We are going to answer the question “are Nespresso machines worth it” by evaluating their performance, user-friendliness and cost against other comparable machines.
I have owned four Nespresso machines, as well as several Keurig machines and espresso machines.
I also spent a morning researching other people’s experiences with these machines to put together this article.
Let’s dive in.
Should I Buy a Nespresso Machine (Quick Verdict)?
You should only buy a Nespresso machine if you want to make milk-based espresso drinks like cappuccino and macchiato without having to mess around with a milk wand or manual milk frother.
Nespresso’s Lattissima range has excellent automatic milk steaming and frothing functionalities. Espresso machines with similar functionalities are far more expensive in comparison.
For more information on the different Nespresso machines available to you, please see my Nespresso machine comparison guide.
If you do not want to make milk-based espresso drinks or do not mind using a milk wand, then I would recommend purchasing an espresso machine over a Nespresso machine.
Nespresso Machine Pros
Nespresso does the following things well with their machines:
Ease of Use
Nespresso machines could not be easier to use, just put the pod in the machine and press brew.
Even heating and frothing milk is easy, and usually just done by filling a container with milk and pressing a button.
Certain machines do froth milk in a more hands-on fashion (by using a milk wand), however, these machines make it clear that they froth milk in this way. People buy them because of their manual milk frothing.
Nespresso machines also have a high build quality, meaning that they rarely suffer from the technical issues that often affect single-serve coffee machines (especially Keurig machines).
Quality of Coffee (Compared to Other Single Serve Coffee Machines)
Nespresso brews better coffee than other single-serve and pod coffee machines as they brew coffee under pressure.
This means that coffee is more thoroughly and evenly extracted than when it’s brewed by other machines.
The best Nespresso espresso (brewed by the Nespresso Evoluo) is not far off the espresso you get from a “real” espresso machine.
Ease of Cleaning
Nespresso machines are even easier to clean than they are to make a coffee with.
The only cleaning that these machines usually need is for their reservoir and drip tray to be rinsed out in the sink and for it to be descaled once every few months.
Many Nespresso machines even tell you when you need to descale it.
Most Nespresso machines that have milk frothing capabilities self-clean the parts of the machine that come into direct contact with milk. This means that you don’t have to deal with sticky milk residue when cleaning.
Nespresso Machine Cons
These are the main drawbacks of Nespresso machines:
The biggest downside of owning a Nespresso machine is how expensive they are to run.
Nespresso machines cost, on average, about $1.20 per pod.
This is much higher than K cups, which cost on average $0.60, and ground coffee which costs around $0.24 per espresso serving.
The table below breaks down the cost of owning a Nespresso machine compared to a Keurig machine and an espresso machine.
|Machine||Nespresso machine||Keurig machine||Espresso machine|
|Cost per coffee||$0.80||$0.60||$0.24|
|Annual cost (one coffee per day)||$294||$219||$87.60|
Nespresso makes it quite difficult to use off-brand or reusable pods (they’re a bit like Apple in that way), so it’s not that easy to reduce this operational cost.
I talk more about the operational costs of Nespresso machines, and how it compares to other machines, in my comparison of Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto.
Quality of Coffee (Compared to Espresso Machines)
Although Nespresso creates good espresso coffee by pod brewing standards, it’s not as good as coffee made with freshly ground beans in a “real” espresso machine.
The main reason for this is the ground coffee itself. As soon as coffee is ground the oils that give it its complex flavor leeches out of it.
Since the coffee in Nespresso pods is often ground weeks or even months before brewing, its flavor cannot compete with freshly ground coffee.
Throwing out a pod after every coffee you make is extremely wasteful.
Although Nespresso pods are made primarily out of aluminium, which is a recyclable material, they are lined with silicone. This means they need special treatment before they can be recycled.
Nespresso themselves can recycle Nespresso pods, but this means they need a dedicated courier system to take the pods from people’s homes to their recycling plants. This generates a lot of emissions which is bad for the environment.
Nespresso vs Keurig
When it comes to single-serve coffee machines, the two first brands that spring to mind are usually Nespresso and Keurig.
I’d recommend Nespresso machines over Keurig machines as the former makes better coffee and have a much higher build quality.
The only time I would recommend buying a Keurig machine over a Nespresso machine is if you play to drink exclusively filter coffee (ie not espresso or milk-based coffee drinks).
The two machines make a similar standard of filter coffee, but Keurig machines do this much more cheaply.
Quality of Coffee
Nespresso machines make better-tasting coffee than Keurig machines.
This is mainly because Nespresso machines brew coffees under pressure. This creates a very thorough and even extraction, resulting in fuller-bodied coffee.
Keurig machines just brew coffee under pressure from gravity.
Although this does not necessarily create bad coffee, this needs to be done very slowly as coffee extracts more gradually when there is no pressure applied to it.
Unfortunately, Keurig machines do not allow for the coffee to brew for enough time considering their lack of brewing pressure. This results in watery coffee.
Quality of Coffee Winner: Nespresso
The table below shows the functionalities that Nespresso and Keurig machines have:
|Can make espresso||Yes||No|
|Can make filter coffee||Yes – on some models||Yes|
|Can heat and froth milk||Yes – on some models||No|
|Has presets for milk-based coffee drinks||Yes – on some models||No|
|Has temperature settings||Yes – on some models||Yes – on some models|
|Has iced coffee settings||No||Yes – on some models|
|Has auto brew functionalities||No||Yes – on some models|
Most Nespresso machines make espresso-style coffee.
Keurig machines only make filter coffee.
More premium Nespresso machines can make a vast and impressive range of milk-based coffee drinks. Keurig machines do not do this.
There is much more uniformity among different models of Keurig machines. They all just make coffee and do little else.
In short, Nespresso machines can offer far more functionalities than Keurig machines, however, this is reflected in their much higher price.
Functionalities Winner: Nespresso
Ease of Use
Both machines are easy to use. Making a coffee with either of them just involves putting a pod/K cup in the machine and pressing brew.
Nespresso machines have fewer parts that require cleaning than Keurig machines.
Nespresso machines also have a much higher build quality than Keurig machines meaning that they are less likely to succumb to technical issues that make them more of a pain to use.
Ease of Use Winner: Nespresso
As of July 2022, Nespresso pods cost on average $0.80 per pod.
K cups cost on average $0.60 per cup.
That means that if you make one coffee per day then a Nespresso machine costs you around $95 more than a Keurig machine to operate.
Reusable K cups also tend to work better than reusable Nespresso pods. The latter often causes Nespresso machines to deteriorate.
Therefore you can drive down the operational cost of a Keurig machine much more easily than you can a Nespresso machine.
Operational Cost Winner: Keurig
Although K cups are made from recyclable materials, the way that they are manufactured means that they are not practical to recycle. Most recycling plants will not accept them.
Nespresso pods are recyclable, but they need to be recycled by a plant that’s run by Nespresso.
This means that there is a lot of transport involved to recycle Nespresso pods. This itself is bad for the environment.
Keurig manufactures high-quality reusable K cups. These can drastically reduce the waste caused by machines.
Nespresso has made it quite difficult for manufacturers to make reusable pods. This demonstrates that they are willing to put profits ahead of the environment.
Environmental Impact: Draw (both are bad)
Overall Winner: Nespresso
Nespresso machines are a better choice than Keurig machines due to the superior coffee they make, their better build quality and their milk frothing capabilities.
For more information on how these two machines stack up against each other, please see my comparison on the Nespresso Vertuo vs Keurig.
Nespresso vs “Real” Espresso Machines
I’d recommend buying a real espresso machine over a Nespresso machine in most situations as espresso machines create better coffee than Nespresso machines and have a much lower operational cost.
The only situation that I would recommend buying a Nespresso machine is if you want automatic milk frothing capabilities. Not many espresso machines have this and the ones that do are very, very expensive.
Quality of Coffee
Espresso machines create better-tasting espresso than Nespresso machines.
This is because with Nespresso machines you are limited to an 0.3 oz pod. For a single espresso, you want about 0.5 oz of ground coffee.
Therefore Nespresso will always be a little lacking in flavour compared to espresso machine espresso.
Nespresso coffee has also been sitting in its pod for weeks, if not months, before brewing. This will negatively affect its flavor compared to freshly ground coffee.
Quality of Coffee Winner: Espresso Machine
Most espresso machines allow you to make shots of espresso of various sizes (serving sizes are controlled manually) and to froth milk with a steam wand.
The most functionality-rich Nespresso machines – the Lattissima range- go a lot further than this with automated milk frothing and drink presets.
You do however get Nespresso machines with much more stripped-back functionalities that cannot do what espresso machines can do (no milk frothing for example). This lack of functionalities is reflected in lower prices.
Functionalities Winner: Nespresso
Ease of Use
This is one area where Nespresso machines beat espresso machines hands down.
Although espresso machines are fairly simple to make a coffee with, there is always a fair bit of cleanup afterwards. This does not make it very suitable for when you are making coffee in a rush.
Nespresso has no such issues, with all the ground coffee remaining in the pod after brewing, so there is very little clean-up after each drink you make.
Ease of Use Winner: Nespresso
Espresso machines tend to cost a fair bit more than Nespresso machines. The most expensive Nespresso machine would cost the same as a lower-end espresso machine.
However, when it comes to operating costs, Nespresso machines cost way more than espresso machines.
On average an espresso-sized dose of good quality coffee costs $0.24. A Nespresso pod costs $0.80 on average.
This means that if you make one coffee a day an espresso machine would be $204 cheaper to run than a Nespresso machine.
Both espresso and Nespresso machines should last you around 10 years, meaning that in almost all circumstances the lifetime cost of ownership of a Nespresso machine will be higher than an espresso machine.
Cost Winner: Espresso Machine
As espresso machines do not use single-use pods, they create much less waste than Nespresso machines.
Espresso pucks can actually go into the compost, making their potential environmental impact very low.
Environmental Friendliness Winner: Espresso Machine
Overall Winner: Espresso Machine
I’d recommend you purchase an espresso machine over a Nespresso machine. In this sense, Nespresso machines are not worth it.
The only exception to this is if you plan to make a lot of milk-based espresso drinks and you do not want the bother of having to use and clean a milk wand or other manual frother.
In this instance, the Nespresso Gran Latissima is the best choice. An espresso machine with such functionalities is so expensive that they offset the additional operating costs of Nespresso machines.
Final Verdict: Are Nespresso Machines Worth It?
Nespresso machines are only worth it if you want an espresso machine that steams and froths milk automatically.
Otherwise, you are better off getting a “real” espresso machine.
If you do want an espresso machine that steams and froths milk automatically, then I would recommend getting the Nespresso Gran Lattissima.
For more information on Nespresso machines, please see my Nespresso machine comparison.