You need to be careful when buying the cheapest coffee pods – and we can help.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all too aware of the impulse. You’ve spent a fair amount of money on a coffee pod machine, and then you realise that you need to be buying more coffee pods on an almost weekly basis – it’s quite natural to want to look for the cheapest offers that are out there.
You need to be careful though – there is a fine line between ‘a bargain’ and ‘cheap and nasty’. It’s all very well finding the cheapest coffee pods around, but if you are drinking substandard coffee, then you are not getting the most out of your machine – and that is a much bigger waste of money!
The trick is to find someone you can trust to evaluate the quality of these cheaper coffee pods to find out whether they actually offer better value, or whether they are just very poor quality.
Well, I have some good news for you – you already have! In this article we are going to run through five of the cheapest coffee pods for each of the two major pod machines (Nespresso and Dolce Gusto) that actually represents good value, rather than just being the cheapest.
Why are Tassimo machines different to Nespresso & Dolce Gusto?
There is one main difference between Tassimo coffee pod machines and the other two, and it all comes down to a series of long and boring court cases. The upshot of which is that Nestle (who own both Nespresso and Dolce Gusto) failed to gain exclusive rights to producing pods that are compatible with their machines, whereas Tassimo did.
This means anybody can make pods for Nespresso and Dolce Gusto machines, whereas Tassimo pods have to be officially licensed by Tassimo. They do use other coffee brands, such as L’Or and Kenco, but Tassimo have to licence them, and therefore have a lot of say over the cost.
So what does this mean for the customer? With the market for Nespresso and Dolce Gusto Pods much bigger, there is more competition and prices get driven down. There are so many different options available, so we get more choices and lower prices. For Tassimo customers, the price is pretty rigid, but the theory is that the quality is pretty much assured, as Tassimo have to okay the product and it is in their interest for their machines to make great coffee.
So for this article, we are going to focus on the cheapest Nespresso and Dolce Gusto pods. Let’s get into it.
Cheapest Nespresso Coffee Pods
We’ll kick things off with a product from Solimo. You will be forgiven for having not heard of Solimo before, but they are one of the many Amazon brands that you see popping up everywhere. They always tend to be at the lower end of the price range, no matter what the product, so it is no surprise to see Amazon represented on this list.
We have selected their Lungo because these pods make a genuinely lovely cup of coffee. It is a dark roast, made from 100% Arabica beans. It has a medium intensity (rated 3 out of 5) and the taste is sweet and mild. You should aim to serve it as a 110ml coffee, with a little bit of milk if you would like, but I think it works best as a straight black coffee – you can pick up more of the flavour that way.
The result is a nicely balanced cup of coffee. It’s un-intrusive, and very easy to drink – the perfect coffee to serve guests if you don’t know too much about their preferences. While it won’t win many awards at craft coffee festivals, where new and exciting flavours are sought after, it makes a decent cup of coffee.
Here’s the kicker though – you get two packs of 50 in this bundle, 100 capsules in total. At this price it is one of the cheapest products that we are going to feature on this list of cheap coffee pods. It is the perfect product to have in your cupboard for when you have people over, or when you just want a basic cup of coffee.back to menu ↑
Rosso Caffè Variety Pack
Next up we have this variety pack of Nespresso-compatible pods from Rosso Caffè. This is a fascinating company, which was started by two coffee-loving friends at college together and is now one of the biggest sellers of Nespresso-compatible pods on Amazon.
Their website promises “A top shelf brew for the right price” and this variety pack does exactly that.
Delicato: A light roast with a gentle intensity that will give you fruity and delicate flavours. Best served as a Lungo (110ml), the beans that make up this coffee come from Columbia and Hawaii.
Ricco: This versatile medium roast can be served as a Lungo, but also makes a great cappuccino. It is rich and smooth, and the beans hail from Costa Rica.
Purismo: This gentle light roast has a medium intensity with a soft and balanced finish, made with beans from Central America and India – serve as a Lungo.
Gentleman: A full bodied dark roast, this has a strong intensity that is best served as an espresso to liven up your day. Beans from Ethiopia and Vietnam.
Maestro: Another strong and intense dark roast, this has a fruity taste to it. Best served as an espresso or Risteretto – made with beans from Tanzania or Costa Rica.
Intelligente: A medium roast that is on the more intense side, this is a versatile coffee that can be enjoyed as a Lungo or espresso. It’s woody and complex, from Ethiopia.
It has something for everyone, and the quality is very good, some of the nicest coffees on this list, and at an excellent price. This is perfect for large households with a variety of tastes, or people that like to mix things up a bit. Put this on your short list.back to menu ↑
Happy Belly Espresso
Another Amazon brand now – this time we are looking at Happy Belly, who offer a range of coffee pods. We have selected their espresso pods for this list.
As you would expect for an espresso pod, this is a strong coffee. It has a rich, deep flavour with a balanced body and a long-lasting after taste. I got hints of nut and caramel in the flavour, and it has a decent intensity to it (rated 4 out of 5). It’s a classic espresso really, but also works well as a coffee base if you are making a cappuccino or other milky drinks.
The pods themselves are sealed with an aluminium foil, which you don’t always get with the cheaper pods. The foil works to lock in the freshness of the coffee, trapping in those rich flavours, so that you get a full hit of that distinctive coffee aroma when it is brewing, and then all the flavour when you are drinking it. Foil tends to be the best way to seal in coffee pods.
Another feature that has proven quite popular with existing customers, which may be otherwise overlooked, is the aesthetics of the pods. Now, for many people this won’t be important at all, but some people have attractive pod holders on which they store their pods – having a nice looking pod to put in it is important to them. The foil top contrasting with the deep red base works really well. The gold Lungo pods from Happy Belly look great next to these pods too!
These are great pods to use as a base for milky coffees, as well as making a decent espresso on their own. The price is great for aluminium sealed pods.back to menu ↑
Café Royal Ristretto
We’re going to head over to Switzerland now to look at our first Risteretto pods on this list. The company that makes them is called Café Royal, but judging from their website, they are no longer up and running, or as they put it “are on a break” – but they do still sell their coffee on Amazon.
Whatever state the company is in now, they have (had?) been making coffee for over 65 years – priding themselves on being innovative and unconventional. It was a very natural step for them to move into making coffee pods.
These Risteretto pods are designed to be served as 25ml drinks, and they really pack a punch. With an intensity rating of 9 out of 10, you’ll find that these little pods make a big impact at the very first sip. You’ll get hints of wild berries and dark chocolate, with a rich and smooth after taste. I found myself going back for another later in the morning, it really is a delicious drink.
I was surprised by the price of these pods. The flavour is much more complex than you might expect for coffee pods at the lower end of the price range. There is very little bitterness, it is a really smooth drink.
If you like Risteretto coffees, then I think you will struggle to find a better one than this in this price range. It’s a great drink that you will find you go back to again and again.back to menu ↑
Must Espresso Italiano
We complete our list of the cheapest Nespresso coffee pods with this fantastic variety pack from Must – a brand from Ultramar. This is an Italian coffee company, steeped in the tradition of coffee making. They pride themselves on their commitment to quality coffee, and providing people with the freshest coffee to drink in their own homes with a strict packing method.
As you would expect, these are aluminium sealed capsules that have locked in all the flavours and aromas. There are 6 different kinds of pods:
Puro Arabica: Expect hazelnut and almonds with hints of honey and chocolate with these exotic pods. Serve as an espresso.
Napoli: Another pod best served as an espresso, you get some really strong flavours in this classic Neapolitan coffee.
Lungo: Intense and aromatic, you’ll find spicy notes of hazelnut and cocoa in this delightful longer coffee.
Deca: A decaffeinated espresso, this has all the flavour of quality coffee, but without the caffeine.
Cremoso: A medium intensity, this espresso is the perfect base for milky coffees. The flavour will find its way through to compliment the milk.
As you can see, there are plenty of options with this variety pack. You’ll certainly be able to find one you love out of this lot. It might be worth considering whether you would use the decaf pods though, as if not, another option may be better for you.
Cheapest Dolce Gusto Podsback to menu ↑
Nescafe Café Americano
We’ll kick off our selection of the best cheap Dolce Gusto pods with a product from a company that you may have not been expecting to see on this list – Nescafe. One of the biggest names in coffee, and certainly the biggest name in the coffee pod industry, Nescafe products are sold all over the world.
So how come these pods are on our list of the cheapest pods? Well, because they are cheap! Compared to the ‘official’ Nespresso pods, these are very competitively priced, as they are against some of the other manufacturers of Dolce Gusto compatible pods. Moreover, these are often on offer, so the price can get even better if you time your purchase well – and you can get an additional discount if you subscribe to a regular order. You save money, and you never run out of coffee.
On top of this, the quality is as you would expect – superb. If anyone is going to know how to get the best coffee out of these machines, it’s Nescafe, and they do not disappoint here. A light roast with a deep flavour, this makes a great long coffee that you can go back to again and again, with or without milk.
It’s a great place to start our list of the cheapest Dolce Gusto pods because if you can beat this for value, you’re doing very well.back to menu ↑
Happy Belly Café Au Lait
Back to Happy Belly now – the Amazon brand that specialises in producing great, affordable coffee. We have opted for their Café au Lait pods here, but they also make cappuccino, latte macchiato, chococino and decaf pods, amongst others. All are competitively priced.
These pods produce a brilliantly creamy coffee. I have found that some milky pods, particularly those at the cheaper end of the scale, can fail to get an authentic tasting milk, but these pods really nail it. The flavour of the coffee goes really deep, while the milk is frothier – it has the feel of a shop-bought coffee which is difficult to pull off with a one-pod milky coffee.
It is a sweet and creamy drink, mild in intensity, but retaining a strong flavour of coffee that you can taste against the backdrop of the milk. The colour of the drink is a reassuringly dark brown – it retains its colour where many drinks like this go a disconcerting light brown colour. This drink both looks and tastes strong.
This is best served as a ‘5 bar’ drink, using the indicator on the front of your machine. It’s a classic white coffee, and as such these are great pods to have in for people that come over. People that don’t know that they want a great coffee will be amazed when you serve them one of these!
Of course, as it features on this list, the price is also a huge plus point. These are great value coffee pods, and well worth your consideration.back to menu ↑
Caffè Tiziano Bonini Espresso Forte
Next up we’re going to be taking a look at some espresso pods from Italian company Caffè Tiziano Bonini. Starting out as a small, family-run company, they now sell products that make over 10 million cups of coffee every month, all over Europe.
Espresso pods are often overlooked on the Dolce Gusto machines. I guess it is because the main selling point of these machines is that you can make so many different drinks at the touch of a button, that the most basic is often overlooked – but it shouldn’t be. These pods make an amazing espresso.
What I like most about them is that they don’t hold back, or pander to a more mainstream audience. These little pods are packed full of flavour – a consistent and vigorous blend, with a strong aroma and a powerful taste. They are marketed for ‘true connoisseurs’, and I can see why. There is a depth to the flavour here that you don’t get with many other Dolce Gusto espressos.
Of course, this might not be what a lot of people that buy Dolce Gusto machines want – they may want a more mild taste, or just to stick with milky drinks. But for those that like a bit more punch with their espressos, this is a great option, and at the price, it is definitely worth a purchase.back to menu ↑
Starbucks Mixed Cup Variety Pack
Our penultimate selection is another variety pack – this time from the Seattle-based coffee company, Starbucks.
This may be another surprising name to find on this list. Starbucks haven’t really been known for their low prices over the years, but this variety pack represents very good value in our opinion.
In this selection you will get:
Caramel Macchiato: A Starbucks classic. The creamy deliciousness of the milk, complimented by the super-indulgent caramel, all on top of the classic coffee taste
Latte Macchiato: A delightfully smooth latte, this is a wonderful drink to sip and relax with when you have a few minutes of peace
Caffe Latte: Strong, rich coffee blended with creamy milk – one of the most popular drinks on the planet
Espresso Roast: Their signature espresso, get the authentic taste of Starbucks in your own home
House Blend Grande: A longer drink, this is a delightful way to enjoy Starbucks coffee
You get pretty much everything you could want from this variety pack, and the price per capsule is very good. As these pods keep very well, you can buy the pack and slowly work your way through them – although they may not end up lasting very long!back to menu ↑
Italian Coffee Capsules
We finish this list of the cheapest coffee pods with another variety pack – this time from a less well-known name. ‘Italian Coffee’ have put together this budget offering, and it surprised with its quality.
You’ll see from the packaging that they have cut back on as much as possible to keep costs down – sold in a bag, rather than a box (something to consider when purchasing as it may impact where you store them), this is a basic offering. But the coffee is excellent:
Vigoroso: An espresso with an extra little kick – strong and intense
Ristretto: Dark and intense, this is packed full of flavour, not for the faint-hearted!
Cremoso: A more delicate espresso – creamy, but with an intense body
Arabica: A classic espresso – strong, with a fantastic aroma
This selection of short coffees is excellent, and well worth it if you tend to drink espressos, or froth your own milk to create milky drinks. The flavours are much bolder than you might expect from a product in this price range.
Where it may fall down, though, is the fact that they don’t offer any complete milky drinks. As I mentioned above, that is the real selling point of the Dolce Gusto machines, so it may be that this doesn’t appeal to many people that have those machines.
If you like espressos, though, this is a wonderful option for you, and at such a low price, I think you will be delighted with what you receive.