9 Best Nespresso Compatible Capsules (Great-Tasting Pods to Try)
Did you know that about 15 billion Nespresso capsules are sold every year? With all those coffee pods for Nespresso flooding the market, some are bound to be delicious options and some duds.
You could go ahead and try a billion to find the tastiest ones (and hope you don’t O.D. on caffeine in the process). Or you could just read this Nespresso compatible capsules review.
We’ve rounded up 9 delicious options to suit any coffee preference.
At A Glance on Amazon:
- Best Overall: Café Agga Kenya AA
- Best Variety Pack: Bestpresso Coffee Flavored Variety Pack
- Budget Pick: Grano Milano Supremo
The 9 Best Nespresso-Compatible Capsules in 2023
Once you’ve picked up the best Nespresso machine, it only makes sense to stock your cupboard with coffee capsules. Sure, you can buy the usual Nespresso coffee pods, but if you’re feeling adventurous, then stocking up on some capsules from other brands is a good idea. Without further ado, here’s our list and reviews of the best Nespresso compatible capsules.
Here are 9 great picks, with enough variety to satisfy any coffee lover.
1. Café Agga Kenya AA – Best Overall
Blends tend to be the norm when it comes to capsule coffee, so if you come across a single origin, it’s always worth a second look. Kenyan coffee is considered to be some of the best in the world, with a complex flavour profile and full body. The AA grade refers to the size of the bean, with AA being one of the largest. The beans are the most sought-after as the larger size results in more even roasting and a better flavour in the cup.
Kenyan coffees are known for a depth of flavour that can have both sweet and savoury notes. This coffee from Cafe Agga has a rich sweet palate with flavours of tropical fruits, berries and a wine-like acidity. It makes for a vibrant cup of coffee with a clean aftertaste.
Café Agga uses its own scale for intensity, with the 6 on these Kenya capsules representing their highest score. However, don’t expect it to match the 13 of the Nespresso scale. This probably comes in at around a 10, making it a great all-rounder. Perfect as a standalone espresso or lungo, but strong enough to stand up to the addition of milk.
2. Bestpresso Coffee Flavored Variety Pack – Best Variety Pack
One benefit of buying coffee capsules is that you can get a mix of different tastes in small quantities. It’s a great way to experiment with different tastes or have flavoured coffees on hand for a special treat.
US brand Bestpresso offers a few different variety packs, including an Intense Variety Pack, but we think their Flavored Variety Pack is the most fun.
All capsules in this pack are medium roast coffee, with an 8 on the intensity scale. You’ll get:
- Delicate and balanced Vaniglia, with the sweet aroma of vanilla and hints of almond. It’s subtle enough to use as your everyday coffee.
- Rich and sweet Caramello, with flavours of creamy caramel and maple syrup creating a dessert-like drink.
- Indulgent Cioccolatto, which adds the taste of dark chocolate to your coffee for a bittersweet and full-bodied cup.
Bestpresso’s flavoured capsules are blends of coffees sourced worldwide, though they do have some single-origin options in their range. These capsules contain at least 50% Rainforest Alliance certified coffee, which could obviously be improved, but it’s a step in the right direction.
3. Grano Milano Supremo – Budget Pick
It’s no secret that one of the main disadvantages of single-serve coffee is the higher cost compared to other coffee machines. Nespresso brand capsules are all much the same price, but by buying compatible brands, you can often get your coffee for a little less, without a drop in quality.
Grano Milano is a British brand but was inspired by the founder’s time spent in Milan. His aim is to get the authentic Italian espresso experience into a capsule, with a range of tailor-made blends.
The Supremo variety blends 50% Arabica and 50% Robusta beans from Brazil and Ethiopia, treated to a medium roast. The result is an intense coffee with notes of chocolate, spice and a little citrus, with no hint of bitterness. What we particularly like about this coffee is that it’s Fair Trade certified – proof that responsible sourcing doesn’t have to be exclusive.
Illy should be a familiar name to anyone that enjoys coffee. The Italian brand has been the go-to for espresso coffee since 1933, developing not only one of the first automatic espresso machines, but also the ESE pod (1). With almost a century of experience, you can be sure that Illy knows how to capture the taste of true espresso in a capsule format.
With these Classico Lungo capsules, you can brew a longer coffee without worrying that you’ll end up with a weak brew.
Like all Illy coffees, these Nespresso compatible capsules are made with 100% Arabica beans. They’ve been given a classico (medium) roast to create a smooth and balanced cup. Brew it black and you’ll get sweet notes of caramel, orange blossom and jasmine.
This is another brand that’s opted for its own intensity scale, rather than the standard Nespresso one. Their ratings run from 1-9, so this coffee sits right in the middle of the scale.
5. Meseta Organic Espresso Gold – Best Organic
Organically grown coffee has environmental, socioeconomic, and health benefits, so it’s well worth seeking an organic brew. We found a new favourite this year. It’s the Meseta Coffee organic medium roast.
Not only is this sophisticated blend organic, but it’s also Fairtrade certified, ensuring fair compensation for farmers and processors.
This is coffee you can feel good about drinking!
Meseta is another Italian brand, which is always a reliable pedigree when it comes to espresso. They source their coffee from plantations in Central America, where the local workers and environment are treated with respect. They select only the finest beans to be roasted and ground for their coffee capsules.
The result is a complex and richly flavoured espresso. During brewing, you’ll be struck by a fruity and floral aroma. The brew translates to a smooth-tasting cup of coffee with light acidity, no bitterness, and spicy flavour notes.
6. Lavazza Leggero Espresso Lungo – Best Mild Intensity
Lavazza is another of the big hitters when it comes to espresso brands. They’re known worldwide for their Arabica-Robusta blends that are expertly crafted for the best espresso experience. Despite its international success, the brand remains true to its roots, with 3 out of 4 Italian households still buying the coffee (2).
You might think Italian espresso needs to be knock-your-socks-off strong, but these Leggero Espresso Lungo capsules have a mild intensity for a more easy-drinking experience. It’s also designed for the 100ml lungo option on your Nespresso machine, giving you a less concentrated coffee.
Unlike many of Lavazza’s coffees, this is a 100% Arabica blend, with beans sourced from Brazil and Africa. With a medium roast, it creates a dark and creamy-looking brew, but the flavour is light with fruit flavours and floral aromatics.
7. BrewBlack Crema – Best Medium Intensity
London brand BrewBlack doesn’t have the cache of the big Italian coffee makers, but it does have its own claim to fame when it comes to Nespresso-compatible capsules. The brand uses what they call Micrometric Technology, an exclusive process that combines two-different grain sizes to develop more flavour and aroma.
BrewBlack Crema capsules use a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans for a well-balanced espresso. The Robusta provides the full body, while the Arabica brings the sweet and creamy flavours to the mix. You can expect a smooth cup of coffee with hints of rich cocoa, nutty notes and the brightness of citrus. The brew has very low acidity and a velvety aftertaste.
BrewBlack advises that its coffee capsules give the best results with the ristretto or espresso options on your machine. If you prefer a lungo, you’ll need to double up. The capsules themselves are made from aluminium, so they’re fully recyclable (3)
8. Rosso Caffe Extra Dark Pack – Best Strong Intensity
American roasters Rosso Caffe specialised only in Nespresso compatible capsules. The brand aims to balance affordability and quality, and takes a hands-on approach to sourcing and selecting the beans in a sustainable way.
They have a wide range of capsules from espresso blends to flavoured coffees and more exclusive single origins. This pack contains three intense coffees from the brand’s original collection:
- Ease your way in with the Maestro, which is a dark roast with a level 9 intensity. With 100% Arabica beans from Tanzania and Costa Rica, it’s strong and fruity with hints of nuts.
- Extra-dark roast Gentleman, which is a blend of Arabica and Robusta from Ethiopia and Vietnam. It’s smooth but full bodied, with an intensity level of 10.
- Things get serious with the Macho, an extra dark roast coffee with a level 12 intensity. Arabica beans from Colombia and Peru are blended with Robusta from Brazil and India for a bold brew with good bitterness.
Rosso Caffe’s Reserve Edition uses aluminium capsules, but these Original Collection ones are made from plastic. It’s a food-grade polypropylene that is fully recyclable but does take more steps than other plastics (4).
Decaf coffee often gets a little neglected by coffee makers, but this Decaffeinato Honey Decaf from Maud’s Coffee is worthy of its spot among the best Nespresso compatible capsules. It starts with 100% Arabica beans sourced from Peru, Guatemala and Mexico.
In the cup you can expect typical dark roast flavours such as chocolate and toasted cereal, which are bolstered by sweeter notes of molasses, honey and a little citrus. The brand doesn’t use an intensity scale, just the roast level, but this is certainly at the higher end. It’s a bold Italian-style brew that is strong enough to hold up to brewing as a lungo or for making an Americano.
These capsules are plastic, rather than the preferable aluminium, but can be recycled depending on your area. Maud’s does offer a range of certified Fair Trade and Organic coffees, but for now, these are limited to the K-Cup format.
How to Choose Among Nespresso Compatible Capsule Brands
If you already have a favourite coffee, that’s a good start. But choosing Nespresso compatible capsules isn’t quite the same as buying whole bean coffee. There are a few unique factors to take into account (5).
So with that in mind, read through this buyer’s guide. You’ll know exactly what to look for; and what not to waste your time on.
Look for Flavour First.
Coffee lovers know that when you’re shopping for espresso capsules that are compatible with Nespresso (or even coffee beans for that matter), freshness often has a bigger influence on the coffee’s flavour than the origin of the bean or even its roast level. That’s why we’re more inclined to recommend large and well-established brands with a lot of turnovers. Smaller boutique brands are often better for whole bean coffee.
So instead of seeking out a particular region of origin or roast, look for a brand you trust and a flavour profile you enjoy.
We’ve recommended several variety packs for this exact reason. These are fantastic not only because they allow you to sample many flavour profiles to find your favourite but also because you can switch up your coffee each day.
Maybe it’s a mellow sunny day, and you want a mild brew. Or perhaps you have a hectic workday planned and need something more intense. This is one of the great benefits of single-serve coffee machines in general!
Intensity vs. Roast
While its roast level exclusively markets whole bean coffee, you’re more likely to find Nespresso pods labelled with an intensity level. Only some brands will also define their roast.
So what is the intensity level?
It’s a somewhat subjective rating that considers several factors, including roast level, body, bitterness, and concentration. One thing it does not take into account is caffeine content, so more intense does not equal more caffeinated.
- The highest intensity coffees will have a dark, heavy body, and high concentration. Their flavour will skew more bitter than sweet.
- The lowest intensity coffees will be the opposite. They have lighter roasts with a mild body and a sweeter flavour.
In some ways, the intensity scale is even more useful than the roast scale because it gives you a better overall picture of how you will experience the espresso.
Lungo vs. Espresso
Nespresso compatible capsules for OriginalLine machines are all designed for ristrettos, espressos, or lungos.
The ristretto is the most concentrated of the bunch, with about half as much water as an espresso. In fact, ristretto is the Italian word for restrict. The lungo is the weakest, with lungo being the Italian word for long. It’s essentially an espresso shot that you keep pulling for double the time to yield a larger drink more reminiscent of an Americano or pressure-brewed coffee.
Some brands will recommend individual capsules for one drink or another, either due to flavour, intensity, or concentration. If you have a particular drink of choice, look for capsules recommended for that size, and you’ll ensure you get the tastiest cup of coffee.
Please note that the drinks made from these capsules are different from real espressos.
Blends Are More Common than Single Origin.
Though single-origin Nespresso compatible pods exist, they are rare when compared with blends. This isn’t just a feature of Nespresso machines; in general, espresso is more often made with blends than single origins.
Some people fear blends because, in the past, roasters used them to save money and mask sub-par beans. But that is no longer the case:
Personally, I often find that I’m able to get a better balance and more depth of flavours in espresso when blending
Now blends are carefully crafted for the most balanced flavour profile and greater consistency (6). In recent years, third-wave coffee has seen the rise of single origins, mostly light roasts with bright acidity and complex character. However, the same traits that make them attractive as brewed coffees can be a bit overpowering in an espresso.
By all means, seek out a single-origin capsule if that’s your preference, but you don’t need to fear the blend if you prefer a more balanced flavour profile.
Nespresso Vertuo vs. Original
This list recommends capsules compatible with Nespresso Original Line machines. These include the Creatista, Lattissima, CitiZ, Essenza, and the ever-popular Pixie coffee machine, which just happens to be our pick for the best single serve coffee maker.
More recently, Nespresso has released the VertuoLine, designed to both make espresso and brewed coffee. So far, only Nespresso brand capsules are compatible with Nespresso VertuoLine machines, so you will need to buy from the company if you have a Vertuo coffee maker. Or you can buy a refillable pod for your VertuoLine coffee machine to make regular coffee, which we think is the best Nespresso capsule alternative.
Read our Nespresso Vertuo vs Original comparison.
The best capsules that are compatible with Nespresso machines are ones that taste great and kick your morning off right.
For something a little special Home Grounds recommends the Café Agga Kenya AA. This single-origin coffee offers a rich and vibrant flavour profile, with a bold intensity that makes it suitable for drinking black or with milk.
Nespresso and Keurig both make easy-to-use single-serve coffee makers, but their products and target market are quite different. Nespresso machines focus on espresso and espresso drinks. They tend to be a bit more expensive but are also of higher quality. In contrast, Keurig models and Keurig alternatives brew drip coffee and prioritize speed, convenience, and low cost over coffee quality. For more details, we’ve made a detailed comparison of the two brands.
Nespresso capsules are more expensive than ground coffee for many reasons. You’re paying for the extra packaging, equipment, and manpower needed to produce single-serve pods of coffee.
Nespresso compatible pods are more expensive than Keurig coffee pods because they use aluminium rather than plastic and employ a fancier packaging process that keeps the coffee fresher. However, we think the extra cost, in this case, is worth it for a better-tasting coffee and a product you can recycle.
Nespresso capsules are safe. Scientists have studied the difference between ground coffee and capsule coffee. They found that the coffee in Nespresso compatible pods is slightly higher in cobalt, chromium, tin, nickel, copper, zinc, and acrylamide, but not to the extent of impacting human health.
The study concluded that espresso capsules’ most significant risk was their higher caffeine content (7)!
- A Heritage of Taste, Tradition and Coffee Culture – illy. (n.d.). Illy. Retrieved August 6, 2022, from https://www.illy.com/en-us/illycaffe-history
- 2004-2006. (n.d.). Lavazza. Retrieved August 6, 2022, from https://web.archive.org/web/20071026034124/http://www.lavazza.com/corporate/en/company/history/2004-2006.html
- Gunther, M. (2015, May 27). The good, the bad and the ugly: sustainability at Nespresso. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/27/nespresso-sustainability-transparency-recycling-coffee-pods-values-aluminum
- Plastic by the Numbers. (n.d.). Plastic Action Centre. Retrieved August 6, 2022, from https://plasticactioncentre.ca/directory/plastic-by-the-numbers/
- Cumming, E. (2020, July 14). How Nespresso’s coffee revolution got ground down. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/jul/14/nespresso-coffee-capsule-pods-branding-clooney-nestle-recycling-environment
- Kanniah, J.C. (2020, April 24). How Specialty Coffee Blends Have Evolved for Today’s Market. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/04/how-specialty-coffee-blends-have-evolved-for-todays-market/
- Ramsay, E. (2019, January 8). Are coffee capsules dangerous for our health? Retrieved from https://sciencepost.uk/2019/01/coffee-capsules-dangerous-for-health/