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Best Nespresso compatible capsules for 2017

By Anna Studman

Discover the best coffee capsules to use in your Nespresso machine, including the best cheap Nespresso compatible pods.

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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 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.

Need to decide which Nespresso machine to buy first? Take a look at our Nespresso and compatible coffee machine reviews to find out which one will suit your needs – and your budget - perfectly.

Best Nespresso capsules

The table below reveals the three Best Buy coffee pods that our expert tasters rated most highly. You might be surprised to learn that this select group includes the cheapest capsule on test. Not only did this great value pod score a table-topping 81%, but it could save you more than £90 a year if you switch from Nespresso capsules (based on drinking two coffees per day).  

Log in or sign up for a £1 trial to Which? to unlock the table below and find out which coffee pods we recommend.

Best Nespresso compatible capsules for 2017
Model Score Price per capsule Verdict
81% 18p You'd never guess from the taste that this Nespresso compatible capsule was the cheapest pod we've tested - our panel loved its 'almost velvety' mouthfeel, and warm fruity flavours that shone through whether or not you add milk. Find out which cheap coffee pod topped our taste test - Log in or try Which? for £1
81% 30p This compatible capsule will give you an intense hit of flavours with spicy tones of vanilla, nut and chocolate - and its compostable too. Some of our experts found its high roast left an ‘almost burnt’ aftertaste, but overall it impressed. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
80% 31p Our panel enjoyed the well-rounded balance of acidity and sweetness of this compatible pod, and some said it tasted even better with milk. Its thick golden crema means it looks at good as it tastes. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1

Full Nespresso capsule taste test results

You’ll discover more great-tasting coffee capsules in our full results table, including one that was only a whisker away from being named a Best Buy. Our experts described it as ‘full-bodied’ and ‘smooth’, while another brand was ‘heavy and plain’ – and less enjoyable to drink. Read on to find out which pods 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
79% 30p With its warming coffee aroma and sweet full-bodied flavour, our panel thought this coffee took milk well and left a smooth coffee aftertaste with very little bitterness. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
78% 31p This coffee capsule had a pleasing aroma, thick crema and rich mouth feel which pleased most of our panel. But its wine-like flavours flatten when you add milk - so its better served black. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
77% 30p This medium-bodied coffee looked good, smelt good, and had a slight 'caramel' sweetness. The aftertaste was clean and bright, but could be too powerful for some. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
76% 31p This pod's fresh aroma, attractive golden crema, chocolate tones and silky mouthfeel impressed the majority of our panel. Adding milk strengthened the sweetness. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
76% 30p On the whole our experts preferred this coffee when taken with milk, and the majority enjoyed its balanced flavours. One found it rather flat, but another said it had 'good bite'. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
74% 30p Our experts described this coffee as 'medium strength' and found it less intense than others. Some of the flavours were lost when milk was added so this is one pod that's better served black. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
74% 30p Pleasant 'honey and spice' tones were the first thing to hit our testers taste buds, followed by a hint of bitterness as the flavours developed. One expert felt it was bright and full flavoured, but overall it didn't impress as much as others we tested. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
72% 25p Our panel found this coffee watery and lacking any intense coffee hit, so it may not be the best one to wake you up in the morning. It's appearance and crema were good, however. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
71% 28p This one split our panel, with some loving its 'intense kick' and others describing it as 'harsh' with a 'tobacco-like' aroma. They all approved of its long-lasting golden crema. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
66% 25p Not exactly a hit with our experts, they described the flavour as 'heavy and plain' and most found it lacked sweetness - although adding milk helped in this respect. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
64% 30p This coffee started off with a thin crema and finished with a burnt aftertaste that didn't impress our panel. Its light nutty flavour wasn't enough to excite their taste buds. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
62% 29p Blink and you'll miss the crema on this one; the bubbles disappeared in an instant to leave a rather bland coffee which our panel thought lacked body and flavour. Find out which coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1

Artisan coffee capsules reviewed

This year, we also put seven self-styled Artisan coffee pods to the test to see if they could turn out a tasty coffee.  Prices ranged from 31-35p per pod, comparable with Nespresso’s own pods. We focused on popular Artisan capsules that were widely available online.

While the word Artisan may bring to mind a coffee made from beans from a single region, or a small independent roaster, we found that the capsules we tried were usually a blend of beans, roasted by a speciality roaster. They were also mostly Italian roast in style. This means the beans are roasted longer, so the flavour of the roast is more pronounced than in a standard medium roast.

This won’t be to everyone’s taste; the longer roast darkens the beans, leading to a stronger, richer coffee with less acidity, and proportionally more flavour from the roast than the bean.

One of these ‘posh pods’ scored an impressive 81%. Log in or sign up to Which? to unlock the table below and find out which Artisan capsules are worth trying if you fancy a change from your usual brew.

Artisan capsules taste test
Model Score Price per capsule Verdict
81% 32p ‘Citrus’ and ‘spicy’ was how our experts described this pod’s aroma, and they also praised its piquant and intense flavours. Most of them preferred it with milk, making this capsule a good choice for latte fans. Find out which artisan coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
80% 32p One of our experts said this coffee was rich and strong with plenty of character when black, but its strength and acidity softened dramatically when milk was added, making it more suitable for espresso drinkers. Find out which artisan coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
80% 32p Most of our panel enjoyed this capsule’s nutty flavours and ‘edgy’ aftertaste, which they found mellowed pleasantly when milk was added. The crema’s fine golden bubbles looked great and lasted well. Find out which artisan coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
80% 32p If you like your coffee with character, this blend had it in spades, and some of our panel thought it tasted even better with milk. However, it tasted over-roasted compared to others. Find out which artisan coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
79% 35p Some of our experts enjoyed this richly flavoured aromatic coffee saying it had a smooth, fruity sweetness, and tasted great with milk. But it divided the panel with its tongue-coating viscosity. Find out which artisan coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
72% 32p This coffee divided our panel of tasters with one loving its well-balanced flavour and hints of fruitiness. But others found it had a metallic edge when black, and found it too flat with milk. Find out which artisan coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1
71% 31p This capsule’s exceptionally thick crema impressed our expert panel, but they were far less enthusiastic about the taste, which they described as anonymous and lacking bite. Don’t expect an intense hit of flavours with this one. Find out which artisan coffee pod we’re talking about - Log in or try Which? for £1

Nespresso taste test – how we did it

For our 2017 Nespresso taste tests, we tested 22 types of coffee capsules, including three from Nespresso, 12 high-street Nespresso-compatible pods, and seven premium ‘Artisan’ Nespresso compatible pods. We focused on the best-selling 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
  • Charles Love – tea and coffee product expert and trainer
  • Peter Dore-Smith – founder of award-winning café Kaffeine
  • Kathryn McWhirter – drinks writer for The Independent on Sunday

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 Cafédirect, Carte Noire, Starbucks and Taylors, as well as own-brand capsules from Aldi, Waitrose and M&S.

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