Ninja vs Nespresso: Comparing Coffee and Value in 2021

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The ultimate dream is to bring the coffee shop into your kitchen. You want to be able to make all of your favorite caffeinated beverages without leaving the house, but you also don’t want to devote half your counter space to a gigantic machine that you’ll probably never learn how to use properly. That’s why for many, the decision comes down to Ninja vs Nespresso.

Ninja and Nespresso both promise easy-to-use machines that create a wide variety of high-quality coffee and espresso drinks. But which one delivers best on the promise? 

Ninja Pros and Cons

Pros

  • There is lots of variety in the types of coffee you can make
  • You can choose to brew a single cup or a whole pot (with higher-end machines)
  • Descaling only requires vinegar
  • Delay brew option for easy morning coffee

Cons

  • You don’t get true espresso
  • Daily cleanup takes longer
  • Slightly more complicated drink-making process
  • Larger than the small Nespresso models

Nespresso Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Brews real espresso, with that ever-important crema.
  • Very compact for an espresso machine
  • Simple cleanup for an espresso machine
  • Pre-programmed drink options

Cons

  • Original line doesn’t make regular coffee
  • Pods are expensive and not environmentally friendly
  • Requires a special descaling solution
  • There is no delay brew option on most models. 
  • Small water reservoir on many models

What’s the Difference Between Ninja and Nespresso?

The biggest difference is in the type of drinks they make: the Ninja is a coffee machine whereas the Nespresso makes espresso.

Ninja uses regular coffee grounds or beans like a standard coffee machine. Nespresso uses coffee pods instead.

Much like the K Cup pods used by Keurig machines, Nespresso’s are brand specific coffee pods — you can’t use ones made for a different machine. In fact, not all pods made for Nespresso machines work across all machines, so you’ll need to check compatibility before purchasing pods.

Needless to say, buying pods can be a hassle. They also make the machine more expensive to use and less environmentally friendly. Some Nespresso models allow you to use a reusable filter instead of pods, but this negates some of the advantages of pods that I discuss below.

If counter space is a concern, Nespresso has smaller options available, with their Pixie model taking up only 4.4 x 12.8 x 9.3 inches of counter space. The full line of Nespresso machines varies substantially in size, so be sure to check for the specific model you are interested in. The Ninja models are generally close to 10 x 12 x 15 inches instead.  

What Type of Coffee Do Ninja vs Nespresso Make?

Saying that the Ninja makes regular coffee is underselling the options. Depending on which model you purchase, the Ninja machines have between 2 and 5 brewing types.

  • Classic coffee
  • Rich coffee
  • Iced coffee
  • Cold brew coffee
  • Specialty coffee

Along with the brewing options, there are 6 brew sizes available for all but the base Ninja model.

  • Cup
  • XL Cup
  • Travel Mug
  • XL Multi-Serve
  • Half Carafe
  • Full Carafe

What Ninja doesn’t provide is true espresso. The specialty drinks are instead made with strong coffee, and you will very likely be able to tell the difference. If the taste of real espresso matters to you, you won’t find it with Ninja.

The Nespresso original line just makes espresso and espresso beverages (lattes, cappuccinos, etc.). If you want coffee, you’ll have to go with the Vertuo line instead. Don’t tell the other coffee snobs that I said this, but another option would be to try replacing your regular coffee with an Americano — espresso diluted with water to the strength of coffee. It’s not exactly the same flavor, but it’s my favorite substitute.

The Nespresso Vertuo line machines can brew the following sizes. The options for the Nespresso original line depend on the individual model.

  • 5 oz coffee
  • 8 oz coffee
  • 14 oz coffee
  • 18 oz carafe (select models, carafe sold separately)
  • Single espresso
  • Double espresso

How Easy Are Ninja and Nespresso to Use and Clean?

Both machines are incredibly easy to use. With the Nespresso, you’ll typically just be pressing a single button — even for cappuccinos and lattes. Ninja might require a few steps for specialty drinks, but it’s still pretty easy overall.

Nespresso’s pods make cleanup after each use as easy as throwing away a pod. With the Ninja, you’ll need to deal with coffee grounds and all the usual trouble that comes with cleaning ground coffee out of a permanent filter. It’s no more difficult than most coffee machines, but it’s not much easier either.

Long-term cleaning levels the playing field, though. When hard water builds up in a coffee machine, you can typically clean it with plain vinegar. Nespresso machines instead require that you purchase a much more expensive scaling solution.

What Models do Ninja and Nespresso Have Available?

Ninja is no longer makes the Ninja coffee bar, their former flagship product. Instead, they have the following models available. While each has its pros and cons, the Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System is the truest successor to the coffee bar.

  • Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Brewer (CE251)
  • Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker (CM401)
  • Ninja Specialty Coffee Maker (CM407)
  • Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System (CP301)
  • Ninja Hot and Cold Brew System (CP307)

Nespresso’s products are broken down into two lines: Vertuo and Original. The Original line just serves espresso, whereas the Vertuo line can serve either espresso or coffee. Here’s the full lineup.

Vertuo line

  • Nespresso Vertuo Next
  • Nespresso VertuoPlus
  • Nespresso Evoluo
  • Nespresso Vertuo

Original line

  • Nespresso Essenza Mini
  • Nespresso Essenza Plus
  • Nespresso CitiZ
  • Nespresso Pixie
  • Nespresso Lattissima One
  • Nespresso Creatista Plus
  • Nespresso Lattissima Pro
  • Nespresso Gran Lattissima

How Much Do Ninja and Nespresso Cost?

The Ninja coffee makers start at $80, with the most expensive one being $300. The low-end model is basically just a standard coffee maker, with the frother, iced coffee, specialty coffee, and single-cup options not starting until the $160 model.

The Nespresso Vertuo line ranges in price from $100 to $200 (or $250 with frother). The models differ in size, used capsule storage, and design (e.g., some have a swivel-out water reservoir and/or an automatic lid). Some models also include an option to make a carafe of coffee instead of a single serving, and some new models have a Bluetooth connection for programmable start times and monitoring capsule stock.

The Nespresso original line starts at $150 and can go as high as $800. The higher-end machines add steam wands, self-cleaning functions, better pressure, and quite a few other design changes, putting them on par with non-pod-based espresso machines in this price range.

Speaking of pods, you’ll need to take those into account for the cost. The Original line pods run about $0.70 to $0.85 each, and the Vertuo pods go for $0.90 to $1.25. Compare that to the cost of making coffee with grounds: Mid-range coffee grounds that cost roughly $0.25 to make one cup. Original line Nespresso machines can also use 3rd-party espresso capsules, which can be cheaper and add more variety, but the capsule-scanning technology on the Vertuo line doesn’t allow for non-Nespresso pods. 

Additional Features with Ninja vs Nespresso

Some Nespresso models come with a built-in milk frother. Most of the ninja machines have this as well, but there is one important difference: the Ninja frother doesn’t heat the milk. To avoid cold milk ruining your hot beverage, you’ll have to heat it separately before using the frother.

The lower-end Ninja machines use a glass carafe. The higher-end models introduce a stainless steel thermal carafe instead, letting you keep your coffee warm longer. All the carafes are 50 oz except the low-end model which is 60 oz. Only select Nespresso models in the Vertuo line include the option for a carafe (sold separately), which is 18 oz.

All the Ninja machines have a removable water reservoir that makes exactly one carafe of coffee. The size of the water reservoir varies between Ninja models, with some of the Vertuo line machines holding as little as 37 oz but others having room for as much as 54 oz. There’s even more variance in the Original line, with water capacities ranging from 20 oz up to 50 oz. Some of the Vertuo models have an adjustable water tank to make it easier to fit them on your counter.

Ninja vs Nespresso: Which One Is Better?

Both options give you a good amount of variety, and they both succeed at letting you make specialty drinks as easily as you brew a pot of coffee. They even manage to contain all of this in a machine that should fit onto any countertop that has room for a standard coffee machine.

In essence, the difference all comes down to what type of coffee you are looking for. If you want a regular cup of coffee then the Ninja may be the right coffee maker If you are looking for a convenient cup of espresso, on the other hand, then you need an espresso machine like the ones in Nespresso’s line of products.

If you are looking for both espresso and coffee, the Vertuo line from Nespresso is going to be your best bet — unless you are okay with the espresso in your latte being replaced by strong coffee.

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