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The story begins in Switzerland. The year, 1975. A Swiss engineer named Eric Favre was working for Nestlé when his wife, Anna-Maria, joked that her home country of Italy produced far tastier coffee. Whether it was sheer inspiration or a spark of competition, Favre began designing the first pod-based espresso maker. The married couple even traveled throughout Italy to study all things coffee during the prototype phase. Thus, Nespresso was born.
Half a century later, it’s one of the world’s largest coffee manufacturers, known for convenience and craftsmanship. The company’s signature capsules come in a variety of blends, from light roast to dark to decaf, and we’ve rounded up our favorite ones below. Newer customers might want to double check what type of Nespresso machine they have, as VertuoLine machines only take Vertuo pods and OriginalLine machines only take Original pods.
For quick, delicious coffee, here are the best Nespresso capsules.
Best for Lattes: Nespresso Capsules OriginalLine Fortissio Lungo
Praised as a good choice for lattes, the Fortisso Lungo pods brew 3.7-ounce cups of coffee. The flavor is described as rich, malty, and toasty with a hint of bitterness and a smooth texture. It has an intensity rating of eight out of 13. The coffee is made from Monsooned Malabar Arabica beans from southwest India along with washed Columbian Arabica beans that provide intense flavor. Both beans are split roasted, giving the coffee a great body and bold taste without feeling overly roasted.
This order includes five boxes with 10 capsules each; you can also choose larger quantities if this variety becomes your favorite. These capsules are not compatible with Nespresso Vertuoline machines.
Best for Americanos: Nespresso Capsules OriginalLine Ispirazione Firenze Arpeggio
If your favorite coffee is a classic Americano, give Apreggio capsules a try. With an intensity rating of nine, this can be used for either .85 or 1.35-ounce cups. Made from a mix of Central American and South American Arabica coffee beans that have been intensely roasted to produce both fruity and malted flavor profiles. The flavor of the coffee is described as intense and grilled, with cocoa notes and some woodiness as well.
The order comes with five boxes with 10 capsules each, but you can order in larger quantities if you prefer. These capsules are not compatible with Nespresso Vertuoline machines.
Best for Cappuccinos: Nespresso Ispirazione Italiana Venezia
This blend of Brazilian and Colombian Arabica beans is ideal for a cappuccino, latte, or any milk-based coffee drink, frothed or not. Tasting notes include caramel and cereal, as well as a light fruitiness. With an intensity rating of eight, this capsule provides just enough coffee flavor when mixed with milk but won't overpower the sweeter elements that make for a great cappuccino, like cinnamon, brown sugar, etc. Nespresso even uses the Ispirazione Venezia capsule to make a special tiramisu cappuccino—a recipe that can be found on the company's website.
The Venezia capsule is relatively new to the Nespresso line and isn't as readily available as other varieties, but it comes at the same price point and can be ordered in any desired quantity off the brand website. Note that these capsules are not compatible with Nespresso VertuoLine machines, only OriginalLine.
Best for Variety: Nespresso OriginalLine Ispirazione Espresso Variety Pack
If you haven’t yet picked a favorite Nespresso capsule, a variety pack lets you sample different espresso varieties without committing to one of them. It’s also great for guests, who can choose different coffees to suit their own preferences. This pack comes with a total of 100 capsules, with 10 of each type of coffee. The varieties include Capriccio, Fortissio Lungo, Roma, Vivalto Lungo, Volluto, Cosi, Firenze Arpeggio, Ristretto, Ristretto Decaf, and Livanto. The intensity ratings in this collection range from four to 10, and each capsule brews a 1.35-ounce cup of coffee.
These capsules are not compatible with Nespresso Vertuoline machines.
Best Bargain: Bestpresso Variety Pack
If you love your Nespresso machine but wish the capsules were just a little less expensive, these Nespresso-compatible pods by Bestpresso can save you some money. This kit comes with 120 pods, with 20 of each variety. They are certified kosher, have no preservatives or sugar, and when you’re done making coffee, the capsules are recyclable. The included varieties are Ristretto, Intenso, Arabica, Espresso, Lungo, and Verona with intensity ratings ranging from six to 12. These capsules are not compatible with Nespresso Vertuoline machines.
Best for Vertuo: Nespresso Capsules VertuoLine Variety Pack
If you’ve purchased one of the newer Vertuo machines, this variety pack will give you three different types of coffee to sample and savor. The pack includes 10 capsules of each variety, for a total of 30 capsules, so you’ll have enough for about a month of coffee. The first variety is Stormio, which is made from Guatemalan washed Arabica beans and Nicaraguan Arabica beans and has an intensity rating of eight.
The second variety is Odacio, which is made from roasted Central American Arabica beans and lightly roasted east African Arabica beans, with an intensity rating of seven. Its flavor is described as full-bodied with a slight fruitiness.
The third variety is Melozio, which is made from Central American Arabica beans and Brazilian Bourbon coffee beans, resulting in an intensity of six. The beans are split roasted which gives them sweet cereal notes and a smooth texture with sweet notes of honey.
These capsules are only compatible with Vertuoline machines and will not work with the original machines.
Best Dark Roast: Nespresso OriginalLine Ispirazione Palermo Kazaar
With an intensity rating of 12 out of 13, the Nespresso Ispirazione Palermo Kazaar makes a darkly delicious cup of coffee. The blend contains three different types of coffee beans, two of which are sourced in South America and the third from Central America. The resulting flavor is extremely bold and the shot itself is super rich in body. There's also a mild spiciness that sets the capsules apart from many other dark roasts. Brace yourself for the scrumptiously bitter aftertaste, almost like eating dark chocolate. The Palermo Kazaar capsules will wake you up in the morning with a punch of caffeine or give a taste of late-night decadence. Keep in mind that these capsules are only compatible with OriginalLine machines.
Best Light Roast: Nespresso VertuoLine Voltesso
It may be slightly counter intuitive, but light roast coffee often offers more intricate and layered flavor profiles than dark roast coffee. (We're all familiar with an overly smoky dark roast that blocks out any other flavor.) This light roast is widely popular precisely because it features a unique blend of tasting notes. On one hand you get hints of creamy biscuit and, on the other, a subtle sweetness. Nespresso gives the Voltesso an intensity rating of four out of 13, and the beans are sourced from Brazil and Colombia. These gentle capsules are delicious whether they are used for an espresso shot or latte.
Best Decaf: Nespresso Capsules OriginalLine Ispirazione Ristretto Decaffeinato Italiano
If you like coffee, but you’re cutting back on caffeine, Nespresso has you covered with these Ristretto Decaffeinato capsules. With an intensity rating of 10, the tasting notes include strong roasted notes and hints of chocolate, thanks to the mix of Arabica and Robusta beans. Each capsule makes .8-ounce or 1.35-ounce cups. The coffee in these capsules is made from Latin American and East African Arabica beans that are blended with Robusta. The beans are all slowly roasted for fruity and acidic notes, resulting in an Italian-style coffee that’s rich and full.
You'll get three boxes with 10 capsules each. These capsules are not compatible with Nespresso Vertuoline machines.
Best Flavored: Gourmesso 50 Fairtrade Flavored Espresso Capsules
Coffee has great flavor on its own, but sometimes you want just a little something extra. These capsules give you extra flavor without resorting to sweet syrup or flavored coffee creamer, and you can try a new flavor every weekday with these capsules from Gourmesso.
You'll get a generous amount of capsules, with five boxes of ten pods of each flavor for a total of 50 capsules. This includes Carmello (caramel), Cioccolato (chocolate), Nocciola (hazelnut), Vaniglia (vanilla), and Noce di Coco (coconut). All flavors have a relatively low intensity rating of five.
These capsules are not compatible with Nespresso Vertuoline machines.
What to Look for in Nespresso Capsules
Identifying the type of roast you like—light, medium, or dark—is a great place to start when trying a new coffee. But it can get even trickier than that. Keep an eye out for a blend's tasting notes, usually written somewhere on the bag. With a dark roast, for instance, you might like one that has notes of chocolate but not notes of smokiness, or vice versa.
Nespresso labels the intensity of its capsules on a one to 13 scale. Lower numbers are on the lighter side while higher numbers are darker. This is a quick and easy to identify the kind of capsules that are best for you. It's worth experimenting with a few different intensities, of course, especially if you're interested in making different drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
Vertuo or Original
Nespresso manufactures two different types of machines: VertuoLine and OriginalLine. The former brews drinks in larger sizes and the latter focuses on smaller, espresso-sized beverages. Each one requires its own kind of capsule which cannot be used in the other machine, so check what kind of Nespresso maker you have before purchasing capsules.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer who specializes in product reviews and recipes. Her work has appeared on Serious Eats, Fine Cooking, and her own recipe blog, Cookistry.com. She's also the author of Make Ahead Bread, a cookbook meant to simplify the bread-baking process.
This piece was edited by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. At home, he typically makes coffee with the Bodum Brazil French Press (view at Amazon)—a great budget option, especially for those who prefer non-electric brewers.