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Home » Best Nespresso Compatible Capsules in 2022

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:

The 9 Best Nespresso-Compatible Capsules in 2023

Image Product Details
Best Overall Best Overall Pact Coffee Bourbon Cream Pact Coffee Bourbon Cream
  • Roast level: Dark
  • Intensity: 9/10
  • Origin: Brazil, Colombia
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Best Variety Pack Best Variety Pack Starbucks Variety Pack Starbucks Variety Pack
  • Roast level: Light to Dark
  • Intensity: various
  • Origin: various
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Budget Pick Budget Pick Café Royal Espresso Forte Cafe La Llave Decaf
  • Roast level: Dark
  • Intensity: 8/10
  • Origin: not specified
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Best For Lattes Best For Lattes Grano Milano Ricco Grano Milano Ricco
  • Roast level: Dark
  • Intensity: 11
  • Origin: South America, India, Africa
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Best Organic Best Organic CRU Kafe Organic Discovery Pack CRU Kafe Organic Discovery Pack
  • Roast level: Light-dark
  • Intensity: 6-12
  • Origin: various
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Best Mild Intensity Best Mild Intensity Lavazza Espresso Maestro Lungo Lavazza Espresso Maestro Lungo
  • Roast level: Light
  • Intensity: 5
  • Origin: Central and South America, Africa, Asia
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Best Medium Intensity Best Medium Intensity BrewBlack Crema BrewBlack Crema
  • Roast level: Medium
  • Intensity: 8
  • Origin: not specified
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Best Strong Intensity Best Strong Intensity Illy Extra Bold Roast Illy Extra Bold Roast
  • Roast level: Dark
  • Intensity: 9
  • Origin: Ethiopia, Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, India
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Best Decaf Best Decaf CAFEPOD Craft Coffee Decaf Blend CAFEPOD Craft Coffee Decaf Blend
  • Roast level: not specified
  • Intensity: 8
  • Origin: South and Central America, India, Asia
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Once you’ve picked up the best Nespresso machine, it only makes sense to stock your cupboard with some 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. Pact Coffee Bourbon Cream – Best Overall

Specifications

  • Roast level: Dark

  • Intensity: 9/10
  • Origin: Brazil, Colombia
  • Tasting notes: Chocolate, cream, biscuits

The availability and range of Nespresso can make it seem an attractive option, but getting a specialty coffee from a local roaster is going to improve your single-serve experience. London’s Pact Coffee is a firm favourite at Home Grounds, and being able to buy their coffee in pods is welcome news.

These pods contain one of Pact’s most popular coffees, Bourbon Cream. This sweet-sounding coffee was named for exactly the reason you might think – it’s been sourced and blended to taste like Bourbon cream biscuits.

This dark roast coffee is a blend of 100% Arabica beans from Brazil and Colombia. The Brazilian Zaroca and Colombian El Diamante are both known for their rich dark chocolate flavours and full mouthfeel. The biscuity notes are then developed during the roasting process.

Pact uses a scale out of 10 for intensity, so these pods are up there with the strongest Nespresso can offer. The quality of this coffee means it’s perfect as a black single serve, but the flavour profile is also a great match with milk.

2. Starbucks Variety Pack – Best Variety Pack

Specifications

  • Roast level: Light to Dark

  • Intensity: various
  • Origin: various
  • Tasting notes: various

With its global reach, Starbucks can source the top beans and deliver batch after batch with incredible consistency. You’ll agree that these are both essential qualities for espresso blends.

This variety pack really does mean variety. With eight different options included, you’ll get to taste the full range of Starbucks pods.

Included in the pack are:

  • An ultra-light roast: the Starbucks Blonde Espresso, which has an intensity of 6 and smooth and sweet flavours.
  • Single origin Colombian, medium roast with an intensity of 7. A cup of this tasty brew will be full-bodied and sweet, with unique flavours of toasted walnuts and herbs.
  • The fan-favourite Pike Place medium roast; with flavours of chocolate and toasted nuts.
  • The classic and easy-drinking House Blend. Another medium roast with sweet flavours of cacao and toffee.
  • Dark roasted and full-bodied Verona, one of the first Starbucks blends. Expect notes of dark cocoa and burnt sugar.
  • The classic Espresso Roast, with deep notes of molasses and caramelised sugar.
  • A Decaf Espresso Roast for all of the flavour without the caffeine.
  • Another rare single origin: the Sumatra, with bold earthy and herbal flavours.

3. Café Royal Espresso Forte – Budget Pick

Specifications

  • Roast level: Dark

  • Intensity: 8/10
  • Origin: not specified
  • Tasting notes: Fruit, chocolate

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.

Cafe Royal sources its coffee from a range of growing regions around the world, but they exclusively buy beans that are Rainforest Alliance Certified. This 100% Arabica blend offers a strong, rich and fruit-forward cup of coffee, balanced with notes of chocolate.

These espresso capsules from Cafe Royal have an 8/10 intensity, which makes them closer to a level 10-11 on the Nespresso scale. The brand recommends using the standard espresso size on your machine, but they do offer lungo-specific capsules as well.

4. Grano Milano Ricco – Best for Lattes

Specifications

  • Roast level: Dark

  • Intensity: 11
  • Origin: South America, India, Africa
  • Tasting notes: Spice, chocolate, nuts

American brand Grand Milano has set out on a mission to make the coffee culture of Italy available at the touch of a button with its line of Nespresso-compatible capsules. They offer a range of 100% Arabica or Arabica/Robusta blends, sourced from coffee-growing regions in Central and South America, East Africa and India.

For versatility, we like these dark and intense Ricco capsules. The Arabica and Robusta mix has been blended and roasted to create a rich and full-bodied cup with flavours of roasted nuts, milk chocolate and spices. The dark roast and 11/12 intensity make it a great choice for anyone who wants more of a true espresso style, but it’s also the perfect base for a latte, with the bold flavours holding up well with the addition of milk.

5. CRU Kafe Organic Discovery Pack – Best Organic

Specifications

  • Roast level: Light-dark

  • Intensity: 6-12
  • Origin: various
  • Tasting notes: various

Organically grown coffee has environmental, socioeconomic, and health benefits, so it’s well worth seeking an organic brew. What’s great about CRU Kafe is that not only is the coffee Soil Association certified organic (1), but it’s also Fairtrade certified, ensuring fair compensation for farmers and processors.

This is coffee you can feel good about drinking!

This pack contains six of their most popular offerings, so you can discover what flavour you like the best, or just switch things up every day.

  • Smooth and sweet Light Roast with a level 6 intensity and notes of caramel, tea and blood orange. 
  • A Dark Roast comprised of Arabicas from Peru, Indonesia, and Ethiopia, delivering a nutty, chocolatey espresso.
  • Classic Espresso Roast for everyday drinking. Expect flavours of milk chocolate and caramel with a level 11 strength.
  • The brand’s strongest offering: Intense Roast. A blend of Kerala Robust and Sumatra Mandehling best enjoyed as a smoky, rich espresso.
  • The single-origin Organic Indian is a fully-washed Robusta with warm flavours of smoke and spice.
  • Versatile Organic Colombian is perfect with or without milk, with a level 8 intensity and notes of apple, hazelnut and blueberries.

6. Lavazza Espresso Maestro Lungo – Best Mild Intensity

Specifications

  • Roast level: Light

  • Intensity: 5
  • Origin: Central and South America, Africa, Asia
  • Tasting notes: Floral, fruity

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). 

If a short, sharp espresso isn’t your thing, you can still indulge in the flavours of Italy with these Nespresso-compatible capsules. This is a coffee that’s easy drinking on all levels. The 100% Arabica beans have been given a light roast for a 5/13 intensity, making it on par with some of Nespresso’s own mildest coffees. It’s also designed for the lungo setting on your machine, meaning that you get a less concentrated coffee.

That’s not to say that the Maestro Lungo is lacking in taste. You’ll get plenty of fruity and floral notes, with a sweetness that lingers on the palate.

7. BrewBlack Crema – Best Medium Intensity

Specifications

  • Roast level: Medium

  • Intensity: 8
  • Origin: not specified
  • Tasting notes: Cocoa, citrus, nuts

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. Illy Extra Bold Roast – Best Strong Intensity

Specifications

  • Roast level: Dark

  • Intensity: 9
  • Origin: Ethiopia, Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, India
  • Tasting notes: Chocolate, toasted bread

Surprise, surprise, another Italian brand makes a list. Are you sensing a theme? Italians know espresso. Along with Lavazza, Illy is a global force in coffee beans, specializing in carefully crafted 100% Arabica blends.

They source their beans carefully worldwide to produce a unique blend designed to highlight all that coffee can be. You’ll get the floral notes of Ethiopian coffee, chocolate flavours from Guatemala, fruit from Colombia, sweet caramel from Brazil, and just a hint of spice from Indian beans.

It takes years of experience to bring these flavours together perfectly, and Illy has perfected the process.

This item doesn’t mess around. It’s very dark, vibrant, and very full-bodied. If this is the style of espresso you love, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option for your Nespresso machine.

It has the maximum intensity rating (Illy uses their scale out of 9, rather than the Nespresso scale to 11) and features classic dark roast flavours of toasted cereals and bittersweet chocolate. It’s fantastic as an espresso shot and makes a particularly lovely base for a latte or cappuccino.

9. CAFEPOD Craft Coffee Decaf Blend – Best Decaf

Specifications

  • Roast level: not specified

  • Intensity: 8
  • Origin: South and Central America, India, Asia
  • Tasting notes: Caramel, malt

Plenty of brands make claims about the quality of their decaf, but CafePod has the proof to back it up – this coffee landed a win in the 2021 Great Taste Awards. 

It’s easy to see why too. This Robusta and Arabica blend has been roasted slowly and gently to bring out notes of smooth caramel and malt, but with a boldness of flavour. It’s ideal served black or with milk, or even used as a base for a cheeky espresso martini that won’t keep you up. 

If you want something with a little more kick, CafePod also offers a Supercharger Espresso Decaf, with a dark roast and an intensity level of 11. Both are decaffeinated using the CO2 method to preserve the best flavours.

How to Choose the Best Nespresso Compatible Capsules

If you already have a favourite coffee, that’s a good start. But choosing the best 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.

Best Nespresso Compatible Capsules - Learning Intensity Scales

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 it’s 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 to 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 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 capsules alternative.

Read our Nespresso Vertuo vs Original comparison.

The Verdict

The best capsules that are compatible with Nespresso machines are ones that taste great and kick your morning off right.

For a capsule coffee that offers something a little different, Home Grounds recommends the Pact Coffee Bourbon Cream. It’s been carefully sourced and blended to bring out sweet biscuity flavours – it’s hard to think of a better way to greet the day.

Pact Coffee Bourbon Cream

FAQs

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 prioritise 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)!

  1. What is organic certification? | Soil Association Certification. (n.d.). https://www.soilassociation.org/certification/food-drink/what-is-organic-certification/
  2. Lavazza History 2004-2006. (n.d.). https://web.archive.org/web/20071026034124/http://www.lavazza.com/corporate/en/company/history/2004-2006.html
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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/
  6. Ramsay, E. (2019, January 8). Are coffee capsules dangerous for our health? Retrieved from https://sciencepost.uk/2019/01/coffee-capsules-dangerous-for-health/

Julia Bobak
I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.