If you asked the average person what came into their heads when you said the phrase ‘Coffee Pods’ I would guess that at least 7 out of 10 would say ‘Nespresso’, back to you. The other 3 would probably say George Clooney, which I guess is another win for Nespresso!
Nespresso, part of the Nestlé family, are seen as the main option when it comes to coffee pods, and to be fair, they were the first way back in 1986. While it wasn’t until the late 90’s that the industry really took off, they had such a head start over the competition – making pods for their own machines, and consequently, having a monopoly on the market.
That all changed though, when their patents began to lapse in 2012. Despite many high profile court cases, they lost the exclusive rights to making pods for their machines, and as such the market has become swamped by options catering for limitless tastes and budgets.
Nespresso, through clever marketing, still have their pods pitched as the premium option – and are priced as such. They are fine pods, but they may not be the best option for you. In a market with literally hundreds of different brands, there is a lot of scope for experimentation.
But where to start? Well, with your old friends at Ideal Grind. Let us walk you through our list of some of the best Nespresso compatible pods available in the UK.
How To Choose The Best Nespresso Compatible Pods
So with all of these options, how do you know which pods are going to be the right one for you? Well, the short answer is – you can just read our list below!
Before you get to that point, though, you should have a think about what you want from a Nespresso compatible pod:
- What size drink do you prefer – ristretto, espresso or lungo?
- How dark do you like your roast?
- Do you want a decaf option?
- What of the environmental cost? Do you want them to be recyclable or compostable?
- Are you going to make milky coffees, or are you just having the coffee?
- How much are you looking to spend on your coffee?
It is that last point, on your budget, which will probably have the biggest impact on your decision. The great thing about Nespresso compatible pods is that there is such a huge market of them out there, that you can find really great quality pods for almost any budget – you just need to take that time to find them.
Or at least visit a website that has taken the time out to find them!
Grano Milano – Variety Nespresso Pods
Let’s kick things off with a look at this wonderful selection box from Grano Milano – a London based coffee wholesaler.
This is a perfect example of the range that is available from the Nespresso compatible market at the moment. Grano Milano is a company that I had never heard of before I first tried these capsules – a small, new company that specialises in these pods. In fact, it seems their very reason for existence.
As such, we expect quite a lot when it comes to quality, don’t we? Well, we are not disappointed. Even the packaging oozes class and sophistication – it is pitched perfectly for the domestic coffee market. Sleek black packets with sharp flashes of colour, and a classic, stylish font. You know you are in safe hands.
This particular bundle gives you the opportunity to sample 5 different types of coffee pod:
- Delizioso: A medium roast coffee that is ‘refreshing and alluring’ with hints of dried fruits, pumpkin and chocolate. It’s sweet and light, suitable for ristretto, lungo or espresso.
- Brasile: Another medium roast with ‘smooth tones and subtle acidity’ that has pumpkin, citrus and caramel flavours. It’s super-smooth, and can make ristretto or espresso sized drinks.
- Cremoso: The final medium roast of the selection, that is ‘perfectly soft and balanced’ with notes of chocolate caramel and citrus. Can make ristretto, lungo or espresso
- Ricco: A full bodied dark roast which is ‘powerful and intense’. You’ll notice spices, nuts and chocolate in the taste, and is best suited to espressos.
- Ristretto: Another dark roast, this one is incredibly rich and strong. There are pecan, caramel and chocolate flavours, and this is best served as a – you guessed it – ristretto.
Each flour offers something noticeably different, so I would wholeheartedly recommend these to someone that doesn’t yet know what they are looking for, or those that love variety in their coffee drinking. These are also special aluminium pods that are fully recyclable which is a nice benefit to have.back to menu ↑
Lavazza Lungo Intenso Eco Nespresso Caps
Next up is something from a company that I have certainly heard of, and I am pretty sure you will have too – Lavazza. The Italian coffee kings have been at the forefront of so many coffee innovations for more than a century, so it’s no surprise to see them making strides in the coffee pod market.
The big selling point that they are pushing with these pods is their packaging. Now, that seems an odd way to market a coffee drink, but the environmental cost of coffee pods has been quietly simmering away in the background for quite a while now. It has made little sense, in an age where most industries are desperately cutting down on plastic consumption, for us to be gorging on these drinks from single-use plastic pods – it was only a matter of time before the big companies took action.
These Eco Caps are produced with a compostable biopolymer based on renewable resources, which is all great, but it is worth pointing out here that they are only compostable with a Terracycle system, so you will need to find your local drop-off location. It is well worth the effort, but I have seen people be misled by the compostable element – you cannot just put these in your home compost bin as they won’t break down.
The coffee itself is as good as you would expect from such a well-respected brand – the Lungo Intenso is, well, intense. It really packs a punch, but that is offset by the sweet tastes of chocolate and dried fruit. It’s a dark roast, made with Arabica and Robusta beans. This is a coffee that will ensure your day gets off to the best possible start.
It is one of the more expensive pods that we’ll look at today – a combination of the brand name and the compostable packing playing a factor there. It is certainly worth considering if it falls within your budget though.back to menu ↑
Note d’Espresso – Caffè Arabica
The next pods that we are going to be looking at are from an Italian company that sells exclusively on Amazon, so you may have not heard of Note d’Espresso before. To be honest, I hadn’t.
It’s always best to keep an open mind though – so I gave their Caffè Arabica espresso pods ago. I am delighted that I did, as I may have unearthed one of those bargains that you find every now and then with Nespresso compatible pods, such is the extent of the market.
The coffee in these pods are made with 100% Arabica beans, sourced from Brazil, Honduras and Nicaragua. It produces a wonderfully sweet blend, with an aftertaste that seems to go on forever! It’s a light, aromatic drink that has slight notes of chocolate and vanilla. It is not a particularly intense flavour, but it is incredibly pleasant and easy to drink – you’ll find yourself going back for another soon enough.
There is very little bitterness or acidity to the flavour, which makes it a great drink in its own right. While they recommend that it can be drunk as an espresso or a ristretto, I found that it worked much better as an espresso.
It is one of the cheapest pods that we will look at today, and as such, you can’t expect much in terms of the packaging and environmental considerations. These are basic coffee pods, but they produce great coffee that would be fine to serve almost any guest. While they are not the strongest tasting pods, they are certainly a crowd-pleaser.back to menu ↑
Solimo Lungo Nespresso Pods
When you think of the great coffee producers of the world, you probably don’t think of Amazon, do you? The Amazon Rainforest may be, but Jeff Bezos is probably not your first thought of a coffee mogul.
But if you didn’t think Amazon would have a keen eye on the expanding coffee pod market then you really haven’t been paying attention. Solimo is in fact a private-label brand that is owned by Amazon, and their Lungo pods have found their way onto our list.
We’ll start this off by focusing on the price because this is one of the chief selling points of this coffee. These pods are another that are right at the cheaper end of the price scale, not just on this list but for any coffee pods. That shouldn’t come as a massive surprise really, as Amazon has been price-focused and constantly tries to undercut the competition to get ahead – we as consumers get the benefit.
The thing is though, making the cheapest is not a solid business plan if the product seems like it is the cheapest, and these Lungo pods are actually pretty decent. I have often found that Lungo pods end up tasting a little bit weak, and I really like storing coffees – this one really hits the spot.
You get a pretty good crema on top of your lungo, which is always a reassuring start. I found that the first sip tasted quite bitter, which isn’t necessarily a criticism, but the aftertaste was so smooth and long-lasting.
These are another great option if you just want to make sure you don’t run out of pods any time soon – they are excellent value, and they do a grand job, either with milk or on their own.back to menu ↑
CafePod Craft Coffee – Variety
Something from the other end of the scale now, as we look at this premium variety set from CafePod – a London based coffee roaster that specialises in making Nespresso compatible coffee pods. They really were one of the first companies to emerge from those lapsed patents of Nespresso’s, and have quickly established themselves as one the lead coffee pod producers in the country.
I love a variety pack, largely because I love tasting different coffees. I fully accept that many people reading this will just want to find their ideal coffee and then stock up on that one, but the chance to experiment is too tempting for me.
This pack contains:
- 20 Ristretto capsules: An intense and strong coffee, with a ‘bittersweet treacle tart’ flavour and a smooth aftertaste. Ristretto sized drinks
- 20 Intense Roast capsules: Another strong , dark roast – this one made with beans from South America and South East Asia. The tasting notes are ‘warm spiced malt loaf’. Lungo sized drinks
- 10 Brunch Blend capsules: a luxurious coffee with ‘decadent chocolate and caramel brownie’ flavour notes, this is as smooth as silk and such a crowd pleaser. Perfect for Lungo sized drinks.
- 10 Supercharger Espresso capsules: You’ll get the taste of spiced chestnuts from this super-strong espresso drink – it will certainly perk you up.
It’s a really good selection that offers something for everyone – particularly if you like strong, full flavoured coffee. They all have a similar smooth taste, with very little bitterness, which is difficult to pull off with coffee that is this strong.
Of course, the price may put some people off as these are one of the most expensive pods that we will look at, but if you are looking for a premium pod, you may find your new favourite in this selection.back to menu ↑
Jacobs Espresso Ristretto
Another product towards the top end of the price range now as we look at this offering from German coffee brand Jacobs, who have been around since 1895 and have been a mainstay in the coffee industry, particularly in mainland Europe, ever since.
The first thing to note about these pods is that they’re aluminium, which means that they are suitable for recycling. This is, thankfully, becoming a feature that most of the more expensive pods are including in their coffee. It is certainly reassuring for those that prioritise such things.
Anyway, on to the coffee itself. A ristretto won’t be for everyone, as by their nature they are very strong coffees. For me, that is absolutely fine as I love a strong coffee, but if that isn’t for you then I would encourage you to check out the rest of the Jacobs range to see if there is something that tickles your fancy there.
This is an excellent coffee. It combines the complex aromas of Arabica beans with the intense flavour of Robusta beans, and the result is an elegant, yet powerful, multi-layered drink that will start your day in the best way possible.
The aluminium capsules have another benefit, not just environmental – they manage to trap in freshness to the coffee in a way that plastic just can’t and that really shines through with the flavour. A truly fresh coffee, right out of a little pod.
Aluminium costs more than plastic, of course, and that is reflected in the price. But if you are looking for that little extra in terms of taste, then these pods from Jacobs are definitely worth a try.back to menu ↑
Rosso Caffe – Variety
One of my personal favourites now, as we take a look at another variety pack, this time from American company Rosso Caffe. From their humble beginnings on a college campus in 2014, they have grown and grown and now sell over 10 million pods a year worldwide.
They attribute their success to the fact that they remain involved at every step of the process, which includes sourcing the coffee, roasting it, packing, manufacturing and delivering. Nothing is left to chance with these guys, they make sure everything is done to their standards.
I have spoken already about my love of variety packs, so I guess I was already predisposed to like this offering, but each coffee really does stack up in its own right. Let’s talk you through them (you get 20 of each in this pack):
- Gentleman: A dark, intense roast that is full bodied and rounded. Serve as a ristretto or espresso
- Maestro: Another dark roast, that is slightly less intense than the Gentleman, but still strong. This has an extra fruitiness to it. Another served as a ristretto or espresso.
- Purismo: A light roast, best served as a lungo. Made with beans from Central America and India, this is soft and balanced, and incredibly smooth.
- Ricco: Made with Costa Rican beans, this medium roast is so rich and smooth – a real delight. Use it to make a cappuccino and thank me later.
- Intelligente: Another medium roast here, and something more complex than the others. A very versatile pod, can be used as an espresso or lungo, and has an earthy, woody taste to it.
- Delicato: Quite the opposite now – a fruity and delicate lungo made with beans from Hawaii and Columbia. A real crowd pleaser this one.
This is slightly above average in terms of price, but the quality is much better than average. Fully recyclable pods as well. Definitely one for the shortlist.back to menu ↑
Café Royal Lungo Decaf Nespresso Pods
Over to Switzerland now as we take a look at some lungo pods from Café Royal. We always try to cater for all kinds of different tastes and needs, so here we have featured a decaf option for Nespresso compatible pods.
The company, Café Royal, have actually taken an indefinite hiatus from the world of coffee, but their products are still available to buy on Amazon – at least for the time being. If these are to your taste, I would get in quickly!
Café Royal has specialised in lungo pods – they have one of the broadest selections I’ve ever seen, so it seemed only fitting to include their decaf lungo option. This is what they do. (Or did?)
This is a wonderfully smooth drink that you will come back to time and time again. And with the lack of caffeine, you really can keep coming back to it! They describe it as a ‘mild’ drink, which I think is doing it a disservice. It’s incredibly flavoursome, with citrus notes and a velvety smooth texture. It is such an easy drinker.
They use aluminium pods, which traps freshness, but they are not too expensive considering. I would say they are priced around the average you would expect to pay for Nespresso compatible pods.
If you are looking for a decaf lungo pod, then you make this the start of your search – you may not be searching for too long from here!back to menu ↑
Starbucks Variety Pack
Now, I have been quite snooty about Starbucks over the years, so the fact that I have included them in this list should tell you an awful lot.
I often start these mini-reviews with a breakdown about the company – well if you don’t know who Starbucks are, I’m not sure where you’ve been for the last 20 years – you can’t move for Starbucks when you’re out and about!
I think their dominance is partly what informs my distrust of their coffee, but I went into testing these pods with an open mind. And I was very pleasantly surprised! This is probably the variety pack with the largest selection, with 8 different pods:
- Blonde Espresso Roast – This blonde roast is incredibly smooth and sweet, best enjoyed as a (you guessed it) espresso
- Caffé Verona – A dark roast that is both sweet and slightly bitter. Tastes like dark cocoa and is best served as an espresso
- Columbia Colombie – A versatile, almost juicy, medium roast – great as an espresso or a lungo. You’ll get hints of nuts with this one
- Espresso Roast – A rich and caramel tasting dark roast, best served as an espresso (surprisingly enough!)
- Pike Place Roast – A versatile, almost juicy, medium roast – great as an espresso or a lungo. You’ll get hints of nuts and chocolate with this velvety smooth medium roast. Enjoy as a lungo
- Decaf Espresso Roast – The decaf equivalent of the dark roasted espresso above
- House Blend Mélange Maison – Another medium roast, with nut and chocolate flavours. Serve as a lungo
- Sumatra – This dark roast is best served as an espresso. It’s earthy, complex and herbal – a coffee for coffee lovers
There really is something for everyone here, so a great option for people that tend to have lots of people over for a coffee.back to menu ↑
Caffè Nero Classico Signature Blend
If you’re near Starbucks, you’re probably not too far away from Caffè Nero…! Another high street staple to finish this list as we look at the Classico Signature Blend from one of the biggest coffee sellers in the country.
Let’s get straight into it: this is a great coffee. As a medium-dark roast this is best served as an espresso but also makes a decent lungo if the mood strikes you for a longer drink. The one thing you’ll notice straight away is just how silky smooth it is – it is such a pleasant drink.
It’s full-bodied as well, with hints of dark chocolate and caramel which provides a perfectly sweet balance from the slightly strong flavour of the coffee. It is great when you combine it with milk to make a cappuccino or a latte – it really brings out the sweetness.
The pods are recyclable, which is a welcome addition and one that makes you feel slightly less guilty about using pods. They are also packaged very stylishly, as you would expect from a brand the size of Caffè Nero.
They are one of the most expensive pods around, which will mean that these aren’t for everyone. You can be sure that there are plenty of people that are loyal to the brand though, so that won’t be an issue. This is a great coffee in its own right, of course, no matter who is behind it.
Nespresso Pod FAQs
Can you use Nespresso Pods Twice?
Technically, you could use a pod twice, but we would not recommend it. There will be a bit of coffee that you can extract from the pods the second time, but it will be incredibly weak to the point of not really being worth it.
Our advice – if you want more coffee, use another pod and enjoy it as it was intended to be enjoyed.
Can you use Tassimo pods with Nespresso machines?
Nope! They are different sizes and shapes, so you will not be able to use Tassimo pods in a Nespresso machine.
Why are Nespresso pods so expensive?
The official Nespresso pods end up costing more than almost any other coffee pod, but why? Well, I alluded to part of the answer earlier, but they were the first, and as such have positioned themselves as the premium choice in the market. This is justified as they make delightful coffees, and they are constantly modifying both their machines and the pods to get the best possible results.
As we have seen on this list, though, the choice does not begin and end with official Nespresso pods – there is a whole world of Nespresso compatible pods out there for you to try out. We hope this list has helped you to find your new favourite, at a price that suits you.