One retailer own-brand coffee pod beat rivals to be crowned the best high street Nespresso-compatible capsule in our 2018 taste tests, but other supermarket pods lagged behind.
This year’s test of Nespresso-compatible pods threw up several surprises, including a new top-scoring coffee pod that you can pick up doing your weekly shop.
Our independent coffee tasters praised its smooth and strong flavour, with a good balance of sweetness and acidity. It tastes great when drunk either black or with milk, too. We also found two Best Buy branded capsules, including a Nespresso pod, which will add a real punch of flavour to your morning caffeine hit.
At the other end of the scale, the worst espressos from the high street were either heavy and bitter or bland and lacking in flavour. Find out which Nespresso-compatible pods will tantalise your taste buds, and the ones to steer clear of, by heading to our full Nespresso-compatible capsule taste test results.
How we uncover the best Nespresso pods
Our panel of coffee experts blind-tasted 22 Nespresso coffee capsules, including four Nespresso capsules, 11 Nespresso-compatible capsules available in high street retailers or supermarkets and seven compatible pods from online coffee specialists.
We asked each brand to nominate popular pods that made a strong espresso, based on feedback from our members on the coffee they like to drink.
Our experts reviewed Nespresso’s Arpeggio, Dulsao do Brasil, Roma and Volluto pods; with one of these pods making it on to our Best Buy list for 2018. High street brands included pods from CafePod, L’Or and Starbucks, plus own-brand pods from Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s.
See which pods got the approval of our experts in our best Nespresso-compatible capsules guide.
Are online pod suppliers such as Fine Coffee Club and Gourmesso any good?
The thriving market in third-party Nespresso pods has led to a cluster of online pod suppliers offering a range to rival Nespresso. To find out how they measure up to high street options, we included seven coffee pods from online coffee specialists in this year’s test.
Overall, our panel was impressed with the coffee from these brands, finding the flavours generally more interesting and complex. So if you’re keen to expand your coffee repertoire it’s worth exploring what they have to offer.
Out of the seven pods we tested, we found one exceptional Best Buy, which scored an impressive 87%. It was praised by our panel for being a good, strong espresso that was full-bodied without being bitter or harsh. It was smooth and full of bright fruit flavours with a pleasing aftertaste. However, it will cost you a rather steep 45p per capsule.
We also found a good option that’s a steal at 20p per pod, so check the results of our Nespresso-compatible capsules taste test to find out which pods are worth getting your hands on.
Using Nespresso-compatible capsules
We’ve been testing compatible capsules for a few years now and we have yet to find a capsule that doesn’t work with our Nespresso machines. However, some capsules need a bit of careful handling when inserting them to get the best results.
You should also always read the warnings on the box before using a third-party capsule with your Nespresso machine. Most capsules state that they aren’t to be used with built-in Nespresso machines and some have additional restrictions.
For more advice on getting the best out of compatible pods, see our guide on how to use Nespresso compatible capsules.
Can coffee pods be recycled?
Some companies, including as Nespresso, run a recycling scheme where you return the capsules to them for recycling. When you place your Nespresso order online you simply add a (free) recycling bag. When you fill this up you can post it back to Nespresso or get it picked up with your next capsule delivery.
Other pods claim to be compostable or biodegradable. You’d think if a pod was compostable that you’d be able to throw it on your compost heap, but sometimes this means that the pod can go in with your local food waste recycling service (as the pod requires higher temperatures to break down fully). Again, it’s worth reading the fine print.
We taste-tested two compostable pods this year – Colonna Compostable and Percol Organic Ethopian Espresso. To find out how they scored check our full Nespresso taste test results.
Best Nespresso alternatives
Dolce Gusto, Illy, Lavazza and Tassimo all make coffee machines that take their own-brand capsules.
The biggest non-Nespresso alternatives are Dolce Gusto and Tassimo. While there are slight differences between them, they are, for the most part, quite similar. Each brand offers a range of hot drink options aside from coffee, including tea, hot chocolate and even chai lattes.
For more advice on the main differences between different coffee capsule systems, including which ones are recyclable, see our guide to capsule coffee brands compared.