Piazza D’Oro fills Nespresso pods: is this better than the real thing?

Different strokes: a cup from the Nespresso pod on the left, a cup from the Piazza D'Oro pod on the right.

Nespresso may have the edge on coffee pods and capsules – hardly surprising, since it practically defined and created the industry – but it’s not the only company making them, with an Australian brand trying its hand at making a pod range.

We’re not normally used to writing about specific brands of coffee here – machines sure, not the stuff that goes in our mouths – but this grabbed our attention when we saw a massive advertising campaign used across the country.

Australian coffee brand Piazza D’Oro has decided to make itself one of the first big companies to provide pre-filled pods and capsules for the Nespresso-compatible machines in regular supermarkets across the country, something Nespresso doesn’t offer itself.

Available in four varieties, the Piazza D’Oro L’Or Espresso range provides a different coffee blend and taste to users of the Nespresso pod system, with intensity ratings of four (slightly weak), seven (standard, available in two blends), and ten (strong). While not as varied as what can be found from Nespresso’s 16 pods, it is, at least, something else, and importantly, can be found at supermarkets, so you don’t have to walk into a Nespresso store and line-up or order online.

But are they any good?

We grabbed a box to see what Piazza D’Oro was doing, since we’ve found – at least in our own experiments – that filling and refilling Nespresso pods is not only insanely hard, but next to impossible to get right consistently.

As we noted back then, there’s more to Nespresso’s coffee capsules than just throwing ground coffee in a pod shaped for a specific type of machine: you have to get the casing and materials right, the coffee packing nailed, and it would be best to talk to Nespresso in order to do this.

A Nespresso pod on the left, the Piazza D'Oro pod on the right.

The last time we checked, neither Nespresso nor its parent company Nestle has shared the exact specifications with any other coffee maker, so while you might be able to buy imitation pods made for the various machines, none are guaranteed to give the same sort of coffee extractions as from what’s capable with the Nespresso Grand Cru capsules.

Still, Piazza D’Oro is trying it with the L’Or, a plastic use-once pod that doesn’t quite follow the same design or use identical materials as the authentic ones.

Designed for use in Nespresso machines, the Piazza D’Oro capsule is constructed from a plastic container thinner than what we saw on the Emohome pods and sealed with a thin layer of slightly perforated plastic.

A Nespresso pod on the left, the Piazza D'Oro pod on the right.

The pods are see-through, allowing you to see and smell the blend, and have to be removed from individually foil wrapped packaging, no doubt to keep the freshness in. The size isn’t exactly the same, with Nespresso’s featuring the hill at the base of its pods, and omitting a need for foil wrapping by making and covering the pod in aluminium.

Throw the L’Or into the your machine and run it, and you’ll find that yes, just like the Nespresso official pods, it does work. Our coffee materialised in front of us, with, some might say, a nicer crema on top.

An extraction from the Nespresso pod on the left, an extraction from the Piazza D'Oro pod on the right.

Over on the flavour, though, we felt that it was a touch burnt, with a very bitter attack on the back of the palate. It’s not just our tastebuds either, with at least one other staffer here reporting the same, something which may reduce when milk is added. Everyone has different taste, however, and you may like it.

We’ll probably stick to the Nespresso official pods, as the varieties seem to taste better for us, but Piazza D’Oro at least seems to have a proper coffee packing facility, and from the looks of things, may be experimenting with its own brand of mass-marketed pods for a while to come.

If you’re after a change, it might be worth grabbing a box.