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Nespresso Vs Dolce Gusto: Which One Is Better?

Buying a new coffee pod machine?

Owned by the same parent company, Nespresso and Dolce Gusto are both great picks.

But one has to be better, right?

Well, to find that out, we have to review them both and compare their characteristics.

I’ve done research on the subject so that you don’t have to, and I’ve tried a few models from both lines. So now, I’ll share with you everything there is to know about each of these machines.

Let’s solve Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto battle once and for all.

Nespresso Overview

nesspresso
Source: nespresso.com

When it came out, Nespresso made a revolution in the coffee world. It was the first machine that allowed you to enjoy a flavorful espresso at home without much effort. 

And really, brewing coffee with a Nespresso machine is as easy as popping a pod and pressing a button.

Now, there are two series of Nespresso machines:

  • OriginalLine
  • VertuoLine

The first to come out was the OriginalLine, which specializes in espresso drinks. 

After the increasing demand of Americans for a coffee machine that makes longer drinks, VertuoLine was born.

Nespresso offers a wide range of specialty coffee capsules. This includes the Nespresso Reviving Origins program, which sources coffee from endangered regions. So not only do you get to enjoy limited edition coffee, but you also help those regions rebuild their farms. 

Nespresso capsules are made of aluminum, which makes them recyclable. What’s a bit annoying is that Nespresso pods are a bit harder to come by. You can always buy them online, but as far as stores go, only more popular retailers have them.

Nespresso models don’t typically have frothing wands (except for a few models). Instead, the brand suggests buying Aeroccino separately to froth milk.

Now, Aeroccino makes excellent milk foam. But having to buy an additional appliance just for that requires more money, as well as more counter space.

Pros

  • Nespresso capsule coffee machine uses a 19-bar pressure pump, with final results similar to real espresso
  • A large range of specialty coffee is available, meaning there’s something for everyone
  • Uses real milk for a milk-based coffee drink, making your coffee very flavorful
  • Nespresso pod is fully recyclable, so you can be zero-waste

Cons

  • Pods can only be bought online and at more popular retailers, meaning they’re hard to come by
  • Frother has to be bought separately, which increases the total cost of a coffee machine

Dolce Gusto Overview

Nescafe Dolce Gusto was introduced in 2006 as an affordable machine for making coffee-based drinks at home. And I’m not just talking about espressos and Americanos. This coffee maker also allows you to make a latte, macchiato, and even cold brew.

As if that’s not enough, it also allows you to make hot chocolate and tea, as well as frappes.

Simply put, it’s a single appliance that makes pretty much anything you want to drink at home.

This coffee maker has no frothing wand. Instead, you simply pop a milk pod after your coffee of choice. This makes cleanup rather easy and brewing very convenient. With that being said, milk in the capsule can never be as flavorful as real milk.

Dolce Gusto has a wide range of pods to choose from. And given this is intended to be a coffee machine anyone can afford, the same goes for pods. Most importantly, you can buy them in pretty much any supermarket and local store.

And on top of that, there are tons of other brands that make pods compatible with Dolce Gusto, like Starbucks and Costa. This only further increases your options to choose from.

Pros

  • Aside from coffee, it also makes tea and hot chocolate, so it’s an all-in-one machine
  • They’re pretty affordable, meaning they don’t break your bank
  • Pods are available at most stores, so they’re easy to come by
  • Many third-party pods are compatible with Dolce Gusto, giving you lots of options

Cons

  • Uses powdered milk, so you don’t get a very rich foam
  • Weaker pump compared to the Nespresso coffee machine, making espresso not as flavorful

Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto Head to Head

As you can see, these two machines appear to be quite similar. However, there are also some key differences between them that can affect your choice.

Capsules

coffee capsules

Both machines, obviously, use capsules. But the capsules they use are not the same and aren’t interchangeable

Nespresso has two lines of machines – OriginalLine and VertuoLine. And both of these lines have their own capsules that aren’t interchangeable. And that’s quite a shame since both lines have flavors only available for their machines. 

For instance, OriginalLine has way more single-origin options compared to VertuoLine, such as:

  • India
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Indonesia
  • Nicaragua

OriginalLine allows you to choose between ristretto, espresso, and lungo.

With VertuoLine, things are a bit different. 

Here’s what I mean.

Every VertuoLine pod features a barcode with brewing parameters. In other words, the machine decides how much water you should use with a specific coffee capsule. 

So, for instance, bold capsules are designated to be used as espresso shots. More balanced blends, on the other hand, are best served as 7.77-ounce drinks.

There’s just one problem…

Nespresso coffee capsules are a bit harder to come by, as they’re only sold at popular supermarkets. Alternatively, you have to order them directly from the website.

NOTE
Nespresso pods are made of aluminum, so they’re 100% recyclable. You can do it on your own or ship them to the manufacturer

As for Dolce Gusto, all models use the same capsules. What’s more, many brands make their own pods that are compatible with Dolce Gusto, so you have tons of options available.

Dolce Gusto capsules come in packs of 12, 16, or 30, so you can easily buy a month’s worth of a stash. How awesome is that?

Dolce Gusto capsule is also recyclable since it’s made of polyethylene.

But there’s a catch…

The whole process is made unnecessarily complicated. You have to request a recycling box from a manufacturer (which is, by the way, lined with a plastic bag 🙄). 

THE WINNER
The competition is tough, but Dolce Gusto has the upper edge in this category. Dolce Gusto capsules are easier to come by, sold in larger bulks, and available by many brands. 

Coffee Taste & Quality

Here’s the most important question – what quality coffee do these two machines make?

Let’s start with Nespresso.

Nespresso machines are made with espresso in mind, hence the name. These models feature a 19-bar pump that manages to create a very extracted cup of coffee.

Now, it’s not exactly espresso, but it’s as close as it gets. It’s flavorful with a nice layer of crema on top.

Nespresso offers a wide range of different blends and flavors coming from coffee farms all over the world. 

As for the quality of milk-based drinks…

With a few models that have a frother or with an Aeroccino, you can get really good results. That’s because these machines use real milk.

Of course, you can choose any type of milk you want, be it dairy or plant-based. In any case, you can make different types of foam, depending on what beverage you’re making.

Dolce Gusto can also make espresso (ok, espresso-LIKE coffee), but it doesn’t exert the same amount of pressure as Nespresso.

For that reason, the final result is not as concentrated as a Nespresso (and it’s even further than real espresso).

And on top of that, Dolce Gusto makes milk-based coffee drinks using milk capsules. While they’re pretty nice, powdered milk can never taste as good as real milk. 

Plus, if you’re dairy-free, your options are pretty limited. There are only a few drinks that are made with plant-based milk. 

THE WINNER
Nespresso is the clear winner in this category. Espresso made with this coffee machine can easily be mistaken for one made with a real espresso machine.

Drinks Variety

three different cups of coffee

Nespresso is designated to make espresso, so that’s what you get with this coffee machine. 

OriginalLine only offers three options: 

  • Ristretto
  • Espresso 
  • Lungo

However, you have quite a lot of options when it comes to roasts and flavors

So even if you’re only drinking espresso, you can still have a unique experience each time just by switching capsules. One day, it can be citrusy Paris espresso, and the next day it’s flowery Tokyo lungo.

Plus, you can also choose from a variety of flavored and decaf options as well. 

With VertuoLine, you can also drink longer drinks like a real American. You have quite a few options available:

  • Single shot of espresso
  • Double shot of espresso
  • Lungo
  • Mug
  • Alto

 This line also features tons of flavors and coffee origins to choose from, such as:

  • Tamuka Mu Zimbabwe (flowery)
  • Mexico (spiced)
  • Solelio (light-bodied and fruity)
  • Voltesso (sweet)
  • Double espresso (bold)

But here’s the main issue with Nespresso… 

Most models don’t have a frothing wand. So unless you have a separate appliance for that, you’re limited to just black coffee.

Dolce Gusto can make anything that comes to mind, including:

  • Espresso
  • Black coffee
  • Flat white
  • Cold brew
  • Tea
  • Hot chocolate

Of course, this coffee machine also offers tons of different blends and flavors to choose from. 

Some of them are:

  • Veranda blend espresso
  • Almond flat white
  • Chococcino
  • Bold morning Americano
  • Toffee nut latte

And given that you can make milk-based drinks with the same machine, you can whip up your latte within minutes. How cool is that?

THE WINNER
Dolce Gusto offers way more drink options compared to Nespresso. In the case of the latter, that depends on the line and the model.

Brew Size

cup of coffee under coffee machine

Nespresso OriginalLine has only three brew sizes to choose from: ristretto, espresso, and lungo. In any case, you’ll only need a small cup for these machines.

In the case of VertuoLine, you have way more options:

  • Espresso (1.35 ounces)
  • Double espresso (2.7 ounces)
  • Grand lungo (5 ounces)
  • Cup (8 ounces)
  • Alto (14 ounces)

Now, the thing with VertuoLine is that you don’t have to choose the cup size. The machine does it for you.

Every capsule has a unique barcode that the machine scans for brewing parameters. Then, it adjusts them to match perfectly with the selected coffee pod.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that this is an example of convenience.

As for Dolce Gusto, the majority of pods are designated to make 4 ounces of coffee. Therefore, you can’t actually choose the size of your drink. 

Some, however, can contain enough coffee for double or even triple that amount.

THE WINNER
Nespresso offers more options when it comes to brewing sizes, especially the VertuoLine. 

Milk Frothing

Some Nespresso models come with a built-in milk frother. And in case you get one of them, making cappuccinos and lattes will be easy.

For those without a frother, the manufacturer offers a separate frothing appliance, Aeroccino. Now, this little tool makes a great milk foam. Whether you want it thick and velvety, or dry and frothy, you can make it with the Aeroccino.

However, Aeroccino is not really cheap. In fact, it can be more than half of the cost of your Nespresso. Plus, two machines take up quite a bit of space on the counter.

Dolce Gusto machine doesn’t have a frothing wand, either. Instead, it uses capsules filled with powdered milk. Basically, you brew your coffee, then brew a milk capsule in the same cup

Now, what you get is a pretty decent milky coffee. But there’s no way that powdered milk can taste as good as real milk does. Still, this coffee machine allows you to enjoy milk-based drinks without using a second appliance.

THE WINNER
Dolce Gusto coffee machine might not be the best at making foam, but at least it makes it. Aside from a handful of models, Nespresso doesn’t even offer a frother. Instead, you have to buy a separate appliance for that.

Ease of Use

Neither Nespresso nor Dolce Gusto is a tough machine to use. They both have only a few buttons, so there’s practically no way you can mess up your brew.

In both cases, the amount of options depends on a model. But generally, Nespresso machines have fewer buttons, meaning they’re easier to navigate. 

THE WINNER
Nespresso machines are generally easier to use, with very few button presses.

Final Verdict

As you can see, these two pod machines are pretty similar. Yet, they have a few key differences that make them stand out in different situations.

You should choose Nespresso if:

  • You enjoy specialty and gourmet coffee
  • You mostly drink espresso
  • You don’t mind paying more for high-quality coffee

You should pick Dolce Gusto if:

  • You like switching between different coffee drinks
  • You want a more affordable option
  • You enjoy drinking hot chocolate or tea every now and then

There’s no single better option. It really depends on what suits your needs best.

Need a Nespresso model recommendation? Check out our article on the best Nespresso machines on the market.

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Viktoria Marks
Viktoria is a writer and a journalist who can't imagine sitting by her computer without a large cup of java in her hand. She loves sampling coffee from all over the world as much as writing about it.