The best Nespresso compatible pods don’t always have to come directly from Nespresso. While the brand offers many roasts and flavors, there are just as many third-party capsules available: from widely recognizable brands like Lavazza to lesser-known names and independent roasters.
It’s good to have a choice, but the growing number of brands joining the Nespresso train doesn’t make that choice any easier. In a market as large as this, it can be useful to have advice on finding the coffee capsules that are right for you.
That’s why we’ve put together the following buying guide and round-up, to help you find the best pods – whether you’re looking for a strong morning kick, a gentle daily blend or something more luxurious. Whatever your cup of tea, there’s a coffee capsule for you.
If you’re looking to minimize your carbon footprint, we also suggest checking out our round-up of the best reusable and compostable Nespresso capsules.
READ NEXT: The best Nespresso machines to buy
Best Nespresso compatible pods: at a glance
How to choose the best Nespresso compatible pods for you
Coffee capsules are popular for their ease of use and convenience. But there are still a number of things to consider before buying.
Are third-party pods safe for my Nespresso machine?
For the most part, capsules specifically designed to work with Nespresso machines work well, and you don’t have to worry about them damaging your machine.
That being said, some will work better than others. Due to slight manufacturing differences, the shape and material of third-party capsules are not always perfectly matched to Nespresso machines. This can lead to slight water leaks when dispensing coffee and in some cases to stuck capsules (requiring a push to dislodge them in the capsule tray).
What are the sizes?
Although the pods themselves are all the same size, Nespresso will generally recommend serving sizes for each of its coffees, whether it is Ristretto (25ml), Espresso (40ml) or Lungo (110ml). ).
When it comes to third-party pods, this isn’t always specified, and as such, all of the pods in our roundup below were tested in an espresso size. However, some brands will still provide serving recommendations – for example, as a longer drink or with milk.
Is there anything else I need to consider?
It is important to mention that many independent brands will not be able to match the level of strength that Nespresso offers with its own pods. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great third-party pods out there.
That said, read on for our pick of the best Nespresso compatible pods.
READ NEXT: Our favorite pod coffee machines from a range of top brands
The best Nespresso compatible pods you can buy
1. Rave Coffee Pods: The Best Nespresso Compatible Compostable Pods
Price: From £3.25 (10 pods) | Shop now at Rave
One of the most notable benefits of Rave coffee pods is that they are compostable. Although Nespresso pods can be recycled, this usually involves dealing with an intermediary recycling program such as Podback, meaning you’ll need to bring them to a drop-off point or arrange curbside pickup if available in your area. Rave pods, on the other hand, can simply be thrown away with your food waste to be collected by your council, although they cannot be thrown on your compost pile.
That’s not all. They’re also affordable, starting at £3.25 for 10 pods, and they taste great too. Our favorites are Columbia El Carmen Pods. Rated four out of five on the intensity scale, they deliver an energizing kick, balanced with lingering smoothness. However, we’re also reviewing Rave’s signature blend and Swiss Water decaffeinated option, among others.
Key Features – Servings: 10, 50, 100; Cost per cup: From 29p; Cafe style: Espresso
2. Artisan Coffee Co capsules: The best Nespresso-compatible luxury pods
Price: From £5 (10 pods) | Shop now at Artisan Coffee Co
Not only do you have a decent range of roasts and flavors to choose from, but Artisan Coffee Co pairs each of its pods with a bit of matching chocolate: a nice touch if you’re looking for something a little more “gourmet” or, well, artisanal. Yes, it might be a bit of a gimmick, but the pods themselves hold up and we were suitably impressed with what we tasted. In total, the brand offers six different roasts, varying in intensity and flavor profile. We suggest going for the discovery pack for starters: this has ten pods of each roast, with a single pairing chocolate for each, and will set you back around £30.
As for the price, they are a bit more expensive than average, costing at least 50p per cup. That said, when it comes to luxury coffee pods, we recommend the Artisan pods.
Key Features – Servings: 10, 60, 180; Cost per cup: About 50p; Cafe style: Espresso
3. Colonna capsules: ideal for variety
Price: From £24 (40 pods) | Shop now at Colonna Coffee
Colonna’s range of single-origin coffees, sourced from Africa and the Americas, varies throughout the year. Admittedly, this makes it a bit more difficult for us to test and give a definitive recommendation. That said, variety is the spice of life, so if you like to switch things up once in a while, Colonna pods might be the best choice for you.
The brand also specifies which pods are best for espresso and which are best for lungos, making it easier to find the right brew. Like the Artisan Coffee Co pods above, however, they are rather pricey. It’s also worth mentioning that the minimum number of pods you can purchase at a time is 40 (four boxes of 10) and some are only available when you purchase a Colonna capsule subscription. Considering the wide range of roasts available, which also includes Geisha coffees, it’s worth it for regular coffee drinkers.
Key Features – Servings: at least 40; Cost per cup: 55 pence; Cafe style: Espresso, lungo
Shop now at Colonna Coffee
4. Lavazza compatible with Nespresso pods: Nespresso compatible pods at the best value for money
Price: From £3.50 | Buy now at Lavazza
Offering an excellent balance of flavor and price, these aluminum pods from coffee giant Lavazza are a great alternative to Nespresso’s own capsules. These are some of the tastiest third-party pods we’ve tried and, at just 35p a cup, they’re great value too.
We particularly liked the Espresso Maestro Intenso for its robust cocoa flavor, but there are six different capsule blends to choose from, including Lavazza’s classic Qualità Rossa and a delicious decaffeinated espresso. If you’re looking for classic Italian coffee for your machine at a great price, this is it.
Key Features – Portions: ten; Cost per cup: 35p; Cafe style: Espresso, lungo
Buy now at Lavazza