Illy Vs Nespresso: Two Capsule Brewers Head To Head

By Shabbir
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If you love the capsule system with your current coffee maker, it is likely that you have a coffee maker that comes from either Illy or Nespresso.

Of course, with these brands also belongs a range of capsules, suitable for the branded coffee makers in questions. But which is the superior brand of coffee machine? And which has the best range of capsules? We find out in this overview of Illy Vs Nespresso!

Illy Overview

Illy y3.2 Espresso and Coffee Machine, 12.20x3.9x10.40, Black

The Illy brand was founded by the Illy family in 1933. The Italian brand has its own range of illy espresso machines as well as their own selection of capsules. to this day, the brand is still run by the Illy family.

Illy is known to provide velvet-smooth coffee made from the best 100% Arabica beans. They also hold four rainforest sustainability certifications, which means the brand is certainly a solid choice for those who care about where their coffee comes from.

Nespresso Overview

Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine by De'Longhi, 0.6 liters, Red

Nespresso is actually a part of the Nestlé brand, which has its headquarters in Switzerland. They have quite the extensive range of Nespresso machines with a capsule system, accompanied by the well-known nespresso capsules.

Like the Illy brand, Nespresso thinks it is important to produce sustainable products. They currently provide capsules that are fully recyclable and hold certifications provided by The Rainforest Alliance, Fair Labor Association, Fairtrade International, and Fairtrade USA.

Illy Vs Nespresso Compared

To find out who wins in the battle of Illy vs Nespresso, we need to look at several aspects of each brand. To determine the winner, we look at their capsule lines, espresso machines and other variables that influence their position in the global coffee world.

Coffee Pods

The first question in the battle between Illy vs Nespresso is who makes the best capsules? And how easily available are they? And which provide the most affordable options? We look at all these aspects of coffee pods today to determine which one can call itself the coffee pod king.


Illy creates its capsules with the iperEspresso system. iperEspresso capsules do not provide the traditional one-stage brewing most capsules do, because the iperEspresso capsule actually has two stages. As a result, the Illy iperEspresso capsule provides a much richer flavor with a beautiful crema on top.

All the coffee grounds found in the Illy iperEspresso pods are made from 100% Arabica beans, a trait the brand is known for.

When you compare this to other manufacturers of capsules, this is quite unusual, as most use a combination of Arabica and Robusta. Of course 100% Arabica is considered as the superior choice by most coffee aficionados.

As for the range of Illy iperEspresso capsules, the brand has their bases covered. Their main line contains the typical medium roast and dark roast options, but also some decaffeinated and lungo capsules.

And there is more good news for those who like a superior cup of coffee when using capsules. Illy also has a range of single-origin blends, providing Illy iperEspresso capsules sourced from Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil and Guatemala.

For those who like something special, there are the Illy iperEspresso options with a more distinct finish. The options currently available are fruit, caramel, and chocolate. A pretty solid range to say the least.

Add to that the fact the brand uses the finest quality coffee beans for their coffee grounds, and Illy becomes a serious contender in the battle of Illy vs Nespresso!

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Nespresso currently has two lines of capsules for their espresso machines, the original and the Vuerto. On top of that, Nespresso machines are also compatible with certain third-party capsules. This contrary to Illy’s which only sells its own brand.

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When it comes down to coffee capsules, Illy beats Nespresso simply because of the quality of the coffee. No matter which espresso machine you use for a good cup of coffee, even the best machine will not create a decent cup of coffee without a high-quality capsule to match.

Now, we are not saying that Nespresso’s capsules are inferior by any means. Nespresso does provide more options since they also have a third-party supplier.

But, the quality difference between both coffee pods is quite noticeable when you try the capsules. Obviously, the pure Arabica blend used by Illy certainly has an influence on why we like their capsules more.

Variety of Machines

When it comes to machine variety, you may think that Nespresso automatically takes the win. After all, Nespresso is better known among those who simply like a quick coffee in the morning.

However, I would not write off Illy just yet, because the average Illy espresso machine can most certainly compete with Nespresso.


As mentioned earlier, the Illy system brews coffee according to two stages, this opposed to the single stage used by most coffee machine manufacturers. Naturally, this keeps the race interesting.

One of the options from Illy is the Francis Francis X7.1 iperEspresso. If you have not encounter this espresso machine before, then you are truly missing out.

This is especially the case for coffee aficionados, because this espresso machine puts brewing techniques back into pod coffee thanks to the classic design and two stage brewing system.

The Francis x7.1 offers a solid 15 bars of pressure, which is the minimum for a cup of espresso. There is also an auto-decalcification alert, which notifies you when your espresso machine is needs a maintenance.

With this espresso machine, you can adjust numerous settings, including the temperature and the coffee volume. And the best thing of all? The milk frother included in this model is not automated. In other words, you have a lot more control over your milk wand and therefore the opportunity to finish your coffee to perfection.

Of course, the Francis is not completely perfect. One of the few disadvantage of this machine is that the milk wand could have been better in terms of quality. Nevertheless, Illy does offer this machine as a really sharp price.

And if you are looking at the X7.1, you should most definitely look at their X9 as well. This espresso machine is one of the most compact options from Illy, which they managed to achieve by the smart placement of the water tank.

With two programmable settings and a container that holds up to ten capsules, we really could not find anything wrong with this compact coffee machine. But, if we do have to be critical, there could have been more customisation options.


Naturally, Nespresso is a serious contender when it comes to their coffee machines. it is difficult to find a household these days that does not contain a Nespresso, and it is not hard to find out why.

The Breville Creatista Plus is a prime example of the marvellous coffee machines Nespresso provides. While this coffee machine is a lot more expensive than rival Illy, it does come with many features.

With the Breville Creatista, you are getting a whopping 8 options to brew your coffee. You also get four froth settings and even more impressive, 11 milk temperature settings.

And while the Nespresso Creatista is likely more durable than the option from Illy, it does come with a heftier price tag. Of course, you also have to think about the fact that Ily definitely has the better espresso pods.

If you are looking for something a bit more affordable from Nespresso, then there is the Nespresso VertuoPlus. The Vertuo uses a certifusion system to brew coffee, which in turn makes up for the difference in coffee pod flavor compared to Illy.

On the flipside, the VertuoPlus does come with its issues. The pods for the Vertuo are on a separate line to the traditional coffee pods for Nespresso machines. When you compare both ranges, it is clear that the Vertuo are more expensive.


When it comes to range of espresso machines, Nespresso takes the win. However, when looking at all the aspects combined, it soon becomes clear that Illy is the winner overall.

Value for money is first thing that comes to mind with Illy. It provides a coffee machine that can rival the Breville Creatista, but at half the price.

And while it may not be as durable with less versatile milk froth capabilities, there is no denying that this coffee machine actually makes a better cup of coffee thanks to the superior Arabica coffee and the two-stage brewing system.

Who should buy an Illy machine?

I cannot find a single reason why consumers should not consider getting an Illy coffee machine in their home. After all, there are many things to like about it. The price is pretty decent, you get features that would be more expensive under the Nespresso brand, and the coffee pods that match the coffee machine are actually superior as well.

Of course, we do not claim that the Illy coffee machine is perfect. There are some problems with their espresso machines, especially when it comes to the steam wands. While the steam wands on their espresso machines are by no means the worst on the market, they do not rival those of Nespresso.

So, when it comes to Illy, you must make a choice between superior base coffee flavors or more advanced steam wands. For espresso drinkers, that choice is easily made. Those who prefer latte or cappuccino however, might find this fact offputting.

All in all, Illy is certainly a brand that stand behinds its product. Their range of machines is similar across the board and provides the same quality, in spite of the known issues with the steam wand. Nespresso is more unpredictable in that regard.

Who should buy a Nespresso machine?

There is no denying that Nespresso is a well-known brand and that many people around the world already own one of the espresso machines from this manufacturer.

If you like coffee pods with the most flavor, then I would not choose Nespresso. However, there are other reasons to choose this brand, and one of the main reasons is the superior steam wands you get with many espresso machines from this manufacturer.

For latte and cappuccino lovers, Nespresso will probably be the better brand. However, if you have a focus on espresso and do not drink milk-based coffee drinks on a regular basis, then Illy is the better option.

Nespresso does provide a huge range of coffee makers, which range from basic compact models for small kitchens to high-end barista style coffee makers. If you like to have a choice when it comes down to features, then you cannot go wrong with this one.

If you have your heart set on purchasing a Nespresso, make sure to consider the prices of the coffee pods. If you want the most affordable option long-term for your espresso maker, then choosing a machine from their originally range will provide the best options. After all, the original range is more affordable in the long run where pods are concerned.

There is a difference however between the original pods and the vertuo pods, mainly due to the barcode on the coffee pods.

The barcode works on all Vertuo machines and basically chooses the right settings for you, ensuring you get the maximum flavor from your chosen pod. The pods also have a distinct shape that is quite different from the original line, so unfortunately they are not compatible with older models.

So, you either choose between affordability or the better flavor that is a bit more expensive.


Finding an overall winner was quite difficult, especially considering that each brand has its merits. However, when we look at things from a neutral perspective, Illy comes out as the clear winner.

Yes, the steam wand issue with their espresso makers is not exactly a minor problem. While the steam wands still function as intended, they are not as advanced compared to Nespresso.

But this is the only downside to this brand, because the brand beats Nespresso at every turn in other areas.

One of the main convincing factors was the amount of features on their Francis espresso maker. Illy brought this espresso maker at half the price of a Nespresso coffee maker with similar features.

And while the wand was just a little less versatile than that of the Nespresso, it is far from a reason not to purchase an Illy, especially when you consider their superior coffee.

At the end of the day, Nespresso has a serious competitor in the form of Illy. The brand has been around for quite some time now as well, so if the brand would put the same marketing behind their products as Nespresso, then I have no doubt it could become the more superior brand in every aspect, including their coffee machines.

For the future, we look forward to an updated Illy machine with a steam wand that rivals the Nespresso. With the years of expertise and the passion for coffee the brand has, I think it is only a matter of time before we see such a coffee maker on the market.

So, it could be the right time to invest in an Illy right now.

Last update on 2024-06-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.