Nespresso vs espresso? That is the question for coffee lovers everywhere! I see Nespresso machines in all of my friends’ homes. I even have one. And they are a great efficient way to get a nice shot of espresso.
But if you do the math on the actual cost to own and operate a Nespresso coffee machine (including Nespresso pods) for an entire year, you will be SHOCKED. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are paying more for a sub-par shot of espresso.
My recommendation for an at-home espresso machine is the Breville Barista Express. See my reasons below after being a Nespresso and espresso machine owner.
I purchased an espresso machine for $600 in 2018 – the Breville Barista Express. It's increased to around $700 since then, so I will use the updated price for the cost analysis.
Although there are many different Nespresso models (and bundles), I'm going to use this Nespresso machine and milk frother bundle for my cost analysis at around $150.
Side note - I like the Nespresso Aeroccino Milk Frother because it's very easy to use, and I still use it sometimes with my Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine.
Nespresso Machine First-Year Costs
In order to understand the first-year costs of owning a Nespresso machine, I calculate the purchase cost and Nespresso capsule costs.
|Cost in USD|
|Cost Per Shot||$0.80**|
|Shots Per Day||4|
|Days Per Week We Make Coffee||6|
|Weeks Per Year||52|
|Cost in Nespresso Capsules Per Year||$998|
|Total Cost First Year||$1138|
⭐️ ** Cost per shot is calculated by dividing the cost of an average Nespresso sleeve by the number of capsules in the US, assuming the original capsules (not vertuo capsules). ⭐️
Breville Barista Express First-Year Costs
I picked a middle-of-the-line espresso machine that costs considerably higher than a Nespresso machine. Let's see if the Breville Barista Express espresso machine pays for itself with coffee savings alone.
|Cost Per Shot||$0.21**|
|Shots Per Day||4|
|Days Per Week We Make Coffee||6|
|Weeks Per Year||52|
|Cost of Coffee Per Year||$262|
|Total Cost First Year||$962|
⭐️ **Cost per shot is calculated like this: The cost of a 12 oz. whole bean coffee bag is about $8. There are 340 grams in a 12 oz. bag. A single shot consumes about 9 grams on the high side. So, there are around 38 single shots in a 12 oz. bag of coffee, which makes it about $0.21 per single shot. ⭐️
👉🏼 To summarize the first-year Nespresso machine cost is $1138 and the first-year Breville Barista Express cost is $962. It costs $176 CHEAPER to have a quality home espresso maker over the first full year. 👈🏼
After the first year, you will save about $736 per year in coffee costs by purchasing a Breville Barista Express machine 🥳.
Most espresso machines last longer than a year. Let’s say an average espresso machine will last five years. That means you will save $3,680 over the next five years of using the machine.
Not only do you have better-quality espresso shots, but you have some serious cost savings.
Nespresso Vs. Espresso Shot Quality
The biggest difference between a Nespresso vs espresso machine is your level of control with a standard espresso machine. Even with a cheap espresso machine, you can control the grind size and type of coffee. Great espresso requires quality coffee.
Also depending on the type of machine, espresso machines with a grinder can freshly grind the coffee, unlike pre-ground capsules. Literally, the coffee is ground right before pressing the brew button!
When I was doing some research on semi-automatic espresso machines, I went to Sur La Table to find the best espresso machine. They let me sample shots of espresso from different types of espresso machines side by side.
I compared shots between a Nespresso vs. espresso machine. The Breville Barista Express semi-automatic machine had a rich flavor, something Nespresso shots lack.
The coffee grinder grinds the coffee beans right before the extraction process. You have complete control over the size of the coffee grind and are able to use different types of coffee. Also, my double shot of espresso had a thicker layer of foam on top called crema.
Drink your espresso shot as an iced vanilla latte, cortado, or cappuccino. Use cow's milk, oat milk, or homemade almond milk. Froth milk using the espresso machine's frothing wand or a standalone milk frother.
The best part of owning an espresso machine is being able to use a variety of beans and roasts. Choose any type of espresso beans: french roast, dark roast, medium roast, or light roast. Personally, I prefer light roast coffee beans or medium roast coffee beans.
Breville Espresso Machine Review
It's been five years since I made the change from a Nespresso machine to a Breville Barista Express, and I could not be happier. Not to be a coffee snob, but I prefer to make my coffee drinks at home rather than go to a coffee shop.
💥 I made at least three double espresso shots per day for over five years with my Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine and saved myself about $3,120 by making the switch from Nespresso pods. 💥
I've never had any mechanical issues with my espresso machine. Maintenance is simple, just function the "clean mode" of the machine (using an espresso machine cleaning tablet) and change out the water filter. I purchased an off-brand espresso machine cleaning tablet and water tank filter from Amazon.
The Breville espresso machine produces single shots, double shots, froths milk, and also provides hot water for Caffè Americanos.
After five years of owning a Breville espresso machine, my opinion is to get one!
Nespresso Coffee Capsules Create Waste
Another consideration when choosing to part ways with your Nespresso machine is the capsule waste. Part of Nespresso's business model is to sell you more capsules.
Well, guess what! Those capsules get thrown away, leading to a lot of waste. Yes, Nespresso offers a recycling program, but how many people recycle their capsules?
Tips for Making The Switch
After using the Breville Barista Express every day, below is a list of my top tips:
- A real espresso machine requires a little bit of a learning curve, so be patient. There are lots of YouTube tutorials on how to use it.
- Use the machine frothing steam wand! I continued to use the Nespresso frother for about two years because the espresso machine frothing wand felt intimidating. However, once I sat down and learned how to use it, I prefer frothing my milk with the frother wand. The wand can get the milk much hotter than a separate milk frother. Also, you can control the amount of foam you create with the frothing wand.
- Try light roast whole bean coffee or medium roast whole bean coffee instead of the traditional espresso dark roasted coffee beans. I LOVE light roast espresso, which isn't normally served in coffee shops. My friends and family joke about me traveling to see them with my espresso machine. For longer trips, I have seriously contemplated bringing my machine with me. Kind of like checking a stroller or car seat- I will be checking my espresso machine, thank you!
- Use filtered water in the water tank. The tank has its filter, but I prefer to use already filtered water. It will reduce the amount of build-up and scaling that occurs naturally with these machines.
I used Nespresso coffee machines every day for three years. I still enjoy Nespresso coffee drinks when I visit my family.
👉🏼 However, when comparing Nespresso vs. espresso machines, my Breville Barista Express has more than paid for itself in the first year and provided me with better-tasting espresso shots. 👈🏼
I am so glad I made the switch. Every day, I enjoy high-quality espresso at a fraction of the price. I hope this post has given you some points to consider. This post is entirely 100% my own opinion.
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So glad I found your article. My manual espresso maker broke about 8 years ago and being a busy dad of 3 girls who works a lot, I thought I would give Nespresso a try. The convenience was spectacular but I found that the taste didn’t quite compare to my manual. I ended up drinking mostly Breve to cover up the taste. Now my girls are teens and drinking the Nespresso too so I’m spending about $150 a month on capsules. The machine is starting to malfunction (secretly happy) so I was looking to compare costs with a higher quality manual machine. Your article validated my hunch. And this Breville is the machine I’ve been considering. Thank you for doing the homework!
Thanks Dane for the comment! I bought my Breville machine 4 years ago, and it was literally all because of a trial espresso shot and another customer tell me how happy they were to have made the switch. Glad I was able to do the same and let us know how the espresso machine turns out!
I used to be the owner of a coffee shop in Belgium. I still own my gaggia deco 2 with 2 grinders. 1 for lungo, 1 grinder for espresso shot. I even did latte art. A machine like you say (real espresso) is indeed perfect. It makes great frotted milk (if you know how) and makes very very good shots indeed. However.. for a home owner who wants to buy such a espresso machine (mine was commercial 9000$) must know the following things :
Coffee beans only give you the best crema on your coffee when beans are under 14 days old (since day of Roast). Try to get a good crema and shot with beans from the grocery store . IMPOSSIBLE
2nd thing is your maintenance. U have to change the rubber on the machine to get a good seal every 2 months.every day you need to clean the machine with special product to get all coffee residue off the head where coffee runs out from.
+ You can chose out of 50 kinds of coffee with capsules. Price of 1 coffee with Nespresso is indeed 39 cent minimum. In belgium we can buy some very good ones in Hema for 7 cent each... If you are not commercial DONT buy a machine for 1000$ ... It's rediculous to have such maintenance for only 6 coffees a day. And the price of the machine is not everything. What they don't say is that such as machine should not be turned off and left on 24/7. This because it is very bad for the copper inside the machine. And the boiler inside the machine needs to stay warm all day long.. all the electricity you waste on those 6 coffees and the maintenance.. not worth it ..
I Know it looks awesome to buy such a machine. Just keep in mind they only Tell you the positieve things. Not the negative ones. If you bought such a machine then i give you the count to 10 before you say "Wtf i just bought".
Thank you Bart for the comment and insider tips. I didn't know the crema is directly connected to the length of time the roasted coffee sits before being made. And about the coffee residue, I need to look into the cleaner as well. Thanks again for such an in-depth comment.
You should update your article. Nespresso actually has a free recycling program for their pods. They give you a bag to put them in and it’s an easy drop off at any UPS location.
Nice article however I wonder about the difference of time consumption between them . (If I get paid 12 usd per hour ) how much time will impact the final cost ? I often hear espresso making is practically a hobby but not so much on Nespresso.
Thanks for the comment! It does take more time to make an espresso with an espresso machine, especially if using the frothing wand. But if we are comparing apples to apples i.e. espresso shot to espresso shot, it takes about 2 extra steps than a Nespresso machine. It's pushing the filter to grind the coffee and packing the coffee in the filter. Other than that, it's putting it in the slot and pressing start. Possibly another added step in this process is cleaning the filter out, because it needs to be performed after every espresso shot whereas in the Nespresso machine, you can dump the capsules once the tray is full.
I expect the reason nespresso puts less coffee in each capsule has to do with it's limited pressure. With a little ingenuity you can reuse the capsules and seal with tinfoil rounds. Actually makes better coffee;)
I think your article would be stronger without the part about waste. Nespresso makes it very easy to recycle with free shipping and curbside pickup in some places. In addition Nespresso also competes against drip coffee makers. Nespresso points out that the largest environmental impact of these coffee makers is the production and transportation of coffee that is never consumed. Nespresso gives the user control and provides an overall reduction in waste when the entire process is considered.
Thanks for the comment and another perspective about recycling Nespresso capsules. It's great that Nespresso has considered ways to offset the waste and carbon footprint, especially if the consumer is willing to make the effort in participating in these recycling programs. Transportation and production of unconsumed coffee should be an issue for all coffee suppliers, not just Nespresso. One thing I didn't touch on regarding the manufacturing of Nespresso capsules, is that it requires energy and materials to create (which is why it costs more per shot than a traditional espresso shot). Nespresso is selling convenience for a subpar shot of espresso in my opinion. I'll just have to agree to disagree with you though about the waste part of the Nespresso capsules. Just like it's environmentally better to refill a water jug vs using plastic water bottles every day, I think it's environmentally better to use an espresso machine. Again, great comment and it definitely got my brain juices flowing about evaluating waste and carbon footprint.
Some Espresso Drinker
The AmazonCommercial Barista Espresso Machine costs $250 (it is on backorder). It is known as the Gastroback 42616 Design Barista Pro.
That is actually about $712 vs $1062 for basically the same machine.
Breville released this in Germany/Austria under their Gastroback name. The only reason you would not buy this is if you hate Amazon and like overpaying.
That's good to know! A lower price tag is definitely a push for anyone on the fence.
Isn’t the comparison misleading? Original pods nespresso makes single shot. While, 18gm coffee in espresso machines makes double shot beverage. But you can use 9gm filter basket and make single shot espresso.
I’m not comparing the weight of the ground coffee in pods vs filter basket. I’m just comparing price of single shot vs single shot, unlike you did single shot vs double shot.
Thanks for the comment, and that's a good point. I need to update the financials of this post as well since the Breville Barista Express has increased to $699 as well.
It was nice to see your comparison based on cost-per-shot. Most other comparisons seem to compare cost per weight of coffee, in which case pod machines fare even worse.
This also reveals something quite interesting: the pod machines (this applies to Keurig as well as Nespresso) all seem to use about half as much coffee per drink as compared to a proper espresso machine or coffee maker. This certainly also has an effect on the quality of the beverage, in addition to the other advantages of a proper espresso machine.
Bottom line is I use my espresso machine or Aeropress with freshly ground beans when I'm home and have the time. For travel I have a portable plunger operated device that uses pods for convenience.
Each method has its time and place.
Wow, I didn't even consider that, and that's a great point. I really like an Aeropress coffee too!
Amen! This couldn't be truer advice. I've had my Nespresso machines for years now... Like maybe 6-8 years? Anyway, loved it but two things were considered when I switched to an espresso machine: waste from Nespresso... And more than that, being able to make great and organic coffee. I bought the breville oracle (not touch) and am in love. It has changed our life. I'm literally trying to figure out what to do with my Nespresso machine now! (Reason for organic coffee other than the taste... No more heartburn!!!). Best reason to switch. Nespresso did not have organic coffee, oddly.
What a great point! I also like knowing that I have a lot more control over the types of coffee and roast I put in my espresso machine. I appreciate the comment!
The local coffee I get is $22/12 oz. I think it still might be cheaper than the Cafitaly pods I used to get. And much much higher quality.
Thanks for the comment! Yea, I feel like my Breville Barista express espresso shots are much better quality than anything I got from my Nespresso machine. But then again, Nespresso shots are very convenient.
I have the Nespresso original line inissia at work and i have the breville xl 860 at home. Love both of them. The breville obviously makes a better cup but i get Nespresso pods cheaper than beans. I buy 3rd party pots in bulk such as Kimbo and Borbone which are fantastic for around 27-30 cents each. And they can pull a 2 oz shot without being watery
That's a really great point you made. I noticed the Breville machines are a tad more expensive also, so I guess the numbers need to be run for each individual scenario. Thanks for sharing!
Hello, great article thanks!
I am currently doing the math as my Nespresso died on me, and I was looking to upgrade to a real Espresso machine. I guess you omitted to add the grinder cost in your above calculation right? Grinders can cost up to 600 USD... which grinder are you using?
Thanks a lot for your help
That's a great question. The espresso machine that I use, the Breville Barista Express, has a built-in grinder. So the calculation I used for the machine is including the grinder cost. I just took a look on Amazon, and the machine is a little higher price than I paid ($700 now). So you might need to re-run the numbers to suit your case!
Couple problems with your post.
Although I agree with the premise (Nespresso vs. espresso machine), your costs are off. Even direct from Nespresso, most capsules are $0.70/each (in US), which affects the cost slightly. However many, many good options of Nespresso compatible capsules for half that price (or lower) in the US. (In Europe, Nespresso compatible capsules average ~$025.)
So, the breakeven point is probably more like 2-3 years with your particular use. In reality, for many people it would be much longer, as they don't pull 25 shots a week -- they may do drip/pour over/press/etc. weekdays and only use these on weekends.
Also, while I agree that there is more waste with Nespresso, from what I can tell by being on various Nespresso forums, a lot of people recycle capsules.
Again, not disagreeing totally (I have both a super-auto and a Nespresso) and there are other reasons for getting a real espresso machine (like quality of cup and coffee selection), I'm just commenting on the calculation.
Thanks for those points! I know a lot of my friends (and family) are very happy with the ease and reduced counter space of their Nespresso machine too. So, I guess it boils down to each person's particular situation and preference. Appreciate the inputs!
A lot of reader comments are not comparing apples to apples. We were on the early adopters list of Nespresso devotees, as we rented a small apartment in Paris back in 2006 during school break with our two kids. There were those funny-looping capsules on a rack on the (very small) kitchen wall, with that cute tiny, original gothic-shaped Essenza machine. A small handwritten note said - Coffe 1 Euro. So we tried, we liked.
Back in Canada, we wanted to buy a machine. No stores carried them but one, The Hudson’s Bay Company whose origin can be traced to the earliest origins of trading in Canada ) And I am not joking! Here’s from Wiki...
The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), chartered 2 May 1670, is the oldest incorporated joint-stock merchandising company in the English-speaking world. HBC was a fur trading business for most of its history, a past that is entwined with the colonization of British North America and the development of Canada.
Back to coffe.
We lasted 12 years with Nes, then bought a small Saeco Magic Capuccino totally manual machine. A bit of a hassle of course versus the pods, but the taste...are you kidding me? NO comparison. Like comparing freshly squeezed orange juice with watered-down Tang. Am I exagerating? Consider this. 90% of every single Nespresso user I ever met (and Nes is hugely popular in our city) are filling a standard - size americano with that tiny standard capsule that is meant for espresso two-gulp size, including us for years. Result? All of this so slick Nespresso marketing built around the exotic provenance of the coffee beans are for what? At .91 cents a cup, all we are getting is watered-down coffee, with more similarities than the globetrotter destinations Nespresso is trying to sell us. And of course Nespresso came out with the Vertuo line and those huge pods...ever checked the price on those?
Last year, we purchased a Miele fully automatic machine. A pure joy to operate. And the customization options are endless. Want hotter? You can set it. Want a larger amount of coffee per shot? Got it. Want a longer pre-infusion time? No problem. Want finer grind, or more coarse? To your liking. More water? Less water? Every single feature mentioned are no gimmicks, and act directly ON the taste of the coffee itself. And there are hundreds of flavors to choose from, if not thousands.
Sorry to put it bluntly, but Nespresso is an expense RAW deal. If you are a coffee lover, you can do so much better with a machine that uses real premium beans. And if you are not a die-hard coffee lover, you will do even better with the endless choice of good quality standard-grade beans.
Nespresso remains a great option if you want to pay for convenience mostly. But unless you stick to the two-gulp size, it remains a watered-down drink.
I couldn't agree with you more. You might be the earliest adopter of Nespresso that I've heard from. I enjoyed my Nespresso machine for many years until I did the math on how much I was spending on my Nespresso pods. That encouraged me to look outside the box, which led to a random Sur La Table store visit. I got the chance to try espresso shots from many of the machines there. The wool got pulled back from my eyes, and I've never looked back. My morning espresso coffee is the one of my favorite rituals to begin the day.
Nice article. For me I found the whole bean coffee estimate on the low side. I found with my espresso setup I was using 12oz bags that usually cost $15/bag, maybe $11/bag on the low end if I bought older roast dates from Target. That doesn't even take into account the occassional splurging on a single origin @ $19-23/bag. I suppose buying a $7/12 oz bag as used here is possible, but it might have to be a the mercy of what Costco might carry from Lavazza, or I could buy a 5lb bulk bag from Intelligentsia, but those beans are gonna de-gas and change so fast, that I'll be chasing the right extraction over weeks -which will lead to inconsistency and waste. My setup was a Rocket Appartamento and Fausto Grinder but I have now sold those for the ease of the nespresso system. I was so happy to see this article, but be warned it will take discipline of economical whole bean purchases to hit the numbers shown here.
So glad you found the article on this little corner of the internet! You brought up some solid points, and I agree with you. Depending on the cost of whole beans you use, will affect the overall calculation. I'm in Abu Dhabi right now, and I've been able to find some really good whole bean coffee bags from Spinneys. They are 250 grams (about 8.8 ounces) and cost 19 dirhams ( about $5.20). One of my favorite coffee shops in town sells their own in house roasted beans for at least double that. So great point you brought up!