Is Nespresso Worth It? The Value of Pod Coffee

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Nespresso makes some of the most powerful pod coffee machines on the market. Few companies have this kind of devotion to quality, but are their machines worth your money? Is the world really ready for capsule espresso?

Nespresso machines are incredibly convenient, but is Nespresso worth it? We’ll take a look at the flavor and variety of Nespresso coffee pods and the overall value of Nespresso machines.

Does Nespresso Coffee Taste Good?

You’ve probably heard that the average pod coffee machine can’t make good coffee. Some people claim that capsule coffee machines always create bland, watery coffee that lacks the richness and delicate flavors of traditional coffee.

That used to be right.

Pod coffee has come a long way in recent years, and Nespresso has been at the forefront of coffee capsule innovation.

Nespresso coffee will never taste exactly like the coffee you’d order from your local diner, but that’s okay. It’s a different experience, and it’s one that has won over many coffee lovers.

Pod coffee makers will never produce coffee as good as what you get from an automatic pour-over coffee maker, but few coffee makers do. If you want to be able to dial in the perfect cup of coffee, you probably don’t want a pod coffee machine.

Nespresso is for people that want coffee that is both convenient and delicious.

The world of coffee includes several coffee-brewing methods and dozens of types of coffee drinks, and Nespresso is just as good — if not better — than many of them.

Nespresso vs espresso

A cup of coffee from a Nespresso pod, showing the rich crema

Most pod coffees are made to mimic drip coffee, but Nespresso built their machines to brew espresso instead. That means you’ll get a richer, more flavorful brew than from other pod coffee machines.

Nespresso actually does a good job of mimicking espresso. Some of their machines can produce up to 19 bars of pressure, that’s far better than budget espresso machines and comparable to some of the best espresso machines under $1000.

The result is a flavor that is good enough to drink straight and strong enough to make lattes or cappuccinos. Some Nespresso machines even produce a thick crema, that layer of foam that forms on top of a shot of espresso. 

Does Nespresso offer enough variety?

At any point in time, there are roughly 50 Nespresso-branded OriginalLine varieties available, including 29 standard pods and several limited-time featured varieties. These include several different coffee origins, tastes, and intensities. You’ll even find a few flavored pods in the mix.

Some of the best Nespresso pods for the Original machines actually come from third parties. Several major coffee brands have made Nespresso pods, which gives you access to a much wider range of coffee than you’ll get from just the Nespresso-branded pods.

Unlike the Original machines, Nespresso’s Vertuo machines don’t take third-party pods. That means that you’re mostly limited to Nespresso’s branded pods. Fortunately, there are about 50 of those to choose from, including 27 standard varieties along with several rotating features. As with the Original pods, these come in a range of roasts, origins, and flavors.

If you want even more variety, you can get reusable Nespresso pods for either the OriginalLine or VertuoLine machines. These pods aren’t as convenient as the single-use capsules, but they let you use all of the best espresso beans with a Nespresso machine. 

Nespresso pod’s caffeine content ranges from decaf to varieties that are significantly stronger than a standard cup of espresso.

Nespresso coffee freshness

Coffee grounds go bad very quickly. Stale grounds are one of the leading causes of bitter coffee, and the problem is even worse for the finely ground coffee used for espresso. Nespresso’s pods are air-tight and protected from light, so they can easily stay fresh for several months.

If you don’t go through normal coffee beans quickly enough, Nespresso is a very convenient way to enjoy fresher, more delicious coffee. 

Is Nespresso Easy to Use?

Nespresso machines are incredibly easy to use. Most offer one-touch operation. VertuoLine machines even read the barcode on the pod to determine which coffee size the pod is made for.

To make a cup of Nespresso coffee, you just need to:

  1. Make sure there is water in the reservoir.
  2. Insert a pod and close the lid
  3. Place a mug under the spout
  4. Press the brew button.

There’s no need to worry about grinding coffee beans. You don’t need to measure coffee grounds and water. Nespresso takes away all of the complications usually involved with brewing the perfect cup of coffee.

Espresso machines, on the other hand, are some of the most complicated automatic coffee makers to master. When it comes to ease of use, there’s no doubt that Nespresso has the advantage. In fact, they’re easier to use than even drip coffee makers.

Of course, this is all assuming that you are using standard Nespresso pods. If you buy a reusable pod, expect a bit more complication, but it will still be easier than using an espresso machine.

Nespresso Cleanup

Most of the messiness of coffee comes from the grounds. Coffee grounds get everywhere, and they are tough to clean up and properly dispose of. With a Nespresso, the grounds never leave the pod, so you don’t have to worry about any of that.

You’ll still have to wipe up the machine and descale it once a month or so, but that’s about it. Daily cleanup is incredibly easy with a Nespresso.

Is Nespresso Expensive?

A cup of coffee beans on top of some dollar bills, illustrating what a cup of coffee costs

Nespresso machines are pretty typically priced for coffee makers, and they are quite cheap compared to most mid-range espresso machines.

The real expense comes from the pods themselves, which can add a monthly coffee cost of over $50 for a moderate coffee drinker. But I’ll go into some more details on those prices — and how to decrease your total Nespresso cost — below.

OriginalLine cost

You can get one of the cheaper OriginalLine machines for around $150–200. Those machines will handle almost anything that the typical espresso drinker will need.

The higher-end machines can cost between $350–800. For that extra price, these higher-end machines include extra features, like a milk frother and the ability to make one-touch lattes and other coffee drinks. Many of them are effectively smart coffee makers with app integrations, touchscreens, and more.

Pods for the OriginalLine typically cost about $0.70—1.00 each. You can get some cheaper third-party capsules for as low as $0.30 each. That’s pretty cheap when you compare it to even a generic coffee shop like Dunkin Donuts, and it’s about 1/10th of what you’ll pay at an artisanal coffee shop.

The cheapest option is the refillable pods, which can make a shot of espresso for about the same price as an espresso machine can. Depending on your beans, that can be as low as $0.05–0.10 cents per cup, but it will probably be closer to $0.20 per cup for most mid-range coffee brands.

VertuoLine cost

VertuoLine machines typically cost between $130—200. Unlike the OriginalLine, there really aren’t any higher-end machines to worry about here. The only way you’ll end up paying more than that is if you opt for a premium color or a discontinued machine.

Since there are no third-party pods, each Vertuo pod will cost about $0.70–1.10. The only way to bring that price down is with a refillable pod, which will cost the same as a regular coffee. 

Nespresso and the Environment

A pile of Nespresso OriginalLine capsules

Pod coffee creates a lot of waste. Nespresso has done everything they could to cut down on this problem, including using aluminum in place of plastic and developing a recycling program for their pods.

Nespresso has partnered with UPS and others to create a network of over 100,000 collection points for used pods. They’ll even compost the used grounds for you. Given all of these efforts, Nespresso is easily one of the greenest capsule coffee brands.

Even still, pods just aren’t the most environmentally friendly option for coffee, especially since many of them end up in the trash. Refillable pods help quite a bit with that as they can be reused 1000s of times.  

Which Nespresso Machines Offer the Best Value?

OriginalLine machines are, in the long run, the most cost-effective option. You may pay a bit more upfront for some of the machines, but the third-party pods offer both a wider variety and extra cost savings. And sure, the Original machines don’t make coffee, but you can always add some water to make an Americano.

For most espresso fans, the CitiZ is probably the best option in the Nespresso OriginalLine. Its larger water capacity and slick design are ideal for those first looking to get into capsule espresso.

If you want to dive in with a higher-end machine that can make lattes, macchiatos, and more, the Lattissima Plus is an excellent option. It can make specialty drinks and has customizability options like froth density. A regular espresso machine with all of those features would easily cost 3–5 times as much. If you want to see other options, you can always check out the full list of DeLonghi and Breville Nespresso machines.

If you’d rather have a machine that can make both coffee and espresso, you need a VertuoLine. There aren’t nearly as many options in this line as it’s newer, but the VertuoPlus Deluxe offers the most bang-for-the-buck for most users. Its water tank is larger than the ones in any of the other Vertuo machines, and only the VertuoPlus has an adjustable water tank.

When comparing the Vertuo vs VertuoPlus, the more expensive Vertuo is only really advantageous for users that need the extra bit of space or just want the most rugged machine possible. With the Vertuo Next vs VertuoPlus, there are some more substantial differences. In particular, the Next offers Bluetooth connectivity and a carafe-sized capsule that isn’t available for the VertuoPlus.

Nespresso Alternatives

Nespressos are great machines, but they aren’t for everyone. Fortunately, there are a couple of alternatives that offer many of the same advantages as the Nespresso.

Nespresso vs Keurig

Keurig is still the leading supplier of pod-based coffee machines. Their recent machines, like the Keurig K-Supreme, introduce a new multistream technology that has significantly improved the coffee quality. Although there are some espresso k-cups, though, the Keurig still can’t make real espresso.

If you want pod espresso, you need a Nespresso, but if you just want drip-style coffee, Keurig can be an excellent Nespresso alternative.

What about Ninja?

Since they released their first coffee bar, Ninja has been a serious contender for convenient specialty coffee machines. They don’t use pods, but their machines are easy to use and very versatile. Although they can’t make real espresso, the best Ninja coffee makers (particularly the Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System CP307) offer multiple concentrated coffee options that can make reasonable lattes and other specialty drinks.

Because of Ninja’s ability to make specialty drinks and their ease of use, Ninja vs Nespresso has become a common choice for those seeking out a convenient alternative to standard espresso machines. 

So, Is Nespresso Worth It?

If you’re looking for a convenient alternative to an espresso machine, Nespresso is likely your best option. The initial cost of the machines is reasonable, and you can always go with a refillable pod if the cost of the individual pods becomes too much. 

But pod coffee makers aren’t for every coffee enthusiast. There are several other varieties for budget coffee makers that you can consider. If you are okay with imitation espresso, you can try out AeroPress espresso or French press espresso. And if you’re really just looking to improve the flavor of your coffee, you should probably consider spending your money on one of the best coffee grinders instead of a new coffee maker.

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