Capsules of Coffee: Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo, Senseo: The Guide
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?
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:
- Open a new Nespresso capsule and empty it. Save the coffee.
- 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.
- Make a cup of coffee with it and taste.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.