How do I choose a nespresso capsule? The complete guide

Nespresso machines use pre-packaged single-use capsules to make coffee. However, how do you choose a Nespresso capsule that suits your coffee preferences?

Nespresso capsules vary in the type of roast, strength, grind, origin, and intensity. To choose a Nespresso capsule that suits one’s coffee preferences, consider these factors. Nespresso capsules are convenient and are available in a wide variety of flavors.

Here are some things to consider so you can choose the perfect Nespresso capsule for you.


Which Nespresso capsule will suit your coffee preferences best varies depending on the type of roast you prefer. Lighter roasts generally have slightly more caffeine, and dark roasts typically have less. This can be helpful to keep in mind, as some Nespresso pods (including third-party ones) do not always list the caffeine content of the coffee.

Here are the different types of roasts you might find being sold in Nespresso capsules.

  • Light Roasts: Light roasts have the shortest roasting process due to having little to no oil on the surface of the beans. Light roasts look light brown in color and keep most of the bean’s flavor. They are acidic and grain-like in taste.
  • Medium Roasts: Medium roasts have a slightly longer roasting process and produce more balanced, aromatic beans. Medium roasts don’t have an extremely oily surface, but they are rich in color. Medium roast beans have more balanced flavors and aromas than other kinds of roasts.
  • Dark Roasts: Dark roasts are deep chocolate in color and have an oily sheen on the surface. Since dark roast beans spend the longest amount of time being roasted, they lose a lot of their original flavors. Instead, they are smoky and bitter in taste.

Flavor and Strength

When considering which Nespresso capsules will suit your coffee preferences, consider how strong you would like the coffee to taste. Generally, the stronger a coffee is, the more harsh and bitter it will taste on its own without milk or sweeteners.

It is often easier to taste differences in flavor (such as the flavors that may occur based on the region a coffee bean is grown in) in coffee that is mild or medium in strength. Dark-roasted coffee is often bold enough to mask subtler flavor variations.

Usually, the taste of darker roasted coffees is stronger. This is because the beans have been roasted to the second or even third crack, which releases more of their oils. This may make them taste more robust than other coffee types.

There are several different ways to describe the dimensions of a coffee’s flavor, and they can typically be put into a few different categories. These categories will likely be mentioned in some form in the description of Nespresso pods, so you can use them to find a Nespresso coffee pod that you will enjoy.


Most coffees are not particularly sweet without milk, creamer, or sugar, but some coffees do have hints of sweetness that add a lot to the taste. Darker roasts may taste like molasses or caramel, while light roasts might have hints of berries, honey, or flowers.


Aroma describes the smell of coffee, which affects how it will taste. Coffee may taste more or less floral or may have other regional notes. Coffee grown in Latin America may taste and smell like chocolate, caramel, or nuts. Meanwhile, coffee grown in Asia might taste earthy or like dark chocolate. Beans grown in Africa can contain floral or fruity notes.

Of course, there are much more specific notes that occur when coffee beans are grown in specific regions, and coffee may have aromas that are reminiscent of certain types of trees or plants.


Similar to acidity, the bitterness of coffee largely depends on the roast. Coffee may taste more or less like dark chocolate, certain fruits, or more or less earthy based on how it has been roasted and where it comes from. You can change the bitterness of your coffee by adding sugar.


Acidity in coffee may make the coffee taste more or less tangy. It can also make the coffee taste more or less like certain types of fruits.


Mouthfeel describes how coffee tastes and could be described as the texture of a cup of coffee. This can be affected by your Nespresso machine and the settings you use. It can also be heavily affected by the type of Nespresso pod you buy, as some are more or less finely ground. Coffee mouthfeel is often described in terms of being heavy or clean.


Aftertaste can be a good or bad thing and is something to consider when buying Nespresso pods. Aftertastes may be harsh, sweet, rich, or floral, and they’ll stick with you longer than the initial flavor of whichever Nespresso coffee pod you choose. A poor aftertaste can ruin an otherwise great cup of coffee.


When determining which Nespresso coffee pods will suit your coffee preferences, you may notice a number on the packaging. This number determines how intense the flavor of the coffee will be. If you want the taste of your coffee to be less pronounced but still like the overall flavor, you can change this intensity by adding cream or milk to your coffee.

Nespresso pods are given a flavor intensity rating between 1 and 13, 13 being the most intensely-flavored coffee in the lineup.

Overall, there are many things to consider when determining which Nespresso coffee pods will suit your coffee preferences. Don’t be afraid to try new Nespresso coffee pods, as many stores will let you return the product if you do not like it. Plus, you can always adjust the flavor and bitterness of the coffee by adding milk, creamer, and sugar.

If you aren’t sure what your coffee preferences are yet but still want to find a great-tasting Nespresso coffee pod, purchase a variety pack of Nespresso pods. The variety pack will allow you to try multiple Nespresso pods and are often cheaper than packages with only one Nespresso coffee pod flavor.

Charlie McFarlane

Specialty Coffee Enthusiast. Hungry for knowledge in the art and science behind specialty coffee and decided to document my journey, while sharing it with the public. More than 10 baristas were interviewed; over 21 farms were visited across 5 countries. Almost 100 Coffee Shops. Bean of choice: Pacamara. Preferred coffee country: Panama. Preferred Brewing Method: Aeropress. Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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