A Nespresso machine brews flavorful espresso with a press of a button. It sounds so convenient, so what’s not to like? Well, these machines have a big downside — you need to buy single-use pods.
Using a Nespresso machine means having piles of used coffee pods, which aren’t environmentally friendly (or wallet-friendly). Enter the reusable Nespresso pod. You can fill these pods with ground coffee and make a cup of coffee repeatedly without creating waste and spending money on new pods.
Here are all the benefits of refillable Nespresso pods, my selection of the best reusable pod kits, and a buying guide for reusable capsules for a guilt-free brew.
Benefits of Using Reusable Coffee Pods
There are several benefits of using reusable coffee pods.
Reusable pods are eco-friendly. Technically, you can recycle Nespresso pods, but it’s not the most straightforward process. You need to get a special Nespresso bag, collect enough used pods, and either request pod pickup or take the pods to a Nespresso drop-off location yourself. Using reusable pods skips through this process. All you need to do is dispose of used coffee grounds (which can be composted).
We estimate that 326,000 tons of pods go to landfills annually. Using reusable coffee pods reduces the amount of Nespresso capsules sent to landfills, and you can enjoy your coffee guilt-free.
Reusable pods are more budget-friendly. Reusable pods benefit the environment and your wallet as well. It’s much less expensive to buy coffee grounds to fill up the pod instead of a new pod each time. I estimate you will save about $150 dollars per year with reusable capsules, as they cost 40% less than original pods (coffee and kit included).
Reusable pods give you better control over the brew. Coffee purists claim coffee in a capsule can never be of the highest quality. You can’t know when the coffee was ground before it found its way to the pod — it can be months or years. Nespresso pods are sealed for freshness, but time will inevitably get to them, and the coffee grounds can go stale.
Reusable pods give you more freedom and control over the brew. You can grind the beans before brewing to ensure the freshest coffee. Plus, you can use the exact coffee you like.
Getting The Most Out Of Reusable Pods: Tips for Use
Refilling a pod is pretty straightforward – clean the pod, add new coffee, and seal it. That said, there are several tips to get the best flavor from a reusable Nespresso pod.
Use the right grind size. This is the most important advice here. If you’re refilled capsule tastes watery or bitter, it’s not the reusable pod nor the coffee; it’s the grind size. At Craft Coffee Spot, we’ve discussed how important grind size is for good coffee. Make sure the reused pods use the same grind size as the Nespresso-made ones.
- For an Original or small Vertuo pod, that means a fine grind, similar to espresso.
- For a gran lungo or cup-size Vertuo pod, use a slightly coarser grind, similar to an Aeropress.
- You should always grind finer than pre-ground coffee, which is too coarse! You’ll get “watery” Nespresso if you refill coffee with pre-ground coffee.
Here’s an image of different coffee grounds, comparing my espresso grind (far left) next to an Original capsule, a coffee-size Vertuo capsule, and pre-ground coffee (far right). You can see the pre-ground coffee is clearly coarser.
Here’s another zoomed-in photo showing Original (left), large Vertuo pod (middle), and espresso grind (right).
If you’re using a Baratza Encore burr grinder, use setting number 4 for Original/Vertuo espresso and setting number 10 for cup-size Vertuo.
I’ve been using the Baratza Encore ESP recently, which works across espresso to cold brew settings. I use the high end of the espresso settings, which is about 18-20 on the ESP model.
You also need to get the right dose of coffee in the pod. Here are the exact measurements of how much coffee is in each pod:
|Pod size||Coffee dose (grams)|
|Original pods (all sizes)||5|
One way to get the right amount is to use a coffee scale, and we’ve reviewed several coffee scales, where even the cheapest models will work for this purpose.
A shortcut is to fill up the pods to over the top and tamp down. Add enough coffee to overfill the pod comfortably, then firmly tamp the coffee to pack it in, just like making espresso. The kits I recommend include a scoop that works for this purpose or use a spoon to tamp capsules.
The tamp is important, and I noticed more watery coffee with loose or under-dosed grounds. With the original pods, I filled and tamped two separate times to add 5g of coffee that was originally in the pod. The smaller pods are harder to refill.
But I don’t want to overstate it either. We’re not using a semi-automatic espresso machine here, so there’s no perfection here. Just make sure there is a little space before sealing.
Make sure the lid is fully sealed. Brush off any coffee grounds from the edges, and make sure the lid covers all the edges evenly. I tried using plain foil as a home kit, but water came out of the sides, and the coffee was poorly extracted; hence, I recommend the reusable pods below.
Should You Get a Reusable Pod or Refillable Pod Kit?
Let’s distinguish two types of options: reusable and refillable. A reusable pod means a new pod specially made to be used repeatedly. A refillable pod is a kit to reseal one of Nespresso’s pods with new coffee.
Reusable Pod (best for Original models)
You can get two kinds of reusable Nespresso pods: plastic pods and stainless steel reusable pods. These are available for both lines of Nespresso machines (Vertuo and OriginalLine, more below). Each reusable pod can be used several times.
Both plastic and stainless steel reusable pods come with two kinds of pod lids: a single-use sticker cap lid or a latching lid. The latching lid is permanently attached to the pod.
Reusable pods work pretty much the same way as an original Nespresso pod. However, I noticed differences in my coffee based on how the pod is sealed.
Reusable pods with a latching lid often don’t sustain the same pressure as original Nespresso pods or sticker-sealed pods. This results in less crema in your espresso and a weaker cup.
I recommend using a pod with a foil lid top. This is easily puncture by the top of the machine, but also allows the water to flow through the finely ground coffee.
The foil lid mirrors how the pods typically work, so you can usually mimic the original flavor. Foil lids must be replaced with each use, but they will work better over time.
I have yet to find a reusable pod that works with Vertuo machines. I have tried some of the stainless steel dome style pods to refill, but they have not worked. Some don’t have a barcode and won’t work at all. Other times, the holes are too small, leading to grind size issues. If I recreate the fine grind size, the coffee won’t flow (sometimes, my machine has clogged). If I grind coarser, the coffee is weak and watery.
Refillable Pod Kits
A pod kit allows you to refill an existing Nespresso pod. You need a refillable Nespresso pod kit for a Vertuo machine because VertuoLine Nespresso machines use pods with barcodes printed on the side. VertuoLine machine can’t make coffee if the pod doesn’t have a barcode.
A refillable pod kit usually comes with up to 100 aluminum foil seal lids.
To use refillable Nespresso pods, follow these steps:
- Remove the foil lid using an Xacto knife. You can recycle this lid.
- Completely clean out the pod
- Refill the pod like discussed before
- Place the seal on the refilled pod.
- Press firmly around the edges! This is important as the lids can slip off, causing ground coffee to get into your drink.
The most important thing when using a refillable pod kit is to properly seal the capsule. Pod kits usually have a brush that helps you depress the outside edge of the foil to the pod. This ensures the pod is sealed properly and can withstand the brewing pressure.
Individual Reviews: The Best Reusable Nespresso Pods
VertuoLine Refillable Pods
1. AIEVE Aluminum Foil Seals Kit for Nespresso Capsules
- Pod Type: Refillable Kit
- Quantity: 80 seals
The AIEVE kits are my favorite choice for Vertuo machines, and I’ve never had issues. This kit for refilling the capsules contains 80 pieces of aluminum foil for sealing the lid.
You need to empty your old Vertuo pod, clean it, refill it with coffee, and put the aluminum foil on top. You can also refill the pods and seal them in advance, so you don’t have to go through the whole process when you want a cup of coffee.
The package contains a capsule holder, scoop for filling the pod, cleaning brush, and aluminum foils. There’s everything you need to fill the pod with no mess.
2. Geesta Reusable Aluminum Foil Seals
- Pod Type: Refillable Kit
- Quantity: 120 seals
Geesta aluminum foil seals are made specifically for Vertuoline pods, so they don’t cover the barcode. This is crucial for VertuoLine machines because the machine won’t work if there’s no barcode on the pod.
Geesta includes 120 lids per package, and it’s the cheapest price per lid out there.
One downside is you only get the lids — there’s no reusable pod, holder, and brush, which makes them less convenient than the AIEVE lids. You need to empty out a used VertuoLine pod, clean it, refill it, and then attach a Geesta lid while balancing the round-bottom Vertuo pod.
The manufacturer says these lids are made with extra-thick, food-grade aluminum foil, which doesn’t rip. However, some users complain of lid tearing, so be careful of overpacking the pod, which is probably the culprit.
3. Capmesso Coffee Capsule Lids
Capmesso foil lids are compatible with all VertuoLine machines. The lids are BPA free and food safe, so they are easy to work with.
These fit 64mm pods, which includes all sizes of Vertuo capsules. You don’t need to worry about changing for different pod sizes or machine type.
What I like most about this is the durability of the lids. I had the least amount of issues with this kit as the foil is quite durable and has never torn on my Vertuo machine.
OriginalLine Refillable Pods
1. Triplot Reusable Capsules for Nespresso OriginalLine
- Pod Type: Reusable
- Quantity: 6 pods & 100 Lids
This refillable pod kit for OriginalLine machines includes six pods, a spoon and a spoon handle, a storage board, silicone holders, and 100 foil lids.
Note: The pods aren’t compatible with Essenza Mini or Vertuo machines.
The pods are stainless steel and come with silicone holders, so you can prefill them and place them in the holder. The coffee will stay fresh for up to seven days. Pre-filling is more convenient, as you don’t have to waste time filling the pods every time you crave caffeine.
2. i Cafilas Reusable Capsules Refillable Coffee Pods
- Pod Type: Reusable
- Quantity: 2 pods
i Cafilas reusable capsules are compatible with all OriginalLine machines. They are made of food-grade stainless steel, which means they are durable and safe to use.
These pods have a snap-on design, which makes them easy to close and use.
The package includes a stainless steel capsule, cleaning brush, scoop, tamper, and stick foil lids. I was particularly happy with the tamper. This isn’t something many other kits include, and it’s a useful accessory because you need to make sure the pod’s coffee grounds are tightly tamped.
The pod has a sealing ring which provides tight sealing and reduces the friction between the pod and the machine.
3. SEALPOD Nespresso Reusable Capsules
- Pod Type: Reusable
- Quantity: 2 pods & 100 Lids
Sealpod reusable capsules are compatible with all OriginalLine devices except for Essenza D90.
The package includes a set of two refillable Nespresso pods, 100 Nespresso foil lids, one spoon, two o-rings, two fresh covers, and even a sample coffee pack (nice touch). You can prefill the pods with your preferred coffee mix and use them in rotation. Also, the coffee sample is useful for having a reference as to how you should grind your coffee.
These pods are made to be used with aluminum lids, so there’s enough pressure inside to brew rich espresso. The sealed lids come off easily. I liked that there’s a little tab that you can use to pull the top off quickly.
What to Consider When Buying Reusable Nespresso Capsules
Original Line or Vertuo Line
There are two kinds of Nespresso machines: VertuoLine and OriginalLine. These Nespresso machine ranges work differently and use different kinds of capsules, which aren’t interchangeable. If you already have a Nespresso machine, check which type it is because you need to use compatible pods.
OriginalLine machines create enough pressure to push water through the coffee grounds (same as traditional espresso machines) similar to espresso. Their pods are all one size and are cup-shaped.
VertuoLine machines read the barcode printed on the side of the capsule and automatically adjust the brewing parameters (temperature, volume, cup size). This machine spins the pod 7,000 times per minute to blend the water and the grounds, which results in a flavorful drink and a thick crema. Vertuo pods are bowl-shaped and come in different sizes, depending on the kind of drink you want to brew.
This is why you need to check which machine you have and buy the correct reusable pods. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with pods you can’t use.
The lid is the most important part of a Nespresso pod. This is what lets pressure build-up, so you have a flavorful espresso with good crema, so choose the lid carefully when shopping for reusable Nespresso capsules.
Generally, lids for Nespresso pods are sticker-type or latching tops. You dispose of sticker lids after use. The latching lid is a part of the capsule and can’t be disposed of.
Keep in mind you need to restock the sticker lids. Also, you’ll dispose of these lids each time you use them, so they lose some of the convenience of the refillable pods and aren’t very environmentally friendly.
However, sticker lids can generally handle higher pressure build-up, which means your espresso will have a richer crema.
Most refillable espresso pods are made of stainless steel, which is the safest and the most durable option. However, the lids come in a variety of materials.
Most lids are made of aluminum, so at least they are easy to recycle. There are also a few pods with stainless steel lids, which can maximize the sustainability of your reuse.
Reusable pod lids can also be made of plastic. I skipped all the plastic options in my choices because plastic isn’t the healthiest nor the most eco-friendly option.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What coffee grind size to use for reusable pods?
Use fine grind size for OriginalLine, and medium-fine for VertuoLine reusable pods. Coffee grind size is extremely important for espresso, especially for reusable pods, as you want to make sure there’s enough pressure for good extraction and a flavorful drink.
Will reusable pods damage my machine?
Reusable pods shouldn’t damage your machine. The only time this has come up is with the reusable capsule for Vertuo machines, and therefore, I recommend the refillable kits. The most important thing is to make sure you use the pods compatible with your Nespresso machine (OriginalLine or VertuoLine), while some options aren’t compatible with the Vertuo Next and Essenza Mini.
How many times can you reuse a pod?
Technically, you can reuse a pod an infinite number of times. Exactly how long you can reuse a pod depends on the:
Material — Stainless steel pods will last longer than plastic ones.
Maintenance — You need to regularly wash and clean your pods for long use.
Frequency of use — The more you use your pods, the faster you’ll need to replace them.
Getting The Best Of Your Reusable Nespresso Pods
Reusable Nespresso pods are an excellent way to be more eco-friendly and save money. Plus, you can use the exact coffee mix you like. However, my advice is to always use freshly-ground coffee and make sure the grind size is medium-fine to fine.
If you’re looking for a perfect Nespresso machine for you, check out our round-up of the best Nespresso machines.