If you buy your Nespresso coffee pods directly from Nespresso that’s an expensive way to drink coffee but there are other options that are much cheaper. If you choose carefully then you won’t be able to tell the difference between the best Nespresso compatible pods and the original ones.
It’s easy to be fooled into thinking that you need to buy the Nespresso original coffee pods if you own a Nespresso coffee machine but that is not the case at all.
When you buy the machine you will get some free pods to get you going and information on how to reorder direct from Nespresso but no information at all on cheaper alternatives should you wish to spend less money.
You will also get some information on how it’s important to use the original capsules to get the best out of the machine because if you don’t use Nespresso’s pods then they don’t make any money but as a consumer you can use whatever pods you see fit.
We are all familiar with the phrase “if it’s too good to be true then it probably is” and that makes it easy to think that paying less for a compatible coffee pod will make it less good.
The reality is that Nespresso original coffee pods are actually overpriced and quite expensive for what they are.
There is of course nothing wrong with them and they are hugely popular with many millions being sold each year across the globe but I prefer to look at things from a value for money perspective.
I have owned several Nespresso machines over the years and have consumed a large number of their pods and a very large number of alternative compatible pods and I can assure you that if you carefully select the right compatible pods made by someone else, you will save money without compromising on quality.
To understand why you can get great quality cheap compatible Nespresso pods it’s worth taking a minute to understand why you have to pay so much for the original pods in the first place.
Why are Nespresso coffee pods so expensive?
Nespresso is actually owned by Nestle, one of the world’s largest food and drink companies and they in turn own many large companies that we buy products from every week such as Nescafe and Kit Kat and Perrier water and many more.
In my experience of working for very large companies for many years the mission is to make lots of money.
Because they have lots of money to start with it means that they can produce products that they can market to consumers like you and me and persuade us that it is a better product than it really is and charge a premium for it.
When you buy original Nespresso coffee pods you are paying for many things. Here are just a few:
Not many companies can afford to use George Clooney as the frontman for their product.
Nespresso has used the phrase “brand ambassador” to describe his role but I can promise you he wouldn’t be doing anything at all for Nespresso if they didn’t pay him millions a year to do so.
Nespresso don’t pay that amount of money out for nothing. It creates a perception of quality and sophistication. If George likes it then it must be good.
They have to get their money back on all the millions they spend on advertising and marketing the coffee pods and so that increases the price of each pod that you buy.
If you don’t want to pay for a company’s advertising costs in the price of the coffee you buy then compatible Nespresso pods are a good option.
If you own a Nespresso machine then you will certainly have ordered a tube of 10 of their coffee pods at some point.
Because Nespresso are promoting their brand as top end and high quality the packaging needs to reflect that.
Have you noticed how thick and strong the cardboard is that the pods are packaged in and how nice the design is on the packaging?
All of these things cost money and are expensive to produce but it creates an impression of great quality.
These costs have to be covered by someone and that someone is you, the customer.
If you are not bothered by fancy packaging and you care more about good coffee then compatible Nespresso pods are a good choice.
Nespresso has shops dotted around the country that they call “boutiques” to help make the brand sound more premium.
They are lovely shops that have been kitted out to a very high standard and they all have lots of staff.
Their flagship boutique is in Piccadilly Circus in London. I have visited it many times and it’s very impressive.
It must be one of the most expensive retail outlets in one of the most prestigious locations in the world.
All of that has to be paid for and it all gets added to the price of the pods.
These are some of the reasons why Nespresso pods are so expensive and why, if you do a little bit of digging, you can find some equally good alternatives that cost an awful lot less.
Can you buy Nespresso pods in supermarkets?
You cant buy actual original Nespresso pods in supermarkets as they are exclusively available to order from Nespresso either online or over the phone but the supermarkets do sell compatible pods.
What amazes me is how expensive the compatible coffee pods are in the big supermarkets like Tesco.
They are a little bit cheaper than the Nespresso original ones but not by much and nowhere near cheap enough to justify switching.
The reason is that in the same way that Nespresso need to pay for all of their costs the supermarkets need to do the same.
They need to pay for all of their stores and all of their staff and much more and that gets added to the price of everything.
If you choose to buy compatible Nespresso coffee pods online that’s where the best value is from both a quality and value perspective.
You won’t get the fancy packaging and you won’t hear from George Clooney but you will get great quality coffee that is as cheap as chips.
These are the best 4 compatible Nespresso coffee pods:
These are incredibly cheap compared to the Nespresso original pods but the low price does not mean low quality. The packaging may not be as nice to look as the Nespresso tubes of pods and you won’t find George Clooney promoting them.
All of that adds up to cost savings for you and a tasty cup of coffee that you will struggle to tell the difference between these and the Nespresso originals.
Because of how cheap they are it can plant in your mind that they are not going to be as good so the way to test it is to keep some original pods and then get someone else to make you two coffees and taste them blind without knowing which is which.
We have been pleasantly surprised by these and we think you will be as well.
They are available in 5 different varieties – Espresso, Espresso Intenso, Lungo, Ristretto and Ristretto Intenso so you can select according to the strength you like and the way you take your coffee.
Just add milk to convert any of these into your favourite milk-based drink such as Latte or Cappuccino.
These are made from 100% Arabica coffee beans which are widely accepted to be the better quality of the two most widely used varieties of bean – Arabica and Robusta and therefore offer a smoother flavour with less bitterness.
They work out a lot cheaper than the Nespresso originals but still deliver a very enjoyable cup of coffee. Coffee is a very personal thing so what works for you may not work for others and vice versa. Sticking to coffee made from Arabica beans like these are means they are not the cheapest compatible pods you can buy but they are good quality.
Many hundreds of happy customers have already bought these and left overwhelmingly positive reviews.
These are really interesting because they are made by one of Nespresso’s main competitors – Jacobs Douwe Egberts. They are a big coffee manufacturer in their own right and you are probably familiar with the L’OR instant coffee or you’ve seen it in the supermarket.
What you may not know is that they also own Tassimo so it’s interesting that they are muscling in on Nespresso’s pod business and offering them at a lower price.
If you prefer a brand that you know and trust but you still want to save money then these are worth a try. They are more expensive than the other brands that you won’t have heard of but you know that these guys know how to make coffee.
They are available in a range of different flavours to suit all tastes whether you like your coffee strong or mild.
Another really good option if you are exploring alternatives to the original Nespresso is this variety pack with a selection of 5 different packs all with different taste profiles so you can trial them all and see the ones that suit your palette the best.
Price wise these come in about half the price of what you would pay at Nespresso but they are more expensive than the cheapest options. In a blind taste you would struggle to tell the difference between these and more expensive pods.
Can you use any coffee pods in a Nespresso machine?
No. There are many different types of coffee pod available but there are three main brands that dominate the pod market, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo and Nespresso.
Each brands pods only fit that brand and do not fit any other machines.
Nespresso does two types of pod, original and vertuo. The original pods are the ones we are discussing in this article and are widely available as compatible.
The Vertuo capsules are the newer type of pods from Nespresso that have a barcode on them so that the machine recognises the type of drink when the pod is inserted and it prepares the drink automatically.
These types of pods are harder to come by as compatibles because it’s more expensive to replicate compared to the smaller Nespresso pods.
Can you use a Nespresso pod twice?
No. Each pod has just the right amount of coffee to deliver the equivalent of a single espresso and is for single use only.
Personally I like a double espresso and always have to use two pods to get the size of drink that I like and if you have 3 of those a day (like me) then it can work out quite expensive during the course of a month giving you an even better reason to look for more cost-effective compatible pods.
Choosing a Nespresso machine
The ultimate value for money is to combine the cheapest Nespresso coffee machine with some compatible coffee pods.
Something not everyone knows is that all Nespresso coffee machines produce the same quality of coffee regardless of how much you spend on one.
Every model uses 15 bar of pressure to force water through each pod and into your cup whether you pay £70 for the machine or £500 it’s the same coffee in your cup.
What you pay more for is the design of the machine and the features the machine comes with.
Some machines allow you to select individual drinks or they come with a milk carafe so you can make cappuccinos or lattes with one touch.
If you want it to look good on your work surface you can pay more for one that has some stainless steel but the most cost savvy way to do it is to buy the lowest cost machine and buy cheap compatible capsules.
By adding your own milk frother to a cheap Nespresso machine you can avoid Nespresso’s expensive milk frother and make your own cappuccinos and lattes to replicate what you get in a coffee shop.
Here are some milk frother suggestions:
This article explains more about how to choose a Nespresso machine:
And these are our recommendations visually on one page with full reviews: