CBTL Beverage Capsules -- Recycle and Reuse (also Starbucks Versimo Pods)





Introduction: CBTL Beverage Capsules -- Recycle and Reuse (also Starbucks Versimo Pods)

This Instructable explores my experiments with CBTL coffee maker capsules by Caffitaly. I have a CBTL Americano machine that I bought off eBay for $76 (see photo).

The Americano is capable of producing coffee, tea, espresso and hot chocolate. It is compact and easy to use. I bought it for my office because of the wide range of beverages it is capable of making. CBTL manufactures a number of different machines that all use the same capsule system. I found the Americano to be the most versatile for my needs.

CBTL machines use capsules not unlike a Keurig. Unlike the latter, however, the CBTL machines have a two stage pump. Low pressure for coffee and tea and high pressure for espresso.

The CBTL capsules are almost identical to the "pods" used by the Starbucks Verismo machines. Some of my experiments involved Verismo pods.

Step 1: Starbuck's Milk Pod

The Starbuck's milk pod for their Versimo machine is one of the more interesting pods that you can use with a CBTL machine. The pod contains milk powder that has been specially ground to a fineness that allows it to be expressed by the hot water produced by the machine. I bought a box of these pods and discovered that they worked fine in my Americano machine. In the office they cannot be beat for adding frothy milk to a hot beverage.

The red arrow points to the bottom of the pod, which has fine holes in it unlike the other pods and capsules.

Be cautioned that you use these pods in a CBTL machine at your own risk. I would not use two of these pods in a row as they might clog the machine mechanism.

Step 2: CBTL Caffitaly Capsules

Here is what CBTL Caffitaly tea and coffee capsules look like. Notice how similar they are to the Versimo milk pods.

Each capsule is a plastic cup that has a foil cover and a foil covered hole in the bottom.

The capsule's color is unique to the beverage ingredients that it holds as well as the foil cover.

When you put the capsule in the machine, it pierces the foil cover on both the top and bottom of the capsule. After use (at least in the Americano machine) the capsule is ejected into a discard bin.

Step 3: CBTL Espresso Capsule & Verismo Espresso Pod

The CBTL espresso capsule does not have a foil covered hole in the bottom like the tea and coffee capsules. Instead, it has small holes that the espresso is forced out of: espressed!

The Verismo has a different configuration at the bottom of the pod than any of the CBTL capsules even though it has the same size and shape.

If you put a Verismo pod into a CBTL machine, you will get an inordinate amount of grounds in your cup; therefore, you cannot use a Verismo pod in a CBTL, but you can use a CBTL capsule in a Verismo. I do not have a Verismo machine, but this is what I have been told. In the next step we will see why this is so.

Step 4: CBTL Capsule Autopsy

Here is the inside of a spent CBTL tea/coffee capsule. There are two filters inside, a lower and upper. After using a capsule, simply peel off the foil cover and dump out the contents. Clean the two filters and replace the bottom one. Fill the capsule with coffee or tea and then replace the top filter. Cover the top with foil tape (see next step) and you are ready to enjoy a hot beverage from the capsule again.

I put a "pyramid" tea bag of Lipton's Black Pearl tea in the capsule, seal it up and enjoy a perfect cup.

The espresso capsule is identical to the coffee/tea capsules with the exception that the bottom filter has finer holes. The Verismo pod has no filters at all and this is why you cannot use a Verismo pod in a CBTL machine. I bought a box of Verismo espresso pods and to use them I just transfer the coffee to a CBTL espresso capsule.

Step 5: Foil Tape

I use Nashua Foil Tape, available at Home Depot, etc., to seal my recycled pods. The adhesive on the tape is stable up to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Again a disclaimer. If you use this tape you do so at your own risk as it is not approved for use with food.

Step 6: Recycled Espresso Capsule

Here is the "Before & After" of a recycled espresso capsule. On the left is the capsule filled with espresso coffee from a Verismo pod and then covered with foil tape and trimmed. Don't forget the filters!

On the right is the capsule after espresso was made, the hole is punctured by the machine.

You can use any espresso coffee you like to refill the capsules, I am just using up the coffee out of the Verismo pods that I bought.

If you are fussy (or cautious) about using the foil tape, you may be able to get away with just using a piece of kitchen foil wrapped around the edge. It appears to be difficult to get a capsule stuck in the machine, proceed with caution.



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    23 Discussions

    The odd reason is not so odd, its probably MSG, monosodium glutamate, the artificial (uh hum 'natural') flavoring/preservative added to chai pods. It alters your brain chemistry, making you crave more of it, while it fries the nerve endings in your brain. Keep enjoying your afternoon chai with ORGANIC chai that includes ORGANIC spices or ORGANIC essential oils, and brew with filtered water. Bon Apetite'!

    Not all aluminum is the same. Aluminum foil for food use is manufactured as an alloy that helps prevent large amounts of aluminum from leeching into the food that is placed in it. This is not the case with aluminum tape. Aside from the fact that the adhesive contains many harmful chemicals, the aluminum would readily contaminate your coffee. High levels of aluminum in the body can cause brain diseases and disorders, nervous system damage, bone disorders, and anemia. I am a Critical Care Registered Nurse, and I have actually seen a few cases of this (usually people exposed on the job). Yes, we are exposed to aluminum all the time- through pollution in the air and water, deodorant/antiperspirant, antacids, etc- but there is no reason to concentrate it and increase your exposure this way. You can achieve the same results recycling coffee pods using food grade aluminum foil.

    2 replies

    Good points.

    I have basically gone to "My-Cap.com" seals. They are just easy, cost about 17¢ each and are "100-Percent FDA approved materials and BPA free".

    For some odd reason I have become addicted to a cup of chai every afternoon at 3 PM. I am quite particular about it, not too sweet, just the right spice, etc. The foil seals allow me to refill quickly and without hassle and they pull off easily when it is time to refill.

    hi there! I have the same addiction to chai! What do you use to refill the pods with? I feel like I should know this but alas... Here I am asking. ?

    Has anyone been successful at finding empty CBTL reusable coffee/tea pods? My wife and i just purchased this unit and would love to use our own coffee. If there isnt a way to use your own coffee can someone let me know what to safely reuse Verismo pods.

    1 reply

    You can recycle your CBTL pods, it is just a bit of work to clean them.

    Foil discs are available to re-seal them (food grade adhesive).

    I do not know of a source for empty pods or a 'universal pod'.

    Whenever I use Versimo milk pods in my CBTL the milk stays in the pods.
    I have poked holes in both ends, still most of the milk stays in the pod. I have
    banged them on the counter, no help. Does anyone else have this problem?

    2 replies

    With my latest box of Versimo milk pods I noticed that they were completely sealed and were causing back-up problems with my Americano. The fix was to use a safety razor to put a small slit at the base of the pod and through the top to allow the Americano to pierce the plastic easier. It is a bit of a hassle, but the convenience of the pods and the quality of the hot milk produced is worth it to me.

    First let me say that I do not know how much milk is left in the pods I use, if any. What I do is extract the pods using the short pull espresso button ("Short Espresso", top button, smallest cup) on my Americano. This produces enough hot milk for my chai and the milk produced is quite good--not watery.

    Ok, thanks! I just ordered some seals, wasn't sure if those piecings in bottom would make a difference.

    Do you need to cover the small piercing in the bottom of the pods before reusing them?

    1 reply

    Those are good points on the foil tape. You can now get pre-cut foil seals with FDA approved materials and no BPA. At the time of this post they were about 20¢ apiece at this site. Others just crimp a piece of AL foil over the end.

    ok dug around a bit more on re Foil Tape safety because I really want to do my own refills, chucking out all those plastic capsules giving me guilt trips... anyways, looks like Foil Tape that uses "butyl rubber" adhesives should be ok (or at least much safer than acrylic or other synthetic compounds) as food grade butyl rubber is what's used in chewing gum. "Nashua Aluminum Waterproofing Repair Foil Tape" that I found on Amazon uses a butyl rubber adhesive so Author got the right one after all it seems. Disclaimer: i'm no expert so feel free to check around yourself, just posting what I've dug up

    Foil Tape Warning - check with the manufacturer and see what type of adhesive is being used. Acrylic adhesives may contain toxic chemicals that you probably wouldn't want to be passing hot water through for your beverage. Even if the manufacturer claims it is "food safe" find out exactly what they make it out of... check out this article regarding labels used on food that were found to have highly toxic materials:


    I finally solved all my refill problems, I loved the coffee pot but it was way too expensive and time consuming. So my sister bought one that makes both kinds (k-cups and regular coffee) and so far, I am living happier ever after. I never tried the milk pods.

    1 reply

    This Instructable is for CBTL/Cafiitaly capsules. To my knowledge there are no K-cup milk capsules. The Starbucks Versimo milk pods will not work in a Keurig--or at least I don't think they will.

    I finally solved all my refill problems, I loved the coffee pot but it was way too expensive and time consuming. So my sister bought one that makes both kinds (k-cups and regular coffee) and so far, I am living happier ever after. I never tried the milk pods.

    I bought the Starbucks Verismo Pikes Peak Roast and it has worked very well in my CBTL . Also bought Keurigs Lavazza Intenso and that does not fit so I will switch the coffee into one of my MT capsules. So far, so good! I think I will try the Foil Tape as the foil covers on Ebay cost a lot. I am glad to have seen this article, thanks, joyce

    1 reply

    You might also want to try Versimo milk pods, which also work in the CBTL machine. I put a milk pod in and then run the "small cup" espresso cycle to get about a third of a cup of hot milk. I follow that with a CBTL chai capsule. It makes chai the way I like it, just sweet from the milk and no added sugar. Running the chai pod after the milk pod "keeps the pipes clean" as well.