Nespresso has caused a stir since its launch, but not without controversy. This coffee pod system allows anyone to brew good quality coffee quickly and mess-free. That’s because the pods are sealed and hold a shot of coffee, so all you have to do is put one in a Nespresso machine, which then punches holes in it, forces water through it under pressure, then ejects it into a trash can. The life of a coffee pod is hard!
The controversy comes with the question of what to do with the pods. If you’re a two-person household that only drinks one cup of coffee a day, you’ll have 60 used pods by the end of the month. There is a widespread perception that pods cannot be recycled. In fact, that’s not entirely accurate – in some cases it’s not at all accurate – but we’ll get to that shortly.
There are many other pod coffee systems – sometimes called capsule coffee. If you want to know more, you can read our guide to the best pod coffee machines and the explicit explanation, What is the best pod coffee system? But for now, we are mainly looking at the best Nespresso machines and wondering, should I buy a Nespresso machine?
Are Nespresso machines any good?
As a great philosopher once said, “Define good…” If you love espresso and have a machine, chances are Nespresso is better than you probably think. If you’ve only had instant coffee or coffee from cheaper/older pod machines like Tassimo, Flavia, or Dolce Gusto, you’ll probably think Nespresso is absolutely amazing (assuming you like espresso, anyway).
If you are a total authentic espresso or coffee connoisseur who collects rare types of coffee beans, you may find it hard to convert to Nespresso. But again, it’s probably not as bad as you think.
In other words: making coffee is all about precision. True coffee experts and professionals will often weigh the exact amount of coffee used per dose and time its extraction with a stopwatch, using water at the exact temperature and pressure. Well, Nespresso machines have the exact same amount of coffee in each pod, and the process of forcing water through it to extract flavor is exactly the same every time. They are nothing if not precise.
The other huge advantage of Nespresso machines is that there is no mess and almost no effort. There are a few settings you can change, but they’re usually only accessible through a semi-secret menu, and I’m sure most Nespresso users never touch them.
Nespresso makes a HUGE range of pods and since a series of lawsuits, third parties are now able to make the smallest Nespresso pod form – the classic Nespresso, let’s call it – so there’s even more to choose from. There are also larger Nespresso Vertuo pods that work with newer Nespresso machines. These are exclusively made by Nespresso itself, but the choice is still very wide.
I can’t claim to have tried anywhere near the full range of compatible pods, but from what I’ve tried almost all have been very solid quality espresso. I had a few fragrant Nespresso pods which I found a bit gross, but I don’t like flavored coffee. I don’t think I’ve ever had a cup of Nespresso as good as I’ve had with my various espresso and bean-to-cup machines over the years, but hey, these things cost as little as £50. A good espresso machine is usually hundreds from £/$/¥/€.
Can I recycle Nespresso pods?
Contrary to popular belief, Nespresso pods can be recycled in many cases, but not without effort. Official Nespresso pods can be returned to Nespresso, who will take care of everything for you.
Nespresso pods – and third-party compatible aluminum pods – can be recycled by you, but you’ll need to clean them or it’s likely your local recycling service will throw them in a landfill as they’re considered “contaminated”. Hand cleaning coffee residue from hundreds of pods is no fun time idea, so returning them to Nespresso is probably your best bet.
Another increasingly popular option for those concerned about their ecological impact is to buy compostable pods. These don’t last as long as standard pods, but if you drink coffee every day, you won’t have to worry about them fading. As their name suggests, they can simply be put on your compost pile or thrown away, and they will rot into nothing. Or more accurately, they will rot into a nutritious compost that many plants will love.
The other type of pod is the plastic type used by many third-party coffee capsule manufacturers. These are largely do not recyclable and, as such, a bad idea.
What else should I know?
Perhaps the most important thing for any potential Nespresso buyer is that while there are plenty of machines to choose from, at all sorts of price points, the coffee that comes out of them is identical. Nespresso licenses its core technology to brands like Delonghi, Sage, Krups, and Magimix, and they can put them in whatever case they want, add extra features like milk frothers, and sell them to anyone. what price. However, regardless of how the machine looks and costs, the coffee will be always be the same. With that in mind, why not scroll down to see today’s best Nespresso machine and pod prices, or head to our best Nespresso machine deals page…
All coffee machines should be used with filtered water and cleaned regularly. There’s something about the coffee-making process used that seems to make it even more essential for Nespresso machines. Whichever machine you buy, it will tell you when it needs to be descaled, and don’t ignore it when it does or your coffee will gradually get more and more unpleasant.
Finally, I assume you already know this, but there is not just one Nespresso system available. As well as the original, with its small pods and small machines, there’s Nespresso Vertuo, which features slightly larger saucer-shaped pods and slightly larger machines to accommodate them. If you prefer a small espresso or an Americano in the morning, the classic machines are perfect. However, if you want a longer drink without needing to use multiple pods, you should definitely opt for Vertuo instead. The machines are larger, so measure them carefully, but they’re by no means huge and should fit in most kitchens.
So should I buy a Nespresso machine?
If you want the best combination of choice, convenience and recyclability – as long as you get the right pods and put in the effort to recycle them – then Nespresso is a great option. I have found that Nespresso machines of all price points also make very good espresso coffee, as long as you maintain the machine properly and use filtered water. No, it’s not as good as you’ll get from a £1000 bean to cup coffee machine but… of course it’s not.
One last thing before we move on to today’s best Nespresso deals! Although Nespresso is the most popular pod system by a mile, the favorite pod machine of the coffee experts at T3 – that’s me and Derek Adams – is Lavazza’s Mio Modo. This pod system serves up the best coffee and the range of options available is reduced to a much more manageable level, which we prefer. And you can get a Lavazza Mio Modo coffee machine with built-in Alexa. Take THAT, Nespresso!
However, if that doesn’t appeal to you, you can’t go wrong with Nespresso. Its pods are far more diverse and widely available than those of any other system. Once you find a Nespresso pod or pods you like from this wide range, you’ll enjoy great coffee hassle-free forever.