GadgetGuy Asks: can Nespresso pods be used and reused with other coffee?

Start with the coffee

We’ll admit it: we love our Nespresso pod machine, but while the coffee variety Nespresso puts out is pretty decent, we’re still sticklers for the lovely cuppa our local can provide across the road. So we wondered, just what would we have to do to throw that coffee into coffee pods?

Anyone who owns a Nespresso system knows that the capsules used for these machines doesn’t resemble real coffee. The small shiny hat-shaped metal pods contain ground coffee, but the system isn’t designed to take in whatever blend you want to throw at it, with Nespresso asking you to buy refills from its stores.

Take a look on eBay, though, and you’ll find sellers spruiking the reusable pod, a little plastic box with a similar shape and a $30 buck price for ten pods that can be reused roughly thirty times each, offering essentially 300 uses. You bring your own coffee, fill them up, and run them through the machine.

It sounds so awesomely easy. What could go wrong?

It’s worth noting that if you plan on trying this, Nespresso probably won’t like you very much.

When you buy the Nespresso coffee machines, you’re buying into the Nespresso pod system, which serves as your only real way to use the machine. You buy coffee pods from Nespresso and you get coffee, and at roughly 60 to 90 cents per cup of coffee, it’s not a hard ask.

We’re quite happy to pay for it, mind you, but we’re curious to see whether we can replicate the same espresso by loading our favourite blends from other coffee houses into the Nespresso system.

Coffee from the official Nespresso pod on the left, and we want to replace it with coffee from a local coffee house on the right.

The warranty information from Nespresso actually acknowledges the third party pods, by stating:

“Any defect resulting from the usage of non genuine Nespresso capsules will not be covered by this warranty.”

Nespresso even states it a second time in the warranty, just in case you don’t get the message.

“Any defect resulting from the use of capsules which are not genuine Nespresso capsules will not be covered by this warranty.”

Over in the safety precautions section, the manual states:

“This machine works with Nespresso capsules available exclusively through the Nespresso Club. Your Nespresso machine’s proper functioning and lifetime are only guaranteed with the usage of Nespresso capsules.”

So Nespresso doesn’t want you using external pods that it didn’t make, and you have all your warnings right up there in the manual, so don’t go claiming you weren’t told, because you obviously were.

Still, we’re curious to see if we can have a different type of blend from our local come out of our Nespresso machine, so we pressed on.

Coffee loaded in the Emohome reusable pods.

To try this, we needed some reusable pods for the Nespresso pod machine, as well as some coffee from our local shop. The lovely people at Toby’s Estate helped us out here, providing a blend in three different sizes, after we opened a Nespresso pod and showed the level of granularity we needed.

Then, it was to the testing ground, with ten open reusable pods, a spoon, and several cups to see how well this would all work out.

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  1. I have started pulling apart my used Caffitaly pods, a top and bottom plastic sieve I assume can go into recycling, coffee grounds can go in the garden or pot plants, cellophane-like top into garbage but not sure about remaining pod, looks like plastic, can it go into recycling bin too?

  2. I cut the top of the plastic part off of the re-suable pod and actually re-use the actual aluminum capsule. I’ll cut filters (using a quarter to trace) from regular drip filters to place in the caps. It produces a pretty decent espresso! I do agree that it will not be like exactly like the nespresso capsules themselves but it’s pretty close; and after a bit of trial and error in ‘packing’ the coffee (using my thumb) get a very decent cup.

  3. I’ve been looking at scads of posts on this issue and this was far and away the most comprehensive and objective. For once, I finally understand why a bottom-feeder like myself would actually pop for a more expensive cup of coffee!

  4. I have a Caffitaly machine and have been reusing the same 20 pods we got with it, since the beginning of the year. They’re easy enough to pull apart. When you refill them, you cut a square of metal foil that just covers the area, and fold it securely over the edges. If you use too much coffee, it can overload the motor. At least this way I can use my favourite organic fair trade coffee, and know that I’m not contributing to the dumping of tons of plastic waste. I’m sure the manufacturers of the coffee machine or the plastic pods would not be happy. These new machines are like printers which are sold cheaply but only work with the correct brand of ink or toner.

    1. I intend to try refilling Caffitaly pods and was wondering whether the very small perforation on the bottom of the pod should be sealed. I have just bought 800 grams of ground coffee in four separate containers to fill the pods. If it works it will be very economical. If it doesn’t work I have only wasted $23! I have toyed with the idea of buying a grinder but they are so expensive.

  5. for those of which that actually return there pods to nespresso, Nespresso then recycles them and utilizes the aluminum to construct parts of there machines such as the Pixie. The outer metal walls of the Pixie are constructed of 90% of recycled aluminum pods.

  6. Interesting; we have been considering buying reusable pods but wondered about how good it could be, and also worrying whether the plastic ones would be BPA free. I do however also worry about the aluminium in the Nespresso pods as there is said to health problems with aluminium. However the great taste of the coffee seems to outweigh that concern at the moment. But I would like to know if it’s something to be concerned about. Thanks for doing this test!

    1. hi, I’ve been selling nespresso machine for years and nespresso is aware of the health problem with aluminum that’s why they are coating the inside of each capsule with mineral oil so the coffee is not in contact with the aluminum

    2. If you buy the stainless steel replaceable pods they will last forever. A bit expensive, but worth the price. Don’t have to use the sealers that come with when you run out. Just use a thin and cheap aluminum foil. Works great

  7. Just make sure you all be good environmentalists & return your used pods back to the Nespresso boutique stores for recycling. Is also a good excuse to stop by for a free coffee & no i dont work there, just a customer that hated all the Aluminium wasted

  8. i am curious though as to the use of tea leaves as you said because we drink a lot of leaf tea as well so these reusable may be ideal. And secondly as I have neither a nespresso of copy I am curious can I buy a cheaper machine and use the nespresso pods?

    1. There are cheaper machines, though I haven’t seen or heard of amazing results from all of them. Some of them are good: I’ve heard ALDI’s system achieves some pretty decent results.

      That said, if you’re using one for tea, all you’re really doing is filling your own plastic teabags and pumping them with water.

      If you drink a lot of tea, you may want to look at an appliance designed specifically for tea. Breville makes one, and I suspect a few other companies do.

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