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Best Nespresso capsules 2023: Our favourite classic Nespresso and Vertuo pods

Whatever your ‘perfect’ cup of coffee looks like, these are the best Nespresso pods for every occasion

Finding the best Nespresso capsules is no easy feat. With over thirty classic Nespresso varieties and an equally large number of Vertuo-specific capsules available, the sheer amount of choice is overwhelming. Moreover, whether you’re buying directly from the Nespresso site or via third-party retailers, pods are only available in sleeves of 10, meaning you run the risk of being stuck with bundles of capsules you don’t even like.

This is why we’ve taken the time to put every single one to an Expert Reviews taste test. Coffee can be very subjective, so we’ve tasted everything from classic lungo blends and moody espressos to flavoured coffees and single origin specialities. Not sure which one will suit your taste buds? Don’t worry, we’ll explain which is best for particular types of coffee, and what kind of flavours and strength you can expect from each.

Best Nespresso capsules

How to but the best Nespresso capsules for you

What sizes can I buy?

All Nespresso capsules come in one size, with the same amount of coffee in each. However, if you’ve already looked online, you’ll have noticed that each capsule has a recommended serving size.

  • Ristretto (25ml) – Smaller and more aromatic than an espresso but with less caffeine
  • Espresso (40ml) – The classic shot we’re all used to with a longer extraction time. Typically more caffeinated than a ristretto, with a deeper flavour.
  • Lungo (110ml) – A ‘stretched’ espresso with more water. This brewing method contains more caffeine than an espresso and often enjoyed with milk.

What types of coffee can I get?

Single origin – A coffee made with only one type of bean from one specific country or region.

Blends – Coffee beans from specific regions and different varietals are blended together to create a distinctive flavour profile that’s unique to each capsule type.

Flavoured coffee – Nespresso also offers flavoured coffee capsules that have just a hint of something sweet like chocolate or caramel. These are made with completely natural flavourings, rather than sweeteners or sugar syrups like you might expect from coffee chains.

READ NEXT: Nespresso Vertuo Plus review

How we test

Ordinarily, testing is carried out on two Sage Creatista Nespresso machines side by side, with four taste testers making their own notes. However, at-home taste testing during the coronavirus pandemic has made our usual group testing methods a little trickier to carry out. Nevertheless, we’ve aimed to keep our testing conditions as consistent as possible. For classic Nespresso capsules, we taste each one at Nespresso’s suggested espresso length (40ml). We evaluate the crema, colour, aromas and, most importantly, taste to determine whether it’s worthy of a place on the list.

The Nespresso Vertuo capsules go through the same scrutiny, but as these pods are available in different sizes and are typically designed for longer, ‘mug-style’ coffees, we use a different amount of water. For the longer coffees, we use Nespresso’s recommended volume of 150-230ml and for the espresso, we stick to the classic espresso length mentioned above.

All coffees are tested without milk and sugar for clarity and to ensure fair taste testing.

The best Nespresso capsules you can buy

1. Indonesia Master Origin: Best single origin Nespresso capsule

Price (per sleeve): £4.10 | Buy now from Nespresso

This was by far our favourite Master Origin and perhaps favourite classic Nespresso capsule on the list. The wet-hulled 100% Arabica coffee makes for a rich, full bodied drink that’s very well balanced. Going through a split roasting process, first medium, then light, is designed to bring out a greater complexity in the coffee. On the nose it is very fruity and on the tongue you can pull out distinctive, yet delicate chocolate notes.

If you prefer a coffee that balances a fruity aroma with strength, this is one we’d highly recommend. If a darker, everyday roast is more your thing, it may not be for you.

Key specsPrice per capsule: 41p; Recommended cup size: Espresso/Lungo; Intensity: 8/12; Roast: 4/5

2. Vivalto Lungo: Best lungo Nespresso capsule

Price (per sleeve): £3.70 | Buy now from Amazon

Perfect for a light, everyday drink, this Lungo is made from a blend of South American and East African Arabica beans. It gives you much of what you might expect from a standard coffee. While this is a far lighter roast than others tested, it has a classic rich and smokey taste that is sweet on the nose. Overall it’s well balanced, with a slightly acidic note on the way down.

It’s hard to pick out anything particularly exciting about the Vivalto Lungo but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable. We’d describe it as a no-nonsense coffee for those who are looking for that light coffee buzz.

Key specsPrice per capsule: 37p; Recommended cup size: Lungo; Intensity: 4/12; Roast: 3/5

3. Fierenzi Arpeggio Decaffeinato: Best Decaf Nespresso capsule

Price (per sleeve): £3.80 | Buy now from Nespresso

Even if you’re not traditionally a fan of decaffeinated coffee, Nespresso’s Fierenzi Arpeggio may change your mind – it’s a smooth and creamy Latin American blend that offers an intense coffee hit without the caffeine. It produces a thick crema, which adds to the overall creaminess of the coffee itself and, both on the nose and on the tongue, it’s dark and toasty. The aftertaste is bitter but this doesn’t linger and certainly isn’t unpleasant.

Like many blends, the Fierenzi has a rich, well balanced flavour. It’s the perfect way to finish a later afternoon or evening meal, when caffeine may be off the table.

Key specsPrice per capsule: 38p; Recommended cup size: Ristretto/Espresso; Intensity: 9/12; Roast: 4/5

4. Ispirazione Genova Livanto: Best blend Nespresso capsule

Price (per sleeve): £3.60 | Buy now from Nespresso

The exceptionally drinkable Genova Livanto is by far our favourite Nespresso blend. Beans come from across Central and South America and are treated to a long roast period but aren’t roasted until very dark. Roasting for longer means the acidity is lowered and makes it easier to pull out certain aromas. On the nose, Livanto is sweet and malty, which follows through when drinking alongside hints of fruit, acidity and sourness.

There is a lot of complexity here but everything is well balanced, so it’s not overly bitter, sour or acidic. Overall, this well-rounded capsule is a very pleasant everyday blend.

Key specsPrice per capsule: 36p; Recommended cup size: Espresso; Intensity: 6/12; Roast: 3/5

5. Ethiopia Master Origin: Best light roast Nespresso Capsule

Price (per sleeve): £4.10 | Buy now from Nespresso

If you’re looking for a truly unusual coffee that is light but also flavourful, this might just be it. The Ethiopian Arabica beans are sun dried and treated to a very short, light roast to keep the more subtle and delicate flavours intact. The result is an exceptionally fruity coffee with a strong unique sour note – it’s quite unlike any other on this list. There is little to no bitterness either, making it the perfect ‘light coffee’.

This certainly isn’t what you’d expect from an everyday coffee and it may not be a great choice for a regular morning cup. However, if you prefer a lighter drink and are keen to try something different, this aromatic single origin is a winner.

Key specsPrice per capsule: 41p; Recommended cup size: Espresso/Lungo; Intensity: 4/12; Roast: 2/5

6. Ispirazione Venezia: Best dark roast Nespresso capsule

Price (per sleeve): £3.60 | Buy now from Nespresso

Roasted long and dark, the Venezia capsule is a high intensity coffee that packs a punch. It uses a blend of beans that consists of the classic Brazillian and Columbian Arabica, finished with African washed Robusta. The strong bitter flavour is balanced with a pleasing sourness and sweeter raisin notes too.

Nespresso describes this blend as mellow, and while it’s not the strongest blend available, it’s still not really what we would describe as a mellow coffee. Instead, we suggest our favourite single origins such as the Ethiopia or Indonesia Master Origin for a truly mellow drink. If you love a punchy, dark roast however, then this is certainly the one for you.

Key specsPrice per capsule: 36p; Recommended cup size: Ristretto/Espresso; Intensity: 8/12 ; Roast: 4/5

Buy now from Nespresso

7. Nicaragua La Cumplida Refinada: A unique and sweet limited edition espresso

Price (per sleeve): £4 | Buy Original | Vertuo from Nespresso

Sourced from the same farm as Nespresso’s Master Origin Nicaragua, La Cumplida Refinada is a little bit different to what you might be used to. This limited edition espresso is naturally fermented after harvest, resulting in a coffee with some interesting and distinctive flavours.

Nespresso references notes of candied cherry and pomegranate. Indeed, we found it to be a distinctly sweet espresso, with a “caramelly” aftertaste and next to no bitterness at all. As such, it’s a good choice for the beginner espresso drinker, who might find darker roasts challenging – or for those who simply prefer a more “easy-going” coffee.

Key specs – Price per capsule: 42p; Recommended cup size: Espresso/Lungo; Intensity: 5/12; Roast: 2/5

Buy Original from Nespresso Buy Vertuo from Nespresso

Best Nespresso Vertuo capsules

1. Decaffeinato Ontuoso: Best decaf Vertuo capsule

Price (per sleeve): £5.10 | Buy now from Nespresso

Our favourite decaf uses a mix of dry processed Brazillian and washed Colombian Arabica beans for a mild and mellow drink that won’t keep you up at night. A light to medium roast means the coffee has a well-rounded flavour that’s a touch roasty and bitter but not overpowering.

We’d recommend this blend to anyone who wants a smooth coffee alongside a post-dinner snack or dessert. If you prefer a decaf that’s as punchy and bitter as a classic double espresso though, you should pass this one by.

Key specsPrice per capsule: 51p; Recommended cup size: 150ml; Intensity: 4

2. Colombia Master Origin: Best single origin Vertuo capsule

Price (per sleeve): £6 | Buy now from Nespresso

Made with 100% washed Colombian Arabica beans, this is by far our favourite single origin and also our overall favourite capsule in the Vertuo range. It has just a hint of roasted almonds balanced with a pleasing sweetness, and once you take a sip, the distinctive fruity flavour bursts through.

Despite its light to medium roast and high acidity, this is still a fairly well balanced coffee that’s easy to sip. If you love bright and fruity flavours in your morning (or evening) cup, this is one to try.

Key specsPrice per capsule: 60p; Recommended cup size: 230ml; Intensity: 5

Buy now from Nespresso