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.
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.
The Emohome reusable pods we chose are made of plastic and feature small holes at the bottom and on the lid at the top, which itself is on a small hinge. You can easily fill these pods up with whatever you want – tea, coffee, etc – and then seal them, throw them in the Nespresso machine, and let the appliance do its best, pumping the pod with water with the 19 bar pump.
An initial test showed a grind of 2 or below was too fine for the machines, effectively turning the coffee into a thick paste no matter how much we packed it in. After consulting with the experts, we had grinds measuring 3.5, 3.8, and 4 to work with.
With our three grinds, we went to work attempting to recreate the espresso from across the road, albeit with a machine that wasn’t designed to work under these sorts of conditions.
Coffee grounds were packed in various ways – loose and full, loose and half-filled, tamped and full, tamped and half-filled – pushed through the Nespresso Maestria on the long or “lungo” setting of 3.
In the more full pods, we thought we had success, with a stronger coffee coming out, though without a strong crema, one of the factors Nespresso pods are known for.
Our testing was showing that a grind of 3.8 was proving the best for us, though it still wasn’t as lovely a cup as was capable from across the road with their professional machines, nor was it as nice as the Nespresso pods.
After trying it in twenty different configurations, we settled on the idea that we probably weren’t going to recreate a Nespresso pod with our own blend, with the reasons coming down to several factors: pod shape and material, type of seal, coffee packing, coffee type, and consistency.
As it stands, Nespresso holds the patent for its capsule-based system, and as far as we know, it hasn’t shared those designs and specifications with anyone else. That means the third-party pods don’t follow exactly what Nespresso has designed around, so the pod sizing and shape isn’t spot on in the way the official capsules are.