The 9 Best Nespresso Capsules and Pods of 2022

The Nespresso Ispirazione Ristretto Italiano is our favorite, thanks to its versatility.

In This Article

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For many of us, that first sip of coffee each morning is something special. Whether you take it strong and black or prefer a foamy cappuccino, it’s never been easier to achieve a great brew right at home. 

Thanks to the convenience (and compactness!) of Nespresso machines, it’s possible to enjoy quality single-serve coffee beverages at home without a bulky, expensive espresso machine taking up half of your counter space. But which Nespresso capsules and pods are the best? Buying a bunch of varieties and tasting your way through them is one strategy — or you can talk to coffee experts and gain their insights on what to look for when choosing capsules for your Nespresso machine. Fortunately, we’ve done the legwork for you, selecting the Nespresso Ispirazione Ristretto Italiano as our pick for the best overall Nespresso capsule, but there’s plenty more where this came from.

Best Overall: Nespresso Ispirazione Ristretto Italiano

4.8
Nespresso Ispirazione Ristretto Italiano

Courtesty of Amazon

Pros: Strong enough to stand up to milk, smooth enough to enjoy on its own.

Cons: May be intense if you prefer lighter roasts.

This Nespresso capsule is popular among coffee enthusiasts for a reason — it’s an ultra-versatile roast.

“For a strong, bold shot of coffee that stands up to milk, the Ristretto Italiano is your best bet,” says Sasha Pavlovich, a barista and the founder of CoffeeHow. “The roast works well as a latte but is also delicious on its own.” 

Ristretto Italiano Original capsules are meant to be pulled either as — you guessed it — a ristretto or espresso shot. These capsules are a great place to start if you’re experimenting with flavor profiles or for keeping on hand as a crowd-pleaser while entertaining. (They also make a killer espresso martini!)

Price at time of publish: $38

  • Cup size: 0.85 to 1.35 ounces
  • Roast: Medium to dark
  • Intensity rating: 10
  • Machine Capability: Original

Best Value: Bestpresso Variety Pack

Bestpresso Variety Pack

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: 120 capsules across six different blends offers great value.

Cons: Not a Nespresso-branded product.

If you’re looking for more bang for your buck — Nespresso capsules and pods are lovely, but they certainly can be pricey — this variety pack of 120 capsules from Bestpresso is a great buy. The capsules work perfectly with Nespresso machines that process Original capsules, and you’ll enjoy a selection of six coffees ranging in intensity: Arabica, Espresso, Lungo, Verona, Ristretto, and Intenso. 

The Bestpresso capsules won’t be a top pick for Nespresso brand loyalists, but if you’re open to compatible products, these are tough to beat.

Price at time of publish: $39

  • Cup size: 0.85 to 2.8 ounces
  • Roast: Medium to dark 
  • Intensity rating: 6 to 12
  • Machine Capability: Original

Best for Lattes: Nespresso Vertuo Barista Creations - Bianco Forte, Bianco Doppio, Bianco Piccolo

Nespresso Vertuo Barista Creations - Bianco Forte, Bianco Doppio, Bianco Piccolo

Amazon

Pros: Three blends of coffee, each perfectly suited to milk.

Cons: No medium roast.

Though each of these three Vertuo Bianco varieties is available as individual sleeves, we think this Nespresso pod pack is a great way to experiment with finding your favorite. Each one — Forte, Doppio, and Piccolo — has been developed to pair beautifully with milk, which means this pack is an ideal choice for lattes. 

You’ll find notes of caramel in the Bianco Doppio Nespresso capsules, a roasty full-bodiedness in the Bianco Forte, and a smooth, rich texture in the Bianco Piccolo. Don’t have a Nespresso Vertuo system yet? This one has an integrated milk system.

Price at time of publish: $46

  • Cup size: 1.35 to 7.77 ounces
  • Roast: Light and dark
  • Intensity rating: n/a
  • Machine Capability: Vertuo

Best for Americanos: Nespresso OriginalLine Ispirazione Firenze Arpeggio

Nespresso OriginalLine Ispirazione Firenze Arpeggio

Courtesy of Bloomingdales

Pros: A bold, intense capsule that is great on its own or with added water.

Cons: Not for light roast enthusiasts.

Firenze Arpeggio capsules are one of the most popular blends in the Nespresso Originals lineup. This coffee is rich, creamy, and intense — perfect on its own as a ristretto or espresso, but also wonderfully suited to Americanos since the brew is bold enough to maintain flavor and character when diluted with hot water.

This is a dark roast for sure, with elegant notes of cocoa and just a touch of fruit. Nespresso aficionados will have a sleeve of Arpeggio capsules on hand at all times.

Price at time of publish: $38

  • Cup size: 0.85 to 1.35 ounces
  • Roast: Dark
  • Intensity rating: 9
  • Machine Capability: Original

Best Light Roast: Nespresso Cosi

Nespresso Cosi

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Pros: A well-balanced light roast espresso.

Cons: Very mild flavor profile.

“If you prefer light roasts, try the Nespresso Cosi,” says Pavlovich, who also recommends the Nespresso Voltesso capsules if you’re a light roast drinker with a Vertuo machine. 

The Cosi blend has cereal-forward notes that are mild and lightly toasted. With an intensity rating of just 4, this likely won’t be the most vibrant coffee to come out of your Nespresso machine, but if you — or your guests — prefer a light roast, Cosi is a great capsule to have on hand.

Price at time of publish: $29

  • Cup size: 1.35 ounce
  • Roast: Light
  • Intensity rating: 4
  • Machine Capability: Original

Best Dark Roast: Nespresso Ispirazione Palermo Kazaar

Nespresso Kazaar Intenso

Amazon

Pros: A rich, peppery dark roast perfect for sipping.

Cons: Very intense; definitely not for everyone.

Dark roast coffee drinkers will surely appreciate the Palermo Kazaar Nespresso capsules, which yield a pleasant bitterness and a rich, roasted flavor. This blend is meant to be enjoyed in either ristretto or espresso form, but it’s certainly robust enough to stand up to either milk or water should you choose to use it in a latte or Americano.

With an intensity rating of 12, Palermo Kazaar isn’t going to appeal to everyone — but that’s fine, right? More for you.

Price at time of publish: $38

  • Cup size: 0.85 to 1.35 ounces
  • Roast: Dark
  • Intensity rating: 12
  • Machine Capability: Original

Best Variety Pack: Nespresso Vertuo Discovery Sampler

Nespresso Vertuo Discovery Sampler

Amazon

Pros: This is a great way to sample several offerings from the Vertuo pod lineup.

Cons: Could be difficult to keep track of all the blends.

If you have a Nespresso Vertuo machine and you’re looking for the ultimate variety pack, the Vertuo Discovery Sampler is the way to go. You’ll get 30 Nespresso capsules across 15 different varieties — there’s no getting bored with this sampler! Serious coffee drinkers may even want to take notes as they brew their way through this pack, lest you find yourself overwhelmed with choice and the flavors all start to blend together.

If you have a Nespresso machine that takes the Originals capsules, this variety pack has your name on it. 

Price at time of publish: $55

  • Cup size: 7.77 oz
  • Roast: Light to dark
  • Intensity rating: 4 to 9
  • Machine Capability: Vertuo

Best Decaf: Starbucks by Nespresso Decaf

Starbucks by Nespresso Decaf

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Pros: Choose from several decaf roasts to suit your tastes.

Cons: No Starbucks decaf option for Vertuo.

Starbucks by Nespresso offers a comprehensive lineup of decaf blends for Nespresso Originals machines, including blonde roast, breakfast blend, Pike Place roast, and more. These capsules stay true to the classic Starbucks blends — but without the caffeine. 

As of now, the Starbucks by Nespresso line doesn’t include decaf Vertuo pods, but Nespresso still has you covered with their own line of medium roast and dark roast decaf options. 

Price at time of publish: $35

  • Cup size: 0.85 to 3.7 ounces
  • Roast: Light to dark
  • Intensity rating: 6 to 11
  • Machine Capability: Original

Best Lungo: Nespresso OriginalLine Stockholm Fortissio Lungo

Nespresso OriginalLine Stockholm Fortissio Lungo

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: A delicious, well-balanced lungo.

Cons: If you prefer a smaller amount of coffee in your cup, this may not be the capsule for you.

Our favorite Nespresso capsule lungo is the Stockholm Fortissio. This is a full-bodied blend that balances roastiness, bitterness, and acidity to yield a satisfying, smooth-drinking coffee. The Stockholm Fortissio is so easy to drink that we even recommend this capsule as a sort of “gateway” blend if you’re looking to step up the intensity or make the transition from light to dark roasts. 

And it really is reminiscent of the coffee you’ll find in cafes across Stockholm, so keep a few sleeves on hand for a mini trip to Scandinavia with each brew.

Price at time of publish: $40

  • Cup size: 3.7 ounces
  • Roast: Dark
  • Intensity rating: 8
  • Machine Capability: Original

Our Favorite

The Nespresso Ispirazione Ristretto Italiano is our choice for best overall Nespresso capsule thanks to its versatility for standalone sipping or playing nicely with milk. For a reliable lungo, go with the Stockholm Fortissio.

Factors to Consider

Capsule size

The size of the capsule will depend on the model you own. Vertuo capsules are slightly larger than the Original capsules and are only compatible with Vertuo models. Likewise, Original capsules are compatible with Original machines.

Roast type

Roast type is most commonly described as either light, medium, or dark, and flavor profiles can vary greatly across and even within these designations. If you’re unsure which type of roast you prefer, purchasing a variety pack of capsules or pods can be an effective — and cost-efficient — way to sample.

Intensity

Intensity refers to a coffee’s body, richness, and aroma. Don’t let a high-intensity rating scare you off — it doesn’t necessarily mean that a coffee will have harsh bitterness, it just might be more complex.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What’s the difference between Nespresso pods and capsules?

    “A capsule is typically made of aluminum,” says Pavlovich. “It needs to be pierced by a machine to let water flow through the grinds.” In the case of Nespresso, their pods are also technically capsules in that they’re made of aluminum and are pierced by the machine. Other coffee pods are more similar to teabags, allowing water to flow over the grinds with no piercing required.

  • What’s the difference between Original and Vertuo capsules?

    Original capsules fit Nespresso Original machines, while Vertuo capsules fit the Vertuo line of Nespresso machines.

  • Can Nespresso capsules be recycled?

    Yes! Nespresso even has a whole page about recycling their capsules.

  • How much caffeine is in one Nespresso pod?

    According to Nespresso, most of their espressos contain between 50-100 mg of caffeine per serving. Some of the more robust blends may contain as much as 150 mg. Vertuo coffee capsules contain between 170-200 mg per serving.

  • Do Nespresso capsules expire?

    Nespresso capsules and pods are best used within a year of production, but since they’re hermetically sealed for freshness, as long as they’re kept at a stable temperature, they’ll retain quality for far longer than one year.

Our Expertise

This article was written by Summer Rylander, a food and travel journalist who has written about food, beverage, and cooking products for Food & Wine, Allrecipes, Serious Eats, and The Kitchn. Rylander made her selections based on in-depth research, hands-on testing, and conversation with experts. She is an avid coffee drinker and has a Nespresso machine next to her Moccamaster coffee maker. Rylander is legitimately very fond of the Stockholm Fortissio capsule.

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