Best Nespresso Capsules: The DEFINITIVE Guide To Nespresso's Capsule Universe (Types, Top Picks, Alternatives, Caffeine Content & More)

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Nespresso lovers rejoice!

You’ve finally landed on the best Nespresso capsule guide on the Internet.

This article will cover everything you need to know about Nespresso capsules:

  • Best capsules for OriginalLine machines
  • Best capsules for VertuoLine machines
  • Best Nespresso compatible capsules by third-party roasters
  • Reusable capsule options for those who want to grind their own beans

But that isn’t all.

  • We’ll compare costs
  • We’ll compare caffeine content per capsule
  • We’ll recommend capsules for lattes, cappuccinos, and other specialty beverages

Let’s dive right in.

Nespresso OriginalLine vs VertuoLine Capsules

There are two types of Nespresso machines: OriginalLine and VertuoLine.

  • OriginalLine machines brew espresso pods
  • VertuoLine machines brew both espresso and standard coffee pods

There are other differences to know, so check out our OriginalLine vs VertuoLine guide if you’re unfamiliar with each type.

We also have a Complete Comparison Guide To EVERY Nespresso Machine (both OriginalLine & VertuoLine) if you want to see the differences between each machine.

Another Major Difference: VertuoLine machines incorporate capsule-scanning technology, meaning these machines only work with Nespresso brand capsules. OriginalLine machines don’t scan capsules. This is important when talking about third-party roasters.

Nespresso OriginalLine Capsules

Nespresso OriginalLine machines only use OriginalLine capsules–they’re the boxier looking ones–to brew single-serve espresso. Depending on the machine you have, OriginalLine capsules can be used to brew the following:

  • 0.85 oz ristretto
  • 1.35 oz espresso
  • 3.70 oz lungo

At this time, Nespresso offers 6 different “types” of OriginalLine capsules, each designed for a different espresso-sipping experience:

TypeRistrettoEspressoLungoIntensity
IntensoYesYesYes44055
EspressoNoYesNo43927
Master OriginNoYesYes43932
LungoNoYesYes43930
DecaffeinatoNoYesYes43931
Crafted For MilkYesYesNo6

You can make any size beverage with any capsule. These are just Nespresso’s recommendations.

Intenso Capsules

OverviewThe Ultimate Neopolitan Cups
Our FavoriteRistretto (Intensity: 10) is a 100% Arabica blend with coffees from both South America and East Africa. African coffee tends to be brighter with citrus notes, which I absolutely love.
More InfoIntenso capsules are Nespresso’s boldest. They’re all multi-origin blends and mostly 100% Arabica, though the Roma capsule (Intensity: 8) is blended with Robusta. All of these capsules will be strong with intense roasted notes and a lot of deep cocoa. Only the Roma capsule and Ristretto capsule have lighter notes to it.
Get Them!View Ristretto Capsules on Amazon →

Espresso Capsules

OverviewTraditional Is Best
Our FavoriteVolluto (Intensity: 4) is a sweet and light capsule with a blend of Central and South American 100% Arabica coffees. I think it’s the most balanced espresso capsule with a light body, some toasted notes, and a sweet finish.
More InfoDesigned to be smooth and easy-drinking, espresso capsules are on the low-end of the intensity spectrum. They’re all 100% Arabica Central and South American blends with the exception of the Cosi capsule (Intensity: 4), which also has East African coffee blended in. Espresso capsules are specifically designed for 1.35 oz espressos and are not intended to be used for 0.85 oz ristretto or 3.70 oz lungo.
Get Them!View Volluto Capsules on Amazon →

Master Origin Capsules

OverviewMastered By Craftsmen, Inspired By The Land
Our FavoriteEthiopia (Intensity: 4) highlights the country’s bright, fruity coffees by featuring wet-processed 100% Arabica single-origin coffee. This capsule is light, jammy, and delicately complex. It’s my favorite Nespresso OriginalLine capsule of any type.
More InfoThe Master Origin series is really interesting. Each capsule is designed to highlight a unique processing step that defines each region–for example, the Ethiopia capsule above. The end results are impressive, even by non-capsule coffee standards. Processes highlighted include wet-processing (Ethiopia), wet-hulling (Indonesia), and late–harvesting (Colombia),
Get Them!View Ethiopian Capsules on Amazon →

Lungo Capsules

OverviewExtended Pleasure Of An Espresso
Our FavoriteEnvivo Lungo (Intensity: 9) is the only lungo capsule blended with Robusta, giving this capsule a little extra caffeine kick (99 mg vs an average of 77 for all Nespresso capsules).
More InfoLungo capsules are designed for larger 3.70 oz pulls. It’s important to note that the capsules don’t have any more caffeine than ristretto or espresso capsules. They’re just designed to brew more volume without watered-down flavor. Whether you prefer intense or smoother espresso, there’s a lungo capsule for you.
Get Them!View Envivo Capsules on Amazon →

Decaffeinato Capsules

OverviewSame Character Without Caffeine
Our FavoriteVolluto Decaffeinato (Intensity: 4) is the decaffeinated version of our favorite espresso capsule above.
More InfoDecaffeinato capsules deliver the Nespresso flavor you love without the jitters. They’re designed to be brewed at any volume, and there’s an intensity level for any type of espresso drinker.
Get Them!View Volluto Decaffeinato Capsules on Amazon →

Crafted For Milk Capsules

OverviewExceptional Coffee Designed For Milk
Our FavoriteVanilio (Intensity: 6) is a light, vanilla-flavored capsule that’s great for vanilla mocha beverages.
More InfoCrafted For Milk capsules are designed to stand up to added milk for your favorite specialty beverages. This is where you find Nespresso’s vanilla, caramel, and chocolate capsules, though the spicy Corto capsule (Intensity: 11) is an intriguing combination of flavors.
Get Them!View Vanilio Capsules on Amazon →

Nespresso VertuoLine Capsules

Nespresso VertuoLine machines only use VeruoLine capsules. VertuoLine capsules feature a barcode around the rim, which the machine uses for two purposes:

  • Identify the capsule you’re using and brew with optimal parameters*
  • Lock out non-Nespresso capsules

*These parameters include volume, temperature, rotational speed, flow rate, and water contact time.

VertuoLine machines also have the ability to brew standard-sized long coffees in addition to espresso. This means they don’t top out at the 3.70 oz lungo, instead ranging all the way up to 17 oz.

Unsurprisingly, this means there are more different types of VertuoLine capsules.

Note About VertuoLine Machines: While both conventional espresso machines and Nespresso OriginalLine machines use a pump to extract espresso, VertuoLines operate differently. They use Centrifusion–or rapid capsule spinning–to apply pressure. The result is a slightly more whipped beverage with a thicker, foamier crema. I’m partial to the espresso from OriginalLine machines, but to each their own.

At this time, Nespresso offers 8 types of VertuoLine capsules.

TypeVolumeIntensity
Espresso1.35 oz4-11
Double Espresso2.70 oz6-8
Gran Lungo5 oz4-8
Coffee7.8 oz2-9
Alto XL14 oz4-7
Master Crafted Single Origins7.8 oz5-7
Crafted For Milk2.7 oz, 7.8 ozNot Listed
Nespresso Exclusives1.35 oz, 5 oz, 7.8 oz5-8

Espresso Capsules

OverviewTraditional Is Best
Our FavoriteVoltesso (Intensity: 4) is a light and sweet blend of Brazilian and Colombian Arabica beans that stands out from the other espresso capsules for its less intense profile.
More InfoAll of the VertuoLine espresso capsules are blends from Central and South America–there are no African or Asian beans here. And instead of having a separate category for decaf capsules, you can find the Decaffeinato Intenso (Intensity: 7) here.
Get Them!View Voltesso Capsules on Amazon →

Double Espresso Capsules

OverviewTwice Your Espresso
Our FavoriteScuro (Intensity: 8) is a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffees from Central America and features a smoky profile with hints of sweet chocolate and vanilla.
More InfoNespresso offers only a couple of double espresso capsules, and they’re only medium intensity (6-8). Like the espresso capsules above, these are only Central and South American blends with no African or Asian coffees.
Get Them!View Scuro Capsules on Amazon →

Gran Lungo Capsules

OverviewExtend The Pleasure Of An Espresso
Our FavoriteAflorazio (Intensity: 4) is an aromatic Arabica blend with washed East African coffee for a bright, floral espresso with notes of blueberry and jasmine.
More InfoGran Lungo capsules are in the mild-to-medium intensity range and give you a little more espresso than a lungo shot. Unlike the espresso and double espresso capsules above, there are several Gran Lungo capsules that feature African and Indonesian coffee. There’s also a decaf Gran Lungo capsule available.
Get Them!View Aflorazio Capsules on Amazon →

Coffee Capsules

OverviewCoffee For A Longer Experience
Our FavoriteOdacio (Intensity: 7) is bolder than the typical light and fruity single-origin African roasts I prefer, but it does have a blend of Nicaraguan and Ethiopian coffees for a complex profile.
More InfoGran Lungo capsules are in the mild-to-medium intensity range and give you a little more espresso than a lungo shot. Unlike the espresso and double espresso capsules above, there are several Gran Lungo capsules that feature African and Indonesian coffee. There’s also a decaf Gran Lungo capsule available.
Get Them!View Odacio Capsules on Amazon →

Alto XL Capsules

OverviewGet Going With The Largest Cup Size
Our FavoriteIntenso XL (Intensity: 7) is the stronger of Nespresso’s two Alto XL offerings and features a blend of Costa Rican coffee with a washed Robusta bean from Guatemala–something you won’t find in any other Nespresso capsule. This gives the coffee a bold, woody flavor with hints of caramel sweetness.
More InfoIf a 7.8 oz coffee isn’t enough for you (it isn’t enough for me) then Nespresso has you covered with their Alto XL capsules. There isn’t the same variety as the standard coffee capsules above–at this time there are just two Alto XL capsules available–but still, it’s still another option for coffee lovers.
Get Them!View Intenso XL Capsules on Amazon →

Master Crafted Single Origin Capsules

OverviewMastered By Craftsmen, Inspired By The Land
Our FavoriteMexico (Intensity: 7) is an intense, spiced roast with double-washed Robusta beans–a process typically reserved for Arabica. The result is a deep, textured coffee.
More InfoJust like the OriginalLine version of these capsules, Nespresso wants to highlight regions and processes in these single-origin roasts. At the time of this writing, they are featuring Mexico’s double washed Robusta bean and Colombia’s (Intensity: 5) “tweaked” high-altitude washed Arabica.
Get Them!View Mexico Capsules on Amazon →

Crafted For Milk Capsules

OverviewExceptional Coffee Designed For Milk
Our FavoriteBianco Leggero (Intensity: Not Listed) is a strong capsule intended to be enjoyed alone as a double espresso or in a thick double cappuccino. It’s a sweet and caramel roast featuring Kenyan Arabica coffee.
More InfoCrafted For Milk capsules are designed to punch through the thick milkiness of specialty beverages. The Bianco Forte capsule (Intensity: Not Listed) is designed for a Reverso while the Bianco Leggero capsule is designed for a robust double cappuccino.
Get Them!View Bianco Leggero Capsules on Amazon →

Nespresso Exclusives

OverviewLimited Releases With Unlimited Flavor
Our FavoriteNordic Cinnamon Swirl (Intensity: 5) is the only cinnamon-flavored capsule in Nespresso’s arsenal, making it an intriguing choice for the fall and winter seasons. Low in acidity and light in body, it’s best served with a splash of milk and your favorite breakfast pastry.
More InfoNespresso Exclusives won’t be here forever, so try them now while you can. These capsules can brew a variety of different coffee sizes (depending on the capsule you choose) and mostly sit in the medium intensity range. Several of these capsules are on the sweet/dessert end of the coffee spectrum.
Get Them!View Nordic Cinnamon Swirl Capsules on Amazon →

Best Nespresso Compatible Third-Party Capsules for OriginalLine Machines

Your average Nespresso capsule will cost around $0.75 for OriginalLine machines and around $1.00 for VertuoLine machines.

Related: Where To Buy Nespresso Capsules?

While that’s much less than an espresso or latte at your local coffee shop, those costs add up.

With capsule-based coffee machines taking off over the last decade, competitors have sprung up to meet the demand of the coffee-consuming public:

Quality capsule alternatives at an affordable price.

We’ve tasted nearly all of the best Nespresso compatible capsules for OriginalLine machines and have landed on these 5 as the best, factoring in quality, cost, and reliability.

The Coffee Maven's Recommendations

Stuck deciding which model is best for you? Here are our top picks for 3 types of people.

Nespresso Essenza Plus

Coffee Quality (40%)
88
Design & Features (20%)
88
Durability (20%)
90
Ease of Use (10%)
95
Brand Reliability (10%)
92
Overall
90
Nespresso Essenza Plus
The Bottom Line
A hair larger than the Essenza Mini, the Essenza Plus offers a similar espresso experience with a larger 34 oz reservoir and a handy one-touch capsule ordering button right on the machine.
Best For Basic Espresso

Nespresso Creatista Plus

Coffee Quality (40%)
92
Design & Features (20%)
94
Durability (20%)
92
Ease of Use (10%)
95
Brand Reliability (10%)
92
Overall
93
Nespresso Creatista Plus
The Bottom Line
The Cadillac of Nespresso's universe, the Creatista Plus lets you customize your favorites with a digital display panel that offers size selections from 0.85-5 oz, 3 milk temps, and 3 milk textures for a luxurious experience.
Best For Milk-Based Drinks

Nespresso Evoluo

Coffee Quality (40%)
82
Design & Features (20%)
90
Durability (20%)
90
Ease of Use (10%)
93
Brand Reliability (10%)
92
Overall
87
Nespresso Evoluo
The Bottom Line
Nespresso's best VertuoLine model, the Evoluo brews 0.3-17 oz coffee with the largest reservoir (60 oz) and used capsule capacity (17) and shortest time to brew (15 seconds). If you want a VertuoLine, you want the Evoluo.
Best For Tall Coffee Drinkers

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