When Nespresso and Keurig hit the scene, we were like “That’s it. The future of coffee has arrived.” Roll out the red carpet. Turn up the lights. It’s coffee showtime.
With easy-to-use single-serving coffee machines gracing our countertops, coffee runs for overpriced lattes are so yesterday. Nespresso (Nestlé + Espresso if you’re wondering about the name) gave us one of the greatest gifts for our busy mornings — efficiency.
These small, sleek machines rely on grounds held in “pods” for brewing. This means no more buying bags of beans or grinding and measuring for you.
Peet’s Coffee is a household name. Their flavor-packed products are top-tier. With their commitment to responsibly-sourced coffee and craft beans, is it any surprise they’re heading our list as “Best Choice”? Peet’s Coffee Espresso Capsules will wow you with their dark nuance.
If you’re comfortable calling yourself an intense espresso enthusiast — then these pods were made for you! Made from 100% Arabica beans, this espresso isn’t playing around.
With this variety pack, you’ll get four different rich, dark espresso blends to try. Each carton has ten capsules ranging in intensity from an 8 to an 11. Ricchezza, Crema Scura, Ristretto, and Nerissimo. Those are some sultry names, perfect for describing this coffee’s complexity.
The aluminum capsules are hermetically sealed to preserve aromas and freshness. They will deliver the perfect at-home espresso pull every time.
Fun Fact: Peet’s Coffee supports and invests in the people and places behind their coffee. They are long-term partners with Coffee Kids, KIMSSA, and Grounds for Health. So you can feel extra good about sipping their espresso.
For our premium pick of Nespresso-compatible pods, we had to go with their own original line. The Nespresso Variety Pack has a sleek new look, but the same great taste you may already know and love!
Who doesn’t love a variety pack?
You can mix up intensities and keep things fresh this way. With 50 capsules to a pack and 10 pods to a flavor, you’ll be stocked up with variety for a hot minute (depending on your personal caffeine habits that is!).
Capriccio and Ispirazione Genova Livanto are intensity levels five and six — great for whatever espresso drink tickles your fancy at the time! Then you also get Ispirazione Roma, Ispirazione Firenze Arpeggio, and the Ispirazione Ristretto. Those three contain intensity levels from eight to ten, meaning you’re in espresso or ristretto territory.
If you aren’t already familiar with the term ristretto, it essentially means a short shot of espresso. You make it with the same amount of grounds, but with half the water of an espresso shot. The ultrafine grounds make for a more concentrated, less bitter, more intense pull.
Enjoy hot or iced!
Tip: Pods from the OriginalLine (like these) aren’t compatible with Nespresso’s VertuoLine.
These budget-friendly capsules are a product of Spain. They’re recyclable, kosher, and preservative-free. So you can enjoy bold, intense flavor for less without sacrificing your ethics!
With 12 flavors to choose from, ranging from intensity level 6 to 12, we don’t foresee you growing tired of a cup of Bestpresso anytime soon. Available in samplers so you can find your favorite flavor and bulk for once you do!
And if your friends come over for coffee, you can play the part of an Italian barista. Offering them their choice of cioccolato, caramello, or vaniglia! Those flavors are all lower intensity (8) and good for fans of flavored coffees. Don’t forget to add some cream!
Tip: Like the Nespresso variety pack above, these pods are not compatible with VertuoLine, just the original Nespresso machines.
Coffee is key, don’t you agree?
No matter what mood you wake up in, with this variety pack, you’ll have a flavor to match how you feel!
Feeling light and fresh? Stick with the lower intensity nuevomundo. The bright acidity and aroma of berries will keep you clear-eyed and level-headed.
Woke up feeling a bit playful? Go for Organico. Sweet and floral with hints of caramel to keep the fun going.
And if you wake up feeling curious, but a little groggy, grab a cup of the Old Havana. The combination of nuts and citrus flavors will have you feeling wide-eyed and inspired.
If waking up was really hard, head straight for the more intense Clasico. It won’t matter how much you did or didn’t sleep after the rich, spicy dark chocolate of this coffee hits your tongue.
Big meeting today? Boss been on your back? Turn up the intensity to 11 with the Cafe La Llave espresso capsules. You’ll be an unstoppable productivity machine after that cuppa!
Fun Fact: These pods are blended, roasted, and packed at Don Francisco’s zero-waste-to-landfill roastery in Los Angeles!
There’s no question about it — Starbucks is well-loved. If you can’t get enough of the ‘bucks, now is your chance to stock up and brew it at home. Nespresso has made high-quality Starbucks readily available even if you can’t leave your house!
With the Starbucks Variety Pack, you’ll get five of your favorite blends. Pike Place roast, House blend, Single-origin Colombia, Blonde espresso roast, and Caffe Verona. Those range from intensity six (Blonde) all the way to ten (Verona).
These java capsules are capable of brewing 0.85, 1.35, or 3.7 ounces. Choose from espresso, ristretto, or lungo.
Wondering what sort of espresso drinks to make?
If you want to mix things up, try something other than your usual go-to latte. Like a mocha, americano, cappuccino, macchiato, or grab some ice cream and indulge in an affogato!
Note: Nespresso pods will not work with your Keurig K-cup machine or Verismo brewer.
Taste the difference organic makes, when you buy these Peak Performance Espresso capsules. Grown at high-altitudes, the beans involved in these pods provide more antioxidants than those grown at a lower altitude.
What explains the price tag? Peak pays for certifications and third-party testing to verify the quality of their product. They also use single-origin beans not blends that could be contaminated with mold. They participate in Fair Trade practices and care about keeping coffee sustainable for all parties involved.
Their medium roast is full of flavor with good texture. We find them to be richer than other Nespresso-compatible blends. Not weak, not watery, just good strong espresso!
They have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee as well. Don’t love these organic capsules? That’s fine — you can try them risk-free!
Note: If you’re worried about the harsh chemicals sometimes used to grow regular coffee, always choose organic.
For the best value of imported pods, please allow us the pleasure of introducing you to Espresso Italia Coffee capsules. Or perhaps, you two are already acquainted!
When it comes to espresso, the Italians know best. That’s why these coffee pods absolutely had to make the list. They’re roasted and packaged in Italy. And when we say roasted we mean according to the best coffee artisan tradition of course!
Espresso Italia has seven flavors/intensities to choose from. They are: cremoso, deciso, forte, intenso, lungo, soave, and vellutato.
The Lungo blend is a nice medium (6 out of 12)intensity gourmet coffee. It’s a little sweet, a little sour, with minimal bitterness. We would describe the flavor as enchantingly fruity.
The capsules are hermetically sealed in food-grade plastic. This ensures the preservation of aroma and guarantees freshness (while using minimal packaging!). Giving you the best cup possible — morning, noon, or night!
Fun Fact: “Lungo” means long in Italian. It uses more water, resulting in a less concentrated espresso.
Picture this: you are holding a warm espresso in your hands. You inhale deeply. The aromas evoke fresh flowers balanced by subtle notes of toasted bread. Yep, you must be sipping on a Kimbo Espresso Armonia coffee capsule!
With bold crema and intense flavor that lingers in the mouth, you won’t be disappointed by these pods. This medium roast has a medium body to match. The brew that comes out is rich enough to use for ristretto or lungo settings on your Nespresso.
Like it a bit more mellow?
Add some milk!
Kimbo sources their Arabica beans from both South America and Central Africa.
At an affordable price point that won’t hurt your feelings (or your wallet) either!
Note: Kimbo Espresso Italiano is a popular brand produced in Naples, so you know it has to be good! It’s served in many coffee bars in Italy.
How good is this coffee? Real good. Sorry, we had to. But, seriously, try out this 36-pack of fully recyclable capsules from Real Good Coffee. You won’t regret it.
First, because Real Good Coffee is a small team committed to sustainable practices. That’s why they make their pods from 100% recyclable material. When you’re finished with them, the used coffee goes to compost, the foil lid with aluminum recycling, and the pod with plastic.
Second, that really good flavor. The ones linked above are an intensity level 10. The flavor notes are berry and smoke. Giving you an earthy, but balanced, lingering taste.
There are three other flavor and intensity variations as well as a variety pack if that’s your jam. Not all of them are organic though, just the one that made our list today!
Craft-roasted coffee from Seattle, no gimmicks, for more than 30 years. Now that’s good stuff!
Note: Allow the pod to cool completely before breaking it down to recycle the different components.
Get ready for another awesome variety pack! Imported from Amsterdam, Jones Brothers Espresso capsules come 50 strong to a box.
Roasted sans preservatives, added flavoring, or sugar, these pods deliver a superior single-cup experience. Since this is a variety pack, the beans are well-traveled. Sourced from Central and South America, as well as Ethiopia in Africa.
You get ten capsules for each variety. The flavors are: Gigolo, Noir, Enigma, Revive, and Elevate. Pretty intriguing names. The first two on that list are ristretto. Enigma is espresso and the final two are lungo.
Noir is a dark roast with hints of hazelnut nestled in bittersweet chocolate. It packs a big, creamy mouthfeel, so we advise you use it to fix yourself up a decadent latte macchiato. If that doesn’t pique your interest, we don’t know what will!
Perhaps, you’re in the mood for something darker and even more intense? Like the super smooth, full-bodied Gigolo, with its hint of sweet caramel? Or Enigma’s light fruits with rich cocoa appeal?
As if those weren’t enough to tickle your fancy, you’ll also get the slight floral aroma with a flavorful punch from Revive. And for something delightfully unexpected, pull a long shot of the Elevate. Let the taste of wafer biscuits with a lemon peel finish linger on your palate.
Whichever blend ends up being your favorite, you can feel good about drinking it. Because Jones Brothers coffee is organic, sustainable, and made from 100% Arabica beans.
Note: Jones Brothers coffee capsules are compatible with OriginalLine Nespresso machine models. Such as the Essenza, Citiz, U, Pixie, Lattissima, Maestria, Inissia, Kitchenaid, and Prodigio.
You can’t go wrong when you choose an Italian coffee for your espresso purchase. If you’re looking for an intense roasting profile, you’ve got to pick up some of illy’s Espresso Intenso.
We recommend you drink it slowly, it is the result of over 80 years of passion and experience. They use a unique blend of nine Arabica beans to produce their coffees.
These Intenso capsules hold within a bold roast ground coffee. Warm notes of cocoa and dried fruit feature heavily, and the finish is pleasantly robust.
If you’d like to try different roasts from illy, they also have Forte, Clasico, Lungo Clasico, and even a decaf option!
Feel good about your go-to pick-me-up. illy has spent more than 30 years focused on perfecting coffee bean growing methods. They strive always for a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable harvest.
Fun Fact: Decaf coffee is not completely caffeine-free. The process of decaffeination typically removes at least 97% of the caffeine content.
Are you more of a flavored coffee lover? Then boy oh boy, have we got just the variety pack to tantalize your taste buds! These Fairtrade Espresso capsules from Gourmesso come in five drool-inducing espresso flavors.
So what are those flavors?
First up, Vaniglia. Simple, classic, satisfying. Then you have bright Caramello to delight your sweet tooth. Cioccolato for all you chocoholics (we’ll raise our hands with you, chocolate rules). If you can’t get enough of coconut flavored treats there are ten capsules of Noce di Cocco. And finally, another nutty delight — Nocciola. Which is hazelnut flavored.
All the above mentioned flavored espressos are intensity level five. Bold tastes, great crema, and free from preservatives and added sugars.
Gourmesso is so certain you’ll love their products that they offer a satisfaction guarantee.
Note: Gourmesso has more than 30 capsule choices. Have fun exploring them all and finding the perfect capsules for you!
Now you know our top 12 Nespresso-compatible picks, but naturally, there are many more options to explore in the world of single-serving coffee pods. Here’s a handy buyer’s guide of frequently asked questions to help you navigate all things coffee capsule
Nespresso itself offers 16 different types of coffee capsules. Typically, when talking pods, we can break this brand and others into four different groups.
First up: Espresso capsules. Made from blended coffee, these pods vary in strength, but they are what we are traditionally used to with single-serving brewers. That is to say, a short pull of high-quality espresso.
Next, you have your Lungo capsules. These use more (almost twice the amount of) water than the espresso pods, for a “longer” or “tall” coffee. Not to be confused with an Americano which is a shot of espresso added hot water.
Third, pure Origine capsules. For those of us who prefer a single-origin bean over a blend. Nespresso offers three single-origin capsule varieties.
Lastly, of course, is decaf. Sometimes you really want coffee, but can’t handle another full dose of caffeine. That’s when decaf swoops in to save the day! Nespresso offers three decaf capsules that vary by the intensity of taste.
You’ll likely encounter three different types of material while shopping around for coffee pods.
Aluminum, a lot of brands are switching to this material. We like these because they’re 100% plastic-free, airtight, and fully recyclable! The aluminum holds more coffee and is better at preserving flavors.
Plastic is most prevalent in the coffee pod world (with aluminum foil lids). Now, this isn’t too bad since most manufacturers choose BPA-free food-grade plastic. They’re airtight to preserve freshness and recyclable once broken down and rinsed out.
It’s a little rarer (at least currently) to find compostable pods. But they are being made and from various renewable raw products. They’re packed in airtight pouches for freshness and should be kept at room temperature once in your home. The coffee from these capsules is clean tasting with low to medium body.
You’ve got the machine, you’ve got the capsules. Now what?
Is it plugged in?
Just kidding (but really, is it?). Here are some tips that will help you brew the perfect cup of Nespresso.
If you can, invest in quality. Buy a higher-end machine and don’t go for the cheapest pods. This will have an impact on your end result of delicious, satisfying java.
Practice, practice, practice! It makes perfect. You’re the barista now. Don’t be discouraged if the first attempt doesn’t turn out quite right. Play around with settings, run shots for longer, use different amounts of milk, etc.
Get yourself some new glassware. Specifically, some latte or espresso glasses. That will help you get your amounts right. And the sophistication can’t be beaten either — remember to stick that pinky out! You’re fancy now.
Don’t reuse your pods. It may sound tempting and economical, but it won’t be good tasting. Also, you run the risk of making a mess in your machine since the pod is already pierced! One capsule, one coffee.
There are a few ways to ensure you’re getting the most out of your Nespresso machine.
Clean your machine at least once per month. To know whether or not your machine could use a cleaning, do a shot test. Don’t put a capsule in, just run a shot of water through your machine and observe the color. If it’s clear and odorless, you can wait before doing a full clean.
Another thing to look out for — are you selecting the right button for size? Each capsule has a recommended shot size, use them for optimal brewing.
With the right size button selected, now you can play around with your shot timing. Shorter will be stronger and sharper. Longer runs the risk of coming out bitter or over-extracted. Find your sweet spot for ultimate enjoyment!
Absolutely! And it takes minimal effort, which is kind of nice.
If you don’t want to empty, rinse, and sort the pod components, there’s another option. You can order a free recycling bag from Nespresso. Each bag holds up to 200 coffee capsules.
When it’s full, simply drop it off at your nearest Nespresso store, waste collection center, or another local collection point (you can find these on their website).
Alternatively, give the bag to your postal worker or drop at the UPS store. Nespresso makes it easy to do the right thing!
Under our tips above, we said not to reuse your pods. The second cup will be weak and watery.
However, if you wish to clean out and reuse your Nespresso pod some users have found great success with this.
After rinsing out the spent grounds, dry and fill your pod with your favorite ground espresso. Leaving at least a millimeter of space at the top. Cut a circle of aluminum foil that’s just a little larger than the pod. Wrap it around the brim and pinch to seal.
You are now ready to reuse it and see how it works for you!
First things first. Have you used your Nespresso machine before?
If the machine is brand new, run it a few times empty. Let the hot water rinse the brewer before you make your first cup of Nespresso. Next, rinse out your water reservoir before filling with fresh tap water.
If you’ve already rinsed your machine, or it isn’t brand new, move on to the next steps.
Is it plugged in? (Yes, we had to sneak that joke in twice.)
Turn on the machine and allow it to warm up. The lights will blink, when they stay steadily lit up you are good to go.
Get your cup in position. Insert your coffee capsule of choice by lifting the lever on the machine. There’s only one direction the pods fit in and it should be clearly outlined. Close it in there.
Select your beverage size. Espresso, ristretto, lungo.
Once you have your hot beverage in hand, don’t forget to remove and properly dispose of the spent capsule.
We’ve mentioned the importance of descaling your machine. So, how does that work?
It sounds daunting, but the whole task should only take you about 20 minutes. Depending on how frequently you use your Nespresso, you’ll need to do these every one to three months.
You can purchase a descaling kit directly from Nespresso or find a comparable one off Amazon. You’ll need a 1-liter (or larger) container and fresh water as well.
Enjoy your sparkling clean brewer!
Peet’s Coffee Social Responsibility:
Kimbo Espresso Pod Review: