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Home » Types of Coffee Pods (Capsule Compatibility)

Types of Coffee Pods (Capsule Compatibility)

In an ideal world, you’d be able to use any coffee capsule in your home pod machine. This would give you access to the hundreds of flavours, strengths, and styles of coffee on offer – at a range of prices. Sadly, this is not the case, and once you buy a machine, you’re restricted to one type.

So how do you navigate the world of pods, pads, and capsules? We’re here to help.

Coffee pod vs coffee capsule

If you think coffee capsules and coffee pods are the same thing, then think again. But on the other hand, you’re also kind of right. These two terms should refer to different things, but in reality, they’re often used interchangeably. Confused? We’ll explain.

Coffee pods

A coffee pod or pad is a pre-packaged dose of ground coffee in a paper filter like a round teabag. These come in two types: soft and hard.

Coffee pods come in two types: soft and hard.

The soft style is used to make drip coffee in a range of non-pressurized machines (but not Keurigs). The hard type is used to make espresso in pump machines, and are also called Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E) pods.

Here’s where we discussed what coffee pods are and the history of the other “pods” in the coffee space.

Related: Best Coffee Pods in 2022

Coffee capsules

You’re probably much more familiar with the coffee capsule. Depending on the brand they’re made from aluminium or plastic to house the coffee grounds, and sometimes a filter. Capsule machines produce either espresso-style coffee, such as with the Nespresso, or drip coffee with brands like Keurig. You may hear these referred to as coffee capsules, coffee pods, Nespresso pods/capsules, or K-Cups. 

The problem comes about because many people call Nespresso capsules “pods”. If you want to buy coffee pods or pads, you’ll probably have to specify exactly what you are after.

Coffee capsule compatibility

The most frustrating thing about using capsules is that you’re locked into those that fit your machine. Nespresso might have pioneered the idea of the single-serve machine for home use, but now the brand has plenty of imitators, each with their own capsule “system.” Even Nespresso pod types vary with each Nespresso machine model.

A particular type of capsule may have the potential to be used in different machines. For example, the Nespresso original pods can also be used in the Wacaco brand Minipresso. However, a machine from the Nespresso original line will not be able to accept any other kind of capsules. The bottom line: capsule systems are not interchangeable. If you’re having trouble deciding which pod machine to buy, check out our recommendations.

You might often see a comparison between pods and K-Cups. While most capsules vary simply in shape and size, the K-Cups are designed for a different extraction method. Rather than espresso-style coffee, Keurigs (and therefore K-Cups), create a drip-style brew. Soft coffee pods are also used for drip-style coffee, but they are not interchangeable with K-Cups.

Note: You might want to consider whether third-party capsules are available and if you can get any particular flavors you like. 

Types of coffee pods

Reusable coffee pods

Coffee capsules and pods might be quick and convenient, but they do have their downsides. One is that you’re not brewing with freshly ground coffee, another is the cost, and finally there is the waste they cause, particularly with the capsules.

The energy output of manufacturing is so great, that no single-use item can compare to a reusable product.

The solution to these issues is reusable or refillable capsules. These are made of either plastic or metal and are simply empty capsules that you fill with your own coffee as needed. Just as with regular capsules, you’ll need to find a brand that’s compatible with your particular machine.

Final thoughts

If you’re buying a single-serve machine, you’ll need to think carefully about what kind of capsules are available. And if you already have a pump espresso machine, why not try a coffee pod? 

Let us know what you think, and if we missed any  of the types of coffee pods out there.


Coffee bags can be compared to teabags, but for coffee. They are paper filters filled with ground coffee that are steeped in hot water – they are not used with any type of machine. Some coffee bags contain a mixture of ground coffee and instant coffee.

Coffee capsules do have an expiration date that will be printed on the packaging. However, some brands claim that they are safe to use months or years after this date (1). Of course, coffee begins to lose its flavour as soon as it’s ground, so don’t have any great expectations about the taste.

Coffee pods compatible with De’Longhi will depend on the model of the machine. De’Longhi is a manufacturer of Nespresso Vertuo and original machines, as well as its own pump espresso machines. There are no specific De’Longhi capsules.

  1. How long do nespresso capsules last? (2020, August 08). Retrieved from https://nespressoguide.com/2019/10/24/how-long-do-nespresso-capsules-last/
Jovana D
I come from a country where people drink domestic coffee (what the rest of the world knows as Turkish coffee) and where Nescafe designates all instant coffees ever made. So, imagine my first encounter with, say, Hario V60...Yes, it was love at first sight.  Today I’m a moderate coffee connoisseur and a huge coffee lover. My favorite brewing methods are the V60 and traditional espresso-making. Yet, despite my country’s long tradition of Turkish-coffee-adoring, I somehow cannot stand it. That’s just too dark, even for me.