If you’re looking to reduce the amount of household waste you create, kicking your coffee pod habit could be a good place to start.
There’s no need to abandon your machine altogether though – we’ve rated a range of compostable pods to find the best biodegradable options for Nespresso owners.
Our panel of coffee experts blind-tasted 20 compostable Nespresso pods, from brands such as Dualit, Colonna, The Eden Project, Grind, Halo, Rave and Roar Gill.
The results revealed some exceptionally tasty coffees, so there’s no need to suffer a sub-standard brew in order to save the planet.
Three pods were named Best Buys, with our experts complimenting their complex, well-rounded flavours. One costs just 20p per pod, meaning it could save you nearly £50 a year compared with a standard Nespresso pod.*
Find out which compostable pods are both flavoursome and planet-friendly in our full Nespresso-compatible capsule taste test results.
Why choose compostable pods?
Nespresso’s own aluminium pods can be recycled via its dedicated scheme, but plenty of compatible pods can’t as they are made of plastic.
You’d need to dismantle and clean them out for recycling, and even then many facilities aren’t equipped to deal with them.
Compostable capsules are made of materials that biodegrade quickly into harmless substances, via one of two methods:
- Industrial composting – these pods need additional heat, air or water to break down, and need to go in kerbside food collection bins (if available in your area)
- Home compost heap – these will break down on your home compost heap at a similar rate to other organic matter
If several people in your household are keen coffee drinkers, you could be getting through four or more pods per day, so being able to compost your used pods could really cut down on your household waste levels.
Compostable pods impress the experts (mostly)
Overall our panel were impressed with the quality of the coffee from compostable pods. They tend to be made by smaller, independent roasters, and our experts praised the variety of interesting and mouthwatering coffees available.
Some pods fell flat though. The lowest scorers were rated poorly for having an insipid flavour that faded fast. Others had jarring flavour notes – including one coffee which our experts felt had a distinctive whiff of Marmite about it.
Get the lowdown on our top picks with our full guide to the best and worst-tasting compostable Nespresso pods.
Which coffee pod brands are the most eco-friendly? – we compare Nespresso, Tassimo, Dolce Gusto and more
Using compostable pods in your Nespresso machine
As with all Nespresso-compatible coffee pods, there are a few things to bear in mind when using compostable pods in your machine:
- Check the pods are compatible with your specific machine. Nespresso Original Line machines are usually OK, but Vertuo, commercial or built-in models aren’t. Check the packaging first.
- Take a little extra care lining up the pods, and press the lever down gently but firmly
- Empty used pods regularly for best results
Store your compostable pods properly
While it can be tempting to buy in bulk, some compostable pod brands recommend you don’t buy too many pods at once, as the coffee can deteriorate over time.
The compostable materials are by nature permeable, so the flavours won’t last as long in your cupboards as they might in aluminium or plastic pods.
Check the manufacturer instructions for details on how to store your pods as it will differ by brand, but a good principle is to keep your pods in an airtight container, in a cool dry place (not the fridge or freezer – this is a myth). Some brands sell their pods in recyclable tins which you can re-use.
See our guide to using Nespresso-compatible pods for more tips and tricks.
How we uncovered the best compostable Nespresso pods
Our panel of independent coffee experts blind-tasted 20 compostable coffee pods, marking each for its aroma, flavour, mouthfeel, sweetness, crema (the foam on top of the espresso) and aftertaste.
They tasted each coffee both with and without milk to see how well the flavour blended, and gave comments on any particularly notable attributes.
Scores were then combined to create an overall score for each coffee pod.
*savings based on drinking one coffee per day, switching from a Nespresso Ristretto pod (33p) to our top-scoring compostable pod.