Delonghi and Nespresso are the heavyweight champions of the home coffee machine market but is one better than the other and how do you decide whether it’s Nespresso or Delonghi that get the privilege of pride of place on your work surface?
You probably know at least one person that has either a Nespresso coffee machine or a Delonghi coffee machine and most people are very happy regardless of which of the two brands they decided to go for.
But does one of them deliver a better cup of coffee than the other and how do you choose the one that provides the best possible value for money without compromising on flavour?
The 5 main things to consider when choosing between the two are:
- Quality of the coffee used to make your cup of coffee
- Cost of the coffee
- How well the machine makes your coffee
- The available features on the machines
- How easy and convenient do you want it to be to make your coffee
- Cost of the coffee machine
Let’s cover each one individually:
The coffee you use will be by far the most important thing in making the best possible cup of coffee.
This is often overlooked but should definitely be your number one consideration before you choose a Delonghi or Nespresso coffee machine because a £100 coffee machine with great coffee will win over a £1000 coffee machine with poor coffee every time.
If you choose Delonghi then you have the freedom to choose any coffee from anywhere you like. The world is your oyster.
If you go with Delonghi then you also get to choose coffee beans instead of pre-ground coffee inside a pod or capsule.
Choosing coffee beans will always produce a better-tasting cup of coffee than pre-ground coffee because coffee starts to lose its flavour the moment it gets ground.
When you visit a coffee shop they will always grind your coffee from whole coffee beans just before making your drink of choice because that’s how you achieve the best possible flavour.
Even though Nespresso vacuum packs their coffee into capsules in an attempt to retain as much flavour as possible, it’s not going to be as good as good whole bean coffee ground just before brewing.
Is Nespresso good coffee?
Yes, it is. Nespresso is owned by Nestle who is one of the largest manufacturers of coffee in the world. Nestle also owns Nescafe which is the best-selling instant coffee in the UK so Nespresso definitely knows a thing or two about decent coffee.
But you don’t want decent coffee, you want great coffee. The coffee in Nespresso coffee pods is good coffee but it isn’t great coffee and you only get 5 grams of coffee inside each capsule.
I had a Nespresso coffee machine for a number of years and one pod was never enough for me, I always needed to use two pods for each cup of coffee that I made and that can work out pretty expensive over the course of a month or a year.
You do have plenty of choice when it comes to Nespresso coffee pods and whether you like your coffee strong or mild, with or without milk, there is something for everyone.
When it comes to the quality of coffee, Delonghi wins because you get to choose the coffee yourself whereas with Nespresso you are restricted to buying coffee pods.
Cost of the coffee
If you buy a Nespresso coffee machine you have to use coffee pods but you don’t have to use the original Nespresso pods that Nespresso sell online or in their boutique stores.
The original pods from Nespresso are expensive. They do vary slightly in price but generally, you are looking at over 30p per pod.
Everyone will be different but as mentioned above I used to have to use two pods per cup of coffee to get the strength I liked for my cappuccino in the morning and I used to have at least 3 of those throughout the day.
That can add up to a decent chunk of money at the end of the month and is definitely something to consider before choosing between Delonghi or Nespresso.
With Nespresso, you do have the option to buy compatible coffee pods which can work out a lot cheaper than buying the originals.
If you do decide to go down the compatible coffee pod route then it can be a little hit and miss on the quality of the coffee but if you try out a few different types you can normally find something decent.
Here are some compatible Nespresso coffee pod options so you can get a feel for how much they are per capsule compared to the Nespresso ones:
With Delonghi coffee machines you will be adding the coffee yourself and buying either whole coffee beans to grind down yourself or pre-ground coffee that has already been ground for you.
Either way, buying coffee beans is much cheaper than the price of coffee in a pod.
If you pay 30p per pod and each pod has 5 grams of coffee in it then that works out at £60 per kilo!
You will never pay £60 per kilo for coffee beans and for £20-£30 per kilo you can get some really good organic coffee beans that will taste better than the coffee in a Nespresso coffee pod.
When it comes to the cost of coffee, Delonghi wins because coffee in a pod is a lot more expensive than buying whole coffee beans and Nespresso requires you to use pods and Delonghi requires whole coffee beans that get ground down.
Here are a couple of articles that will give you a guide as to what you can expect to pay for whole coffee beans and some of the different types of coffee beans:
Which machine makes better coffee?
With Delonghi, it does come down to how much you are prepared to spend and how much time you are prepared to spend making your coffee.
Because this article is a direct comparison of Nespresso and Delonghi the closest type of coffee machine that Delonghi do that is directly comparable to Nespresso is bean to cup coffee machines.
All Nespresso machines offer a high level of convenience when it comes to preparing your coffee, you just pop in the pod, press a button and the coffee is delivered.
Bean to cup machines are similar in that you press a button and the coffee gets delivered so what’s the difference?
The main difference is that bean to cup coffee machines grind whole coffee beans, pump water through the ground coffee at high pressure and then discard the used coffee grounds into a tray for you to discard.
Delonghi bean to cup coffee machines give you the flexibility to alter the amount of coffee you use so you can adjust it to your taste.
There are a huge number of coffee machines in the Delonghi range and we have a dedicated article that goes into specific detail here:
Here are all of the best Delonghi coffee machines on a couple of pages:
With Nespresso, regardless of the amount of money you spend on a Nespresso coffee machine the quality of the black coffee will always be exactly the same.
That may be hard to believe but it is absolutely true. The cheapest machine in their range will make the same espresso or lungo as the most expensive.
You pop in a pod and close the lid and press the start button. Water is delivered through the pod at 15 bars of pressure regardless of how much money you spend.
What you pay extra money for when you buy one of the more expensive Nespresso coffee machines is the design and the features.
If you want something that is going to look good and has a milk carafe that will automatically deliver the milk for a latte or cappuccino then that’s what you pay extra for but the coffee quality will be the same as the cheapest model.
If you ultimately decide to go down the Nespresso route then the way to get the best value for money is to buy the cheapest machine they have that delivers black coffee and then buy a separate milk frother to heat and froth your milk if you like cappuccinos or lattes.
Nespresso does sell their own milk frother which they call “Aeroccino” but there are better value for money frothers out there that do the same thing.
Here is a selection of milk frothers to consider:
Here is a detailed article that explains exactly what you get with a Nespresso machine:
Here are all the best Nespresso machines on one page:
Delonghi bean to cup coffee machines grind your coffee just before your coffee is delivered. You also have more flexibility over the amount of coffee that gets used and you get to choose the coffee you want to use.
Therefore, Delonghi gets the vote over Nespresso for which brand makes the best coffee.
Which machines have the best features?
Delonghi coffee machines have a larger range of features than Nespresso so you can tweak and finesse your coffee to make it perfect for your individual taste.
You can alter the grind size so that you can get the perfect coffee extraction.
On some of the more expensive machines, you can alter the temperature of the water to suit and you can change the amount of coffee that is ground for a milder or stronger coffee.
As you go up through the pricing on Nespresso machines the features improve and you can have things like altering the water temperature.
Both Delonghi and Nespresso offer integrated milk carafes that allow you to create milk-based drinks at the touch of a button.
Delonghi just edges this one because of the ability to change the grind size and amount of coffee which you don’t get with Nespresso.
Ease of use and convenience
If you want hassle-free, no thinking, decent coffee then Nespresso win this one hands down.
With Nespresso you never even have to touch any coffee, just put the pod in and press go. 60 seconds later you have a coffee.
If its ultra-convenience you are after and you are not that fussed about paying a bit more for it then go with a Nespresso machine.
You will have to do a descale every now and then but it’s quick and pain-free.
Delonghi bean to cup machines can fool you into thinking that you just press one button and then that’s it but the maintenance of a Delonghi coffee machine is much more involved than a Nespresso machine.
You have to empty the used grounds on a regular basis and the brewing unit that holds the coffee before it is discarded into the used coffee ground tray will need to be cleaned on a regular basis.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say you need to get your hands dirty with a Delonghi machine but it is definitely more involved than a Nespresso machine is.
Nespresso wins for convenience.
If you choose carefully you can pick up a Nespresso machine for as little as £70 and then add a Milk Frother for another £30 if you like milk-based drinks.
That will give you everything you need to make whatever coffee drink takes your fancy.
Delonghi bean to cup machines start at around a little over £200 and go up from there. You can spend over £1000 if money is no object.
With Nespresso you need to think about the cost of the pods themselves as that will add up over time and make the overall cost more expensive than the initial outlay for the machine.
Delonghi gets the nod on this one because if you are prepared to spend a little more then you get a truly freshly prepared cup of coffee.
What about Delonghi Nespresso machines?
This where it can get a little confusing because Nespresso’s thing is coffee, not coffee machines so they get other companies that are experts in making coffee machines to make pod machines for them.
Delonghi are experts in the coffee machine business so Nespresso gets them to make some of their coffee machines for them.
If you see the Delonghi brand name on a Nespresso coffee machine, it is still a Nespresso machine that takes Nespresso pods, it just happens to be made by Delonghi.
Can you use Nespresso pods in a Delonghi machine?
Nespresso coffee machines that get made by Delonghi take coffee pods but it doesn’t work the other way round.
Delonghi coffee machines that are not made for Nespresso all require ground coffee to be added in order to make a coffee – they do not take Nespresso pods.
The easiest way to work it out is to check if it says Nespresso anywhere on the machine. If it doesn’t then it doesn’t take the pods.
Quality of the coffee – Delonghi
Cost of the coffee – Delonghi
How well the machine makes your coffee – Delonghi
Available features – Delonghi
Ease of use and convenience – Nespresso
Cost of the coffee machine – Delonghi (from a value for money perspective)
What it boils down to is this. If you don’t want to think about your coffee but you want to drink coffee that tastes good then Nespresso is a good option but its an expensive option when you take the cost of the pods into account.
If you want the best value for money and you want the best possible tasting coffee then Delonghi wins but you will have to commit a little time to make your coffee and maintaining the machine.