Best Nespresso-compatible capsules for 2018
By Manette Kaisershot
Discover the best coffee capsules to use in your Nespresso machine, including the best cheap Nespresso pods you can find in supermarkets.
To help you find the best coffee for your Nespresso machine - and save money on your morning brew - we've put Nespresso and Nespresso-compatible capsules to the test, asking a panel of independent coffee experts to assess their flavour.
Whether you prefer a flat white or an artisan espresso, we’ve uncovered pods that will get your taste buds tingling. Read on to find out which capsules impressed our expert tasters, and which ones you should leave on the shelf.
On this page you'll find:
- Results from our latest supermarket Nespresso-compatible capsule taste test
- The best pods from our online Nespresso-compatible taste test
- A map that explains coffee regions and what they mean for the taste of your coffee
- How we test coffee capsules
Need to decide which Nespresso machine to buy first? Take a look at our Nespresso coffee machine reviews to find out which one will suit your needs – and your budget - perfectly.
The table below reveals the three best Nespresso coffee capsules for 2018, as rated by our expert coffee tasting panel. You might not be surprised to find a Nespresso pod among the ranks of top-scoring capsules, but the top spot is clinched by a rival supermarket coffee pod.
|Best Nespresso-compatible capsules for 2018|
|Model||Score||Price per capsule||Verdict|
This Nespresso compatible capsule isn't from a big coffee brand, rather a well-known supermarket. Its balanced and bright taste bowled over our experts, who found it equally pleasing with milk added.
You'll find this capsule on the shelf of almost every major supermarket, so it's a good option if you value convenience as well as quality. Our tasters admired the enticing aroma, golden crema and smooth, firm body with a nutty flavour and pleasing aftertaste.
Our judges rates this espresso highly for its robust, full-bodied flavour. If you like a strong espresso with a big European-style kick then this is for you.
Full Nespresso capsule taste test results
Discover more great-tasting coffee capsules worth trying in our full results table, as well as the bland Nespresso-compatible pods to avoid. There's a good compostable (via food waste recycling) option in there, and a premium coffee pod that failed to impress. Read on to find out which capsules our panel rated highly – and the middle-of-the-road ones to avoid.
|Nespresso compatible capsules - best of the rest|
|Model||Score||Price per capsule||Verdict|
Great all-round coffee; rich and long-lasting flavour, some complexity, works with milk or without. A decent choice for your daily cup. Capsules are compostable, in partnership with Conservation International, and packaging is recyclable.
Strong to taste, this coffee was judged as smooth and firm, with a clean acidity. The flavour held well with milk added. Another good all-rounder. Capsules produced are UTZ sustainable farming certified.
This (pricey) coffee impressed with its strong fruity flavour. Two tasters found it a bit acidic, but milk rounded it out nicely. The crema could be thicker. These capsules' packaging is recyclable (though not the capsules themselves) and the coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified.
An aroma prickled with spicy, citrus notes welcomed our judges, and the tangy, unique taste of this espresso did not disappoint - nor did milk rob it of its character. The capsules are compostable (via your local authority food waste collection) and the coffee is organic.
The crema might have been a bit thin, but the coffee was smooth and rounded, although it lacked the kick you might want or expect from espresso. These capsules' packaging is recyclable (though not the capsules themselves) and the coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified.
Need your mule kick in the morning? This espresso is strong, clean and acidic with a thick crema. It divided our panel, though, and some found it too harsh.
This coffee capsule divided opinion. While some fancied it as an everyday coffee, others found it to be bland, as it lacked character and sweetness. Not offensive, just forgettable. The packaging (though not the capsules themselves) is recyclable.
Although this coffee has a sweet, malty aroma, a couple of our experts found the taste a bit sour. It's light-bodied with a bitter aftertaste. Not what you want first thing in the morning. These capsules are Fairtrade certified.
This capsules divided opinion. While some fancied this brew as an everyday coffee, others found it to be bland, as it lacked character and sweetness. Not offensive, just forgettable. The packaging (though not the capsules themselves) is recyclable.
No better than OK, the bitter-without-acidic taste made the judges think the coffee had been over-roasted, making for a flat, plain espresso. These capsules' packaging is recyclable (though not the capsules themselves) and the coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified.
Our experts felt this coffee was smooth but heavy, and ultimately mediocre. Milk might help a little, but the tasting panel found this espresso adequate at best.
It may have been covered with a thick crema, but underneath this pod's coffee was bitter without being spicy; the body thin and lacking appeal.
This year, we also reviewed compatible capsules from major online pod retailers to see how they measured up against high-street offerings. We asked each brand to put forward a strong dark espresso in the same style as the supermarket coffees we had our experts try.
The quality of the online retailers' pods impressed our panel. While some divided opinion, the panel agreed that this selection of coffees offered interesting flavours and more unusual coffee styles overall. If you're keen to branch out, it's worth giving some of our top selections a try - one recommended pod is also great value at just 20p a capsule.
One of these online pods is our top-rated Best Buy capsule this year, racking up an impressive 87% score thanks to its complex and satisfying flavour. Log in or sign up to Which? to unlock the table below and find out which online-only capsules are worth trying if you fancy a change from your usual brew.
|Best pods from online Nespresso compatible pod retailers|
|Model||Score||Price per capsule||Verdict|
Our tasting panel loved this coffee pod. It might be expensive, but it's an impressive and full-bodied espresso that's strong without being harsh or bitter. It feels smooth in the mouth, and the taste combines a touch of sweetness with interesting fruity tones. The complex flavour also leaves a satisfying aftertaste, and works well with or without milk.
'Quite a kick', one judge commented. This is for a coffee lover who wants an intense, dark espresso. It has a clean feel, with nutty and sweet flavours throughout, which also makes for an enticing aroma. At just 20p a pod, it's great value too, so is a good option if you want to save on your daily brew without sacrificing flavour.
It wasn't as strong-tasting as the rest of the coffees in this batch, but our experts found this espresso to be a clean, flavourful coffee with a full body and sharp undertones. It's a good option for cappuccino fans, as the judges rated it even better with milk. The crema looks good, and the aftertaste is pleasantly balanced.
This capsule divided our panel. The espresso had a sour fruit tang which gave it a distinctive quality. You'll either love it or hate it as it is a very individual style of roast.
Another coffee that divided our panel. Some likes its woody, heavy taste, while other didn't like it for the same reason. It had a good crema, though, with the fine bubbles you'd expect on a good-quality espresso. These pods are compostable (via your local authority food waste collection).
This coffee is woody and smoky, though one of our panel felt the wood and smoke were too much, giving it a slightly burnt taste. Though well-balanced when taken black, it wasn't strong enough to hold up to milk. These coffee pods are Fairtrade certified and organic.
This coffee was seen as middle of the road by our panel. It was perfectly drinkable, but had no remarkable characteristics. It fell flat once milk was added, though, as it lacked in flavour intensity. These coffee capsules are made with Fairtrade certified and organic coffee.
For our 2018 Nespresso taste tests, we tested 22 different coffee capsules, including four from Nespresso, 11 high-street Nespresso-compatible pods, and seven pods from online coffee specialists. We focused on the bestselling products, and coffees that were full-bodied and intense – suitable for making espresso or a short-style coffee.
Our panel of four independent coffee experts included:
- Giles Hilton – panel head, coffee specialist with 40 years’ tasting experience
- Colin Smith – coffee roaster and former president of the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe
- Charles Love – tea and coffee product expert and trainer
- Charles Metcalfe – expert taster, Master of Wine and co-chair of the International Wine Challange
We made dozens of espressos using a Which? Best Buy capsule coffee machine and asked our experts to sniff, slurp and taste them all (with and without milk) in a blind tasting, before giving us their verdicts.
Each one was given a rating for aroma, flavour, overall appearance and crema (the golden foam found on top). We included pods from popular brands such as Café Pod, Café Royal, Dualit, Gourmesso, L'Or, Pact and Starbucks as well as own-brand capsules from Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury's and M&S.
For advice on buying Nespresso, see our full Nespresso coffee machine buying guide.