Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto

This is my comparison of Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto machines. These are two of the most popular lines of coffee machines that brew coffee from pods.

I have owned four Nespresso machines and spent half a day researching the Dolce Gusto line of machines, as well as people’s experiences with these machines, to put together this comparison.

Let’s get started.

Should I Buy a Nespresso or Dolce Gusto Machine (Quick Answer)?

You should buy a Nespresso machine over a Dolce Gusto machine. Nespresso machines make far better coffee than Dolce Gusto machines and this makes Nespresso machines worth their additional cost over Dolce Gusto.

Dolce Gusto machines make very poor coffee. I would not recommend them under any circumstances.

If you want a Nespresso machine that is relatively inexpensive to buy and run, then I would recommend the Nespresso Essenza Mini.

Overview of Nespresso and Dolce Gusto.

Both machines brew coffee at the touch of a button using pods.

The table below shows the key functionalities and specifications of Nespresso and Dolce Gusto machines:

FunctionalityNespressoDolce Gusto
Can it make espresso-style coffee?YesYes
Can it make filter coffee?Some machines canYes
Can it make milk-based coffee drinks?Some machines canYes
Preset serving sizesYesNo
Brew strength optionsYes on some machinesYes
Cold brew optionsNoYes
WarrantyTwo yearsTwo years

The main differences between the two machines are:

  • Dolce Gusto has pods for all types of coffee including espresso, filter coffee and various milk-based coffee drinks. Nespresso just has pods for espresso and filter coffee. For any milk drinks, you need to froth fresh milk separately.
  • Premium Nespresso machines have a plethora of milk steaming and frothing functionalities for fresh milk. All Dolce Gusto machines froth milk in the same way from a pod containing powdered milk.
  • Dolce Gusto machines give you an option to “cold brew” coffee. This will force it to run cold water through a pod. Nespresso does not give you this option.

Let’s now have a closer look at how these machines compare in terms of performance, user-friendliness, operational cost, and build quality.

Quality of Coffee

Nespresso machines wipe the floor with Dolce Gusto machines as far as coffee quality is concerned.

In my experience, Nespresso machines make good, but not great, coffee.

Coffee from Nespresso pods can never match freshly ground in terms of body and flavor, but considering how easy it is to make, it’s still pretty good.

Coffee from Dolce Gusto machines seems to be of much poorer quality than coffee from Nespresso machines. I have come to this conclusion for two reasons:

Reddit Consensus

I trawled through Reddit to find people who have owned both machines and who can therefore compare the coffee made by both of them. 

The overwhelming majority agreed that Dolce Gusto coffee was much worse than Nespresso coffee. You can find a thread that talks about this here.

Instant Coffee and Powdered Milk

The fact that Dolce Gusto is happy to make milk-based coffees out of powdered milk suggests that drink quality is not their highest priority. 

This is also supported by the fact that many Dolce Gusto pods are labelled as containing “instant coffee”, suggesting that the coffee quality from these pods is not much higher than what you would get from an instant coffee.

Nespresso on the other hand uses predominantly specialty coffee in their pods which should result in a better tasting coffee, even if the two machines brew coffee in a similar way.

Quality of Coffee Winner: Nespresso

Operational Cost

Nespresso machines are more expensive to buy and run than Dolce Gusto machines. This difference in cost is matched by their differences in quality.

Nespresso machines are generally more expensive than Dolce Gusto machines.

A more important cost to consider when it comes to the overall cost of these machines is the cost of their pods (operational cost).

The table below shows the operational cost of Nespresso and Dolce Gusto machines, as well as how this compares to just making coffees with ground beans:

CostNespressoDolce GustoGround coffee
Per individual coffee$0.80$0.30$0.24
Per year (one coffee each day)$292$109.50$87.60

As you can see, each Dolce Gusto pod is less than half the price of a Nespresso pod. 

This means that it will cost around $183 less each year to own a Dolce Gusto machine than a Nespresso machine.

In my opinion, the lack of distance in cost between Dolce Gusto pods and servings of ground coffee should cause concern. 

The processing and packaging of coffee pods is a significant expense, and the lack of difference in the price between these two products makes you wonder about the quality of coffee beans that Nestle uses in their Dolce Gusto pod.

Operational Cost Winner: Dolce Gusto

Functionalities

Both lines of machines have similar functionalities, however, Nespresso machines execute these functionalities much better than Dolce Gusto machines.

The two lines of machines have similar functionalities, allowing you to make almost all of the common types of coffee drinks

The big difference between these two lines of machines as far as functionalities are concerned is that Nespresso machines range a lot in their functionalities. 

Some Nespresso machines have very few functionalities whereas others have all the different types of brewing styles and milk frothing capabilities you can think of.

A close-up of the control panel of the Nespresso Gran Lattissima displaying all its functionalities

All Dolce Gusto machines can make pretty much any type of coffee that Dolce Gusto makes a pod for.

Since both lines offer similar functionalities, I think we should judge them on how well they execute these functionalities.

As far as execution is concerned, Nespresso wins hands down.

You cannot compare a latte made with fresh milk to one with powdered milk. All of Dolce Gusto’s milk-based coffee drinks just used powdered milk.

Dolce Gusto also has some very strange functionalities, like its cold brew feature. 

You cannot cold brew coffee in minutes. It needs to brew over 12 hours as there is no heat to speed up this process.

This, again, demonstrates that Dolce Gusto has not created their machines with the quality of the final drink in mind. They have features for features sake and do not make any of their available drinks well.

Functionalities Winner: Nespresso

Ease of Use

Dolce Gusto machines are slightly easier to use than Nespresso machines

Making a coffee with each of them is just a matter of putting a pod into the machine and pressing a brew button.

Nespresso machines with advanced milk functionalities are a bit more complex to use than Dolce Gusto machines that can make a similar range of coffees.

This increase in complexity of use is necessary for Nespresso machines to make their superior coffees compared to Dolce Gusto machines.

There is no getting around having to load up a machine with fresh milk if you want fresh milk in your coffee.

Ease of Use Winner: Dolce Gusto

Build Quality

Nespresso machines have a higher build quality than Dolce Gusto machines.

The exterior of both machines is made out of plastic, however, Dolce Gusto machines are made out of much thinner, cheaper-feeling plastic than Nespresso machines.

In particular, the pod port of Dolce Gusto machines is very flimsy and feels like it could snap under a small amount of pressure.

Nespresso has a very high-quality interior build quality. Their machines very rarely lose brewing pressure or heating power.

Although I do not know the intricacies of Dolce Gusto’s internal build quality, I would be amazed if it is as good as Nespresso’s given the relatively low cost of Dolce Gusto machines.

Both machines come with two-year warranties if they are purchased from the manufacturer.

Build Quality Winner: Nespresso Dolce Gusto

Overall Winner: Nespresso

Nespresso machines are better than Dolce Gusto machines. They create much better quality coffee and have a higher build quality.

Dolce Gusto machines are cheaper to run, but their coffee is so much worse than cheaper, manual coffee-making methods, that I would not recommend people buy Dolce Gusto machines.

If you want a good quality, inexpensive Nespresso machine, then I would recommend the Nespresso Essenza Mini.

If you would like to find out more about the range of Nespresso machines available to you then please see my Nespresso machine comparison.