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15 October 2021

Nespresso, Tassimo or Dolce Gusto?

We compare the major coffee pod brands, from what drinks they make and the price of pods to which brand makes the best coffee
Rebecca Marcus
Pod coffee machines

Capsule or pod coffee machines are a quick, easy way to make coffee at home, but you're usually restricted to a specific brand of coffee pod - each of which have their own pros and cons.

Nespresso, Tassimo and Dolce Gusto may be the best known brands, but there are other options worth considering, including Dualit, Illy and Lavazza. Below, we compare all the main capsule brands and explain what they offer. 

To get straight to the top-scoring model for your budget, head to our coffee machine reviews.

Video: Buying the best pod coffee machine

Watch our quick video guide to find out the three key things to consider when choosing between brands.

1. What drinks do you want to make?

Best for espresso-based coffees such as espressos, americanos and lattes

Lavazza, Illy and Nespresso focus on espresso coffee drinks, with a range of blends and strengths available. Most machines which take these pods come with the option of frothing milk, so you can make lattes and cappuccinos too.

If you're keen on a wider range of drink options

Keen on café-style concoctions, such as caramel macchiatos, hot chocolate and tea? A Nescafé Dolce Gusto or Tassimo machine is more likely to suit your needs.

2. How much do the pods cost and where can you buy them?

Coffee pods vary in price from around 20p per drink to more than 60p, a difference that can really add up over time. Depending on which pods your machine uses, you might be able to buy compatible capsules for less than the branded version.

3. How can the used pods be recycled?

Pod coffee machines make more waste than other types of coffee machines and some pods are tricky to recycle. Make sure you're happy with the recycling set-up for your choice of pod.

See all our pod coffee machine reviews to compare models.

Quiz: Which coffee pod machine brand is right for you?

If you still can't decide, try answering these quick questions to find out which brand of pod coffee machine suits you best.

Nespresso vs Dolce Gusto vs Tassimo, Illy, Lavazza and Dualit

Get the lowdown on how the big brands compare in our table below, including the type and range of drinks they make and how well each brand typically scores in our tough coffee machine tests.

Logged-in Which? members can see which brand scores best on average in our independent coffee tests. Not yet a member? Join Which? to get instant access.

Capsule brand
Best Buys/Number tested
Average taste test score
Average overall test score
Dualit
Dualit 3 in 1 84440 table 2

What you'll get: 

Dualit makes Nespresso-compatible pods, which can be used with Dualit or other Nespresso-compatible machines. A separate milk frother or a machine with built-in frother is needed for latte-style drinks. 

See all our Dualit coffee machine reviews.

Illy
FrancisFrancis Y36754F table 3

What you'll get: 

Uses a small range of pods of varying strengths, plus single-origin coffee capsules. A separate milk frother or a machine with built-in frother is needed for latte-style drinks.

See all our Illy coffee machine reviews.

Lavazza A Modo Mio
AEG Espria LM3100 table 3

What you'll get: 

Uses a small range of own-brand coffee capsules. A separate milk frother or machine with built-in frother/steam wand is needed for latte-style drinks.

See all our Lavazza coffee machine reviews.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto
Dolce Gusto Oblo table 3

What you'll get: 

Uses own-brand capsules, though cheaper compatible options are increasingly available from supermarkets and online. More than 30 different drinks can be made, including green tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Milky drinks use powdered milk capsules and need two capsules per drink.

See all our Dolce Gusto coffee machine reviews.

Nespresso
Krups Nespresso Pixie table 3

What you'll get: two capsule systems available

1.Original - uses own-brand and compatible capsules, for a wide range of espresso and lungo (larger coffee) drinks and teas. A separate milk frother or a machine with built-in frother is needed for milky drinks.

2.Vertuo - designed for espressos and longer or bigger coffees, no compatible capsules currently, or milk frothing.

See all our Nespresso coffee machine reviews.

Tassimo
Tassimo Vivy table 2

What you'll get: 

Uses own-brand capsules only. More than 30 drinks can be made, including latte, hot chocolate and tea. Milky drinks require additional UHT milk capsules.

See all our Tassimo coffee machine reviews.

Table notes
Information is correct as of February 2021.

Find out more about what each brand offers in the sections below:

Nespresso pod machines

Nespresso pod coffee machines
  • Capsule price range: 33p - 39p (own brand), compatible pods 18p-60p, Vertuo capsules can be up to 62p
  • Available from: Nespresso boutiques and online at nespresso.com, compatible pods in supermarkets and online
  • Machine price range: £90 - £450

You can get Nespresso machines from a range of brands, including DeLonghi, Krups, Magimix and Sage, with plenty of styles, colour and sizes to choose from. Pricier models include a built-in milk frother or steam wand, whereas cheaper ones can bought with the Aeroccino milk frother accessory for around £50 extra (though check our best milk frothers for cheaper alternatives).

Pretty much every strength and length of coffee is catered for in the own-brand Nespresso range, including single-origin coffees and special edition flavours. You can also buy a wide range of Nespresso-compatible capsules in supermarkets and online for most of the Original-line machines. See which Nespresso and compatible pods impressed in our taste tests, including compostable options, in our Nespresso coffee pod taste test.

Nespresso also sells Vertuo-line machines, which only work with its larger Vertuo pods. These come in three different sizes, and aim to cater to those who like a longer coffee. There aren't currently any compatible pods for this range.

Can you recycle Nespresso pods?

Nespresso has its own recycling collection service for its aluminium pods. You’ll need to collect the pods in a special bag provided by Nespresso and drop them off at Doddle, CollectPlus or a Nespresso boutique – or you can arrange a free collection.

Nespresso-compatible pods are made by a range of different brands, some of which are recyclable or compostable but few of which have dedicated schemes, and you can’t send them to Nespresso. You may need to dismantle, empty and clean the pods for recycling. 

Get a detailed guide to all things Nespresso in our dedicated guide to how to buy the best Nespresso machine, or skip to our Nespresso coffee machine reviews to find the best.

Nescafé Dolce Gusto pod machines

Nescafe Dolce Gusto pod coffee machine
  • Capsule price range: 27p - 56p, compatible pods 16p - 31p
  • Available from: Large supermarkets nationwide
  • Machine price range: £30 - £150

Most Dolce Gusto machines are made by either DeLonghi or Krups. The range of drinks is broad and includes options for non-coffee drinkers such as tea and hot chocolate. Milky drinks require an extra milk capsule, made of dried milk, as there's no steam pipe or milk frother on Dolce Gusto machines.

Some cheaper compatible pods are from supermarkets such as Aldi, Lidl, Asda and Sainsbury's, though the range of options is still relatively small.

Can you recycle Dolce Gusto pods?

Dolce Gusto runs a recycling scheme via CollectPlus. You’ll need to collect the pods in a special bag though, which you can only get by ordering your pods directly through the Dolce Gusto website.

See all our Dolce Gusto coffee machine reviews.

Tassimo pod machines

Tassimo pod coffee machine
  • Capsule price range: 21p - 62p 
  • Available from: Large supermarkets nationwide, online
  • Machine price range: £40 - £150

Tassimo T-disc capsules cover the full spectrum of hot drinks, such as hot chocolate, tea and café-style coffee drinks. Like Dolce Gusto, Tassimo machines use milk pods instead of fresh milk. 

There aren't any compatible pods available for Tassimo, so you're tied in to the branded versions, which limits your options a bit. It does have some household names in its range though, including Costa coffee pods.

Can you recycle Tassimo pods?

Tassimo pods can be recycled if you take them to Terracycle drop-off points (a specialist recycling company). However, these locations are run by volunteers and aren’t that widely distributed across the country - so you may have to go far out of your way to recycle them.

See our full Tassimo buying guide for more, or skip to our Tassimo coffee machine reviews to find the best.

Illy pod machines

Illy pod coffee machine
  • Capsule price range: 38p - 44p
  • Available from: Large supermarkets nationwide, online
  • Machine price range: £99 - £500

Illy coffee machines are made by several brands, including FrancisFrancis! and Illy. Depending on the brand and model, some include an integral steam wand, for manual milk frother or automatic milk frother.

The Illy range is much smaller than other coffee capsule systems, focusing mostly on traditional espresso-based drinks, there is also a small range of filter-coffee-style pods, for longer black coffees.

Can you recycle Illy coffee pods?

Illy capsules aren’t currently recyclable in the UK, so if you are concerned about your coffee habit impacting the environment, they aren't the best choice.

See all our Illy coffee machine reviews.

Lavazza A Modo Mio pod machines

Lavazza pod coffee machine
  • Capsule price range: 27p - 37p
  • Available from: Large supermarkets nationwide, online
  • Machine price range: £50 - £170

The A Modo Mio range of coffee machines is designed to produce only espresso-based drinks. Some machines have a steam wand or integral milk frother for making milky brews such as lattes.

There are around 12 pods to choose from, including some single-origin pods. There aren't any compatible pods around, so you'll be limited to quite a small range of drinks.

Can you recycle Lavazza coffee pods?

Older Lavazza pods weren't recyclable, aside from the Ricco pods, but the current range are industrially compostable. This means they can go in your food waste collection, if your council provides one, but won't break down on a home compost heap.

See all our Lavazza coffee machine reviews.

Dualit pod machines

Dualit pod coffee machine
  • Capsule price range: 20p - 29p per capsule
  • Available from: Stores including John Lewis and Lakeland, and online
  • Machine price range: £200 (£50-£450 if you include Nespresso-Original-compatible machines, which work with Dualit pods)

Dualit's capsule offering includes coffee and tea options. It's NX pods are Nespresso-compatible, so can be used in Nespresso Original line machines and Nespresso-compatible models, as well as Dualit's own range. This also means you can use other Nespresso-compatible pods in your Dualit pod machine, giving you a wide range of coffees to choose from.

Dualit also makes a small range of compact coffee machines that give the flexibility of using either ground coffee, ESE pods or Dualit NX coffee pods, which you use with a specially adapted portafilter.

Can you recycle Dualit pods?

Technically, you can recycle Dualit’s plastic NX pods in your usual collection if you dismantle, empty and clean them out, though this is onerous, and plastic pods can be difficult for local authorities to recycle in practice. 

Dualit also sells a range of compostable capsules. These need to be composted industrially using your local council’s food waste collection scheme (if available in your area).

See all our Dualit coffee machine reviews.

Choosing the capsule machine for you

Now you've got the lowdown on the different coffee pod systems, you can pick the best coffee machine for your chosen pod brand. Each has a range of options, and some proved much better than others in our tough tests.

Head to our coffee machine reviews to compare models, or go straight to our round-up of the best coffee machines.

Still not sure what you want? Try our coffee machine buying guide for more on the different types of coffee machine available, plus discover which ones we recommend in our guide to the best bean-to-cup and best ground coffee machines.