Reusable coffee pods are all over online marketplaces and social media – and they seem a great idea! You can save money, reduce aluminium waste and still enjoy a hot coffee in seconds.  You can read this review – or watch the video review here:

Actually, you can already recycle Nespresso aluminium coffee pods. Just return them to any Nespresso shop in Singapore. Used coffee grounds can also be recycled into plant food.

Before we start testing, be aware that using “Nespresso-compatible” pods voids your Nespresso coffee machine warranty.

Reusable pod manufacturers make it clear they are nothing to do with Nespresso — it’s all over their packaging. They’re saying “ If the pod breaks your machine, too bad. Not our problem”

I tested three brands of re-usable coffee pods in my own Nespresso brand coffee machine. 

We’ve had it for three years and use it daily. We mainly use Nespresso capsules. But during the circuit breaker, we also had to use aluminium capsules by other brands. No jams, no problems. 

How do you fill re-usable coffee pods?

For all tests we used Fairtrade Smooth #3 100% Arabica medium fine grind for filter or cafetiere. 

In our tests, the stainless steel pods jammed when they were empty, or too full, or I had not pressed down the coffee. Perhaps it affects the pod’s balance?

  • Use “Medium fine” ground coffee. If it’s too fine, or too coarse, your coffee tastes weak
  • Fill pods only 95% full, so water can penetrate 
  • Press coffee down firmly with a coffee press or a spoon – like barista’s do in cappuccino cafes
  •  If you don’t press coffee grounds into place, coffee is weak. 

Plastic reusable coffee pods — are they food-safe? 

When ordinary plastic is heated, it can release unhealthy BPA chemicals. Coffee pods get VERY hot. So look for “FDA approved, 100% BPA-free plastic”.

Re-usable coffee pods: What we tested

How easy are the pods to use?
Do they jam the machine?
How easy are they to clean?
How does the coffee taste?

2nd Generation Cafilas Stainless Steel Refillable capsule, $29.09

Leaflet says “compatible machine: Essenza, Citiz, Gran Maestra, Maestria, Pixe, Lattissima, le Cube, Inissia D40”

  • Pod tested five times (twice without coffee, thrice with coffee). Jammed three times.
  • We tried filling the pod 95% full, and pressing. Then filling 50% full, and pressing. 
  • Filling 50% with pressed coffee worked best —  pod ejected normally.
  • But water flow is noticeably slower — perhaps the different pod balance “confuses” the machine?
  • Instruction leaflet easy to follow, with (correct) advice to press coffee into place
  • Leaflet says it’s dishwasher safe. But the pod has the smallest drainage holes we tested — you may need a pin to clear them fully. 
  • Coffee tasted cool and weak 

OnLook PAWACA Capsulone Stainless Steel Refillable Coffee Capsule, $17.16

Leaflet says ”compatible with Nespresso coffee machines after 2010, but not Dolce Gusto” 

  • Pod tested four times. (once without coffee, thrice with coffee) Jammed one time. Clear, well-organized instruction leaflet. This was the only brand to (correctly) tell us to fill the pod only 95% full
  • includes a well-shaped spoon to easily press coffee into place 
  • After use, stainless steel pod gets VERY hot
  • Pod has a mesh inner lid. Cleaning is impossible with the soft, little brush provided — I had to use an old toothbrush and running water.
  • Coffee tasted hot and normal

6 piece Set Re-usable Coffee Capsules Set, $5.46

No information provided about machine compatibility.

  • Tested four times, with coffee inside. No jams.
  • No information about the plastic safety. You cannot tell if it’s food-safe or BPA-free. Use at your own risk! 
  • Lid snaps firmly into place — but hinge looks weak
  • No usage instructions
  • Spoon too huge to press coffee into place
  • After use, pod is warm, but you can touch it.
  • Coffee tasted hot and normal

Real Life Review:

Capsulone 2nd Generation Stainless Steel Capsule

OnLook PAWACA Califas Refillable Coffee Capsule

6 piece Set Re-usable Coffee Capsules Set

3 Must-Know Facts:
  1. Stainless steel pods jammed in the machine more 
  2. Stainless steel pods get super hot — and take 5 minutes to cool. If you want to make more than 1 cup at a time, you need extra pods. 
  3. You must fill pods only 95% and press coffee down firmly, or it tastes watery. Only 1 brand provided a shaped spoon to do this
Overall Review:

I wanted to love these! But I did not. The point of coffee pod machines is one-touch convenience — and re-usable pods are not convenient. They were fiddly to clean and fill, and the stainless steel pods jammed when they were too full, or I had not pressed down the coffee exactly right. If you want to avoid disposable coffee pods, it  might be smarter to switch to a cafetiere pot instead.