The main difference between a capsule coffee maker and an espresso machine is that the capsules are pre-defined coffee doses, while in the case of espresso machines, we can use any ground coffee we want. Otherwise, the preparation is done similarly: the coffee maker injects hot water through the coffee (which will be deposited in the coffee filter, if the coffee maker is an espresso machine, or in the capsule) with a specific pressure. The higher the pressure, the more creamy the drink becomes.
It has its advantages and disadvantages. The capsules allow you to prepare a greater variety of drinks, such as infusions, soft drinks, very varied flavours. Still, in the long run, they are more expensive and logically there is no option to use our coffee (although there are some homemade tricks for this, such as refilling capsules). In espresso machines, the advantage is that we can use the ground coffee blend precisely as we want, so the options for customization are more excellent. Coffee purists tend to prefer coffee makers for this reason.
Capsule coffee makers are much easier to handle, possibly also faster in operation, but in return, your drinks are limited to the exclusive capsules of the brand you choose. If you don’t like the taste of the capsules in your coffee maker, you won’t have much choice.
On the other hand, an espresso machine is a bit more complicated, since the user has to participate in more phases of the process, but they have the advantage that you can use any coffee or blend you like; from any brand or any type. You can use ground coffee or coffee beans to grind in the coffee maker itself, so with an espresso machine, you can be entirely sure that you’re going to make the coffee you like.
We have to say at this point that there are espresso machines that accept both ground coffee and standard single-dose capsules (usually the ESE type). So if you want to enjoy the immediacy of using single servings, you also have this option. However and in our humble opinion, if you are going to use capsules, it is best to buy a capsule coffee maker.
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How much does a cup of coffee cost?
If you want to know what it costs to have a capsule coffee maker on a long-term basis, it is best to read this comprehensive analysis: How much does a coffee cost with a capsule coffee maker? Summarizing a lot, we can tell you that depending on the brand of the coffee maker we find prices from 17 to 35 cents per cup.
With an espresso machine, and assuming an average price of about 11-12 pounds per kilo of coffee beans, the cost of each cup of coffee is about 9 cents. As you can see, a lot of difference from capsules. Point in favour of coffee machines.
Advantages of a capsule coffee maker
- In Dolce Gusto or Tassimo coffee machines you can prepare not only coffee, but other drinks such as teas or chocolates.
- The preparation of coffee is usually faster and easier than in an espresso.
- They are much more accessible to the general public: you get a delicious quality coffee without effort and knowledge.
- Marketing, promotions, exclusive advantages, loyalty programs; the great brands of capsule coffee machines offer you many extras as a consumer.
- With them you don’t need the coffee grinders.
Advantages of an espresso machine
Espresso machines are a domestic and reduced version of the coffee machines we see in bars. Some of them, such as Saeco Intelia, allow the direct use of coffee beans (since they incorporate grinders), which makes the coffee they prepare freshly ground and therefore has a higher intensity of both taste and aroma.
- You are involved in all stages of coffee processing, so the coffee will come out exactly as you want it to. And the flavour will be the one you like, because you choose the brand.
- The taste and aroma of freshly ground coffee has a little something that you’ll never get from a capsule coffee maker.
- Ground coffee is cheaper than capsules. If you consume coffee in large quantities every day, it will be more profitable to use an espresso machine.
- Some models of espresso machines allow you to use both ground coffee and ESE pods.
There are also different methods for heating water, which make some machines take longer to prepare than others. Capsule coffee machines usually use the Thermoblock system, which heats the water in just 20 or 30 seconds.
In the espresso machines, the thermoblock system also predominates but sometimes use a traditional heater that takes about 2 minutes per preparation. These are general averages, and of course, each brand and each model has its particularities.
We hope this blog post has made it clear to you what the main differences are between a capsule coffee machine and an espresso machine. Now, the decision is up to you.