Back in the dark days of old, those of us who had single-serve coffee makers like those from Nespresso and Keurig only had a handful of coffee capsules or pods to choose from—and the quality often left much to be desired. Luckily, with the rapid spread of these time-saving brewers, there are now more coffee options than we could have ever dreamt of.
And yet, when it comes to real variety, Keurig is still top dog. Why?
Simply put, while Keurig does produce its own K-Cup pods under its Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Tully’s Coffee brands, the enormous scale of the company has allowed it to partner with dozens of other companies which produce Keurig-licensed K-Cups. This is why you can easily find K-Cups that brew coffee from brands like Folgers, Dunkin’ Donuts, Eight O’Clock, Peet’s, and even Starbucks.
So, what about Nespresso machines?
Are there other, non-Nespresso brand capsules that are compatible with these single-serve coffee makers?
For quite some time, the answer was no. Nestle, the company that produces Nespresso coffee, strove to prevent third-party coffee companies from creating pods compatible with Nespresso machines. They achieved this largely by voiding warranties for customers who used non-Nespresso brand capsules in their machines.
But now, thanks to some intervention by a French anti-trust watchdog group in 2014, the market is beginning to open up for third-party Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules (source). So, to answer the question more directly: yes, you can use non-Nespresso brand capsules in your OriginalLine Nespresso machine.
In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of some of the best third-party Nespresso capsules currently available. We’ll also take some time to discuss the difference between Nespresso OriginalLine and VertuoLine machines with regard to capsule compatibility. Finally, we’ll consider an alternative to single-use coffee capsules altogether: reusable Nespresso capsules.
But First, an Ode to Nespresso-Brand Coffee Capsules
Nespresso machines have been around for quite a while, actually. So, how could the company get away with preventing third-party coffee capsules for so long? We can’t say for certain, but we do have a hunch: the Nespresso brand coffee capsules are amazing. Indeed, perhaps the reason Nespresso has avoided pushback from would-be third-party coffee companies for so long is that Nespresso customers have been perfectly fine to keep buying Nespresso capsules!
It’s easy to see why. Not only does Nespresso produce a huge variety of capsule options in every flavor, intensity, and regional origin, but it seems every single one of those options produces a top-quality brew!
And yet, there’s something to be said for promoting a competitive market—even when it comes to Nespresso coffee capsules. So, let’s move on to the real topic of this article: using other pods in your Nespresso machine.
What Third-Party Coffee Capsules Are Currently Available for Nespresso Machines?
If you’re a Nespresso machine owner in the United States, the range of third-party Nespresso capsules is definitely more limited than it is for our friends elsewhere in the world—which we’ll discuss shortly. But not all hope is lost: there are several quality third-party coffee producers who sell Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules. Let’s take a quick look at each of these more popular third-party brands.
If it’s variety that you’re after, look no further then Gourmesso capsules. Gourmesso is the only third-party Nespresso coffee capsule producer that boasts a lineup of coffee capsules that rivals that of Nespresso itself, in terms of available varieties. We certainly can’t go into detail on each of the offerings from Gourmesso here, so you’ll have to settle for a very, very long list, instead.
- Late Nite Lemur (Intensity: 12)
- Midnite Monkey (Intensity: 11)
- Nite Owl (Intensity: 10)
- Ristretto Blend (Intensity: 10)
- Ethiopia Blend (Intensity: 10)
- Honduras Pura (Intensity: 9)
- Messico Blend (Intensity: 9)
But wait! There’s more!
- Lungo Arabica (Intensity: 9)
- Tarrazu (Intensity: 8)
- Sao Paulo Blend (Intensity: 8)
- SFCC House Blend Espresso (Intensity: 8)
- Columbia Pura (Intensity: 8)
- Nicaragua (Intensity: 7)
- Lungo Latino (Intensity: 7)
- Soffio (Intensity: 5)
- Vaniglia (Vanilla)
- Cioccolato (Chocolate)
- Caramello (Caramel)
- Nocciola (Hazelnut)
- Noce di Cocco (Coconut)
- Mandorla (Almond)
- Gianduia Caramello (Toffee Nut)
- Brasile Blend (Intensity: 3)
Peet’s Coffee doesn’t have quite the same level of name recognition of caffeinated giants like Starbucks, but the California company has a reputation for producing high-quality coffees that goes back to 1966.
One particularly nice thing about the Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules from Peet’s is that they follow the same “intensity” scale as Nespresso and a few of the third-party producers. That said, for the Peet’s coffee offerings, it’s not a very wide scale. Indeed, Peet’s coffee only produces four varieties of Nespresso capsules, and the “weakest” one is an eight (out of a possible 11).
Here are the four Peet’s coffee Nespresso varieties available, which roughly correspond to Nespresso’s own “Intenso” line of capsules:
- Ricchezza (Intensity: 8)
- Crema Scura (Intensity: 9)
- Ristretto (Intensity: 10)
- Nerissimo (Intensity: 11)
And, Of Course…Starbucks
That’s right: Starbucks has finally dipped their ever-present toes into the Nespresso capsule market, and they’re sure to make a big splash with Nespresso just like they did with Keurig pods.
While there aren’t yet as many Starbucks capsules for Nespresso machines as there are Starbucks pods of Keurig coffee makers, they do offer some of their most popular varieties, including their Blonde Espresso Roast, Pike Place Roast, Columbia, and Espresso Roast (also available in decaf). Despite the short list, you at least get a variety of roasting levels available, everything from the lighter roast of the Blonde, through the medium-roasted Pike Place and Columbia, up to the rich, dark roast of their Espresso variety.
Are There Any Others?
Yes, indeed! There are lots of other companies that produce Nespresso OriginalLine-compatible coffee capsules, including HiLine, Caffesso, Lavica, Jones Brothers, and several others. You’ll have varying levels of success tracking down some of these others, though, depending on where you’re located. Still, the third-party capsule producers we’ve mentioned in detail are going to be your best bet in terms of quality, availability, and brand reputation.
What If I Want to Use My Own Coffee?
If the combination of Nespresso’s huge line of its own capsules and all of these quality third-party capsules still isn’t enough to satisfy your lust for coffee variety, there is still one other option available to you: reusable Nespresso capsules.
While Nespresso itself doesn’t produce or sell its own line of reusable coffee capsules, you’ll have no trouble finding third-party alternatives on the web. That said, there are a few things to consider before you jump right into buying one of these gadgets.
You Can Do It, But We Don’t Necessarily Recommend It
You need to keep in mind that Nespresso machines are designed to brew coffee with the pre-filled, single-use capsules that they’re known for. That is, the manufacturers of these Nespresso machines never intended them to be used with reusable, self-filled capsules. While it might seem as simple as loading up some freshly-ground coffee from one of your favorite roasters into a reusable capsule, popping it in the Nespresso machine, and then getting similar results as you would with a Nespresso capsule…it’s not quite so simple.
The Downside to Reusable Nespresso Capsules
Indeed, Nespresso capsules—and those produced by third-party coffee producers—use coffees that are selected, roasted, and ground specifically for use in Nespresso machines. Basically, what we’re saying is that the folks who make these capsules know what they’re doing and exactly how to optimize the brewing experience. The rest of us aren’t as privy to that process, and the results of using your own coffee in a reusable capsule for your Nespresso machine might ultimately disappoint you.
In fact, in our experience using reusable capsules in a Nespresso machine, the resulting brew was often under-extracted, bland and, frankly, a waste of good coffee. Further, while using your own coffee in a reusable capsule might seem like a good idea in theory, it doesn’t make all that much sense when you consider the reason most people buy single-serving coffee makers in the first place: the convenience. That is, you bought your Nespresso machine because it makes excellent coffee quickly and effortlessly, so why complicate things just to get a lackluster brew in the end anyway?
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, what we’ve tried to show you here is that Keurig is no longer the only cowboy in town when it comes to variety and third-party capsule compatibility. Now that Nespresso has lifted its attempted sanctions on third-party capsule producers, the floodgates have been opened, and we can expect to see many more coffee producers jumping on the Nespresso train in the relatively near future.