Is Nespresso Real Espresso Or A Poor Second

Is Nespresso Real Espresso Or A Poor Second?

Last updated on January 22nd, 2024 at 13:31

A regular reader and subscriber to our email list popped us a great question – Is Nespresso real espresso? 

It’s a great question, and it really got me thinking as I aimed to answer his question as best and as informative as I could. This article is the result of my response to the reader’s question.

Let’s dig down and get detailed and analytical.

What Is An Espresso?

An espresso is a full-flavored, full-bodied, concentrated and focused shot of coffee that is made by forcing hot water under 9 bars of pressure through a bed of very finely powder like ground coffee beans using a home espresso machine or professional coffee machine designed for the purpose of making espresso drinks.

The resulting coffee has a rich crema on top that is formed when the soluble coffee oils from the ground coffee form due to micro bubbles formed by the pressurized water during the brewing process.

A good shot of espresso will be able to keep the crema for 2 minutes to 3 minutes at least. The crema is what makes the espresso distinctive and gives it a lingering taste. The typical extraction time takes 25 seconds.

An espresso can only be properly made with fresh coffee bean grounds that have been roasted to a dark roast. It is the roast profile that brings the coffee oils to the surface and aids in the production of the rich crema.

With that said, with an espresso, all the usual rules of coffee can be broken. A traditional espresso and true espresso is only made with one of the four dark roast profiles, which are full city roast, Vienna roast, Spanish roast and Italian roast.

I have seen a few select Starbucks outlets selling Blonde roast espresso, which is rare, different and the last time I tried one, it took up to an hour to brew – mostly due to a lack of oil on the exterior of the beans.

Most commonly, medium-dark roasts are used by coffee shops as a blend that you can use for multiple different coffees, including milk – based coffee drinks.

But it is a deep, dark roast that will cut through the milk better.

What Is An Espresso
An Espresso

Read: Bestpresso Vs Nespresso

Is Nespresso Real Espresso?

Nespresso has been dominant in Europe for a few years now and is only starting to get on the radar of coffee lovers in North America as they explore coffee capsules.

Naturally, many Americans are asking, “is Nespresso real espresso?

It is not quite espresso, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it out of hand. You should certainly try to understand how their espresso coffee pod is different from an espresso made by a traditional espresso machine.

This is not to say that you should dismiss a Nespresso machine completely or that their espresso is bad, just different and not quite an espresso. You can still get pretty amazing coffee from their machines and their proprietary coffee pods.

Is Nespresso Real Espresso
A Nespresso Espresso

Is Nespresso Worth It?

Yes and absolutely, Nespresso machines are definitely worth it. You can most certainly make great coffee and instantly with Nespresso Capsules and the Nespresso Lattissima range of machines.

You can also get a pretty good espresso shot at the touch of a button without going through the time and effort of learning how to pull a high quality espresso shot using a traditional espresso machine.

Nespresso Vs Espresso Taste

A proper espresso has a deep full-flavored and heavy bodied taste with a rich aroma and a light bright acidic punch. It is complex, fascinating, deep and very intense.

An espresso from a Nespresso machine has a rich flavor, moderate aromas, medium body and minor acidity. It tastes similar but much stronger, punchy and more focused to a very well-made Caffe Americano.

A Nespresso makes a good espresso, good is all it gets to. Not perfect, not as you would expect from a home espresso machine or from your local coffee shop. The average coffee lover won’t notice the difference but those that regularly drink coffee shop made espresso will notice the difference.

How Does Nespresso Work?

Making aan espresso is simple, super simple. It’s effortless. You take your capsule, put it into your machine and press a button and viola, you have your shot of espresso.

The company claims that their capsule based coffee machine can produce 15 bars of pressure. This is significantly more, 166% more than the 9 bars of pressure needed to produce an espresso.

There is no fine-tuning and dialing in your shots to get it perfect and hitting the spot. The machine spins in a centrifugal manner, producing pressure and force while brewing.

Coffee lovers and coffee snobs often refer to it as a simple shot, and it is a very simple espresso, nothing dazzling, nothing at all like a proper espresso at all.


I have to admit, it is still a good espresso to have if you are not fussed and in a rush. It is certainly not one to sit, chillax and enjoy.

How Does Nespresso Work
A Nespresso Machine

How An Espresso Machine Works

An espresso machine works in a very different way. Super-fine coffee grounds that have been freshly ground and compressed with a tamper in a portafilter which is then brewed via the pressurized hot water coming out of the grouphead which has an even shower head type design to ensure an even distribution and brewing of the coffee grounds.

The process is much more complex and has more variables for the barista or home barista to control and ensure a great shot is pulled. Grind size, temperature, water flow rate and pressure as well as the distribution and how tightly compact the grounds are, to name just a few.

The tamping may seem like a minor thing, but get it wrong and tamping too tight or too loose you will damage the shot flavor.

Then the brew time has to be right. The ideal shot brewing time can vary from 25 to 30 seconds, with each second making a difference.

How An Espresso Machine Works
An Espresso Machine

Is Nespresso As Strong As Real Espresso?

No, not at all. A Nespresso shot has a very medium body and, yes, a good quality capsule can have adequate aromas and a rich flavor with a little to low acidity.

An espresso has a stronger, more intense flavor and a much fuller, deeper body.

Is Nespresso High Quality Coffee?

Yes, Nespresso is high quality coffee, and they do brew your capsules perfectly every single time. Their capsules use a barcode system that is pre-programmed into your Nespresso machine that ensures it will brew it perfectly every single time at the touch of a button.

Their espresso is not quite an espresso that hits the spot, a real espresso is much better.

Frequently Asked Questions About Is Nespresso Real Espresso?

Does a Nespresso Machine Make True Espresso?

A lot of coffee lovers don’t like Nespresso machines and claim that it isn’t real espresso that is made.

And they are correct. It is not a true espresso that made. It’s an “espresso like” coffee. Nespresso makes the rich thick crema on top by using centrifugal force and pressure. It’s aerated foam and not true foam. It’s not as strong and are not as concentrated as real espresso.

Is Nespresso A Coffee Or Espresso?

A Nespresso machine can make a variety of different coffee beverages, and not just espresso. The espresso produced is not a true espresso and clearly lacks the density; it’s a lot thinner and contain less caffeine.

How Close Is Nespresso To Real Espresso?

How close a Nespresso is to a real espresso, to use a numbering scale I’d say it’s a 6.5 out of 10, with a 10 being a perfect shot of espresso.

Is Nespresso Real Coffee Or Instant?

Nespresso is real coffee. The coffee is brewed with a jet of hot water being forced through finely ground coffee. It is not instant coffee.

Each Nespresso capsule is a single use capsule. There is only one shot, or one cup of coffee that can be brewed with each capsule.

If your Nespresso coffee is bitter or excessively bitter, it is time to clean and descale your machine. The build up of old coffee oil and coffee grounds will be what is causing your coffee machine to brew coffee that is too bitter.

Frappé-Ing It All Up – Is Nespresso Real Espresso?

Nespresso capsules and pods make great coffee instantly and every single time, their machine is designed to do exactly that. It is not designed to make a perfect espresso, but it does a good job almost getting it. I’d say by an estimate they are 80% to 85% of the way there.

Is Nespresso real Espresso? I have to answer that negatively, moderately negatively. If you know espresso and try a Nespresso espresso, you will know what I mean.

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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