We compare Nespresso and Dolce Gusto on features, value, pod selection and more to help you decide which is right for you
Coffee pod machines have become increasingly popular over the past few years, winning over consumers thanks to their convenience, reasonable prices and the wide range of flavourful drinks they can produce. Really, the only thing that isn’t simple when it comes to capsule machines is knowing which type to pick. So, to help make choosing a little easier, we’re pitting two of the biggest names in pod coffee – Nespresso and Dolce Gusto – against each other, contrasting their strengths and weaknesses in a number of key areas.
While we’ll be taking a general look at both brands’ ranges, our comparisons will mainly focus on two of the more popular machines from each: our favourite entry-level models, the Nespresso Vertuo Next and Dolce Gusto Infinissima, as well as some higher-end options, in the form of the Nespresso Creatista Uno and Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus.
For our thoughts and recommendations on a wider range of pod coffee makers, be sure to check out our best nespresso machine roundup, as well as our full best coffee pod machine list, which features machines from both Nespresso and Dolce Gusto, alongside ones from Lavazza, Tassimo, L’Or and more.
Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto: Design and features
First things first: let’s take a look at how each machine is put together and the range of features it has to offer.
Nespresso Vertuo Next (~£138): This machine is stylish, well built, compact and straightforward to use. Outside of its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, which allow you to check the machine’s status via the companion app (admittedly largely pointlessly), the standout feature is the Next’s ability to make coffees of varying sizes. In addition to single espresso, the Vertuo Next can produce double espresso, lungo, mug and – ideally with the optional Vertuo Carafe Set – carafe-sized coffees at the touch of a button. What’s more, each capsule is barcoded so that the machine automatically brews the perfect length of coffee to match the coffee blend and capsule type in use.
Dolce Gusto Infinissima (~£68): If you’re in the market for an eye-catching machine, then this is just the ticket, with its unusual infinity-symbol inspired design sure to add a little flair to your kitchen. Not just unique in looks, this pod machine operates differently to rivals, with its manual operation allowing you to stream through as much or as little water as you like, depending on how strong you take your coffee. While this design may not suit those who want full automation, this budget-priced machine is perfect for anyone looking to balance convenience and customisation.
Nespresso Creatista Uno (~£297): The Uno is where the capsule, manual espresso and bean-to-cup machine worlds collide. It boasts a three-second heat-up time, drink sizes ranging from espresso to lungo, a range of adjustable settings and a steam wand that automatically whips up perfectly frothed milk for cappuccinos and lattes. The machine also has a well-thought-out design: it’s stylish and compact, has a fully adjustable cup platform and a sizeable 1.5L water tank.
Dolce Gusto Genio S Plus (~£98): Back on the Dolce Gusto side of town, we find the most fully featured machine from its range. While it may not have the full range of premium features present in the Creatista Uno, it does possess a pleasing array of features for its price point. This automatic pod machine has a good range of size and temperature settings, hot and cold functions and an espresso boost feature, which allows you to tailor the intensity of your brew.
Once you’ve checked out the Infinissima and Genio S Plus, you’ve mostly seen the length and breadth of the design quirks and features on offer from Dolce Gusto; only the Genio S Touch, with its metallic design and touchscreen controls, offers more. Nespresso, on the other hand, has a few more unique models outside of the Vertuo Next and the Creatista Uno. Standouts among these are the Lattisima One, with its fully automatic milk frothing, and the Creatista Pro, which has a high-quality stainless steel body, extra presets and a colour touchscreen.
While Dolce Gusto’s machines are well put together, they simply can’t keep up with the premium build quality and thorough, well-implemented range of features that Nespresso’s line of machines has to offer.
Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto: Value for money
While design and features are important factors to consider, at the end of the day, many of us will gravitate towards whichever option seems kindest on our wallets. So let’s take a look at the machines’ prices and their relative value for money.
With going prices of around £60 and £100 respectively, the Infinissima and Genio S Plus are highly affordable machines. The Infinissima is listed as our favourite budget option on best coffee pod machine list, while the Genio S Plus, listed as our favourite Dolce Gusto option overall, is often available for a reduced price.
With a listed RRP of £149, the Nespresso Vertuo Next is one of the cheaper options available from Nespresso – and it routinely goes on sale for well under £100. Its excellent build quality, ease of use and huge range of tasty coffee options are difficult to match at the price, though it’s a shame there are no milk-frothing features as standard.
By contrast, the £329 Nespresso Creatista Uno justifies its premium price with slick design, multiple fine-tuning options and milk-frothing abilities. However, given the high price, this pod machine is also competing with manual espresso machines and even some budget-priced bean-to-cup machines, so you’ll want to be sure a pod system is for you before buying.
In terms of relative value, the Vertuo Next and Creatista Uno are our favourite options from Nespresso. However, if you want to get the cheapest possible option, the petite, colourful Vertuo Pop performs similarly to the Next and has an RRP of £100. Anyone with their sights set on cheaper Dolce Gusto models will want to check out the Piccolo XS and Mini Me, both of which can reliably be picked up for under £50.
Winner: Dolce Gusto
When it comes to budget-friendly coffee pod machines, Dolce Gusto comes out on top. Allowing you to get in the game for as little as £30, this value-focused line does exactly what it sets out to do – even if its range of coffees aren’t as tasty or as diverse as those from the Nespresso family.
That said, even buyers on a tight budget shouldn’t discount Nespresso completely; we’ve seen huge discounts appearing throughout the year. If you’d like to have a peek at the deals currently on offer, check out our best coffee machine deals page.
Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto: Pod selection and compatibility
Nespresso produces two types of coffee pods: its original, smaller Nespresso coffee pods and the newer, larger Vertuo pods. These aren’t interchangeable with each other, so you need to buy the right type for your machine. Whichever type you choose, however, there’s a huge selection of different varieties, with select lines focusing on factors such as country of origin, roasting technique and different coffee lengths.While standard Nespresso pods simply offer a recommended serving size of either espresso, ristretto or lungo, the Vertuo pods are barcoded so that the machines can automatically pour the perfect length of coffee to match the pod.
There are also a solid range of third-party options that are compatible with Nespresso machines, with tasty pods available from brands such as Dualit, Lavazza and Rave, as well as smaller, independent roasters.
While our reviewers have found Dolce Gusto’s pods to be a little hit and miss on the whole, the range does have more than a couple unique selling points that can make it worth the trial and error.If you don’t have a machine with a built-in steam wand or a separate milk frother, Dolce Gusto’s two-stage pods allow you to make a range of milk-based drinks, with pods available for everything from lattés, flat whites and cappuccinos to cortados and cafés au lait. If you’re dairy-avoidant, the brand also offers plant-based oat, almond and coconut options.
Though its third-party selection doesn’t have the same breadth as Nespresso’s, fans of Starbucks’ sweet-tasting creations may be swayed by the chain’s Dolce Gusto pods, which allow you to make yourself a Vanilla Macchiato or Toffee Nut Latté at home. For houses with small children, the Nesquik Hot Chocolate pods are a fun way to get everyone involved with your new pod machine.
While this category owes a lot to personal preference and what will suit your setup and needs, Nespresso reigns supreme when it comes to both quality and variety. Dolce Gusto’s range of pods provide some interesting options, not least the milk-based drinks, but our reviewers have found them lacking in flavour and quality compared to Nespresso-brewed rivals.
Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto: Cleaning and maintenance
There’s not a huge amount to set the machines apart here – capsule machines by their very nature are relatively easy and mess-free compared to other types of coffee machine.
All the above machines rinse themselves automatically between uses, and buyers can manually wash the individual removable components in warm, soapy water to keep things clean. Many machines also indicate when they need descaling, which is a simple process.
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That said, Nespresso’s range is marginally more advanced when it comes to alerts for cleaning and maintenance. The Vertuo Next, when paired with its companion app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, can let you know if it’s in need of descaling and whether its system software needs updating. The Creatista Uno signals its need for a descale, drip tray clean or steam wand clean via an array of handy LED indicators.
As noted above, both ranges are fairly fuss-free when it comes to cleaning and maintenance, as you’d hope a coffee pod machine would be. Nespresso’s pricier machines can offer slightly more information, but neither brand is difficult for users to maintain.
Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto: Verdict
With clear wins in two out of four of our categories, and a draw in one, it should come as no surprise that Nespresso is our overall winner. While Dolce Gusto’s machines are enticingly affordable, and have some unique features and pods which may sway some buyers, Nespresso’s family of machines simply deliver more choice, quality and far better coffee.