We’ve found the tastiest coffee pods for your Nespresso machine, as well as some good-value options for those looking to save on their coffee habit.
We asked a panel of expert coffee tasters to blind-taste Nespresso coffee pods, pitting Nespresso’s own pods against compatible versions from brands such as Aldi, Dualit, Lavazza, Lidl and Marks & Spencer.
Three pods scored highly enough to be named Best Buys, and we also found a great-value pod that scores well for taste costing less than 20p a pod – saving you around a third compared with Nespresso.
That may not sound like much, but switching could save you nearly £100 over a year if you tend to get through two coffees per day.
Head to our guide to the best Nespresso-compatible pods for 2020 to find out which coffee pods we recommend.
Nespresso taste tests: what we did
Our panel rated 15 Nespresso-compatible pods from brands including Cafepod, Dualit, Lavazza and L’Or, as well as supermarket options from Aldi, Lidl, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose.
They tasted each espresso with and without milk.
The winning pod scored an impressive 82%, producing a rich, full-bodied espresso that was smooth and creamy, with a dark coffee flavour and notes of caramel. One expert described it as a ‘very good all-round espresso coffee’.
But some pods didn’t fare so well. The worst Nespresso-compatible pod scored just 49%, despite being one of the most expensive pods we tested. Our panel didn’t like it, describing it as thin and characterless.
Dolce Gusto options put to the test
This year, we also got our experts to try some Dolce Gusto-compatible pods.
Until recently, Nespresso was the only coffee system you could find compatible pods for, but there are now a growing number of compatible Dolce Gusto pods on the scene.
Our experts tried a range of americano-style coffees and some latte pods, and found some cheaper options were worth a punt, while others were best avoided. Get the full verdict in our guide to Dolce Gusto-compatible coffee pods.
Should you switch to compatible coffee pods?
Pod coffee machines traditionally tied you in to using only branded pods, which could be expensive, but there are now third-party compatible pods available for Nespresso and Dolce Gusto coffee systems.
Compatible pods offer greater choice, and some are much cheaper than branded versions, too. The cheapest Nespresso-compatible one we tested costs just 14p a pod – 20p less than the price of a typical Nespresso pod.
The widest range is available for Nespresso Original system coffee machines, including some compostable versions which biodegrade on home compost heaps or through industrial composting.
Another option, if you’re concerned about the waste created by pods, is to opt for reusable coffee pods. See our tryout of reusable coffee pods to find out if they’re worth buying.
Which coffee pod brands are the most eco-friendly? Get the lowdown on how the brands compare
Which coffee machines work with compatible pods?
These can be used in Nespresso Original coffee machines, which are made by a range of brands including DeLonghi, Krups, Magimix and Sage.
They shouldn’t be used with built-in Vertuo or commercial models, and some pods have additional exceptions, so check the packaging before use.
Dolce Gusto-compatible capsules
Dolce Gusto machines are typically made by either DeLonghi or Krups.
Compatible pods should work with any Dolce Gusto machine, but check the packaging for any exclusions before use.
See all our Dolce Gusto coffee machine reviews to find the best.
Not sure which coffee pod brand to plump for? Check our full guide to Nespresso vs Tassimo and Dolce Gusto coffee machines.
- Looking for other ways to free up your drink options? Read our review of Lakeland’s 2-in-1 coffee pod machine, which works with both Nespresso and Dolce Gusto coffee pods
- Discover which models we recommend in our guide to the best coffee machines