Led by Nespresso, capsule systems revolutionised domestic coffee drinking. Espresso was once a messy, expensive and time-consuming process – even the smallest machines took up lots of counter space.
Nespresso changed all of that. Suddenly you could have a decent espresso in your own home for a fraction of the price of one in a shop in minutes.
However, convenience came at a price. Strong and light, aluminium was the perfect material to make capsules out of, and could be transported all over the world, retaining the flavour of the ground coffee inside. The downside was the environmental impact.
Although aluminium is recyclable in theory, in practice many coffee capsules end up in landfill, where they can take hundreds of years to break down.
At first, Nespresso’s system was protected by patents that prevented other manufacturers from making capsules for their system. But after a ruling in 2013, the field opened up to third parties. At the same time, advances in materials meant you could have a more eco-friendly capsule without compromising on the quality of your drink.
There are now hundreds of capsules compatible with the original Nespresso machines, which are compostable, biodegradable, and reusable. And, Nespresso themselves have introduced a new range, the Vertuo, protected by a new patent system. But which of these new eco-friendly capsules is the best?
How we tested
We tested them as espresso and lungo drinks, with milk and without, to bring you the list below. There is now an eco-friendly capsule for every taste, so convenience needn’t mean unnecessary waste. Prices are listed for single-purchases, but most suppliers also offer a subscription service.
The best eco-friendly coffee capsules for 2022 are:
- Best overall – Colonna Coffee nuguo honey gesha, 20 pods: £22, Colonnacoffee.com
- Best all-rounder – Roar Gill rare, 10 pods: £5.75, Roargill.com
- Best for carbon neutrality – Kiss the Hippo, 20 pods: £11, Kissthehippo.com
- Best blending – Fireheart palace blend, 40 pods: £16.96, Fireheartcoffee.com
- Best recyclable aluminium pods – Dualit compostable intense espresso, 10 pods: £1.50, Dualit.com
- Best tasting – Blue Goose Ethiopian eco coffee pods, 10 pods: £5.50, Bluegoose.coffee
- Best reusable pod – Maverick SealPod: £18.99, Maverickcoffee.co.uk
- Best supermarket eco-pod – Co-op irresistible Fairtrade coffee pods, 10 pods: £3.65, Coop.co.uk