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1 December 2021

Best Nespresso-compatible pods for 2021

Discover the tastiest coffee capsules for your Nespresso machine, including the best cheap and eco-friendly Nespresso pods
Rebecca Marcus
Coffee capsules

To help you find the best coffee for your Nespresso machineand save money on your morning brewwe've put Nespresso-compatible coffee pods to the test, asking a panel of independent coffee experts to blind-test them and rate how tasty they are.

Whether you prefer a flat white or a straight-up espresso, we’ve uncovered pods that will get your taste buds tingling. And if you want to switch to a cheaper or compostable pod, we've uncovered the best of those too.

Read on to find out which capsules impressed our expert tasters, and which ones you should leave on the shelf.

Need to decide which Nespresso machine to buy first? Our handy Nespresso buying guide explains how to choose one which will suit your needs – and your budget – perfectly. Or if you're not totally sold on Nespresso, check our round-up of the best coffee machines from our tough independent tests.

Best Nespresso pods

Our expert tasting panel have blind-tasted and rated Nespresso and compatible coffee pods from popular brands such as Costa, Starbucks and Lavazza. We've also reviewed supermarket own-brands including Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's and Aldi.

We’ve found three top-scoring Best Buys, plus a great value option for less than half the price of Nespresso branded pods. Log in or try Which? to reveal the results in the table below.

PriceRecycling infoOverall score
£3.60 for 10 pods (36p per pod)Drop off, or arrange a free collection
These pods produced a rich, full-bodied espresso that was smooth and creamy, with a dark coffee flavour and notes of caramel. The chocolate sweetness balanced the fruity acidity well. One expert described it as a ‘very good all-round espresso coffee’. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - log in or try Which? today.
PriceRecycling infoOverall score
£2.79 for 10 pods (28p per pod)Not recyclable
This coffee had a pleasing, nutty aroma, and an excellent crema (the layer of creamy froth on top of the espresso). It was soft and light, and had a nice fruity flavour with a milk chocolate sweetness, although it's best enjoyed black - adding milk washed out the flavour a bit. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - log in or try Which? today.
PriceRecycling infoOverall score
£3 for 10 pods (30p per pod)Recyclable once emptied and cleaned

Table notes: Results published April 2020. All pods are compatible with Nespresso Original machines, but not built-in, Vertuo or commercial models. Check the packaging for any other machine exclusions before use.

Best compostable Nespresso pods

PriceComposting method and packagingOverall score
£12 for 60 pods (20p per pod)Industrial composting, box recyclable
This is a strong, full-bodied coffee with some complexity of flavour and a mild sweetness. It’s robust and may not be for all tastes, but milk adds roundness. One expert praised its pleasantly rich flavour with notes of dark chocolate. Another commended the lovely aroma and crema. Find out which compostable pods we loved - log in or try Which?.
PriceComposting method and packagingOverall score
£10 for 20 pods (50p per pod)Home composting, recyclable packaging
This toasty, flavoursome coffee has a good crema that reforms after stirring. One expert picked up notes of malted biscuit and a hint of Brazil nut, while another complimented this coffee on the smooth, rich aftertaste. The flavour is softened, but not lost with the addition of milk. Find out which compostable pods we loved - log in or try Which?.
PriceComposting method and packagingOverall score
£18 for 40 pods (45p per pod)Home composting, recyclable packaging (tin)

Table notes: Availability last checked April 2020. Results are from 2019 taste test and aren't directly comparable with 2020 results above. All pods are available to buy online, Eden Project pods can also be found in Waitrose stores. Composting method is based on information provided by the manufacturer and has not been verified in our testing.

All pods are compatible with Nespresso Original machines, but not built-in, Vertuo or commercial models. Check the packaging for any other machine exclusions before use.  

Nespresso taste test - what we did

We asked a panel of coffee experts to blind-taste and rate a range of Nespresso-compatible pods.

Our 2020 panel of independent coffee experts included:

  • Giles Hilton – panel head, coffee specialist with 40 years’ tasting experience
  • Colin Smith – artisan coffee roaster and former president of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe
  • Charles Love – tea and coffee product expert and trainer
  • Mike Nunn – head of training at Monmouth Coffee Co, which has been roasting and selling coffee since 1978

We made each coffee using a Nespresso machine that had performed well in our coffee machine tests, and asked our experts to taste it both with and without milk.

They rated the aroma, appearance, flavour, mouthfeel, sweetness and aftertaste of each coffee. These ratings were then combined into an overall percentage score.

(2019 eco-pod results were judged by Giles Hilton, Charles Love, Marc-Pierre Dietrich and Charles Metcalfe).

Get the best from your Nespresso-compatible pods with our guide to using compatible coffee pods

Coffee tasting notes explained

Here are a few of the things our experts look for and what they mean:

  • Acidity – a bright, tangy and dry wine-like taste that adds life to a coffee
  • Tannins – can add bitter notes to the flavour
  • Crema – the golden foam on top of an espresso, should be creamy and consistent
  • Body – the feel of a coffee in the mouth. Full-bodied brews will be strong, creamy and pleasant, others may be thin and watery
  • Clean taste – tasty, but without any particular flavour notes coming through
  • Sweetness – essentially a milder, smoother coffee flavour

Need a new machine? See our top five best Nespresso coffee machines

Choosing the best coffee for you

Aren't sure what makes a Sumatran coffee different from a Columbian? Check out the map to find out.

Where coffee comes from and how it is harvested will make a big difference to the taste; here's an overview of the various regions:

 Different roast levels and what they mean

  • Light roast – produces a milder coffee. Tend to be brighter, more acidic and have a toasted, grainy flavour. Retains the original flavour characteristics of the beans well.
  • Medium roast – a medium-intensity coffee with fuller body. A good balance of intensity and flavour.
  • Dark / Italian roast – stronger, more bitter-tasting coffee, often with intense smoky or woody notes.

Making flavoured coffee with your Nespresso machine

If you want to re-create some tempting coffee shop favourites, there are plenty of flavoured Nespresso pods to try - including caramel and chocolate variants. 

Alternatively, you can make flavoured coffee by adding a shot of syrup to a drink make with your favourite Nespresso pod.

We asked our expert panel to try a caramel-flavoured Nespresso pod alongside a standard Nespresso coffee made with caramel syrup and found the syrup to have a stronger caramel flavour compared with the pods. However, the pods were quicker and easier to use.

There's a wide range of interesting and unusual compatible coffees to try in your Nespresso machine. See our comparison of major coffee pod retailers to get a feel for how they compare to branded pods on price and range.