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11 best coffee capsules

Get your caffeine fix in no time at all with a delicious, cost-effective capsule

Fully recyclable, using coffee from smallholder producers in North Sumatra – what’s not to like

Real coffee needn’t be saved for lazy Sunday mornings when you have time on your side. After all, life’s too short for bad coffee. With a complexity to rival the wine world, coffee beans have distinct characteristics ranging from acidic to smooth and fruity.

When carefully selected and roasted to perfection these nuances can also be tasted in a good coffee pod. Not only are capsules a relatively inexpensive way to get your caffeine fix (especially when compared to what you’d pay in a high-street coffee chain), you’ll likely find them infinitely easier to prepare.

When choosing a capsule, consider how you’re likely to be consuming it – do you prefer milk, a long drink or a short espresso? This will impact what you go for with pods tailored to each preference.

Of course, plastic is a hot topic right now and people want to make sure they can easily recycle their daily pod. Many of these can be disposed of ethically, although some more easily than others. Look out for compostable types if you’re keen to just throw them in your food waste, others will need separating and washing out like you would with a yoghurt pot.

While it’s recommended that you clean the inside of your Nespresso machine every one to two months (depending on usage), it’s not the easiest of tasks. To help, we’d recommend using the Caffenu Cleaning Capsule which will get to the hard-to-reach internal heating chamber for you.

This will help reduce any potential bacteria growth but will also clean away coffee grinds and oils from the brewing chamber, ensuring a good seal around the capsule and the best tasting coffee.

Coffee pods have come on leaps and bounds over the years and now you can have seriously good coffee at the press of a button. So whether you need an energising espresso, a comforting cappuccino or a lazy latte, we've found the best Nespresso-compatible coffee pods on the market.

Roastworks Coffee Co Sumatra Nespresso® compatible capsules: £4.50 for 10 pods, Roastworks Coffee Co

This Devon-based coffee roaster has put its years of coffee experience into creating these Nespresso-compatible capsules. They are fully recyclable, made from 100 percent aluminium and use coffee from smallholder farmers in North Sumatra.

Much of the coffee’s unique character is down to the wet-hulled processing method which results in a big bold coffee with subtle sweetness. Expect a super-smooth cup full of cocoa nib with just a hint of orange peel. We loved the creamy top on the espresso.

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Toast Coffee Discovery Box: £35 for 100 pods, Toast Coffee

Named Best Buy last year, we’ve got to say they are still one of our favourites. Focusing on high-grade coffee in a pod, this box showcases a variety of coffees from farms in Brazil, Colombia, Rwanda and Sumatra.

Toast Coffee’s master of coffee, Holly Bowman, is one of only a handful of women who are Q-graders in the UK, working closely with individual farms, ethically sourcing coffee from the very best crops. It's excellent as an espresso but equally delicious on a longer setting (which many others can’t claim to be).

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Coffee Hat Patrón 1911: £44 for 120 pods, Amazon

The award-winning Coffee Hat brand sources its coffee from Panama, before lightly roasting to retain the unique flavour characteristics of the beans. They are then patio-dried in the traditional way before being shipped to Italy to be roasted.

You’ll be able to detect a natural sweetness, a clean palette and notes of fruity berries, chocolate, nuts and caramel. Head-turningly smooth.

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Pact Coffee Sertão natural pods: from £15 for 40 pods, Pact

Pact is on a mission to cut out the middle player and pay more directly to the independent coffee farmers. This means getting more delicious coffee for your buck (and spending less on the supply chain).

Both of its pod blends come from Brazil. e found this medium roast to be a real crowd-pleaser. Expect a punch of dark chocolate, a slightly tart note of cherries and creamy almond to round things off.

They work best as a shorter serve – go for the dark roast if you prefer to add milk.

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Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, King Cocoa coffee pod: £5 for 10 pods

For coffee as fresh as it comes, we’d suggest these pods from the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, which recommends drinking its pods within a month. Perfect for an espresso, the rich, sweet citrus notes really shine through in a short, sharp shot. 

The speciality grade, ethically sourced coffee comes from El Salvador, a country famed for producing fantastic coffee in its mountainous countryside. What’s more, with every bag you buy, a child in Sub-Saharan Africa receives a free school breakfast.

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CRU Kafe Light Roast: £3.50 for 12 pods

A mix of Arabica beans from Mexico, Peru and Ethiopia, this was the first blend CRU created, and it’s still the most popular. Each gives a distinct taste – biscuit from Mexico, floral notes from Peru and acidity from Ethiopia - which, when combined results in a perfectly balanced organic brew. Great as a longer coffee, or an espresso.   

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The Foodies Larder Ethiopian biodegradable Nespresso® capsules: £20.50 for 40 pods, Amazon

Avoid the daily guilt-trip by using these fully compostable capsules and cut back on your single-use plastic consumption. They completely disintegrate in landfill within 150 days, as opposed to 150 years in landfill for Nespresso's aluminium capsules and 500 years for plastic capsules.

Slightly more expensive than its rivals, this reflects the quality of coffee used – in this case fragrant Ethiopian beans grown at high altitude from a smallholder Fairtrade farm.

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Dualit Fairtrade NX® Cappuccino roast coffee capsules: £3 for 10 pods, Dualit

If you prefer your coffee with milk, this is the pod for you. Perfect for creamy lattes or cappuccinos, each pod produces a pleasing cream, Its spiced notes stand up against the diluting power of the milk.

Sourced from 100 per cent Fairtrade producers, pods are fully recyclable – simply remove the lid and wash the capsule out.

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Nespresso Ispirazione Shakerato: 41p per pod, Nespresso

We all have our favourite Nespresso pod (apparently the purple one is the nation’s favourite) but as summer approaches we’re open to trying something completely new. These limited-edition capsules are designed to be poured over ice, for a cooling caffeine injection.

They recommend using their mini kit but all you need is a shot of coffee, shaken with ice (and sugar if you prefer) which will result in a full-bodied iced coffee with professional-looking foam.

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Aldi Ristretto coffee pods bundle six-pack: £10 for 60 pods, Aldi

This bumper pack of coffee will keep you pepped up for a while, with each capsule costing just 17p. It wasn’t the smoothest coffee we tasted but was certainly one of the best in terms of value for money.

These popular pods have a loyal legion of coffee loving fans who rave about the rich depth of this dark roast.

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Percol Compostable Capsule Box: £20 for 60 pods, Foodylicious

Percol was the first ground coffee to proudly boast the Fairtrade mark, and these same ethical values still go into each and every pod today. Part of the Rainforest Alliance, it’s since gone on to add organic to the label.

This selection allows you to choose six boxes of 10 pods each so you can try all the flavours in the range. The ristretto is the strongest with smoky chocolate notes, the Ethiopian blend blooms with elegant floral complexity whilst the Lungo is, as the name suggests, best saved for longer serves.

Even better, capsules are fully compostable – simply pop them in with your food waste.

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The Verdict  

We still highly rate Toast for its exceptional flavour profiles but since we last wrote about coffee pods, the call for recyclable products has quite rightly increased. For this reason it is Roastworks that wins Best Buy because it manages to combine great taste with eco credentials.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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