The 12 Best Nespresso Pods for Dark Roast Lovers, Decaf Diehards and Everyone in Between

·6 min read

There are countless reasons to spring for a Nespresso machine. It doesn’t require as much work as a pour-over or French press, and Nespresso capsules are a million times tastier than other pod-based cups of joe. Plus, since it’s an espresso machine, you can whip up so much more than just regular coffee. The only challenge is choosing which capsules to try first. Just so you have a number of tasty options to start with, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best Nespresso pods for every kind of coffee lover out there.

RELATED: How to Clean a Nespresso Machine in 5 (Easy!) Steps

How to Buy the Right Nespresso Capsules

There are a few key factors to consider before stocking up on Nespresso pods:

  • Intensity: Nespresso rates their coffees on a scale from 1 to 13, 13 being the most intense and bold in flavor. (This rating is separate from caffeine content, BTW.) Nespresso determines intensity by analyzing the coffee’s degree of roasting, body and bitterness.

  • Sizes: Nespresso pods come in a variety of sizes, but you’ll want to keep an eye out for the terms ristretto, espresso and lungo before you buy. These refer to cup sizes, since each setting calls for a different amount of brewing water. Ristretto uses the smallest amount, so its flavor is more concentrated. Espresso uses a bit more water, but not as much as lungo, which uses the most water; it brews through the coffee for a longer period of time, resulting in a more aromatic, balanced final product.

  • Machine compatibility: If you have the Nespresso Vertuo machine (which has more bells and whistles than the O.G. model), you won’t be able to use regular Nespresso pods with it, only Vertuo ones.

Now that you know how to best shop for your needs, here are 12 of the best Nespresso pods to add to your cart.

1. Gourmesso Flavored Espresso Capsules

Best overall

Gormesso coffee capsules are full of Fair Trade grounds from sustainable coffee farms. They’re free of preservatives and sugar, plus come in BPA-free plastic capsules. Bonus? The pods are compatible with a range of machines that can accommodate Nespresso pods (though they won’t work with the Nespresso Vertuo). Variety is also worth major points in our book, so we love that this combo pack lets you sample five delicious flavors: caramel, vanilla, chocolate, chocolate hazelnut and coconut.

  • Intensity: 5

  • Cup size: Espresso

  • Roast: Dark

$27/50-pack at Amazon

2. Café La Llave Espresso Capsules

Boldest brew

Savor the earthy and nutty notes of dark, aromatic Latin espresso. It’s full-bodied, smooth and strong in flavor, perfect for trudging through sluggish mornings or the 3-o’clock slump. It’s best for using in a sweet Cuban-style cafecito. The coffee is packaged in recyclable Terracycle pods, so you can cut back on your environmental impact with every sip.

  • Intensity: 11

  • Cup size: Espresso

  • Roast: Dark

$36/80-pack at Amazon

3. Lavazza Espresso Coffee Capsules Variety Pack

Best Italian roast

Free of sugar and flavoring, these five Italian blends boast nothing but authentic espresso. Lavazza uniformly grinds each batch of coffee to preserve its richness and extract every drop of flavor. From the light Leggero to the aggressive Deciso, this variety pack has something for everyone (even decaf drinkers).

  • Intensity: 4 to 10

  • Cup size: Espresso and lungo

  • Roast: Medium to dark

$38/120-pack at Amazon

4. Nespresso Freddo Intenso

Best for iced coffee

PureWow executive editor Candace Davison swears by this pick when it comes to iced coffee: “Letting a regular capsule cool and pouring over water usually leaves you with a diluted, overall bland flavor, but this remains robust.” It’s a bold blend of Peruvian Arabica (which is a smoother, sweeter type of coffee bean compared to Robusta) and Indonesian Java that’s designed specifically for iced beverages.

  • Intensity: 6

  • Cup size: Espresso

  • Roast: Dark

$36/50-pack at Amazon

5. Nespresso OriginalLine Arpeggio Intenso Capsules

Best for espresso shots

With a fruity, malted profile complete with subtle notes of wood and cocoa, these pods are prime for sipping on solo, especially since the pack is designed for both ristretto and espresso pours. Its Italian-style flavor is a nod to the country’s roasting methods, which typically produce a more acidic, thicker espresso than American-roasted beans.

  • Intensity: 9

  • Cup size: Ristretto and espresso

  • Roast: Dark

$35/50-pack at Amazon

6. Nespresso OriginalLine Volluto Decaffeinato Pods

Best decaf

This mild coffee blend is the ultimate complement to a decadent dessert (without keeping you up all night). It’s fruity and biscuity with a light, round mouthfeel, courtesy of two Arabicas from Brazil and Colombia. Savor notes of cereal and nuts alongside chocolate or caramel desserts to amplify the experience.

  • Intensity: 4

  • Cup size: Espresso

  • Roast: Light

$35/50-pack at Amazon

7. Starbucks Pike Place Espresso Roast

Best for serving guests

Looking for a safe bet that just about anyone would be happy to sip on? Look no further than Starbucks’s signature medium roast. Its flavor is smooth, balanced and approachable with notes of toasted nuts and cocoa. And since it’s designed for a long brew, each pod boasts more caffeine and a seamless, mellow flavor.

  • Intensity: 7

  • Cup size: Lungo

  • Roast: Medium

$29/50-pack at Amazon

8. Nespresso VertuoLine Double Espresso Chiaro

Best for Nespresso Vertuo

If you have the Vertuo, you’re one lucky java lover. Unlike the OG Nespresso that only pulls espresso shots, the Vertuo can tackle single-serve shots and coffee beverages—think of it like a high-end Keurig and espresso machine hybrid. The Chiaro pack is a creamy, woody pick hailing from South and Central America. It’s intensely roasted but still mellow enough that you can savor its subtle sweetness and silky crema.

  • Intensity: 6

  • Cup size: Espresso

  • Roast: Medium

$33/30-pack at Amazon

9. Portland Roasting Company Light Espresso Pods

Best light roast

These babies are sweet, fruity and compatible with the original Nespresso machine. The organic, Fair Trade Arabica coffee has citrusy notes of tangerine and a brown sugar-like sweetness with a clean finish and medium body. Savor it as a single shot to make the most of its flavor.

  • Intensity: 5

  • Cup size: Espresso

  • Roast: Light

$15/30-pack at Amazon

10. L’OR Espresso Capsules Variety Pack

Best for beginners

If you’re new to the world of espresso, this variety pack will help you figure out your favorite way to drink it in no time. Since it contains five different types of espresso in varying cup sizes and roasts, you’ll be able to sip your way through a range of drinks until you find your go-to. No matter which you try first, gear up for a full-bodied mouthfeel and café-quality crema.

  • Intensity: 8 to 12

  • Cup size: Ristretto, espresso and lungo

  • Roast: Medium to dark

$27/50-pack at Amazon

11. Barista Moments Espresso Pods

Best for Americanos

This Italian espresso has more than just a medium roast and tantalizing aroma. It’s also specially designed for Americanos (aka a mix of fresh espresso and water). Many complain about non-Nespresso brand espresso pods imparting a metallic aftertaste to their bev, but numerous reviewers swear that Barista Moments’s packaging doesn’t.

  • Intensity: 7

  • Cup size: Espresso

  • Roast: Medium

$7/20-pack at Amazon

12. Bestpresso Coffee Genuine Espresso Flavored Variety Pack

Best flavored coffee

Caramel! Vanilla! Chocolate! Take your pick of three decadent flavors that are well worth getting out of bed for in the morning. The coffee is sourced from small producers in Spain and is free of preservatives and sugar. The vanilla option is soft and mellow, while caramel and chocolate boast sweet and intense flavor notes respectively.

  • Intensity: 8

  • Cup size: Espresso

  • Roast: Medium

$40/120-pack at Amazon

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