Nespresso Machine Not Piercing The Pods? (6 Troubleshooting Tips!)

Green Pods Nespresso Not piercing the pods

Occasionally, things don’t always go this smoothly with your ‘easy to use’ Nespresso machine. One common issue is the Nespresso machine not piercing the pods.

After releasing the capsule from the unit, you may discover that it hasn’t been punctured like it usually would, and water cannot get in.

So why isn’t your Nespresso machine piercing the capsules?

The most common reason is that the coffee pod wasn’t inserted correctly. You must insert the pod with the cap facing you and drop it into the loading chamber on top of the machine. Another common reason is that the handle wasn’t pulled all the way down, and as a result, the capsule compartment wasn’t fully closed. If you’re still having problems, then try cleaning and descaling the machine, and scrubbing the inside of the capsule holder with a toothbrush to clear out any gunk.

Let’s explore further what could be causing your Nespresso machine to no longer be piercing its capsules, and what the solutions may be.

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 💚

6 Reasons Your Nespresso Machine Isn’t Piercing The Capsules

We’ve got a lot of experience with coffee machines and customers who are having problems with their Nespresso machines.

Nespresso machines punch coffee pods in a two-stage process; once you insert a capsule and close the brewing head, the machine punches three spikes from the back. When you press the cup button, pressured water pierces the silver foil in the pod’s front.

We did some testing and surveyed our customers and found the following 6 most likely reasons your Nespresso machine isn’t piercing the capsules are:

  1. Capsule orientation
  2. Lever not fully down
  3. Clogged capsule cradle
  4. Machine needs descaling
  5. Decreased water pressure
  6. Non-compatible 3rd party capsules
Green Pods nespresso machine capsule mechanism

1.   Incorrect capsule orientation

Sometimes the capsule can get caught on an angle when being loaded into the machine. The most common reason for this is the capsule mechanism isn’t fully open when you’re trying to insert the pod. Here are a few tips to make sure the pod gets loaded correctly:

  • Make sure the lever is fully up before loading a new capsule into the machine.
  • Once the capsule is in, lower the leaver slowly halfway to allow the capsule to fall into alignment, then open it slightly again before closing it down hard all the way.

2.   Lever not fully down

This applies to some machines more than others, especially the CitiZ and Essenza Mini.

We’ve found the capsule leaver with snap down into what seems to be the closed position quite freely, but it’s not actually fully closed. Make sure to give the leaver a firm push down until you hear it click. This last quarter inch can be the difference between piecing the pods and not.

Why is the light on my nespresso machine flashing Because the lever is still up

3.   Machine needs a descale.

Nespresso recommends that you descale your unit after every 3 months or 300 brews (whatever comes first) to remove calcium deposit build-up, as this stops the machine’s parts from functioning correctly. Consider the following steps to descaling your Nespresso machine:

  1. Remove the pod and close the lever
  2. Empty the used pod container and the drip tray
  3. Put 0.5 liters of water into the water reservoir and add one sachet of Nespresso descaling liquid
  4. Put a container (Minimum volume 1 liter) under the coffee outlet
  5. Press both the Lungo and Espresso buttons for three seconds to enter the descaling mode.
  6. Both LEDs should blink
  7. Press the Lungo button and let the water tank empty
  8. Decant the descaling solution, collected in the container, into the water reservoir, and repeat steps 4 and 6
  9. Empty and rinse the water reservoir and fill it with clean water
  10. Repeat steps 4 and 6 to now rinse the unit and repeat twice

While this is a generic guide that works on most machines, we’ve written detailed guides here that will help you with your specific model of Nespresso machine:

4.    Decreased Water Pressure

We have all let our Nespresso machines run dry by not filling them up with enough water before we make ‘just one more coffee’. This can be really bad for your precious coffee machine as it can suck air into the pump and Thermoblock heating element. The air bubbles can lead to a loss in pressure, and sometimes no water flows at all.

To fix this issue we want to purge the machine a couple of times without a capsule in the machine. Fill the water tank with water, remove the already used capsule from the chamber, and close the lever. Next, put a cup under the spout and press the long pour button without a capsule. Hot water will pour into the cup, forcing out any air pockets in the machine. We recommend doing this 2 or 3 times to be sure all the air is extracted.

5.   Clogged Capsule Cradle

Inside the capsule chamber is an array of small plastic pyramids that the pods get forced upon to pop the foil lid.

The valleys between the pyramids often get clogged with coffee grinds and general gunk if the machine isn’t cleaned regularly. When a lot of gunk builds up the pyramids are no longer able to pop the capsules!

The easy solution to this is just giving the plate a good clean with soap and water.

Start by switching off your machine and unplugging it (just to be safe). Opening up the capsule chamber and place your finger inside where the capsule goes towards the front of the appliance and feel the pyramid plate. This is what you need to clean.

Take a small brush, and a cup of soapy water and scrub thoroughly until you can feel that the gunk has been removed. A toothbrush is perfect for this task and we keep one dedicate for the task with our descaling product and other cleaning products.


6. Non-compatible 3rd party capsules

It’s perfectly fine to use other coffee pod brands in your Nespresso machine; as long as they say they are compatible. All pods are designed differently, but the majority should work in your Nespresso machine once you follow the correct instructions.

Different factories and manufacturing tolerances mean that 3rd party capsules can be a little bigger or smaller than the proper Nespresso ones. This can make it a bit hard for them to work the same in your machine.

If you are having trouble with a 3rd party manufacturer’s pods, we recommend first switching back to a genuine Nespresso capsule and seeing if that makes a difference. If it fixes it, you want to try another brand of capsules, or try steps 4 and 5 above to clean the machine.

What does Nespresso say about the issue?

The company’s website recommends that you do the following if it’s not piercing the capsules:

  • Ensure the water tank is full and switch the machine on
  • Give the unit time to warm up, and lights to be stable
  • Open up the lever on top of the unit
  • Press the lungo button
  • You must check that the capsule container isn’t full and that there are no foreign bodies in it
  • Push the lever back and forth a couple of times, pulling it back completely
  • Press the lungo button once more and stop the machine
  • Water won’t flow into the brewing unit but into the capsule cage, where you can easily see where you have put your capsule
  • Ensure the lever is closed and press one of the cup buttons to make sure that water now flows through the brewing unit

This is a good start, but we’ve found some other common reasons that your machine isn’t piercing the pods which are outlined above


Hopefully, these 6 tips help you get your coffee flowing again.

Regardless of whether or not you’re having issues with your Nespresso machine not piercing your coffee pods it’s essential to keep your machine clean and well-maintained, ensure that there’s enough clean water in the reservoir for each use, and grab yourself a toothbrush to clean inside the capsule holder too!

In addition, you should descale your machine after every 300 brews and ensure that your unit isn’t struggling to perforate certain coffee pods. If you are careful with your Nespresso machine, it should run smoothly and consistently produce excellent quality coffee.

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