I’ve compared Nespresso machines with other coffee pod machines such as Dolce’ Gusto, Tassimo & Senseo – but one machine I’ve not previously compared to Nespresso is the Lavazza coffee pod machines, and the reason for this is simply that I hadn’t used these machines. I’ve been meaning to try them, if that counts? ;-), but I’ve just not managed to get around to it until now.
A reader contacted me recently (Thanks Gordon!) and suggested that I try the Lavazza machines and then do a Nespresso machine vs Lavazza machine comparison post – so, I got hold of a machine, and did just that.
Nespresso coffee machines and Lavazza machines look kind of similar and work on a similar concept, which isn’t surprising given that both machines were invented by the same bloke ;-).
Swiss engineer Eric Favre patented the Nespresso system way back in 1976, only a year after joining Nesle’. He eventually convinced them to market the machine, and in 1991 he left to create an updated system with his own company, this coffee pod system doesn’t require the use of Aluminium, and is marketed under license by a number of companies, including the Lavazza A Modo Mio capsule machines.
So with that in mind, when we’re comparing Nespresso Machines vs Lavazza machines, we’re comparing machines invented by the same person, so it’s not as if we’re comparing two hugely different unrelated machines.
Longer Story: The History of Nespresso Machines and Lavazza Machines
I find this really interesting, but I do appreciate that some people might not ;-). So if you have no interest in the history of these machines, and you just want to skip to the Nespresso vs. Lavazza machine comparison, feel free to scroll down.
The story behind Eric Favre inventing these machines I think would make a great movie! The son of an agricultural inventor is told by his father of the importance of not just inventing something, but inventing something that people will buy. Soon after graduating in engineering, he gains employment in the packing department of Nestle HQ, and within a year, he’s invented and Patented what we know now as the Nespresso machine – 10 years later, he’s the president of Nespresso, a subsidiary of Nestle’.
It sounds a bit far-fetched, but it’s all true. Eric’s Italian wife liked to tease him about “bland Swiss coffee”, so he decided that he would invent a way to make “the ultimate Espresso”, and he scoured Italy with the help of his wife, searching for the best tasting Espresso. From what he could tell, among the most popular Espresso was that being pulled by a Barista by the name of Mr. Eugenio, in Rome at the Café Sant’Eustachio.
This Barista was using a traditional pump Espresso machine, and he discovered that what was different with the way Mr. Eugenio pulled shots, was that he was using what is generally referred to now as “The Fellini Manoeuvre” – in which the lever was being pumped before being pulled.
By the way, it’s referred to as the Fellini due to a Barista being seen doing this move in a film by Italian director Federico Fellini, but the funny thing is, no one actually knows if that was a real Barista, or if he was an actor pretending to operate the machine.
Although, it’s thought that he probably was an actual Barista due to the way that Fellini shot his films usually using real people rather than actors.
But going back to the story, Favre investigated this technique and discovered that the key to the success of this Espresso being pulled by this Barista, was due to aeration. He found that the more oxygen involved in the extraction, the better the taste of the resulting Espresso, and that by pumping the lever, this Barista was adding more oxygen to the mix.
So he created his first prototype machine and pitched Nestlé, but they were doing increasingly huge business with Nescafé instant, and didn’t see a need for the machine, in fact the CEO at the time apparently feared that this would create unwanted competition for Nescafé, and wanted nothing to do with the idea.
Favre didn’t give up on his invention, and around eight years later when Nestlé gave him an assignment to their Nescafe factory in Japan (he was at this point a food scientist for Nestlé), he pitched the CEO of Japan, who was persuaded to conduct a market test there – and following this, Nespresso was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of Nestlé, with Jean-Paul Gaillard as CEO.
It took a lot of pushing over the years from Favre and Gaillard, with most of Nestlé’s senior management apparently not being behind the new enterprise, but thanks to a lot of effort on their part, by 1995 Nespresso turned it’s first profit, and then grew from there into the enormous entity it is today.
Eric Favre left Nespresso and invented a new coffee pod machine called Monodor in 1991. This machine was a refinement of his first invention, one of the major updates was that this machine didn’t require the use of Aluminium – something which he described as an “unthinkable loss of energy”. Instead, he designed a new capsule which creates the filter itself as it’s collapsing under pressure, doing away with the need for the aluminium filter. The machine pierces the capsule and injects water under pressure, causing the coffee grounds to swell inside the capsule, creating pressure which causes the bottom of the capsule to deform and push against the spikes underneath, thus allowing the coffee to flow.
This system is used under license by various companies, the most well known in the UK currently being Lavazza.
So, now you know :-).
Before going into what I think about Lavazza Vs Nespresso, I’ll make some general comparisons.
|From around £70, see best Nespresso Machines.||From around £60 for the Minù.|
|Genuine Nespresso Capsules 33p – 41 p each, compatibles from around 20p each.||Genuine Lavazza capsules From 27p each, compatible capsules from around 17p.|
|Genuine Nespresso – 26 options at the time of writing, lots of Nespresso compatible pods available, including speciality compatible capsules.||Genuine Lavazza – 15 options at the time of writing. An increasing range of competitively priced compatible pods available.|
|14 machines at the time of writing.||9 machines at the time of writing.|
|Genuine Nespresso capsules available only from Nespresso online or Nespresso stores. Wide and increasing range of compatibles available both offline and online.||Lavazza coffee pods available both online and offline, directly from lavazza.co.uk and from various other websites including Amazon. Many supermarkets including Sainsbury and Tesco also stock Lavazza pods, and there are a number of websites offering compatible pods.|
|Some models such as the Creatista offer integrating milk steaming, you can also steam milk with the Aeroccino.||The Fantasia Lavazza machines feature integrated milk steaming, the Minù Caffè Latte (which is the machine I went for, for the purposes of this post) comes with a stand-alone milk frother.|
Warm up Time
|The advertised warm up time with most machines is 25 seconds, as low as 3 seconds with the Creatista plus.||The advertised warm up times differ across the range from 25 seconds with the Jolie, to about 60 seconds with the Minù.|
So there we go. So far you know the history of these machines, and that they were invented by the same person, and you can see from the comparison table above that generally speaking there’s not a huge amount separating the two systems.
With regard to capsule price, it’s worth pointing out that Lavazza pods have more coffee in them. Lavazza pods have 7.5g, compared to 5g in Nespresso Espresso Pods, 6g in Nespresso Lungo pods. So in that regard, you get more for your money with Lavazza.
One thing to remember is that the Lavazza capsules don’t require aluminium, so they’re more environmentally friendly in that regard, but having said that, a number of Nespresso compatible pods are fully recyclable or even fully biodegradable, including Jean-Paul Gaillard’s new company (who I mentioned earlier as being the ex CEO of Nespresso) Ethical Coffee Company.
Now, all that remains is for me to tell you what I think about Nespresso vs. Lavazza:
Nespresso vs Lavazza – Taste.
I’m comparing two capsule “Espresso” coffee machines here, rather than comparing the taste of a capsule Espresso to traditional Espresso. I don’t think it’s even fair to compare the taste of a capsule/pod Espresso to a true, traditional Espresso. Proper Espresso requires investing at least a couple of hundred (or a lot more) on an Espresso machine, the same or even more on a decent grinder. It requires time and effort to learn how to make Espresso (it’s not just a case of pressing a button), and depending on the machine you go for, it also means waiting from 10-20 mins or maybe longer until you can start using the machine each morning, and requires at least some maintenance.
Capsule machines, on the other hand, are available from around £50 or £60, they require no other equipment, they’re ready to use straight out of the box with little or no learning required, they’re ready to make coffee within a minute of switching on, and they are incredibly low maintenance. I think how close these kinds of machines get to “True Espresso”, is incredible, all things considered.
I’ve been using the Nespresso machine as a backup machine for a while now, usually just when I don’t have time to make proper Espresso. When I was using the Gaggia Classic, I was using the Nespresso machine more often than I am now, as the La Pavoni Europiccola, my new Espresso machine, is much quicker at heating up than the classic.
When I started tasting the coffee made with the Lavazza, I couldn’t detect a huge deal of difference in taste from what I’m used to when I’m using my back-up Nespresso machine. Then, I started doing some tasting side by side – testing with genuine Nespresso capsules rather than compatibles.
They don’t produce the same coffee capsules, so of course, each will taste slightly different as they’re made using different coffee beans, but overall, I have to say that the taste between the two was generally very similar. It’s hard to say for sure as I’m not tasting the exact same coffee via each machine, but in general, I don’t detect any huge difference between the two when it comes to taste.
The differences I do detect, are temperature and strength.
I noticed that when making the same volume of coffee, Lavazza is stronger – as you’d expect given the fact that there’s more coffee in Lavazza capsules, so in theory, you can have a slightly larger cup of coffee with the same strength with Lavazza vs Nespresso. This makes sense too, as Lavazza pods have 7.5 grams of coffee in them, vs 5g in a Nespresso Espresso pod, and 6g in their lungo pods. This might not sound like a big difference, but if you do the maths it means that a Lavazza A Modo Mio pods contain 50% more coffee than a Nespresso Espresso pod, and 25% more than in a Nespresso lungo pod.
Re temperature, I don’t know if this is down to the machines themselves – I’m using a Magimix Citiz Nespresso machine, which is a mid-range Nespresso machine (see my best Nespresso machines post), and a Lavazza Minu with Milk frother, which is at the very bottom of the price range of Lavazza A Modo Mio machines. I’m finding that the coffee being produced via the Lavazza machine is slightly hotter than the Nespresso. I haven’t checked the actual temp, actually – I’ll do that later today and update this post accordingly.
So to conclude, the difference in taste really comes down to the pods themselves, and theres’s a vast range available to Nespresso when you consider all of the many compatible pods – but I do find the coffee to be stronger with Lavazza, and slightly hotter.
Nespresso Vs Lavazza – Speed
I’m trying to only make comparisons here that I don’t think will change depending on the price range of the machine. I’m using a mid-range Nespresso machine, and the cheapest possible Lavazza machine (I paid £75 for the Minu with milk frother, the Citiz with milk is around £200) so I’m not going to compare the features of these machines.
I do get the impression overall that Nespresso machines are a bit faster. They’re heated and ready to start faster, and they appear to finish making the coffee faster. The flow rate with my Nespresso machine does seem to be quite a bit quicker than the flow rate with the Lavazza machine. We’re talking seconds, though, so I wouldn’t personally place that much importance on a machine being ready maybe 20-30 seconds sooner, and a coffee being made maybe a couple of seconds quicker.
Nespresso Vs Lavazza – Range
I mentioned this in the comparison above, but there is definitely a bigger range available to Nespresso at the moment, vs Lavazza. I say at the moment because I can see that there are companies beginning to produce compatibles, although I’m not aware of any artisan roasters as yet producing compatible Lavazza pods. This doesn’t bother everyone, I realise that. Some people just want to find a coffee pod that they enjoy, and then stick to that – and if that’s you then the lack of range with Lavazza vs. Nespresso won’t put you off.
Nespresso Vs Lavazza – Environment
As I mentioned earlier, Lavazza pods don’t use Aluminium, so that’s a plus for the environment, however, they still use plastic. Yes, if we do what we should be doing, compost the coffee from the pods, and recycle the plastic pods, then this is better than dumping the whole lot in the bin – but many coffee pod users don’t go to the trouble of doing this, they just bin them.
Also, even if we do recycle plastic pods, this isn’t perfect. Piotr Barczak, waste policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau recently said in an interview with the BBC: “The point with coffee pods isn’t about recycling – it’s about cutting down on the amount of stuff that we need to throw away or recycle, recycling should be the last resort when tackling waste, not the immediate solution.” So, capsule machines are never going to be the best option when it comes to the environment – although I would expect that the most environmentally friendly solution is going to be the fully biodegradable pods that I mentioned earlier, because I still think that a good percentage of used coffee pods, recyclable or not, will end up in landfill.
It’s not all about the pods though, either – these are just a part of the environmental impact, there’s also the energy used in making the machines and the pods, and distribution, the lifespan of the machines and then their impact on the environment when they’re scrapped.
So there we have it, my opinion of Nespresso Vs. Lavazza. For more along these lines see some of my other similar posts:
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