
Sure It won’t make you feel like a barista. Still, the extensive range of quality coffee blends gives you an authentic tasting espresso.
This Nespresso machine is perfect for those preferring a hands-off approach to making tasting espresso at home and prefers convenience over the involvement and knowledge required to operate a full-sized espresso machine.
Cost Per Serving
As expected, the cost per serving when using a Nespresso is considerably higher than an espresso machine.
Let’s take a look.
- Cost per shot (capsule) = .75 cents.
The cost is calculated by dividing the average price of a Nespresso capsule sleeve by the number of capsules in the US (Nespresso original pods, not Nespresso vertuoline pods).
Accessories And Other Investment
Because the Nespresso utilizes coffee capsules, there is no need to invest in a separate grinder, scale, or tamp.
But aside from a nice set of espresso cups, there is not really much else you need.
The Verdict: Who Wins!
There isn’t a clear winner in this espresso machine vs Nespresso comparison.
If drinking coffee is more of a habit rather than a passion, the consistency, and ease of use the Nespresso machine offers will undoubtedly win you over.
It’s also an excellent option for anyone on a modest budget who enjoys espresso coffee but doesn’t have the time to tinker with a full-sized espresso machine.
Nevertheless, if you’ve been brewing quality coffee either as a barista or a home hobbyist, you will likely notice a big difference in the taste when using the Nespresso.
Also, the lack of flexibility and being able to dial in the shot of espresso the way you like them might be a deal-breaker.
Compared to Nespresso, espresso machines take a long time to warm up completely. And remember, you have to grind the coffee, tamp the grounds and pull a shot.
Then you have to clean the portafilter and wipe down the group head etc. – It’s a pretty long process from start to finish.
Using Nespresso is just so easy. The coffee machine heats up in under a minute, and it pulls a consistent espresso shot each time.
Here’s my take.
I don’t think Nespresso shots are better than the real thing. But for the home setting, Nespresso machines are great, and I appreciate the simplicity and consistency they offer.
The brewed espresso can taste pretty darn good with the right coffee capsules.
Using a full-sized espresso maker is a passion, a hobby, and you have to love the intricacies of coffee to invest in all of the accessories that go with it.
At the end of the day, only you know which side you fall.
Are you a coffee enthusiast, or are you someone who likes coffee but wants it fast and consistent?