Best Nespresso-compatible pods for 2021
To help you find the best coffee for your Nespresso machine – and save money on your morning brew – we'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 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 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.
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
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.
- See how the different coffee pod brands compare on recycling, price and range of coffees in our full
- Take your coffee on the road with the
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
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).
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
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.