The single serve coffee maker market in North America is all but dominated by Keurig. Over the years, Nespresso Vertuoline and original machines have been gaining shares but still account for less than 10% of annual machine sales. (1)
In Europe, it's a different story. In 2018, I made a trip across Western Europe staying in Airbnb's and ALL of them had Nespresso machines. Maybe it's because they're manufactured in Switzerland, elicit continental pride or are the standard part of European culture, but they have an excellent foothold in Europe in general.
The contrast is strange because anyone who has owned both knows that Espresso machines are known for having better performance, ease of cleaning, and overall quality/reliability. So, why the market difference?
In North America, it all very simply comes down to coffee choice. The trouble with Nespresso is finding pods for them. You see, Nestlé is the parent company that owns Nespresso and until recently, they had very strict patents protecting the design of their coffee pods which made it very difficult for competing coffee companies to offer their coffee in Nespresso-compatible pods. (2) This ensured that not only were Nespresso customers purchasing their machines, they were also agreeing to the long-term commitment of purchasing more Nespresso product (coffee). But. . . as you'll see in this article, change is a' brewin'.
This all leads us to the question: What Coffee Pods Are Compatible with Nespresso Machines
Nespresso has two main types of capsules. One for their Vertuo machines and another for their original machines. The two are not compatible with each other. When shopping, check for compatibility and look for the official Nespresso markings from the company or third-party sellers.
It's confusing, I know. Let's break it down even more to help you find the perfect capsules, regardless of which machine you own.
Nespresso Vertuo Pods vs Original: The differences
The differences between Nespresso Vertuo (including VertuoPlus) and an Original Nespresso Pod include price, sizes, and availability. Here is a helpful table to sum them all up:
Original Machine Pods
VertoLine Machine Pods
Coffee cup shape
Unique dome shape
Number of Sizes
One size fit all
Average Cost (Nespresso Branded)
Third party sellers
Ability to find in local stores
Difficult – Limited Selections
Reusable Pods Available
Let's talk a bit more about each of these:
First of all, we have to address the fact that Nespresso coffee is exceptional in terms of taste. None of the options they offer will taste sup-par or cheap. They are definitely primo; top-of-the-line. If you opt for Nespresso, you are trading up, period. Although the coffee choices are select and owned by Nestle, espresso coffee in general allows you more variety in preparing specialized drinks like americano, latte, and cappuccino.
Now, back to the pods.
Description - Personally, I like dome like appearance design of the new capsules. Doesn't make a big difference in terms of taste unless you're using different sizes.
Number of Sizes - With the original machines, things were simple - it was one size fits all. With the Vertuoline, there are five sizes depending on your cup size. Here's a list of them all:
- Espresso (40ml/1.3oz),
- Double Espresso (80ml/2.7oz),
- Gran Lungo (150ml/5oz),
- Mug (230ml/7.7oz), and
- Alto (414ml/14oz)
Average Cost - This is where the two really differ. Vertuoline pods are almost double the price of the original ones.
Third party sellers - This one almost goes hand-in-hand with price. With limited to no third-party sellers in the Vertuoline market the less competition. Nespresso can now charge whatever they want.
Flavor selection - Again, without third party sellers, and limited licensing deals, the selection is somewhat reduced in the Vertuoline. You can see their full official lineup here of Vertuo coffee pods.
Ability to find in local stores - Original pods are much easier to find. I know for me, there were three-four flavors at one of my local grocery stores in Canada. Vertuoline, on the other hand, is nowhere to be found at any of the local stores. There are two Nespresso Boutiques in my large city with the closest one being about a 20 min drive away in a mall. Not really the most convenient location. You can use the store locator to see if there's one close to you.
Recycling program - If you're already a customer of Nespresso, you will know that the company offers a recycling program for their pods. With each capsule order, they send you a postage-paid mailer bag in which to return the pods. Make sure you read the instructions on how best to prepare the pods prior to sending them back.
Reusable Pods Available - Thankfully, both have reusable coffee capsules available. This is great for cost savings and environmental purposes.
First, you have foil lids to reuse the capsules.
Then, which I consider even better, is a Stainless-Steel Reusable Nespresso Capsule that you can fill with whatever coffee grounds you want! Or better yet, freshly ground beans. Yum, yum.
Can you use other pods in Nespresso machine?
The cost of Nespresso pods is up to double the cost of Keurig K-cups. Because of this, several third-party sellers have swooped in to offer selections that are occasionally more cost effective.
Note: None of the alternatives are endorsed by Nespresso and are only compatible with OriginalLine machines.
What are the best Nespresso compatible pods?
As the pods for the original aren't compatible with the Vertuo espresso machine, I'm going to lay this out the best I can as it pertains to the individual machines.
Best for the VertuoLine
This 30-pack of genuine Nespresso capsules comes with three different medium and dark roasts coffee bean blends. Remember I spoke about different coffee capsule sizes before? Well, these are the standard Mug size brewing 7.8oz (230ml) cups. This makes it perfect for entertaining guests, taking it to the office, or just having an assortment and some variety for just yourself at home.
Best for the Original Nespresso
This pack of 40 offers 10 capsules for everybody with intensity levels (based around the dark roastyness of the Arabica beans) 8 through 11. The four different flavors include Crema Scura, Nerissimo, Ricchezza, and Ristretto. Peets, in general, has stronger coffee which may not be for everybody but it is delicious. I recently finished a post all about Peets and reviewing their top coffee.
Original Nespresso Alternative
Yet another variety pack (can you tell I love these?). This time a 50-pack with five different varieties including Capriccio, Ispirazione Roma, Ispirazione Genova Livanto, Ispirazione Firenze Arpeggio, and Ispirazione Ristretto.
Warning: Your palate will thank you - it's high-quality coffee. But your wallet will not be happy.
Do Starbucks pods work in Nespresso?
Capsules meant for Starbucks Verismo System are not compatible with the Nespresso Original or Vertuoline systems. If you're looking to enjoy Starbucks coffee with your Nespresso look at the Starbucks by Nespresso capsules.
Which Nespresso is most like Starbucks?
Nespresso has partnered up with Starbucks to offer official coffee pods for the original Nespresso machines. They come in House Blend, Colombia, Blonde, Caffe Verona, and Pike Place roasts. If you have a Vertuoline, look at either the Arpeggio or the Roma if you want something with a little more kick.
Check out all the options on Amazon or if you can't decide, look at the Starbucks By Nespresso Best Seller Variety Pack.
At the time of this writing, unfortunately these were only available for the Original Nespresso. If you have a Vertuoline, look at either the Arpeggio or the Roma if you want something with a little more kick.
Can you use Aldi coffee pods in Nespresso machines?
For my friends in the UK, yes Aldi coffee pods are compatible with Nespresso machines.
Where to buy Nespresso pods
As mentioned before, finding Nespresso pods for the OriginalLine is much easier than for the VertuoLine. For example, for me in Canada I can only find OriginalLine pods in some select grocery stores and VertuoLine pods only online and in Nespresso boutique stores (not very convenient):
That being said, here is where I would suggest you looking for pods (from best to worst):
- Nespresso official website;
- In-store at Nespresso boutiques;
- Select grocery stores;
- Other online retailers.
I truly hope you enjoyed my breakdown answering the question: What Coffee Pods Are Compatible with Nespresso Machines?
What's your experience with your Nespresso single-serve coffee maker? I'd love to know so let me know in the comments below.
- (1) https://blog.euromonitor.com/keurigs-dominance-proving-hindrance-pod-coffee-expansion-north-america/
- (2) https://www.lexgo.be/en/papers/ip-it-telecom/intellectual-property-law/the-nespresso-capsules-end-of-trademark-protection-for-nestl,113390.html