The Best Nespresso Pods: 24 Delicious Espresso Capsules for 2021

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You bought your Nespresso because it was a convenient way to make a great cup of coffee. Whether you want the most variety or just the perfect shot of espresso, your next step is to find the best Nespresso pods. Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

Based on personal experience, suggestions, and online reviews, I’ve put together this list of the best pods for Nespresso machines in both the VertuoLine and OriginalLine. Along the way, I’ll also walk you through some important factors to look for in your Nespresso capsules. By the end, you’ll be the resident Nespresso expert in your friend circle. 

Table of Contents hide

Quick Take: Best Nespresso Pods

Image Product

Best Nespresso OriginalLine pods

Nestle Nespresso Capsules...image Nestle Nespresso Capsules OriginalLine, Fortissio Lungo, Dark Roast Coffee, Brews 3.7oz, 50 Count Check price on Amazon

Best OriginalLine variety pack

Nestle Nespresso Capsules...image Nestle Nespresso Capsules OriginalLine Ispirazione Espresso Variety Pack Espresso Coffee Espresso Coffee Pods Brews 1.35 oz, Medium roast, 100 Count Check price on Amazon

Best Nespresso VertuoLine pods

Nespresso Capsules VertuoLine,...image Nespresso Capsules VertuoLine, Diavolitto ,Dark Roast Espresso Coffee, 50 Count Coffee Pods, Brews 1.35oz Check price on Amazon

Best VertuoLine variety pack

Nespresso Capsules VertuoLine...image Nespresso Capsules VertuoLine , Intense Variety Pack, Dark Roast Coffee, 40 Count Coffee Pods, Brews 7.8 and 1.35 Ounce Check price on Amazon

Reminder: What is Nespresso?

Nestle Nespresso, or just Nespresso for short, were the originators of the coffee pod machine. They patented the first pod coffee maker in 1976, and by 1986, they had already released the initial version in Japan, Switzerland, France, and Italy.

Over the following several years, Nespresso’s focus shifted from office machines to luxury consumer espresso machines — due to increased capsule prices and decreased machine prices.

Nespresso was all about espresso machines until 2014 when they released the first VertuoLine Nespresso machine, which was able to make both a cup of coffee and a shot of espresso. In North America, they chose to rebrand the original line of espresso-only machines as OriginalLine to avoid confusion.

Both lines continue to thrive to this day, and Nespresso is still the leading name in capsule espresso machines. The VertuoLine has to compete with newer options from pod-based competitors like the Keurig Elite and Select,  but the OriginalLine is in a class of its own for pod-based espresso

The Types of Nespresso Capsules

Not all Nespresso-brand or Nespresso-compatible capsules work with all Nespresso machines. Their two lines of machines each have their own capsules, and they are not cross-compatible. Be sure to check which type of Nespresso machine you have before you order any capsules for it.

Both lines of capsules come in a wide range of intensities. The intensity scale — which goes from 1 to 13, 13 being the most intense — is based on the degree of roasting (light roast to dark roast), the coffee’s body, and its bitterness. Contrary to common misconceptions, their intensity levels say nothing about the caffeine content in the brew.

What are Nespresso OriginalLine Capsules?

These are the capsules that are compatible with any OriginalLine machine. Nespresso offers 29 capsule varieties in five basic collections and there are also several Nespresso-compatible capsules available from other companies for the OriginalLine.

These capsules come in three cup sizes:

  • Ristretto — 0.85 ounces
  • Espresso — 1.35 ounces
  • Lungo — 3.7 ounces

Here are the five OrigianlLine capsule collections.

Espresso collection

Think of this as the collection for traditional espresso. If you want to start with something as close as possible to the espresso you’d get from some of the best espresso machines, this is where you’ll find it. The Espresso collection ranges in intensity from 4-6 and comes in two sizes: espresso and lungo.

Master Origin collection

The Master Origin collection is about bringing the best coffee varieties from brewing masters around the world, each focusing on the impact of a specific coffee-making process and each coming from a unique country of origin. Currently, they offer options from India, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Colombia. These are available in espresso and lungo sizes and range in intensity from 5-13.

World Explorations collection

If Master Origin was about the well-known masters of coffee production, World Explorations is about the lesser-known traditions and the rising stars. If you don’t associate these cities with coffee, that’s the whole point. When you are ready to branch out to the outer edges of coffee society, this is the collection for you, with options from Cape Town, Stockholm, Vienna, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Buenos Aires. They only come in lungo size and range in intensity from 4-10.

Ispirazione Italiana collection

Espresso is a drink steeped in Italian tradition, and this collection is made to explore the depth and breadth of that tradition. Each capsule is a multi-origin blend that highlights a different part of this tradition. They are all on the intense end of the spectrum, ranging from 8-13, and they come in ristretto and espresso sizes.

Barista Creations collection

This collection is all about recreating flavored coffee recipes. Inspired by expert baristas from places such as Brooklyn, Melbourne, and Spain, each has a unique flavor that is meant to be perfect for milk-based coffee beverages like lattes and cappuccinos. 

What are Nespresso VertuoLine Capsules?

The Nespresso VertuoLine pods (also called capsules) work only with VertuoLine machines. These capsules are not cross-compatible, so be careful to ensure that you are buying the right capsules for your machine. They are clearly marked and visually different, so this isn’t difficult to do.

Looks aside, the biggest difference is the proprietary barcode reading system that the VertuLine machines use. These barcodes serve an important purpose during the brewing process — letting the machine know the appropriate settings for the capsule you inserted.

But there is a secondary effect as well. While you can find all sorts of third-party OriginalLine capsules, you won’t find any VertuoLine-compatible capsules that don’t come from Nespresso. The barcode is necessary for VertuoLine machines to recognize the capsules, so other companies cannot easily create their own capsules the way they do for OriginalLine machines.

The VertuoLine capsules come in five sizes:

  • Espresso — 1.35 ounces
  • Double Espresso — 2.7 ounces
  • Gran Lungo — 5 ounces
  • Mug — 7.8 ounces
  • Alto — 14 ounces

Similar to the OriginalLine, there are five VertuoLine capsule collections.

Espresso & Double Espresso collection

Not surprisingly, this collection comes in two sizes: Espresso and Double Espresso. They are the most traditional offerings for the VertuoLine machines, focusing on creating the most authentic espresso experience possible. Their intensities range from 4-11.

Gran Lungo collection

This collection is made for those that want an espresso-like experience just in a larger drink — Gran Lungo size to be precise. They are largely similar to the previous collection, but you won’t find the most intense options from that collection here. Instead, the intensities are limited to 4-8.

Mug & Alto collection

If you want coffee instead of espresso, this is the collection where you’ll find it (or something close to it). The Mug and Alto sizes are similar in size to a standard coffee mug and travel mug, respectively. There is a good amount of variety in options here, especially since Nespresso focused more on espresso beverages. The intensities range from 2-9.  

Master Origins collection

All the previous VertuoLine capsule collections were based on the size of the beverages, but that is not true with these last two. Master Origins comes in Espresso, Gran Lungo, and Mug sizes, so you can find options for just about every type of caffeine addict.

As with the similarly-named OriginalLine collection, this is all about bringing the best coffee from the most inspiring brewing masters around the world to Nespresso drinkers. You’ll find options from Peru, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Colombia. The Peruvian roast is even organic. These capsules range in intensity from 4-7.

Barista Creations collection

This is another repeat from the previous section, as the OriginalLine and VertuoLine Barista Creations collections are very similar. If you like your milk-based beverages, and you want to try a range of barista-inspired flavors for your lattes and cappuccinos, this collection will be your new best friend.

The Best Nespresso OriginalLine Pods

Best Nespresso OriginalLine pods: Fortissio Lungo capsules

  • Intensity: 8
  • Size: Lungo

This dark roast is made from Indian Monsooned Malabar Arabica beans blended with split-roasted Latin American beans. It’s intense enough for espresso lovers, but not so intense as to drive away the casual espresso drinker.

It’s intended to be deliciously rich, with sweet cereal and malty toasted notes providing a delightful bitterness.  Its smooth, round texture provides a fullness that is beloved by espresso drinkers. These characteristics, coupled with its wide appeal, earn it the title of best Nespresso pod in the OriginalLine.

Best dark roast pods: Ispirazione Palermo Kazaar capsules

  • Intensity: 12
  • Size: Espresso

This entry from the Ispirazione Italiana collection is one of the most intense in that collection and in the entire Nespresso lineup, just one short of the maximum on Nespresso’s intensity rating scale. This dark roast is made from a mixture of three beans from South America and Central America — two Robustas sourced from Brazil and Guatemala and one Arabica from elsewhere in South America. 

The bitterness and hints of pepper on one hand and a dense and creamy texture, on the other hand, offer an excellent balance. If you want to experience just how powerfully intense a Nespresso espresso can be, you’ll find it right here in these pods.

Best Variety Pack: Nespresso OriginalLine Ispirazione Espresso variety pack

You’ll get Capriccio, Fortissio Lungo, Vivalto Lungo, Volluto, Cosi, Roma, Arpeggio, Ristretto, Ristretto Decaf, and Genova Livantro. These range in intensity from 4-10, and all are Espresso size.

If you want to sample a wide range of Nespresso, this is the best starter pack you’ll find. Enjoy!

Linizio Lungo capsules

  • Intensity: 4
  • Size: Lungo

Linizio Lungo is a light-medium roast made from a South American 100% Arabica blend of Brazilian and Colombian coffee beans. The roasting method used (split roasting) gives the roast cereal and malty notes and an overall mild and smooth character. 

Arpeggio Intenso capsules

  • Intensity: 9
  • Size: Espresso

Another dark roast with beans sourced from Central and South America, these capsules distinguish themselves with a profile that is both fruity and malty. The hints of cocoa combine with woody and grilled notes for an intense, creamy result. 

Best decaf pods: Ristretto Decaffeinato capsules

  • Intensity: 10
  • Size: Espresso

If you want decaf capsules for a Nespresso, the options are limited. This dark roast is one of the best, with acidic and fruity notes alongside chocolate and roasted notes. It balances strength and bitterness nearly perfectly. 

Best flavored pods: Vanilla Eclair capsules

  • Intensity: 6 
  • Size: Espresso

I’m a sucker for anything vanilla, and eclairs are one of the best desserts on this planet. That being said, it’s not my biases that have me labeling this the best flavored capsule in the OriginalLine — this one just happens to be that good.

It starts with split-roast Brazilian beans mixed with short-roasted Colombian beans. Short roasting brings out the finer aromatics, which mix perfectly with the smoothness, and malted cereal notes from split roasting. The final result is round, smooth, and has a silky mouthfeel with a warming vanilla base. It really is like an eclair!

I highly recommend using this one for milk-based drinks to get the full experience.

Nespresso OriginalLine variety pack (intense family)

This variety pack comes with Ristretto, Arpeggio, Roma, Indriya from India, and Fortissio Lungo. It doesn’t have quite the variety of the Ispirazione Espresso variety pack, but it’s a better intro to the intense side of the Nespresso lineup.

Best Nespresso-compatible capsules: Peet’s Coffee espresso capsules variety pack

This variety pack gives you four of Peet’s best espresso capsules: Ricchezza, Crema Scura, Ristretto, and Nerissimo. The intensities of these range from 8-11.

Ricchezza is a medium roast tastes like berries and brown sugar, and it makes a great latte. Crema Scura is another medium roast, but this one is all about the thick crema. Ristretto is a dark roast with notes of spice and chocolate. Finally, Nerissimo is an intense, bittersweet dark roast.

Best bargain Nespresso-compatible pods: Bestpresso coffee capsules

Don’t let the price tag fool you — Bestpresso’s capsules produce quality coffee. This variety pack gives you a chance to try out a range of their offerings: Ristretto, Intenso, Arabica, Espresso, Lungo, and Verona. Their intensities range from 6-12. All of them are certified kosher, recyclable, and over 50% Rainforest Alliance certified.

Lavazza Ristretto Noble Dark Roast Coffee Capsules

  • Intensity: 11
  • Size: Espresso

If you’ve followed any of my articles about the best Italian coffee brands, you know that I absolutely love Lavazza. When it comes to Nespresso capsules, they have a few varieties available, but I would start with the Ristretto. The Arabica beans they use are sourced from Central and South America, combined with Robusta beans from Southeast Asia for a round and full-bodied finish.

Those beans are blended and dark-roasted in Italy, with a short brew time that is traditional for Italian Ristretto. This method brings out the full flavor and balance of the beans. In this case, that means aromatic notes of chocolate and caramel, a lightly bitter body, and a dark, dense crema.

Gourmesso Espresso Forte Bundle

Gourmesso pods are some of the most highly-recommended third-party Nespresso capsules. They are sustainably sourced and fair-trade certified. This bundle gives you a chance to try their Colombia Pura Forte, Ristretto Blend Forte, Messico Blend Forte, and Tarrazu Forte, which range in intensity from 8-10.

Best Cuban-style capsules: Café Bustelo Espresso Capsules

Most of the best Cuban coffee brands haven’t yet gotten into the Nespresso game. Nespresso did release a Cafecito de Cuba series at one point, but they were limited edition. If you want the intense, dark-roasted style that makes an amazing Café Cubano or cortadito, Café Bustelo is your best option.

Best Nespresso refillable capsules: Cafilas Stainless Steel Reusable Capsules

Even the best Nespresso capsules can’t overcome the fact that there just isn’t as much variety in coffee pods as there is in whole-bean or ground coffee. Buying a refillable pod bridges that gap by letting you use whatever coffee you want with your Nespresso machine, and refillable capsules are also more environmentally friendly since you aren’t throwing away plastic with each cup. (If you want to know more about the environmental impact of Nespresso, check out this look at sustainability at Nespresso)

Low-quality refillable capsules typically have poor durability or they easily clog which renders them useless in short time. This stainless steel capsule is different. It’s built to last, and the replaceable O-ring ensures that the fit won’t degrade over time.

The Best Nespresso VertuoLine Pods

Best Nespresso VertuoLine pods: Diavolitto capsules

  • Intensity: 11
  • Size: Espresso

Using a blend of Brazilian Arabica beans and Robusta beans sourced from Central and South America, this dark roast provides the aroma of oak wood and leather balanced by a creamy texture and a powerful intensity.

These beans earned consideration as one of the best capsules for the Nespresso Vertuoline because they show that the OriginalLine doesn’t have a monopoly on shockingly intense, flavorful, complicated espresso. Everything from the choice of beans to the roasting has been designed to make Diavolitto an espresso experience that is far beyond what you’d expect from a capsule machine.

Best light roast capsules: Voltesso capsules

  • Intensity: 4
  • Size: Espresso

Light roast espresso is an oxymoron, right? These capsules beg to differ, and I try not to argue with my coffee. It all starts with South American Arabica coffee beans, roasted to reveal biscuity notes and a beautifully sweet aroma. This well-balanced, round coffee mixes incredibly well with milk, but it can also stand on its own.

Best variety pack: Nespresso VertuoLine intense variety pack

This variety pack gives you some of the most intense options in the VertuoLine: Odacio, Stormio, Diavollitto, and Altissio. They range in intensity from 7-11. It includes a mixture of Mug and Espresso sizes, so you can quickly get a taste for everything that Nespresso can do for you.

Best flavored Nespresso pods: Nespresso barista flavored pack

  • Intensity: 6
  • Size: Mug

If you want to sample the variety that the Barista Creations line has to offer, this is your chance. This pack contains three flavors: Caramel Cookie, Vanilla Custard Pie, and Hazelino Muffin. The split-roasted Brazilian beans that go into these medium-dark roasts provide an enticing sweetness, but the caramel, vanilla, and hazelnut flavorings are actually added after roasting.

I highly recommend trying these with milk to elicit the full flavor profile.

Best Alto pods: Alto XL Intenso capsules

  • Intensity: 7
  • Size: Alto

Nespresso uses a medium flow to balance the high extraction temperature that produces the heavy, intense notes of this blend, creating what I believe to be the best Alto capsules.

The flavor has notes of dried wood and dark caramel, and you’ll get a thick crema that — although it should seem out of place in the larger cup size — just adds to the charm. It’s smooth. It’s strong. It’s delicious.

Giornio capsules

  • Intensity: 4
  • Size: Mug

Sometimes a mild medium-roast is just the refreshing drink you need, and those are the times that Giornio was created for. It exhibits tones of toasted cereal along with floral notes that are characteristic of beans that come from the best Ethiopian coffee roasters. The gentle acidity of Kenyan Arabica beans provides the perfect finish to these capsules.

Best decaf capsules: Decaffeinato capsules

  • Intensity: 6
  • Size: Mug

Decaf pods for the VertuoLine are just as hard to find as for the OriginalLine. This blend takes 100% Arabica beans from Colombia and Costa Rica and split-roasts them to bring out a round, malty flavor with cereal notes. If you add milk, you’ll also bring out another hidden layer of fresh nut notes.

Best for lattes: Hazelino capsules

  • Intensity: 6
  • Size: Mug

Take Brazilian beans, split-roast them to medium-dark, and finish it off with an added hazelnut flavor, and what do you get? Nespresso’s Hazelino pods.

You’ll find notes of biscuit and almond alongside the hazelnut flavor. The roasting technique provides a rich sweetness and a velvety texture. Use the capsule in your favorite cappuccino or latte, and you’ll see why this one earned a spot in the Barista Creations collection. 

Best coffee variety pack: Nespresso VertuoLine coffee variety pack

If you want to step away from the Espresso and try out Nespresso’s standard coffee options, this pack is where you want to be. It comes with Stormio, Odacio, and Melozio, three of the best options for the Mug cup size.

They range in intensity from 6-8, which is about the range a normal coffee drinker will find most comfortable when jumping into the world of Nespresso. 

Best Nespresso refillable pods: CAPMESSO Coffee Capsule

Because the VertuoLine doesn’t allow third-party pods, the only way to branch out beyond the standard Nespresso pods is with a reusable capsule. These allow you to buy your favorite coffee beans or grounds and use them with your Nespresso Vertuoline machine. They are also better for the environment, eliminating the waste associated with throwing away a pod each time you make a cup of coffee.

These stainless steel capsules are incredibly durable, claiming to be usable up to 10,000 times. The replaceable silicone O-rings help to make sure that the capsule fits perfectly into your machine, working with almost all of the Vertuoline. The only caveat: it doesn’t work with the Vertuo Next.

The Verdict

There you have it, the best Nespresso pods for any Nespresso drinker. Regardless of whether you like a tall cup of joe, an intense shot of espresso, or a decadent vanilla latte, you’ll find your perfect Nespresso capsule somewhere in this list. My suggestion is to start with one of the variety packs if you don’t have a good feel for what you are looking for. 

One more time, here is my shortlist for the best Nespresso pods of 2021:

Image Product

Best Nespresso OriginalLine pods

Nestle Nespresso Capsules...image Nestle Nespresso Capsules OriginalLine, Fortissio Lungo, Dark Roast Coffee, Brews 3.7oz, 50 Count Check price on Amazon

Best OriginalLine variety pack

Nestle Nespresso Capsules...image Nestle Nespresso Capsules OriginalLine Ispirazione Espresso Variety Pack Espresso Coffee Espresso Coffee Pods Brews 1.35 oz, Medium roast, 100 Count Check price on Amazon

Best Nespresso VertuoLine pods

Nespresso Capsules VertuoLine,...image Nespresso Capsules VertuoLine, Diavolitto ,Dark Roast Espresso Coffee, 50 Count Coffee Pods, Brews 1.35oz Check price on Amazon

Best VertuoLine variety pack

Nespresso Capsules VertuoLine...image Nespresso Capsules VertuoLine , Intense Variety Pack, Dark Roast Coffee, 40 Count Coffee Pods, Brews 7.8 and 1.35 Ounce Check price on Amazon

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