/ Food & Drink

Why I ditched my Nespresso machine

coffee machine

Have you been left unimpressed by your Nespresso machine? Well you wouldn’t be the only one. Ben Preston, Editor of Radio Times, is here to tell why he’s ditched his Nespresso in favour of a bean-to-cup coffee machine…

If you love great coffee, is there anything more seductive – and addictive – than Nespresso?

Quick and easy, once you’ve found the right colour pod. Nespresso is guaranteed to kick-start your day the right way, every day.

But, there is a big but. The initial machine might be cheap, but the costs soon begin to mount up in a household that runs on caffeine. Four people drinking just one Nespresso a day each equals 120 pods a month.

Soon the large green branded recycling bag under the sink groans heavy with Nespresso’s expensive trail of aluminium corpses, and the monthly cost resembles an overpriced phone contract.

I’m no tree-hugger, but somehow Nespresso’s ludicrous promise to send a courier to pick up and recycle this detritus didn’t salve my environmental conscience. It made my guilt worse.

So I turned instead to a bean-to-cup machine. It’s a hulking, gurgling beast, at least three times the size of a sleek Nespresso. It takes a while to get the hang of it. There are dials to adjust the quantity of beans and water for each cup – and a bewildering array of warning lights when either’s running short.

But I persevered and soon got the amateur barista bug. There’s a simple pleasure in trying different beans, recalibrating my machine and listening to the chuntering, wheezing process of making a damn fine cup of coffee.

Of course, after the initial outlay for the machine, my daily fix is now much cheaper. But best of all, my bean-to-cup self-cleans like a cat and excretes neat cowpats of grinds.

There’s a pleasing alchemy to the process – like putting grass in a cow and getting milk – and I only wish I’d banished my soulless Nespresso sooner.

This is guest post by Ben Preston, Editor of Radio Times. All views expressed here are Ben’s own and not necessarily those shared by Which?.

So, what coffee makers have your trialed in search of that all-important cup of hot java?


Thanks for an entertaining introduction, Ben. I like proper coffee and have had a fair amount of experience with bean-to-cup machines when staying with family and friends. They don’t seem very reliable, which is the main reason I don’t have one. The pod machines are cheap but the running costs are high, similar to cheap printers but costly ink.

I’m quite happy with the coffee I brew from a bean to cup cafetiere system – £20 grinder, £10 cafetiere (or even a bag of pre-ground to cup). I’d rather spend the money on decent coffee than an expensive machine. But I don’t drink espresso.

My mum’s got a Nespresso machine, a Magimix I think, and I get a good expresso everytime. Trying out different flavours and strengths has been fun. I’ve even thought of buying one for work, to help me not fall asleep early afternoon after lunch. But yes, mmh, the environmental costs of capsules…

The only other way I have liked espresso at home is when I’ve made it with a stove top espresso coffee pot. You can experiment with that too: flavour, mix, dosage, pre-ground, home ground. If you can be bothered. A passion for some.

I read that refillable capsules are available, allowing you to use the coffee you prefer. One of the benefits of the Nespresso machines is that they are compact. It’s obviously not quite as easy as popping in a capsule and pressing a button.

Has anyone got any experience of refillable capsules?

I have used the refillable capsules. It certainly saves on cost, but it is difficult to get a decent crema on your coffee. The issue is getting the correct grind, amount in the pod and then tapping it down correctly! Too much or too little of any of these factors and you just get brown water!

Thanks Andy. I think I will stick to my conventional machine, though it’s time consuming.

I bought a Nespresso Inissia after testing umpteen brands over several years. The decider was what I know about myself. First thing in the morning I would not be interested in faffing about with beans, grinding, or such stuff. With my Nespresso I will be drinking an excellent coffee in less than two minutes from deciding I want a cuppa.

Refillable Nespresso capsules are another faff. They are messy to fill and the coffee starts to lose flavor and aroma from the moment they are filled so you cannot easily make a batch and store them.

Thanks Banjo. Convenience also makes instant coffee a popular choice.

Years ago a colleague of mine described instant coffee as producing a “coffee flavoured drink”. I rarely drink instant, unless there is no choice. Brewing ground coffee in a cafetiere takes very little longer than making instant – you still have to heat the water and the brew only takes 3 minutes. I’d choose it anytime for taste.

I have never liked cafetiere coffee and my holiday list includes a small cone and papers – but each to their own. I drink coffee once a day (well two cups) and coffee flavoured drink the rest of the time, which helps me appreciate the real stuff. I do have a pressure machine that produces proper coffee but it is troublesome and tedious to use. A Nespresso machine would take up less space and might be used more.

I well remember the coffee shortage of the 70s, when some evil blends purporting to be instant coffee were on sale.

thomas says:
23 October 2016

I binned my capsule machine simply because of the overpriced capsules, I have always preferred drip filter machines I used a burr grinder and bought my beans online It is definitely cheaper and with superior results. Just recently I purchased a bean to cup machine expensive I know but definitely worth the outlay what I have ended up with is barista quality coffee at a very reasonable cost the machine was £700 even now I wince when I think about it but like I said it is well worth the money.

Charlotte says:
23 October 2016

I love my nespresso machine ! Yes the pods are expensive but a lot cheaper than buying a coffee from a shop! Ok so there is a lot of waste but hey I need my coffee…. and quick! I’ve tried other brand of capsules that are cheaper and work fine

If you want easy coffee without the environmental impact of Nesspresso pods go for a machine that takes ESE pods. No more waste than a tea bag, about half the price if a Nesspresso pod and excellent coffee. You can also switch to ground coffee if you want.

What environmental impact? Nespresso capsule are recyclable.

As I drink 5 or 6 double espresso coffees every day, using a bean to cup machine is far cheaper than a capsule machine. I can get a large bag of beans from Costco for under £8. There is nothing complicated about using the machine, switch it on, press the large coffee button and the machine grinds the beans and makes a strong superb coffee. My wife prefers lattes and with the steamer they only take a few moments. The only downside is the initial cost of the machine, but if you look around there are plenty of excellent reasonably priced machines about.

Tony says:
29 October 2016

We tried a Nespresso machine on the recommendation of a John Lewis salesman. Didn’t like the small cups it made or all the waste. Took it back and changed it for a DeLonghi, much better coffee. Although the Nespresso milk frother is definitely the best on the market.

Trevor says:
29 October 2016

Why is no one commenting on one of the most overlooked little coffee devices on the market…… The AeroPress!
It’s so simple and has no buttons, lights, dials or plug and serves a truly first class coffee. It is also a great travel companion as all you need is ground bean and hot water and that’s it. Had one for ages and given a fair few as gifts and they love them.
If you want to complete your kit buy a PORLEX hand grinder and you have the ultimate mix of Barista and a little bit of the school chemistry lab. Not all coffee should be an I want it now experience. Enjoy the simple things of coffee simply.

Steve says:
1 November 2016

Well we bought a Delonghi Caffe Corso bean to cup machine two years ago for £249. Why pay £700! A brilliant machine that produces coffee as good as any high street coffee shop. From the word go, your espresso is ready in under two minutes. After that, cleaning and switching off means putting an old cup under and pressing two buttons. It takes a bit longer if you want frothed milk, and there’s more cleaning up to do, but that would be the case whatever your method. Coffee in a trice from freshly-ground beans. What’s not to like!

A lot depends on how much coffee you drink. There are only two of us in the house and we drink coffee just once per day. For us, Nespresso makes complete sense. The machine takes much less space than bean-to-cup. It produces an espresso in a minute from cold and requires no cleaning up except weekly emptying of the capsule bin and drip tray.

Bean-to-cup would still be cheaper after a few years…but only if the machine proved reliable enough to last that long, which seems unlikely, from what I’ve read. Certainly, various espresso machines (not bean-to-cup) we’ve owned in the past have proved hopelessly unreliable. We’d miss out on the extensive range of coffees available from Nespresso too.

We bought a DeLonghi bean to cup machine six years ago. It has been making terrific espresso coffee everyday. We have had no problems with it at all. It is easy to use, and the coffee grinds simply go into compost bin. Nespresso machines are fine, but as a coffee lover, nothing beats the anticipative sound of the machine grinding the beans!

A little way in to the Bond movie “Live and Let Die” Bond makes ‘M’ a cup of coffee using my laPavoni espresso machine. “Is that all it does?” remarks ‘M’ . . . . But my hand operated coffee grinder is wall mounted so my coffee is absolutely fresh. Recommend it!

Many years ago my sister bought our mum a ‘latte maker’. I wasn’t a proper coffee machine, it faked it, but mum liked its faux latte and I liked its phoney mocha. Then one day the coating in the base of the jug started to peel and I decided it was time to replace it, so I bought a proper coffee machine.

It was great playing at making real coffee and experimenting with doing the brewing, but it never did make coffee as good as the original. I guess I’m just not a true coffee partaker, but on the other hand there’s nothing wrong with liking what you like.

Written in a little village coffee shop on a Which? recommended tablet using a Which? recommended Bluetooth keyboard. I may be a smartarse, but I’m a cool smartarse.

I have not read all the above but I just use a coffee filter machine, with a number 5 coffee from Tesco, and it is really nice, especially with single cream,

I’ve got a bean to cup machine nearly worth more than my car. Beans are purchased from ALDI cheaper that any I have sniffed out online but ALDI are now selling a capsule machine. I’ve got room for both help required, what would you advise?

Paul says:
16 June 2017

I’ve never tasted anything from a ‘pod machine’ that was worth drinking, and the pods are an environmental disaster. Yes, they can be recycled but all the energy expended to do this? I’ve been using a Jura bean to cup machine for 2 years, and it’s so quick and easy. The coffee is outstanding (with a superb crema) and the grouts are neatly collected and then dumped in the compost. The machines aren’t cheap, but each cup costs about 25 pence. Compare that to the price of undrinkable pod piddle, or Starbucks where the coffee is (at best) exceedingly average.

AliBo says:
30 August 2017

I’ve become less enchanted with my Nespresso machine, which I’ve owned for almost a year. Yes, it’s quick and takes up little counter top space, but the coffee is beginning to taste awful in comparison to the free tasters I get from the Nespresso boutique. I’m also fed up with the groaning bag of pods which lurks, stinking and sweating in a cupboard – not pleasant. Furthermore, I require two pods to make one mug size cup, which then needs a bit of heating up in the microwave to make it ‘hot’.

Hi Ben,
I agree with your article and have done just that in the last few months where I have ditched the Nespresso, for a fully automatic bean to cup. The difference in taste, options in grinds and variations are just brilliant depending if you want a fine grind for espresso, or a coarser grinder depending on your taste. Interestingly coffee needs to be drunk fresh and ideally a few days after the beans have been roasted and 4 weeks after the roast date as a maximum for the best taste. Considering Nespresso grind their coffee and pack them in a capsule with no dates and god knows what else.
Nespresso is better than instant and and some ground coffee, however anyone trying to compare Nespresso to freshly ground probably think that Cheddar and Gorgonzola are the same type of cheese.
The only thing I disagree is cost – as the amount I spend on beans monthly far exceeds my nespresso cost, but maybe it is because I am drinking more coffee now that its fresher and better.

Interested to know what beans you’re using, Tom, and where you buy them — have you ever tried the ones you get by mail?