Nestle is known for producing some of the very best coffee blends on the market. It all started in 1975 in Switzerland when one of the workers and his spouse were teasing each other about whether Italy or Switzerland produced better coffee. This joke led to Eric Favre designing the very first espresso maker based on single use aluminium capsules – and that was how Nespresso came about.
Today, Nestle is still dominating the food industry and since launching the Nespresso brand has become the biggest coffee retailer globally.
Nespresso is known for its excellent quality and taste. The capsules are available in different blends, from decaf to dark to light roast. But now with over 35 different Nespresso OriginalLine capsules to choose from, it’s not a simple process deciding what you want to drink first thing in the morning.
We’ve taste tested every Nespresso capsule on the market (well, in New Zealand at least) and compared them side by side to finally answer the question: What is the best Nespresso Pod?
We’ll as you may have guessed, it’s hard to pick just one, so instead we’ve found a few that all have strengths and all deserve a spot in your pantry.
Our top 6 picks for the best Nespresso capsules are the following:
- Nespresso Ispirazione Italiana Venezia: Best for the Cappuccinos
- Nespresso Ispirazione Firenze Arpeggio: Best for Americano
- Nespresso Fortissio Lungo: Best for Lattes
- Nespresso Intenso: For Iced Coffees
- Nespresso Ispirazione Ristretto Decaffeinato Italiano: Best Decaf
- Nespresso Ispirazione Italiana Napoli: Best Dark Roast
Read on as we discuss what makes a these the best pods, and why!
Why Listen To Us? Well, because we KNOW coffee! In fact, we make our own coffee, coffee machine cleaners, and reusable capsules which we've sold to over 41 countries. Our team ouf experts include Tristan (an engineer), Claire (a food writer) and Richy (a barista). So, whether you're looking for a recipe or repair guide, we've got you covered 💚
Table of Contents
1. Nespresso Ispirazione Italiana Venezia: Best for the Cappuccinos
This is not called the best for cappuccino or later or milk-based coffee mixes for nothing. It is a combination of Colombian and Brazilian Arabica beans and it comes with a casual fruity flavor alongside cereal and caramel taste. The intensity level is ranked at eight and the pod has sufficient coffee flavor when blended with milk but it will not dilute the sugary components that enhance the cappuccino like brown sugar or even cinnamon.
Nespresso utilizes the Ispirazione Venezia pod for formulating the exotic tiramisu cappuccino and the details for this are on their website. This Venezia variant was recently added to the Nespresso line and may not be present in some outlets but the cost is the same.
|$0.70 USD each
|Medium roast, slight acidity, caramel notes, balanced.
|Cappuccino, latte, tiramisu
Nespresso Ispirazione Italiana Venezia
- A combination of Colombian and Brazilian Arabica beans
- Comes with a casual fruity flavor alongside cereal and caramel taste
- Intensity is 8
2. Nespresso Ispirazione Firenze Arpeggio: Best for Americano
For those who are lovers of the regular Americano (or a long black), you need to sample these Arpeggio pods. The intensity level is ranked at nine so it is ideal for 1.35-ounce or 0.85-ounce cups. It is a combination of South American and Central American Arabica coffee beans.
These beans have been made to undergo intense roasting and that explains the malted and fruity flavors that you get to enjoy. The coffee comes with a flavor that is said to be grilled and intense and this is in addition to a level of woody taste and chocolate-like notes. This order is available in a total of five boxes each containing 10 pods. However, you can place your order for quantities that are more than giving if you so desire.
|$0.70 USD each
|Creamy, malt & cocoa notes, bold roast.
|Long black, Americano, black coffee.
Nespresso Ispirazione Firenze Arpeggio
- A combination of South American and Central American Arabica coffee beans
- Best for long black, Americano, black coffee
- Intensity is 9
3. Nespresso Fortissio Lungo: Best for Latte
This is an excellent one for lattes as the pods can brew 3.7-ounce cups of coffee. The flavor is known for its malty, exotic, and toasty nature but there is a tinge of bitterness but the texture is flawless. The rating for the intensity is 8 out of 13.
This coffee variant is composed of Monsooned Malabar Arabica beans from the southwestern portion of India alongside Columbian Arabica beans and this is responsible for its rich and intense flavor.
The two variants of the beans are split roasted and that allows the coffee to have many lasting flavors but the tasting is not excessively. The variant comes with five boxes and each has 10 pods each but you are free to order for bigger quantities if you happen to fall in love.
At 85mg of caffeine the fortissio packs a punch, and sits near the top of the Nespresso range in terms of caffeine content.
|$0.70 USD each
|Malt & cereal notes, full flavor roast. Smooth.
|Latte, flat white, magic
Nespresso Fortissio Lungo
- Can brew 3.7-ounce cups of coffee
- Composed of Monsooned Malabar Arabica beans from the southwestern portion of India alongside Columbian Arabica beans
- Intensity is 8
4. Nespresso Freddo Intenso: on Ice
For those who are in love with iced beverages, we think that the Nespresso Intenso pods will be the best option for you. The Freddo Intenso is roasted and rich in flavor with notes of cereal. Leggero on Ice is also another excellent option but it is with notes of lemon.
|$0.72 USD each
|Intense, bold, cereal notes. Full flavor roast.
Nespresso Freddo Intenso
- Caffeine content is 85 mg
- Bold and dark roasted
- South American Arabica beans and Indonesian Arabica
- Intensity is 8
5. Nespresso Ispirazione Ristretto Italiano Decaffeinato: Best Decaf
If you happen to be a coffee lover but you are reducing your quantity, then Nespresso has got your back with these special Ristretto Decaffeinato pods. The level of intensity is ranked at 10 and the tasting notes contain a tinge of chocolate and intense roasted notes.
This is as a result of Robusta and Arabica beans and every pod can make either the 1.35-ounce or 0.80-ounce cups. The coffee beans in these pods are the East African and Latin American Arabica beans and all are then combined with Robusta. The beans are subjected to slow-roasting so that there can be acidic and fruity notes. The overall mix is an Italian-themed coffee that is full and also rich. There are three boxes and each has 10 capsules in it.
|Ristretto Italiano Decaffeinato
|$0.70 USD each
|Soft cocoa, fruity with slight acidity.
|Latte, cappuccino, americano.
Nespresso Ispirazione Ristretto Decaffeinato Italiano
- Caffeine content is 2 mg
- East African and Latin American Arabica beans
- Contains a tinge of chocolate and intense roasted notes
- Intensity is 10
6. Nespresso Ispirazione Italiana Napoli: Best Dark Roast
This is a regular feature of one of the most legendary coffee varieties in the world and it has a basis for its reputation. The Nespresso Napoli pods are described as the darkest from its stable. This explains why its level of intensity is rated an incredible 13 out of 13.
This variant has coffee beans that were taken from Uganda in East Africa and another blend from South America. This leads to a flavor that is so strong that you are going to feel it from the very first shot. It is often said that this is not the one for the weak minds and there is a reason for that.
You have to be ready for the very bitter but nice aftertaste, this is something that has been compared to consuming dark chocolate – so you can have an idea. These pods are ideal when you wake up early in the morning as it has that load of caffeine that will carry you through the day especially when you are at work.
|$0.70 USD each
|Bitter cocoa, creamy. Thick body. Dark Roast
Nespresso Ispirazione Italiana Napoli
- Caffeine content is 109 mg
- Exceptionally dark and creamy
- Blend of Robusta from Uganda touched with Arabica from South America
- Intensity is 13
Factors to Consider when Selecting your Nespresso Pods
But don’t take our word for it. Half the fun of owning a Nespresso machine is experimenting, and taste testing your way through the entire range yourself to see what you enjoy. You can use the following considerations to help you along the way:
The labels on Nespresso show the degree of intensity of the pods and the rating is from 1 to 13. The lowers digits are placed on the lighter region and the higher digits are placed on the darker end. The level of intensity is a swift and stress-free method of identification when selecting the most excellent pods for your needs. It is not a bad idea if you work with various intensities to see. This is particularly a useful move if you want to prepare drinks like cappuccinos and lattes.
OriginalLine or VertuoLine?
There are two machines from the stable of Nespresso and these include OriginalLine and VertuoLine. Our focus here is on OriginalLine and it is ideal for espresso-sized and more compact drinks. Its also the most popular Nespresso product.
With so many variations and flavors it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Start writing down your tasting notes as you work your way through the range, and start to identify the kinds of roast and flavors that you prefer. This can be dark, medium, or light but also a lot more than that.
Read the tasting notes and aroma profile that’s written on the packet. If it comes to a dark roast, you may end up liking the variant that has the notes of cocoa but not with smoky notes.
Understanding The Tasting Notes
Coffee beans are often compared to wines and this is because several experts are devoted to the identification of a bean or blend that follows each taste. For those who are from North America, it is normal to know of the Colombian coffees. These usually come with the strong and excellent sweet taste of caramel. There is also a nutty flavor and you can start your day with it – on an excellent note.
Then there are Brazilian coffees which have a peanut-like taste, cocoa flavor and the quality is one that lingers. These are quite easy to understand until you get to the Ethiopian coffees. These have unique flowery notes and they are said to remind the drinkers of teas. The floral flavor is indicative of nettles and jasmine but the eventual taste has a strength that depends on the manner of processing the fruit.
There are also the Ethiopian coffees that are so heavy that they have wine flavors or something like an intense fruity flavor. This is understandably natural or also called unwashed and the level of intensity is higher and lingers long on the tongue.
Overall, you are going to have an idea of the eventual outcome of the coffee and where the fruit was sourced from but some other factors determine the eventual result. So when it comes to selecting the most ideal coffee, you do not even need to understand all about the process in detail but know precisely what will delight your senses.
What does Nespresso mean by ‘intensity’?
All Nespresso coffees are given an intensity rating a scale that between 1 and 13.
This tends to confuse most people, and it’s not as obvious as it seems. Some are convinced it refers to the strength of flavor, and other think it’s the amount of caffeine. The answer? Its both!
The intensity of the coffee is influenced by 2 factors, the roast of the coffee and the ratio of Robusta coffee to Arabica coffee.
Arabica coffee is lighter and contains less caffeine. Robusta coffee, on the other hand, has a more intense flavour, is stronger and contains more caffeine. The longer (or ‘darker’) the coffee is roasted also plays a part as roasting for longer destroys the caffeine.
This means you can have a dark roasted Arabica like the Nespresso Roma with intensity of 8 and a relatively low caffeine content and then have a medium roasted Robusta with a huge amount of caffeine like the Nespresso Kazaar.
For a full summary of the caffeine content of Nespresso capsules, check out this article here.
Pod Types in the OriginalLine range.
Nespresso have a few different types capsules within their OriginalLine range. The standard pods start at USD $0.70 and then increase in price for their more premium pods like the master origins range which go up to USD $0.80per capsules.
- Decaffeinato: This is coffee without caffeine but with the same great taste of Nespresso coffee. They can range between 4 and 10 on the intensity scale.
- Espresso: These make the espresso shots but the intensity is less than the intenso.
- Intenso: These coffee pods are crafted for espresso and ristretto and are designed tohave more intense flavor than the original pods.
- Pure Origin: This can refer to the source of the beans and this definition has to do with one location for pure and single taste.
- Lungo: This is a reference to the kind of coffee that is produced and should be extracted using the lungo (big cup) button on your machine. This yields around 110ml of coffee rather than the 30ml from an espresso shot. Intensity rating of the lungo range is between 4 and 9.