Capsules of Coffee: Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo, Senseo: The Guide

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Coffee capsules are becoming a widely adopted method of making coffee at home or at the office.

If you have a coffee capsule system at home, you know how good it is. How many times have you bought a cup of coffee at a restaurant and thought that your home coffee tastes better? Trends suggest that restaurants will adopt this emerging technology sooner or later.

If you don't have a one-cup coffee maker, read on to gain information about which products might be right for you, and if you already have one, read on to find out new options you might be missing!

In this article, I'll answer these questions:

  • Can you refill coffee capsules?
  • What are the different machines on the market?
  • Which machine is best?

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Refilling a Coffee Capsule

Have you ever tried to refill a Nespresso capsule? It's not complicated. There are lots of how-to sites and video tutorials out there. There are also cheaper substitute capsules.

But... how does it taste? Is there any foam in the top? I did a test to find out, and the response is yes, it tastes good, although never as good as the original. And the foam? Yes there is foam in the coffee.

I wondered if they were adding some ingredient to make the foam, but this trial made it clear that there were no additions to the coffee to make it foam.

Taste Test for Refilled Capsules

You can do another experiment:

  1. Open a new Nespresso capsule and empty it. Save the coffee.
  2. Take the aluminum cover off the front of an empty used capsule. Fill it with all the coffee you saved. Use the aluminum cover on the surface of the capsule and make it suitable to be reused.
  3. Make a cup of coffee with it and taste.
  4. Well... if the used capsule recovered somehow a minimum of the original sealing, you will get a cup of coffee as good as the original.

Conclusion: The secret of capsule coffee is the coffee. If you use good coffee, you can refill the capsules and still get a good cup of coffee.

Brands: Nestle's Many Faces

Nespresso, Nescafe, and Dolce Gusto

Nespresso

The first manufacturer to open the market was Nestle with Nespresso. Although Nestle released their product to the Swiss market in 1976, it wasn't until 1988 that it became a success. Today, Nespresso has sold 20 billion capsules and is the main coffee capsule maker, with a share of more than 20% of the European ground coffee sales market.

Nespresso has protected their market with more than 70 patents that cover relevant aspects of the whole system, the machine, and the capsules. Even though the coffee machines are branded by several manufacturers (in other words, even though the brand names are different), all the machines are built by the Swiss manufacturer EugsterFrismag, with the only exception of DeLonghi that builds their own machines.

Nespresso machines work at 19 bar pressure.

Nescafe

In 2006 Nescafe, another brand of Nestle, released another capsule coffee system called Dolce Gusto. Unlike Nespresso, with Dolce Gusto you can make several other types of beverages like Nestea and Nesquik and combinations with coffee like macchiato, cappuccino, and latte. While Nespresso aimed to please the coffee gourmets, Nescafe aims wider, delivering thirteen varieties of blended coffee, several new kinds of coffees, and seasonal variations with flavours like vanilla, almond, and cinnamon.

Although you can buy Dolce Gusto capsules at the supermarket and grocery stores, Nespresso capsules are only sold by Nespresso itself.

Dolce Gusto machines work at 15 bar pressure, as do most espresso machines on the market.

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Tassimo

Since 2004, Tassimo by Kraft Foods is the best in the capsule coffee market. It's a mix between Nespresso and Dolce Gusto as it offers a good assortment of styles (regular, cappuccino, latte, macchiato, etc.) and several other beverages by brands like Twinings (tea), Milka and Côte d'Or (hot chocolate), flavours like tiramisu and crème brûlée, and coffee by brands like Saimaza, Maestro Lorenzo, Carte Noire, Kenco, and Starbucks since 2010.

Tassimo coffee machines work at 3.3 bar pressure.

Lavazza and Yperespresso

Lavazza, the italian coffee maker, has developed a system called Lavazza Blue, covering a wide range of machines—from home to office and even vending—and a big assortment of beverages consisting in coffee specialties, teas, and infusions.

Illy, another italian coffee maker, has released the method Yperespresso with several machines focused exclusively in the espresso coffee market.

Senseo

In Senseo, Sara Lee's brand, the machines are Philips-made and its coffee, by Douwe Egberts (Marcilla in Spain), is by far the cheapest of all. It cannot be considered espresso coffee—it's more like filtered coffee due to the use of a filter paper capsule (pod) and a lower pressure system (1.5 bars). With Senseo you can have only ten coffee varieties available, including cappuccino.

Nowadays, you can find filtered coffee makers that are compatible with Senseo pods for single-serve uses.

Things to Consider When Buying a Coffee Capsule System

In case you want to be the owner of a capsule coffee system, you should know that you will pay more for every coffee. But in exchange you will always get the same quality of coffee every time, you will quickly forget how to load a drip coffee machine and how to clean it too, and last but not least, you will have many choices of coffee varieties to offer your guests or just to cover the varied tastes of your family.

Best? If I were to choose one system now, It would be the Tassimo because of its multifunctionality and the wide variety of tastes and beverages available. Tassimo capsules are sold in grocery stores (unlike Nespreso, which you have to buy on their webpage).

Espresso? The only problem with Tassimo is that 3.3 bar pressure is not enough to deliver the best espresso coffee.

Sugar? If you take the coffee with a lot of sugar, then maybe your best choice is between Tassimo and Dolce Gusto, which is a good option because of its multifunctionality and because I guess that the quality of the coffee is slightly less important.

Cost? If your budget is low or you prefer filtered coffee, then your choice is Senseo, which has the cheapest machine and capsules.

Coffee? If you are a fan of George Cloney and want a real exclusive coffee system with a big assortment of well-designed coffee machines, you definitively should buy a Nespresso.

19 comments

juan from coffee-pod-machines 5 years ago

Marcilla is only marketed in Spain


ManuelFrBarcelona profile image

ManuelFrBarcelona 5 years ago Author

You are right Juan. Marcilla was acquired by Douwe Egberts in 1981. Douwe Egberts is the coffee brand of Sara Lee. Nobody knows Douwe Egberts in Spain. Thus, Senseo is Marcilla and Philips in Spain and Douwe Egberts and Philips for the rest of the world.


Anita Murti 5 years ago

I like and enjoy drinking Nespresso capsule coffee only wondering if it is processed filtered??

thank you and appreciate your response


ManuelFrBarcelona profile image

ManuelFrBarcelona 5 years ago Author

Hi Anita,

Do you mean if the coffee is pre-processed? If Nestle is additing some components to the coffee to make it taste better?

If your question is about if the coffee is not espresso, I only can say that 19 bar, is the pressure enough to make espresso coffee. So, no doubt about it.

Filtered coffee is made when hot water pass through the ground coffee with the only pressure of gravity force.

Thanks for your comments.


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Useful and educative hub,thanks.


Jordan 5 years ago

Hi,just wondering.can u use tassimo capsules in a dolce gusto machine?

Thanks


ManuelFrBarcelona profile image

ManuelFrBarcelona 5 years ago Author

Hi Jordan. Tassimo and Dolce Gusto are different systems. Capsules are not compatible.


trytosave 4 years ago

i have a new Dolce Gusto that providdes 15 bars pressure. Is there a refillable capsule I can purchase? The Keurig has a refillable pod.


Lisa 4 years ago

Hi there. DO the pods for the delonghi nespresso machine fit the dolce gusto machine?

Lisa


ManuelFrBarcelona profile image

ManuelFrBarcelona 4 years ago Author

Hi Lisa,

A pod is ground coffee inside sealed paper filter. It's filtered coffee, not expresso coffee. Dolce Gusto and Nespresso are expresso coffee systems, that work without filter and at high steam pressures.

Dolce Gusto and Nespresso use capsules. They use slightly different shapes and sizes. You can try a Nespresso capsule in a Dolce Gusto machine, though, i don't think it works, mainly because they are different sizes.


ManuelFrBarcelona profile image

ManuelFrBarcelona 4 years ago Author

Hi trytosave,

I'm sorry but don't really know any refillable system for Dolce Gusto.

As far as I know, Keurig has it's own capsule system called K-Cup, that fits exclusivelly for their own coffe machines.


steve brown 4 years ago

Can you use tassimo coffee pods in a delonghi coffee maker.


ManuelFrBarcelona profile image

ManuelFrBarcelona 4 years ago Author

There are Delonghi models compatible with Tassimo pods. I have no experience in adapting Tassimo pods to other filter machines, but I know thatyou can find filter coffe makers compatible with single serve Tassimo pods. So it's a question of checking it.


Ricki 4 years ago

Just wondering....what did you mean by saying, if you like sugar with your coffee then go with dolce gusto? I have a Dolce Gusto but am considering switching to Nesspresso. My only question is, is the quality of coffee that different? Would it be a waste of my money to switch since DG has a 15 bar pressure anyway. Also, I read somewhere that DG adds sugar to their coffees?


ManuelFrBarcelona profile image

ManuelFrBarcelona 3 years ago Author

Hi Ricki.

I am not aware about what kind of additives, a capsule coffe gets inside. I would think, none, but sugar could be one of them. Did you hear about "torrefacto coffee"? Nevertheless, it's not in that sense that I wrote the sentence. I would rather mean, as you noticed, that in my opinion, Nespresso have better coffee inside its capsules than Dolce Gusto.

I don't think the differences in pressure makes the difference in the taste, but I strongly believe is the marketing orientation imposed by Nestle that makes Nespresso a better product, with much variations of coffee, and only coffee, since the beggining.

Actually an espresso really needs only about 9 bars of pressure to be done, but I guess that all the process involved with the aluminium capsule needs more pressure to be able to generate an equivalent espresso. Nevertheless there is a controversy about the "red mottled crema " generated with an espresso machine and the "pale foam" generated with a nespresso machine, that could be due to he extra pressure involved. I don't know.

But, if you are one of those persons that likes to take coffee without sugar then, sooner or later, you will appreciate the difference between an excellent coffee, a diferent coffee, the coffee you like most, and a bad coffee. And I believe that nespresso capsules have the best moult coffee inside.


Ricki 3 years ago

Thank you. This was very helpful :-)


Fractile 3 years ago

Hi - You replied to Lisa in June 2012:

"A pod is ground coffee inside sealed paper filter. It's filtered coffee, not expresso coffee. Dolce Gusto and Nespresso are expresso coffee systems, that work without filter and at high steam pressures."

I have a Nespresso machine and have been inspecting the used pods. On Lisa's point, the Nespresso pods do have a filter; it's a hollow ring of filter paper positioned inside the tapered end of the pod. (It would need to have a filter of some form, otherwise you would get coffee sediment going through into the cup).

When the pod is clamped in the machine, three prongs pierce around that end, making holes in the plastic pod that intrude into, but don't break, the filter ring. (The filter ring looks like normal filter paper used in filter machines).

So, its seems to me that the coffee made in a Nespresso machine is filtered - but under a pressure of 19 bar - which makes a huge difference in quality extraction to the cup, compared with gravity-fed filter systems.

Other factors that I suspect make Nespresso coffee so superb include: a slight internal pressurization of the pod, as can be seen by the slight convex curvature of the aluminium foil end, which I believe to be either (a) entrapment of CO2 from the freshly-ground beans, or (b) the entrapment of introduced nitrogen gas into the capsule - either of which would prevent the oxidation of the ground coffee and extend the shelf life of the pods.

This, and other points I've noticed about their system make it obvious to me that Nestle have gone to a lot of trouble in coming up with this result. For the sheer ease of use of the machine, the price of the pods is money well-spent for a perfect result every time, compared to (a) messing with a home espresso machine and grinder, and (b) taking the chances on some half-awake/untrained espresso operator in a cafe.

(And no - I'm not an employee of Nestle - just a very satisfied customer of theirs! :) )


larry 2 years ago

What is maximum cup size for cappuccino not to be watered down in nespesso


Marcel 19 months ago

Thanks for the helpful article - insightful.

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