If you already know what Nespresso is and don’t care for my waffling, skip to the CafePod vs Nespresso review bit
Coffee and Nespresso
If (like me) you’re pretty much reliant on coffee before you can function in the morning then you’ve probably looked at the plethora of coffee capsule machines out there from companies like Tassimo, Dolce Gusto and Nespresso. Coffee aficionados would probably tell you otherwise, but to me at least the machines are all pretty much the same thing: water and coffee capsule go in, coffee comes out. Each brand has it’s own range of machines and capsules, so once you’ve bought the machine you’re locked into buying that brand of coffee… at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
I tried a few of the machines before deciding on the Nespresso system (as advertised by George Clooney) – a Nestle company that sells itself on offering a more premium product with coffee capsules only available within select stores of via their mail order “Nespresso Club”. I had weighed up the benefits of other brands being available in supermarkets but I felt the Nespresso product was better and in practice ordering coffee online has been painless.
Until recently, sourcing other brands of coffee to work in my Nespresso machine hasn’t been ideal with most sellers scrabbling about in the murky depths of eBay trying to flog cheap capsules with coffee of unknown origin so it’s always been something I’ve steered away from.
Now it seems that Nestle’s licence for some Nespresso patents have expired meaning that other companies are now free to produce Nespresso-compatible capsules. There are a couple of main players in the UK such as the Dualit NX and CafePod, the latter of which I’ll be discussing further below.
With the cost of a single Nespresso capsule costing around 30p with ?4.95 delivery (free over 200 capsules), any compatible capsules need to be competitively priced to lure customers away from staying loyal to the Nespresso brand. Dualit’s NX range sports five varieties including lungo and decaf but disappointingly the capsules are priced at 33p each with ?6 delivery regardless of how many capsules you order. Caf?Pod capsules are available from decent supermarkets so can be added to your weekly shop – Waitrose sell them for the equivalent of 33p per capsule but they’re cheaper from Sainsburys at 29p each.
Caf?Pod capsules for Nespresso
Choosing the CafePod “Smooth” variety my immediate impression is that the plastic capsules look cheaper than Nespresso’s metallic finish. The end that water is pumped into has several small holes and a thin plastic seal covers the other end.
After running the CafePod capsule in my Nespresso Pixie machine, less water was dispensed into the cup than with a Nespresso capsule. Maybe this is due to the difference in capsule design or perhaps the Caf?Pod is packed with more coffee but it doesn’t seem to be as efficient – I don’t know if this would put any stress on the machine.
Your Nespresso warranty may not honoured if you’ve been using compatible capsules, so it’s worth checking the small print first.
The CafePod “Smooth” (strength rated 5/10) didn’t do it for me on taste either, it wasn’t as smooth as a Nespresso Roma (8/10) and tasted a little bitter.
The issue of less water being delivered intrigued me and on closer inspection it seems that around half of the water intended for the cup is now being collected in the water drip tray. This might be due to the CafePod capsule being slightly shorter than the Nespresso so the capsule isn’t creating as good a seal. If this is the case then it’s a pretty poor design on CafePod’s part.
The Nespresso-compatible market needs to up it’s game on just about every count: price, ease of use, quality and convenience. Whilst Nespresso’s own capsules are generally only available by mail order, they come out top in all other areas. For now at least, Nespresso doesn’t have anything to worry about.
Update #2 – See my second CafePod post: CafePod gets in touch, where I test out a revised capsule design!