Many busy people worldwide love being able to prepare just one cup of fresh coffee with the touch of a button. Capsule coffee machines make this process easy and convenient, and the Nespresso company has led the pack since a Swiss innovator invented the coffee capsule for Nestlé in the 1980s. Today, we’ll be comparing the details of two of their small-but-powerful home-use models: the Nespresso Inissia vs. Essenza Mini.
Since the ’80s, Nespresso has remained a premium brand producing quality, accessible espresso in the capsule format. Nespresso’s dedication to quality and convenience offers customers some of the cheapest espresso machines on the market. If you don’t have the space, budget, or learning time to invest in a full-blown espresso setup, a Nespresso machine could be a great option for serving espresso at home.
What is Nespresso coffee?
Nespresso was born when Éric Favre developed a high-end capsule brewing system for Nestlé. Originally, they marketed the machines toward businesses such as hotels, but later expanded into the home consumer market. Nespresso continues to position itself as a luxury brand.
Favre designed the system after examining large-scale professional espresso machines in restaurants and talking to the people who operated them. His system uses hermetically sealed aluminum capsules filled with precise doses of pre-ground coffee to create espresso with little need for input from the user.
Besides ultra-convenient brewing, Nespresso offers a top-shelf consumer experience centered on sleek boutiques with one-on-one, hands-on service. Tassimo, Lavazza, and others have also developed capsule brewing systems for espresso, although parts and capsules are not compatible between systems.
How does Nespresso work?
Across its range of home- and commercial-use capsule espresso machines, the central mechanics of Nespresso’s brewing system remain the same: The user loads an aluminum capsule of ground coffee. The machine pierces one end of the capsule and injects hot water at high pressure. The capsule ruptures at the other end, allowing brewed coffee to flow into a cup.
This method provides the heat and pressure required for espresso’s fast extraction, creating a concentrated brew with rich crema at the press of a single button. Most Nespresso machines have a choice of two brewing modes. One produces a strong cup with a classic espresso profile while the other is a “lungo” or long-pour style with more volume.
Other important design features include a fast-heating boiler and automatic pressure release valve to ensure safety in the event of a clog.
Coffee is very sensitive to freshness. Sealed capsules provide the convenience of pre-ground, pre-measured coffee while eliminating the constant need to replenish unsealed beans, grind at home, and worry about special storage.
Nespresso capsules were originally available only through the company, but more manufacturers have started making compatible pods since the original patents began expiring around 2011. Nespresso-brand capsules are available in company stores and online, while third-party capsules are available online and at grocery and specialty stores.
Nespresso Inissia vs. Essenza Mini
Nespresso Inissia review
The Inissia was originally Nespresso’s entry-level machine, presenting customers with a straightforward way to brew espresso. However, it was recently discontinued. While still widely available and covered by Nespresso’s one-year manufacturer’s warranty, the Inissia is gradually being replaced by the Essenza Mini. We’ll be reviewing the Essenza Mini on its own and comparing it to the Inissia later on in this article.
With just two options for drink volume and no built-in milk frother, the Inissia is a hassle-free brewer that won’t overwhelm users with options or require any fussy setup. This simple arrangement also comes at an affordable price point. The two drink sizes are ready to go out of the box, but you can program both to accommodate your personal taste. You may also stop the shot manually.
Due to being phased out, you may be able to get the Inissia at a discount from retailers or online outlets. However, it’s possible that replacement parts for this machine will become more scarce over time.
The Inissia is a fast, easy machine. It heats in just 25 seconds and brews at the touch of a button. You can even select your brew volume right when you start it up and the machine will automatically brew as soon as it’s ready. This feature eliminates the need to stand there staring at your espresso machine while it blinks through its heating cycle.
The water reservoir holds 24 ounces, enough for a few cups before you have to refill the machine. An interior tray holds up to 11 spent capsules before needing to be emptied. A lidded drip-tray contains mess during day-to-day operations, and the machine politely shuts itself off after nine minutes of disuse.
Cleaning the unit is also easy and quick. The water reservoir and drip tray are removable for washing. The machine should be descaled with a kit from Nespresso between 1,000 and 4,000 cups brewed, depending on how hard your water is.
The Inissia’s sleek looks and 4.7 x 12.6 x 9-inch footprint help it find a home just about anywhere. It’s available in a selection of colors including classic black and white, and it has a fold-down handle that makes it easy to move and carry. Another clever feature of this unit is the folding drip tray, which allows you to brew directly into your favorite cup or mug regardless of its size.
Nespresso Inissia pros:
- Compact and attractive
- Fast and user-friendly
- Larger water and spent-capsule capacity
Nespresso Inissia cons:
- Discontinued model
- Noisier than newer models
Nespresso Essenza Mini review
The Essenza Mini is the new unit Nespresso places as their entry-level basic. Like its predecessor, the Inissia, the machine is small, lightweight, and simple to use. It uses the same capsules and produces the same 19 bars of pressure found across the Nespresso home-use line.
This unit is designed for the espresso lover who wants to minimize time and hassle in their daily coffee routine. Quick brewing and intuitive operation allow users to prepare quality espresso using the best Nespresso capsules even on their busiest days.
The first thing to know about the Essenza Mini is that Nespresso contracts with two different manufacturers to make it: Breville and De’Longhi. Both companies have a long history in the coffee business, and both versions of the Essenza Mini have internals built to the same specs. The casing is the main difference, with the Breville being more vertical and understated and the De’Longhi available in brighter colors with a more curved, mod look.
Nespresso has also upgraded the internal functions of the Essenza Mini. Newer technology in the pump reduces noise and energy consumption, making the Essenza Mini a good housemate even in a limited space.
The Essenza Mini does not have a built-in milk frother and comes with two pre-programmed drink volumes: classic espresso and lungo. Both can be reprogrammed to suit your tastes or stopped manually during brewing. When turned on, the machine heats to brewing temperature in 25 seconds.
At 3.3 x 12 x 8 inches, with slight variation between the two varieties, the Essenza Mini can slide into a tiny amount of counter space. The machine locks into brewing mode with a small, unobtrusive lever, meaning you need little clearance around the unit to use it comfortably.
The removable water tank holds 20 ounces and the machine stores six spent capsules before needing to be emptied. Automatic shutoff occurs after nine minutes, though that time can be reprogrammed if desired. With the default settings, the machine enters a power-saving mode after just three minutes, helping to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.
Nespresso Essenza Mini pros:
- Multiple styles to complement your decor
- Fast, simple, quiet operation
- Power-saving design features
Nespresso Essenza Mini cons:
- Smaller water and spent-capsule capacity
- No carry handle
Key differences between the Inissia and the Essenza Mini
These machines have many similarities because they serve the same audience: espresso-loving coffee drinkers searching for an affordable, user-friendly machine using the Nespresso brewing system. While both focus on speed and convenience, there are a few important differences.
The Inissia is larger than the Essenza Mini. It has a somewhat larger footprint on the counter, and you need some space to maneuver in your setup. Because the carry handle doubles as the lever that locks the machine into brewing mode, you need to be able to swing it down into a horizontal position. It can also hold more water and spent capsules, going more uses between fill-ups.
The Essenza Mini is smaller and lower-impact. Its tiny silhouette and quieter pump make it ideal even for small, shared spaces such as an RV or cabin. However, this size reduction comes at the cost of capacity for both water and spent capsules, which could reduce usefulness for people who are preparing multiple drinks every morning.
Both the Inissia and the Essenza Mini are high-quality, affordable entries into the Nespresso brewing system. You can load your best Nespresso capsule into either machine and enjoy a delicious, velvety cup of espresso in almost no time.
If you’re making a morning shot for more than one or two people, the Inissia’s larger water tank and spent-capsule tray will make your mornings easier. The budget-conscious may also be able to hunt down a great deal on one of these machines as retailers move out remaining stock of the discontinued unit.
On the other hand, the Essenza Mini features many attractive updates including the reduction in noise and power appetite. If you can get by with the slightly smaller reservoir, the newer design fits in a smaller space and has even more streamlined operation.