The 10 Best Nespresso Compatible Pods
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2018. If you like both the taste of espresso and the convenience of a single-serving coffee machine, then you'll want to give Nestle's rival to the Keurig brewing system a try. These Nespresso-compatible capsules offer a greater variety of strengths and flavors than the name brand pods, and are often cheaper, too. Take note though, that none of these will work in VertuoLine models. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 09, 2020:
When switching to a new preferred coffee roaster, it is often a good idea to try many blends from them to find your ideal one, which is why we included many variety packs on this list. After you have decided which ones are your favorite, then you can simply add more of those. Of course, there are other benefits to buying a variety packs, too. They are a smart choice for those who like to enjoy different flavors from day to day, and they are great for entertaining, since you can offer your guests a range of roasts to choose from.
Gourmesso Bundle, Peet Variety Pack, Starbucks by Nespresso, Hardy Complete Varieties Bundle, Jones Brothers Variety Pack all include at least four roasts, with the Gourmesso Bundle boasting six. While they all contain a range of coffees, the Starbucks by Nespresso offers the option to choose a bundle with all mild or all intense blends, so if your tastes lean towards a specific roast, you don't have to worry about winding up with some pods that are too bold or too weak for your liking.
For those who prefer to stick with one roast at a time, we have included Meseta BioFair Organic, Illy Espresso Intenso, Lavazza Decaffeinato Ricco, and Roastesso Gourmet Cubanito. These last three all have a bold flavor much like what you would find if you ordered an espresso in their respective countries, so they aren't going to a good choice for those who prefer something with a bit less body. If this describes you, you will be better off with Meseta BioFair Organic, which has the added bonus of being chemical free and fair trade certified.
It should be noted that all of the pods on this list are intended for making espressos, ristrettos, and lungos in your Nespresso machine, and depending on the model you have, you may have to manually add hot water to get a traditional American style cup of coffee. They also won't work in any VertuoLine models.
May 29, 2019:
We wanted to include as diverse a selection of flavors and intensities as possible, since we know coffee lovers can be very particular about how they take their espresso. For those seeking a crowd-pleaser for most palates, the Gourmesso Bundle is a good choice since it has flavors great for complementing food like cookie, toffee nut, and vanilla. It's such a varied bundle that no matter who is coming over, they should find something to their liking. The Peet Variety Pack is also always a safe bet, since it comes from a popular coffee shop and recreates the taste of espresso you'd get fresh from the barista's hand. Plus, it's available in a good range of bold intensities. As for those looking for something a little more particular, there's the Roastesso Gourmet Cubanito. If you've ever lived in Miami, you may find this comes pretty close to what the Cuban coffee shops serve there. As for those seeking that authentic Italian cup, the Hardy Complete Varieties Bundle should live up to your standards as it's made in Milan and comes from a company with a rich history in making espresso.
Williams Sonoma Coffee Capsules Whether you are looking for creative flavors like spiced pecan pumpkin, salted caramel, and mocha, or traditional roasts like intenso and ristretto, Williams Sonoma has a Nespresso-compatible pod to suit your tastes. They are available by themselves or in variety packs and all come from 100 percent Fair Trade-Certified beans. williams-sonoma.com
A Brief History Of The Nespresso Pod System
Beginning in 1975, Farve spent months scouring Rome to find the perfect espresso, which he identified as being served at the always-busy Caffe Sant'Eustachio.
While many Americans' first experience with a pod-style coffee machine may have been with a Keurig system, Nespresso actually came out with the concept first. More than a decade earlier that Keurig, in fact. The Nespresso pod system had its beginnings in the mid 1970s, when Eric Farve, a Swiss engineer working in Nestle's packing department, was told by his Italian wife that his country knew nothing about making coffee. If he hadn't set out to prove her wrong, there is a good chance none of us would have the pleasure and convenience of using single-serving capsule machines.
Beginning in 1975, Farve spent months scouring Rome to find the perfect espresso, which he identified as being served at the always-busy Caffe Sant'Eustachio. Utilizing his Italian wife as a spy, he learned as much as he could about the process behind the making of Sant'Estachio's coffee. He discovered that constant aeration as the water was pumped through the grounds was part of the process, which he believed was the main aspect responsible for creating the superior flavor and large amount of crema.
Immediately afterwards, he set about making a prototype machine that would create maximum aeration while brewing. Initially, the Nespresso executives in Switzerland showed little interest in the idea of homemade espresso. Their instant coffee business was booming and they saw no need to invest money in developing a product in which they felt the public had no interest.
As luck would have it in 1983, Farve was sent to work briefly in a Nescafe factory in Japan and he decided to try pitching his single-serving pod coffee machine to the chief executive there. Unlike the Swiss executives, the Japanese one saw promise, and by 1986, Nespresso was born and the first singe-serve pod coffee machine was released. More than 30 years later and the countertop home pod machine is one of Nestle's top revenue generators, with billions in sales annually.
How The Nespresso Systems Work
While there may only be two essential ingredients in America's favorite hot beverage — coffee grounds and water — the way these two ingredients are combined makes a big difference in the result. Ask any barista and they will tell you pressure greatly affects espresso quality. It is a major factor in extracting all the subtle notes of flavor from the grounds. Nespresso pods are essentially small pressure vessels and they act in a similar manner to how manually-controlled espresso machines work. After a pod is placed inside the Nespresso machine and it is powered on, multiple small needles pierce the unit. Next, hot water is pumped into the capsule, creating pressure. Once it reaches nine bars of pressure inside the capsule, which is said to be the perfect amount for optimal flavor extraction, the foil ruptures and water begins to flow through the grounds at a controlled pace.
In addition to maximum flavor, the pressure has another beneficial side effect: it creates crema.
In addition to maximum flavor, the pressure has another beneficial side effect: it creates crema. Crema, which is a colloid of small oil particles suspended in water, is the foam that sits on top of a shot of espresso. Since it is a byproduct of the oils being forced out of the grounds by pressure, crema is only produced when espresso is brewed at sufficiently high bars, which is the reason many coffee connoisseurs use it as a measure of the quality of an espresso.
Along with pressure, the temperature of the water also greatly affects flavor. Some people may not know this, but water that is too hot can extract too much flavor too quickly, leaving you with an overly bitter cup of java. The ideal temperature to brew espresso is between 190 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just below boiling. Nespresso machines dispense water at exactly 199.4 degrees.
Why Use Nespresso-Compatible Pods
There are many benefits to using Nespresso machines to make your coffee. They are exceedingly easy to use, allowing the average consumer to make espressos and cappuccinos that rival those served in expensive cafes. They are also very quick and convenient. Rather than wasting time measuring out scoops of coffee and waiting for a big pot to brew, or dealing with the time-consuming process of manually-controlled espresso machines, pod machines generally take less than a minute from retrieving your capsule and powering on the machine to having a ready-to-drink cup.
They are exceedingly easy to use, allowing the average consumer to make espressos and cappuccinos that rival those served in expensive cafes.
All that being said, they do have two very big drawbacks. If you were to stick with only Nespresso brand coffee pods, you would have a very limited selection of brews to try. Sure, they periodically feature new varieties for a month or so, but they usually only have about 30 or so options to choose from. This is across all of their brewing styles, meaning you may only have five espressos, a few decafs, a few flavored varieties, etc. Trying some Nespresso-compatible pods solves this problem, giving you access to a near unlimited variety of brews and beans.
Cost is another major downside to Nespresso pods. While cheaper than a Starbucks coffee, using them can still get expensive rather quickly, especially if you like to drink a few cups a day like most Americans, which by the way you should since studies show that those who drink four cups per day have a 64 percent lower risk of mortality. On the other hand, Nespresso-compatible pods usually cost significantly less per unit, which means you may be able to get three comparable espressos for the cost of just one Nespresso shot. This means you can drink enough coffee to increase your lifespan, without having to crack open the piggy bank to do so.