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 2020
||Peet’s Coffee Variety Pack||
||Lavazza Variety Pack||
||Cafe La Llave Decaf||
||Starbucks Mild Variety Pack||
||L’OR Variety Pack||
||Illy Extra Bold Roast||
||Don Francisco’s Old Havana||
||Hayman 100% Kona||
Once you’ve picked up the best Nespresso machine, it only makes sense to stock your cupboard with the best Nespresso compatible capsules.
Here are 9 great picks, with enough variety to satisfy any coffee lover.
Peet’s coffees decades of experience is undoubtedly apparent in this variety pack (1). The contents of the Nespresso-compatible capsules are made from 100% Arabica beans.
If your espresso tastes tend toward the rich and bold, this variety pack is for you. You’ll get a sampling of five of their most popular high-intensity blends. And with 10 Nespresso OriginalLine compatible pods of each flavor, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to find your favorite. As of writing, Peet’s does not offer coffee pods that are compatible with Nespresso Vertuoline yet.
In this pack, you’ll get:
- The powerful Nerissimo, a sweetly-flavored dark roast with an intensity rating of 11.
- The crowd-pleasing Ristretto, a dark roast with an intensity of 10 and compelling flavors of spice, fruit, and chocolate.
- The Crema Scura, intensity 9, a full-bodied medium roast with earthy and nutty notes.
- The medium-roast Ricchezza is the mildest of the bunch, with an intensity of 8 and brighter flavors of blossoms, berries, and brown sugar.
- Decaf lovers will be thrilled to find the Decaf Ristretto, a medium roast with a velvety body and roasted almond flavors.
Lavazza is an Italian company that is famous worldwide for its Arabica-Robusta espresso blends. This should come as no surprise given their base in espresso’s homeland. Italians are the undisputed masters of the espresso blend.
Lavazza’s global reach allows them to source the best coffee for Nespresso compatible capsules.
Their large scale means they can offer these exceptional blends at discounted prices.
For a wide-ranging taste of Italy, we recommend this sampler pack with five different varieties. With the WIDEST VARIETY OFFLAVORS and intensities on this list, it’s great if you’re new to Nespresso and not quite sure what you like.
Each capsule’s coffee is blended and roasted in Italy using a special method unique to Lavazza that maximizes aroma.
This variety pack comes with a whopping 120 espresso capsules, which should keep you caffeinated for a good long while and spare you the hassle of frequent reordering.
There are two lungo coffee capsules:
- The Leggero Lungo is the mildest choice, with flavors of fruits and flowers and an intensity of 4.
- The Avvolgente Lungo is a slightly higher-intensity coffee with notes of cocoa and spice.
The remainder is espresso brews:
- The Armonico has an intensity of 8 and flavors of caramel and toasted cereals.
- The dark-roast Deciso features notes of cocoa and woodiness and has an intensity of 10.
- The super-intense Ristretto is the most powerful, like a true Italian espresso, with classic caramel and chocolate flavors.
Decaf lovers, don’t despair! There’s one for you too. The Decaffeinato Ricco coffee pod for Nespresso has an intensity of 6 and tasting notes of cereals and dry fruit.
Cafe La Llave may be in Los Angeles, but their roots are in Cuba’s island nation, a country home to a long tradition of rich espresso.
We love all their Latin-style blends, but their decaf is what STANDS OUT from the crowd.
While many roasters neglect the less-popular decaf, that is not the case here. This is no one-note affair; it’s been crafted with the same skill and attention as the top-selling caffeinated blends. It’s richly aromatic with an intensity of 11 and exceptionally bold flavors to match.
If you’re environmentally conscious, you’ll be happy to hear that all Cafe La Llave coffees are roasted and blended in their eco-friendly zero-waste-to-landfill roastery in California. And of course, these aluminum coffee capsules are recyclable (2).
You can brew these capsules any way you like, but we recommend trying them as a Cafe Cubano or a Cafe con Leche for the most authentic experience.
While full-bodied dark roasts have long been the standard for espresso, there’s no law saying a mild intensity lighter roast can’t make a delicious shot. In fact, this past decade has seen Third wave coffee trend towards lighter roasts with bright acidity and complex flavor profiles. So it’s no surprise that Nespresso compatible capsules are following suit.
If a lighter and brighter brew is what you’re after, we were pleasantly surprised by this variety pack from Starbucks.
If you’re not a Starbucks fan, chances are you’ve experienced one of their in-store dark roasted coffee beans. They are notorious for tasting burnt. But we strongly recommend you give them a second chance when it comes to their lighter roasts.
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 mild intensity pack comes with 50 coffee capsules, featuring four of their most popular “100% Arabica beans” offerings.
- The rare single-origin Nespresso capsule; a medium roast Colombian bean with an intensity of 7. A cup of this tasty brew will be full-bodied and sweet, with unique flavors of toasted walnuts and herbs.
- An ultra-light roast: he Starbucks Blonde Espresso, which has an intensity of 6 and smooth and sweet flavors.
- The fan-favorite Pike Place medium roast; with flavors of chocolate and toasted nuts.
- The classic and easy-drinking House Blend. Another medium roast with sweet flavors of cacao and toffee.
Organically grown coffee has environmental, socioeconomic, and health benefits, so it’s well worth seeking an organic brew. We found a new favorite 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 flavored 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 flavor notes.
L’Or is a brand devoted exclusively to making capsule coffee for Nespresso machines, and this exclusivity gives them a level of expertise that’s definitely worth checking out. I’ve always been a fan of companies that choose to do one thing and do it well, and L’Or is a good example of why.
This pack of five different varieties nicely showcases what they do best, crafting medium and dark roasted blends for rich espressos. I found that the L’Or capsules yielded exceptionally full-bodied espresso shots with a powerful flavor that makes them a great starting point for a tasty latte or cappuccino.
This 50-pack of capsules includes their most popular dark and medium roasts:
- The Profondo is an intense and spicy shot, with flavors of almonds and anise and a thick crema layer.
- The Forza has the heaviest body of the bunch and hits you with powerful licorice flavors. Black licorice is a divisive flavor, so this may not be for everyone.
- On the other hand, the Supremo is a crowd-pleaser, with the classic taste of dark chocolate and nuts backed by an oaky aroma.
- The Ristretto has a dark personality and spicy aroma with just a hint of fresh fruit.
- The Spendente is a delicately sweet brew, with a taste of fruit and a mild citrus acidity.
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 flavors 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 flavors 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 flavors of toasted cereals and bittersweet chocolate. It’s fantastic as an espresso shot and makes a particularly lovely base for a latte or cappuccino.
From the same roaster as Cafe La Llave, our favorite decaf, comes Don Francisco’s Old Havana, our favorite medium roast. As the name suggests, this coffee has its roots in the coffee culture of Cuba.
In Cuba, coffee is not about the type of extraction or the quality of beans. It is a vehicle to bring friends together.
In Cuban culture, espresso and camaraderie around it are crucial parts of day-to-day life (3).
The Old Havana blend is a medium-intensity blend, roasted to medium bordering on dark. The contents of the Old Havana capsules are made from 100% Arabica beans, which they source from Latin America and Southeast Asia before being carefully blended and roasted in the United States.
The result is a smooth and flavorful espresso with a remarkably powerful aroma. You’ll be drooling over this one while it’s still brewing.
The dominant taste is toasted nuts, but there’s an added complexity from a hint of citrus that will keep you coming back for more. Enjoy as a ristretto or espresso with a rich honey-colored crema topping.
Don Francisco has partnered with TerraCycle, so your Nespresso pods are easily recyclable, and they roast their coffee in a custom-designed zero-waste roastery. So you can enjoy the delicious taste of your morning cup of coffee while also feeling good about your environmental choices.
Hayman is here to prove whoever said you couldn’t get the incredible fresh-roasted flavor from a coffee capsule wrong.
But the proof doesn’t come cheap.
These Nespresso capsules each cost about the same as a latte at a coffee shop. But if you’re in the market for high-quality coffee with the convenience of a Nespresso coffee maker right in your kitchen, go ahead and splurge!
Hayman has made their name specializing in single-origin coffees from some of the planet’s most acclaimed growing regions. So they have the expertise to source the very best beans and roast them impeccably. This is great news if your favorite coffee is Hawaii’s Kona, Jamaica’s Blue Mountain coffee, or both.
Their Kona capsules are 100% Kona beans, certified by Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture. In comparison, the cheaper options dilute the Kona beans into blends that might only contain 10% true Kona coffee (4).
These coffee capsules have all the flavor you’d expect from one of the world’s most prestigious coffees, and each batch is ROASTED TO ORDER for optimal freshness. They come 16 to a set and produce an ultra-smooth espresso.
You’ll experience the renowned Kona flavors of caramel and bright fruit with a clean finish with little aftertaste. The aroma is complex and sweet, sure to get your mouth watering.
Each 16-pack of capsules comes beautifully packaged in a blue box, making this a perfect gift for the Nespresso owner in your life.
How to Choose the Best Nespresso Compatible Capsules
If you already have a favorite 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.
Look for Flavor 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 flavor 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 flavor 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 flavor profiles to find your favorite 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 labeled 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 flavor will skew more bitter than sweet.
- The lowest intensity coffees will be the opposite. They have lighter roasts with a mild body and sweeter flavor.
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 flavor, 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 flavor 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 flavor 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 best capsules that are compatible with Nespresso machines are ones that taste great and kick your morning off right.
If you love the bold flavors and heavy body of classic espresso, we’re big fans of the Peet’s Coffee Variety Pack. You’ll get five different espresso blends to try, from medium to dark roast. Maybe you’ll find a favorite, or if you’re like us, maybe you’ll love all five!
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 aluminum 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)!
- Huddleston, J. (2019, September 6). The untold truth of Peet’s Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.mashed.com/165155/the-untold-truth-of-peets-coffee/
- 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
- Cavallo, C. (2016, February 25). Why People in Havana Are so Crazy for Their Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.saveur.com/cuban-coffee-culture/
- Paterson, K. (2020, May 30). Crimes Against Kona Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.huladaddy.com/articles/crimes-against-kona-coffee.htm
- 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/