If you prize convenience when it comes to coffee but don't like the waste, and with demand for eco-friendly coffee capsules on the rise, refillable pods are an attractive sustainable option. But which capsule is right for you? To find out which comes out on top, we put SealPod, WayCap and Bluecup Nespresso-compatible coffee pods to the test, rating and evaluating them on ease-of-use, performance, sustainability and value for money.
We invited the team to test and review the reusable capsules in a DeLonghi Nespresso Citiz machine along with Gigante Coffee Black Silk beans ($33kg), ground to stovetop.
• Ease-of-use: Bluecup comes with a Spoon Holder and Cup Creator. The Spoon Holder is perhaps a little awkward and unnecessary, but does mean that the process is reasonably mess free. The Cup Creator looks more fiddly than it is - with a press and turn, the capsule is sealed and ready to go. Note: The Cup Creator and Bluecup Lids are compatible with SealPod if you like the sound of this method but prefer to brew with steel capsules.
• Performance: When a firm tamp is applied, Bluecup creates an absolutely spot on brew with a strong flavour, even colour and impressive crema. As Bluecup packs don't come with a tamping implement, we do suggest investing in a tool such as the SealPod Scoop. Bluecup was our pick of the bunch in this category.
• Sustainability: Reuse generates far less waste than single-use products, and Bluecup capsules were designed to be refilled and reused over 200 times. This is a huge improvement on the single-use variety, but does place Bluecup behind the stainless steel refillable options.
• Cost: Of the three available varieties, Bluecup is definitely a very affordable and eco-friendly way to prepare and brew with your with Nespresso®* machine. Bluecup is the cheapest option available when considering the initial spend, with a Four Pack (including accessories and 200 lids) at $55, essentially getting you your first capsules for $13.75ea. The ongoing cost per lid is extremely affordable at 8¢ a pop when purchasing the Lid pack, however capsules do need to be replaced after around that 100 use mark via the Refill Kit.
• Ease-of-use: SealPod is very easy to use with a simple fill, top up, tamp and seal. The initial pack comes with a scoop that doubles as a tamper, which perfectly fits to compact your coffee into the pod. SealPods also come with a Fresh Cover, which is applied after filling so that the capsule may be stored for future use. This feature means that you can always have a capsule on standby, bringing back that convenience factor (particular when purchasing a larger pack).
• Performance: To achieve a great brew, the grind size and tamp applied do need to be quite particular (this can take a little bit of playing around, so we've added a few tips here). However, once this is achieved, SealPod certainly delivers a great coffee with rich crema - our particular beans produced a delicious aroma and a deep, smooth flavour. Note: SealPod can also be used to brew loose-leaf tea or hot chocolate using the Biodegradable Lids.
• Sustainability: Made from 100% stainless steel, SealPod is designed for a lifetime of use. The available sticker lid options are: Biodegradable Lids (paper, compostable) or Espresso Lids (which may be recycled - we advise confirming with your local recycling facility as to whether they can go directly in the recycling bin or need to be collected in an aluminum can first).
• Cost: The initial purchase of a SealPod 5 Pack (including accessories and 102 lids) at $92 essentially gets you the pods for $18.40ea. The ongoing cost per lid is still very affordable at 15¢ each. For an in depth look at the cost per cup when considering your particular choice of coffee beans, check out the provided cost calculator.
• Ease-of-use: The WayCap Dispenser and Tamper allow for quick and easy refilling - within seconds the pods are filled with uniform pressure and without making a mess.
• Performance: Each WayCap comes with 4 interchangeable Steel Filters - each one suited to a particular grind size. This means that you can enjoy your espresso with whichever coffee you choose to brew (be it from your local cafe or pre-ground from the supermarket). Although WayCap came in third for this category, our resulting brew was not at all watery, with a decent crema and colour.
• Sustainability: Made entirely of stainless steel, WayCap capsules are designed to be infinitely reusable. With no additional filters, lids or packaging for each cup, WayCap makes it very easy to reduce your environmental footprint with every cup.
• Cost: Whilst you'll output more money on the initial purchase (prices start at $66 for a One Pack and included accessories), in the long run WayCap is extremely cost effective, with no ongoing purchases required.