7 Best Nespresso Pods and Capsules (2022 Reviews)
Nespresso offers dozens of different coffee capsules in its Original and Vertuo machines. Plus, third parties are offering Nespresso compatible espresso pods as well. The choice is always a good thing for the consumer, but that doesn’t mean it’s not overwhelming.
How are you supposed to find the right type of coffee for you?
We’re here to help! Home Grounds experts in Canada have taste-tested their way through too many Nespresso capsules to bring you this list of our top 7. Each has its unique selling point. So whether you love a dark roast with cocoa notes or a light roast with subtle sweetness, there’s the best Nespresso capsule for you!
At A Glance:
The 7 Best Nespresso Pods in 2023
As much as we always recommend freshly ground and brewed coffee, we also understand the importance of convenience. Not everyone has time to make coffee a ritual each morning. These top-rated Nespresso machines are ideal if you need a coffee and its stat.
|Nespresso Master Origin Line Variety Pack||
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|Nespresso Kazaar Intenso||
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|Nespresso Roma Intenso||
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|Nespresso VertuoLine Variety Pack||
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|Nespresso Arpeggio Decaffeinato||
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Unlike single-serve Keurig brewers, which use plastic K-Cups, Nespresso’s aluminium espresso pods are fully recyclable. And the company goes out of its way to make recycling as easy as possible for the consumer (1). This year, Nespresso has also achieved B Corporation status, a rigorous certification that designates them a force for good in the business world (2). For this reason, Home Grounds chose Nespresso pods as the best pods for the environment in this list.
As long as you recycle Nespresso capsules, you can feel good about buying and using these products – and enjoy their incredible convenience. So without further ado, here they are, the seven best Nespresso capsules in 2023.
Nespresso introduced the Master Origin line of espresso capsules in 2018. It offers a selection of five single-origin coffees from the world’s premier growing regions, a welcome addition to the series of espresso blends for which the brand is better known. The result is a collection of vibrantly flavoured coffee with much more complexity than the traditional Nespresso machine brew.
We particularly love the Colombian beans, which even world-famous coffee expert James Hoffmann reviewed positively.
That’s kind of nice. It’s kind of upfront roast, and a little acid behind, and a little fruit in there too.
But buying the variety pack so that you can sample each of the origins makes for a much more enlightening coffee experience. You can taste how growing conditions, bean varietals, processing method, and roasting temperature can produce a variety of coffee flavours – from bright and fruity to dark and earthy. Each origin consists of 100% Arabica beans, except for the Indian capsules, a blend of Arabica and Robusta.
While our top pick might be considered a more modern specialty coffee choice, this runner up is for those who prefer the traditional Italian style espresso – dark, bold, and syrupy. With an intensity of 12, this coffee is as strong as it gets.
To achieve this, Nespresso blends sun-dried Robusta coffee beans from Brazil with a rare washed Robusta from Guatemala. South American Arabica beans are added to balance out the flavors. This unique combination gives a heavy-bodied bittersweet coffee with enticing notes of black pepper and a dense crema.
Thanks to the Robusta beans in the blend, the Kazaar capsules are highly caffeinated, perfect for a morning jolt. And because of its powerful flavor, this coffee makes a great foundation for a latte or cappuccino.
For the classic dark roasted espresso that you might enjoy at a cafe in the heart of Rome, look no further than the Nespresso Ristretto. It’s an intense brew, with the bittersweet dark roast flavours you expect from a traditional espresso, but it also has some complexity – a hint of sweetness and fruit acidity.
Its deep cocoa flavours are delicious enjoyed straight, as an espresso, ristretto, or Americano. It keeps the balance of an espresso blend without tasting bland or one-note. But at the same time, a double espresso makes an excellent base for a latte macchiato, thanks to its robust flavour. There is no worry that you’ll lose the coffee under all that steamed milk.
A light roast espresso blend is hard to pull off. Too often they end up sour, astringent, or weak, because it’s tricky to properly extract light roast coffee at the speed of an espresso. Luckily, Nespresso’s roasters have decades of experience with which to avoid these pitfalls. These mild roast Cosi capsules extract perfectly, yielding the rich flavor and creamy mouthfeel you crave.
Don’t expect a light roast espresso to taste like a dark roast espresso. There are none of the familiar chocolate or nutty flavors here. Instead, you’ll enjoy notes of lightly toasted cereals and juicy fruit, a result of the combinate of Latin American and Kenyan Arabica coffee beans.
This is a more delicate coffee than many of the hard-hitting Nespresso blends, so we recommend enjoying it black – either as an espresso or an Americano. The addition of frothed milk will only mask its complexity.
The Nespresso Roma Intenso is a balanced but powerful medium roast featuring a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans sourced from Brazil and Mexico.
Interestingly, this blend is split-roasted, meaning that the coffee beans are roasted separately before being blended.
The Robusta beans and the Brazilian Arabica beans are given a darker roast, which provides a heavy body and rich flavours of cereals and earth. The Mexican Arabica beans are given a light roast, contributing brighter aromatics to the final brew. When combined, the overall effect of the split roast is a crowd-pleasing medium roast.
The resulting coffee is very versatile. It’s delicious as a ristretto, espresso, or Americano but also holds up nicely to the addition of milk or cream. If you want to buy one Nespresso capsule to satisfy most people, this is an excellent choice.
If you own one of the Nespresso VertuoLine machines, this is the top pick. This variety pack of 30 Vertuo Capsules includes ten pods each of three best-selling coffee blends – the Stormio, Odacio, and Melozio blends – sized to brew 8-ounce coffees.
The Stormio is the darkest bunch, with an intensity of 8 and a heavy body. It’s a blend of Guatemalan and Nicaraguan Arabica coffee beans, providing tasting notes of spice and cereals.
The Odacio is a bit lighter, with a medium-dark roast and an intensity of 7. It’s a full-bodied coffee featuring a blend of Nicaraguan and Ethiopian Arabica beans, with cereals and ripe fruit flavours.
The Melozio is a medium roast with an intensity of 6. It combines Brazilian and Central American coffee beans for a smooth and balanced brew with cereal and honey sweetness flavours.
For all the intense flavour with none of the caffeine content, this intense dark roast is our top choice. It features a blend of Arabica coffee beans from South and Central America, with the dominant profile being the malty notes of coffee from Costa Rica.
You get a powerful and creamy brew that you would never guess is a decaf espresso. It has the rich dark chocolate notes you expect from an Italian espresso, with just a hint of toasted cereals.
How to Choose the Best Nespresso Capsules
Once you’ve noted what style of Nespresso machine you’re shopping for (Vertuo vs Original), choosing the right Nespresso pods for you comes down to your taste. Do you like dark and intense roasts? Do you like to add milk to your coffee? What flavours do you enjoy? This buyer’s guide will help you take your answers to these questions and turn them into the perfect morning cup of coffee.
Nespresso OriginalLine or VertuoLine?
A few years ago, Nespresso introduced the VertuoLine of machines, which offer more brew size options up to 14-ounce mugs of coffee. They were designed to appeal to the North American market, where people consume larger coffees more often than espresso.
The Nespresso VertuoLine machines use a different extraction method coupled with unique barcoded capsules to achieve this. In contrast, Nespresso OriginalLine machines are for ristretto, espresso, or lungo only.
If you have a Nespresso VertuoLine machine, you should buy VertuoLine capsules, and we’ve offered an excellent pick for a variety pack in this round-up. However, in this review, Home Grounds has chosen to focus more on the Nespresso OriginalLine style of espresso capsules.
The OriginalLine continues to be more popular because the selection of Nespresso machines in the OriginalLine is much more extensive, and the Nespresso Original pods are less expensive.
Intensity and roast level: what’s the difference?
When you buy coffee beans, you look for a particular roast level – light, medium, or dark – which directly relates to the body, mouthfeel, and flavours of your brew. But Nespresso offers both a Roast Level and an Intensity. So what’s the difference? Do you need to pay attention to both?
The two information pieces are correlated, but they aren’t precisely the same. And we think it’s pretty helpful that Nespresso offers both. The intensity rating, which operates on a scale from 1 to 13, gives you more information about the coffee than simply the roast level. More “intense” coffees have stronger flavours and aromas, a higher concentration, and a heavier body. As a rough guide, dark roasted coffees have intensity values from 9 to 13, medium roasts have an intensity between 6 and 8, and light roasts have intensities from 1 to 5. But of course, there is room for overlap.
It is worth looking at both roast and intensity when shopping for Nespresso capsules.
Arabica beans or robusta beans?
Arabica and Robusta are the two commercially grown varieties of coffee. Generally, coffee connoisseurs consider Arabica beans to be of higher quality, because they tend to offer smoother and sweeter flavours with more complexity. It is definitely a better choice for lighter roasts, which will showcase its subtleties.
But that is not to say that Robusta is inherently bad coffee or that it doesn’t have its place, according to Technical Director of the Coffee Quality Institute, Dr. Mario Fernandez (4).
[Robusta] has some attributes which makes it more attractive than Arabica for some growers, roasters, and consumers. Many people in the specialty coffee industry fail to understand that it is wrong to compare Arabica and Robusta in terms of quality.
Robusta coffee is most useful as a component in medium to dark roast espresso blends, and Nespresso knows this. Adding Robusta coffee to a blend gives it a heavier body, a richer crema, and those dark, earthy notes that characterize traditional Italian espresso. It also amps up the caffeine because Robusta coffee has nearly twice the caffeine content of Arabica (5).
Different origins for different flavours
Though the roast and processing method can significantly influence the taste of a coffee, different coffee-growing regions are also known for different flavours. This can be especially noticeable in lighter roasts, where the flavour of the roast is less likely to mask the inherent qualities of the coffee beans.
If you’re not sure what coffee to try, you can use your favourite flavours as a guide to help narrow your decision down to specific origins.
Here is a rough guide of typical flavours to expect from some of the world’s premier growing regions.
- South and Central American coffees are known for clean flavours of nuts, chocolate, cereals, and ripe fruit. They tend to be sweet, with caramel, honey, or brown sugar notes.
- East African Arabica beans are renowned for fruity and floral flavours. They are often described as wine-y or even tea-like.
- Sumatran coffee is often earthy, with a heavy body that results from its unusually damp climate (6). Other coffees from Southeast Asia often have a similar profile.
Many Nespresso capsules use blends of coffees from these different regions. The idea of a blend is to provide a cup with balanced flavours so that you won’t taste the specific qualities of the origin as much.
When it comes to choosing the best Nespresso brand capsule, it’s all about understanding your taste buds. Luckily, Nespresso makes it easy thanks to an intensity rating system that lets you dial in your preferences beyond just the roast.
This year, Home Grounds’ top pick is the single-origin Colombia Master Origin, with bright red fruit flavours that make it stand out from the crowd. But all 7 Nespresso pods on this list, which run the gamut of intensities and flavour profiles, are excellent picks. No matter your taste, you’re sure to find one you love.
No, Nespresso doesn’t make a regular coffee, but you can make something very close depending on your machine. With an OriginalLine Nespresso machine, you can brew espresso and dilute it with hot water to make an Americano. With the VertuoLine, you can brew up to a 14-ounce coffee, but thanks to the unique Nespresso Vertuo extraction method, it will still have a foamy crema like an espresso.
Learn more in our article: Can Nespresso make regular coffee?
The difference between Nespresso and espresso is mainly in the preparation before brewing. Pre-ground coffee is encapsulated in an aluminium Nespresso pod in a Nespresso machine. But for an espresso machine, freshly ground coffee is densely packed into a metal filter basket. After this, both machines use pumps to force hot water through the coffee under high pressure to yield similarly small and intensely flavoured shots.
A Nespresso machine works by taking cool water from the water reservoir, heating it with a heating element, and forcing it into an aluminium Nespresso pod full of pre-ground coffee under high pressure. Once the pressure is high enough, the capsule bursts, releasing the brewed coffee, which flows into the waiting cup topped with a foamy layer of crema much like an espresso.
- Breen, K. (2018, June 11). Nespresso introduces free coffee pod recycling by mail in Canada. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/4266434/nespresso-coffee-pod-recycling-canada/
- Global Coffee Report. (2022, April 27). Nespresso achieves B Corp certification. Retrieved from https://www.gcrmag.com/nespresso-achieves-b-corp-certification/
- Rainforest Alliance. (n.d.). UTZ Certification (Now Part of the Rainforest Alliance). Retrieved from https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/utz/
- Impallomeni, F. (2019, October 23). Can Fine Robusta Be Considered Quality Coffee? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/10/can-fine-robusta-be-considered-quality-coffee/
- The Roaster’s Pack. (2014, September 19). 10 Differences Between Robusta & Arabica Coffee. Retrieved from https://theroasterspack.com/blogs/news/15409365-10-differences-between-robusta-arabica-coffee
- Lynch, R. (2015, October 21). Indonesian Wet Hulled Coffee: Your One Stop Guide. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2015/10/indonesian-wet-hulled-coffee-processing/