Nespresso®-compatible coffee capsule comparison test/review
It’s Friday and the postman rings the doorbell instead of just leaving the post. “That’s interesting,” I think. “What could this be?” To my surprise and delight it was a rather large package containing five boxes of 10 Nespresso®-compatible coffee capsules by Fine Coffee Club. Wow, they mean to impress. (By way of comparison, Gourmesso sent me 8 single capsules, one of each of 8 of its flavours. They may not have the clout of the big coffee producers but they’re extremely friendly and very switched on.) This was handy because we had guests arriving Saturday evening so we could do a taste test and compare the Fine Coffee Club capsules with original Nespresso® capsules.
Fast forward to Monday, and once again the postman rings the doorbell instead of just leaving the post. “That’s interesting,” I think. “What could this be this time?” To my surprise and delight it was an even larger package containing five boxes of 10 Nespresso®-compatible coffee capsules by Carte Noire in a luxurious, gold-ribboned presentation box, plus two double-walled espresso cups by Bodum, bearing the Carte Noire logo. Gosh, Carte Noire wants to impress even more. And yes, Dear Reader, this is a double-whammy sponsored post where I will give my honest opinion about the free samples of Nespresso®-compatible coffee capsules that were sent to me. Do read on, you’ll find it interesting I think.
Back to the weekend taste test. First off, Fine Coffee Club capsules come in a recyclable cardboard box that you can actually reclose and neatly store, as opposed to the Nespresso® box that you basically have to rip open and then are left with this messy-looking ripped hunk of cardboard hanging off the end. So that’s one point for Fine Coffee Club, and a lesson for Nespresso®. Second, the first capsule I took out looked a bit dented but I tried it anyway. Fatal mistake. I mopped up water for ten minutes afterwards due to the damaged capsule getting jammed in my compatible machine. Oops, take that point away from Fine Coffee Club for not delivering undamaged capsules despite the heavy outer cardboard shipping box.
A good point for Fine Coffee Club capsules is that they have apparently been designed to protect the aroma, as are Nespresso®’s aluminum capsules. The coffee has a proper coffee colour, produces a fine crema and has a reasonable aroma once brewed. I thought the Fine Coffee Club capsules were better than the Gourmesso capsules previously reviewed, but there stops any comparison. In a side-by-side blind taste test between similar strength Nespresso® and Fine Coffee Club coffees, Nespresso® won hands down. Nespresso® coffees have more body, better taste, more aroma and a lovely lingering taste on the tongue. Fine Coffee Club ships to Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, the UK and the USA, plus to other parts of Europe. Their website states that you can “Save over 20% compared to the main brand” so if budget is your main consideration then Fine Coffee Club capsules are worth a try.
Now we come to another taste test, between original Nespresso® and Carte Noire Nespresso®-compatible capsules. Of all three compatibles I have had the good fortune to test, Carte Noire are the best alternative. I do worry that the Carte Noire capsules are individually wrapped because as soon as you open the cute little envelope you get a big hit of coffee smell, which means that less of that aroma stays in your cup. We blind tasted Carte Noire’s N° 9 Intense alongside Nespresso®’s Ristretto with intensity 10, and while the Carte Noire was a nice brew with good colour, reasonably strong aroma and lovely crema, the taste didn’t really go anywhere and left your mouth feeling abandoned. The Nespresso® Ristretto (brewed to the same 40ml espresso shot as the Carte Noire and therefore not a true ristretto and a fair comparison) had more body, a more intense aroma and a gorgeous lingering taste. This afternoon I brewed myself a Carte Noire N° 3 Elégant and I’m happy to say that it was really quite good, with reasonable body and a good length of taste.
Carte Noire’s selling point is convenience because their capsules are available in supermarkets across the UK. However, as Carte Noire capsules are only compatible with Nespresso® machines bought in the UK before July 1, 2013, you need to check your machine first. Despite my new Nespresso® machine being officially compatible, one of the capsules I used got stuck and made rather a bit of a mess on the coffee bar. Retailing at £2.79 for 10 capsules there is a small difference in price between Carte Noire and Nespresso® whose capsules retail from £2.90 to £3.50 per sleeve of 10 but for my money I will stick with the superior, consistent quality and taste of original Nespresso® espresso capsules.
Here is my ranking of the espresso capsules I have tested:
|Ranking||Brand||Positive points||Negative points|
|Second place||Carte Noire||
|Third place||Fine Coffee Club||
Sponsored post; all opinions expressed here are those of the author and you are welcome to form your own. Why not order some capsules from each of these sponsors and let me know what you think?