Instructables

Refillable Illy Iperespresso Capsules

Picture of Refillable Illy Iperespresso Capsules
Capsule Breakdown.JPG
Capsule Lid Removed.JPG
Refilled Capsule.JPG
If you have a Francis Francis espresso machine that makes espresso with an Illy iperespresso capsule, you are restricted because only Illy makes them. What I found was that the capsules make really excellent espresso, but I still had half a can of espresso coffee (Illy, by the way) that I wanted to use up in my new machine.

I was also intrigued by the capsule and wondered if I could open it and reuse it.

The capsule is in three parts, as you can see from the image. The bottom end goes in first to the machine, the body holds the coffee and the top holds everything in. The color tells you what kind of coffee--black for bold, blue for long (for "long pulls") and green for decaf.

The bottom is just a snap on cap while the top is bonded to the body--there's the rub in opening it.
 
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Step 1: Top removal

Picture of top removal
Here's a capsule with the top removed. I found two ways to do it. The first (as shown here) was with a bandsaw. That was messy, but I still had a fairly good result as you can see by the picture.

The second method was with a razor knife. That actually gave a better result, but is also a bit more hazardous. Careful and slow cutting of the top, just shaving the lip where it bonds to the body is the key. 

Once the top edge is removed it is easy to pull the top out of the recess that it sits in within the body.

Step 2: Capsule Breakdown

Picture of Capsule Breakdown
This just shows the three pieces of the capsule. The bottom is in the upper right and it is just a snap on cap.

The body is shown upper left and you can see the filter screen at the bottom of it.

At the bottom is the removed top piece, shown upside down. It has a filter disk in it. The top piece just slides into the body and sits flush on a ledge the runs around the inside rim of the body.
onli27 days ago

Hi!

I just purchased Illy X7.1. I ppreciate if anyone helps me to figure out how to get a refillable capsule. I went through this method and opened a capsule, however I have not tested it yet. Is there any other way, like ready refillable capsule? Thanks in advance!

Exocetid (author)  onli26 days ago
There is no commercial refillable capsule for the Illy machines. The market is too small to justify it and Illy has a monopoly on the coffee. The last thing they want is for you to use a different brand.

This business model is exactly like that of inkjet printers. The printers are very inexpensive, they make their profit on the cartridges.

Frankly, I think Illy Iperespresso is the best on the planet. I just had some ground Illy that I wanted to use up and my refillable capsule worked great for the purpose. Too much hassle to do on a daily basis though.
pgalvani2 months ago

I followed your directions to the letter but no coffee came out. Perhaps I put in too much coffee or tamped it down too much?

Exocetid (author)  pgalvani2 months ago
It's possible...too much coffee, too much tamp. I didn't say anything about how much coffee I used to refill my capsule with and frankly I do not recall how much I used. You could always experiment with less, this is hardly exact science.

I would be careful, hot water and pressures you know.

Yes that's the biggest problem - hard to tamp properly always some issues - water comes too easy or too hard. Coffee often is too bitter.

Exocetid (author) 3 months ago

I only put Ozarka water in the machine. Like beer and spirits, coffee demands good water. especially if you have a sensitive palate. You may want to tear the machine down and scour it out, replace hoses, etc..

jzagaja3 months ago

I use filtered tap water and from x7.1 it tastes awfull even after cleaning. Of course cofee masks this. How about you?

jzagaja4 months ago

I bought X7.1 for about 50$ and set of capsules (21). Using lathe I removed top cap, added gasket and now can use regular coffee with same aroma. Very simple and great tweak :)

jgedgaud11 months ago
I got an idea about this and did get mine to work, I put a rubber seal from the MY Coffee Star Refillable Capsule on the cap and put espresso in it and it did work. You just need enough of a seal to get the water to go through the espresso instead of out the top of the capsule.
Exocetid (author)  jgedgaud11 months ago
Yep--you got it, but keep looking for one of those unfused capsules, they are keepers.
jgedgaud11 months ago
Doesn't work for me and I can't see how it could for anyone else very well. Pressure is the problem here as water going through the capsule will build up pressure where it is being injected into the capsules top but when it is trying to push through the dry grounds it will meet resistance. Here is the problem as water under pressure will try to go the to the path of least resistance which means the seam you cut open instead of through the grounds.

I tried it with a blue capsule and using an Xacto razer saw which took a small amount out f the plastic which could be the reason why it didn't work on this one. Here's to hoping I find a nonfused capsule in the samples and ones I ordered.
Exocetid (author)  jgedgaud11 months ago
A capsule with the top cut off does leak, but it also works. I just used mine to use up some loose espresso grind that I had. Later, I found a capsule with a loose top--I have been through a couple of hundred capsules and only found the one. Anyway, once you find one it pretty much will last forever. I use mine to make cat sh*t (Kopi Luwak ) espresso, works great.

I personally feel that my Illy machine makes the best espresso possible out of a machine--consistent, day in and day out. Illy is a funny company in the sense that they keep a tight reign on their product. It's expensive and so there is not a large distribution, so I think this is why we don't have a reusable capsule like they have for the Keurig and other machines.

I found another way which took me 40 minutes the first time and 25 minutes when I knew exactly how.

Want to know? Transfer € 1,50 or $ 1.91 to account nr 4996601, IBAN NL10INGB0004996601, BIC INGBNL2A to K. Eckhardt, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Leave  your mail-address and you will receive easy step-by-step instructions with pictures in PDF-format within 36 hours. Less than two Euro’s/Dollars is certainly worth the investment, haha.
Check this on ebay...
"ILLY COFFE RICICLABLE MULT-USE “METODO IPERESPRESSO” CAPSULE"

http://cgi.ebay.it/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270953086220&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT

Althought I received extra pieces not shown in the picture, it works for real! Well done! I have been using these caps for few months now and never had any problem... I can only suggest to descale the coffe machine and do some empty coffes (with no capsule) every sometime to keep the pipes of the coffe machine clean.
manokian2 years ago
Hello.
I managed to open the capsule, BUT water can't pass from the bottom, through the "filter screen".
I mean, water fills the capsule, but it comes out. The water CAN'T REACH THE OPENING at the bottom, it stays in the capsule and eventually leaks out.

Is there a trick about it? I can't figure out what to do...
Exocetid (author)  manokian2 years ago
I am not quite understanding where you are with it. Basically, you have to remove the top of the capsule such that it still retains a seal by fitting down into the body. Then, the seal is maintained by the clamping mechanism on the iperespresso machine. In fact, you may need to help by applying pressure. If you cut too much then you will not have a seal or the piercing bit in the machine that pokes into the top of the capsule will not make a tight seal.

After you disassemble a capsule, you need to clean the filter at the bottom if it was a used one. Also, the top of the capsule often has a poorly formed hole (manufacturing defect). I have had brand new capsules nearly burst because the hole was not properly formed.

After making a capsule, a few days later I found a capsule that had not been sealed correctly and the top just popped off. That is the best scenario if you can find one. The top seals perfectly.
Ssm7123 years ago
Hi there. I tried to remove the top with a razor knife, with no luck. I could not get the top off. The top is highly bonded. How dis you do this ?
Exocetid (author)  Ssm7123 years ago
The top is plastic welded. You have to have a very sharp, new razor knife. I used a carpet knife. You have to be very patient and go very slowly. The result is somewhat ragged, but workable.

Recently I found an Iperespresso capsule that was defective and the top just popped off. I threw the one I had made away since now I have a perfect one that has never been welded.
Ssm712 Exocetid3 years ago
Thanks. I'll buy a new carpet knife and try it. So you can reuse numerous times ?
Exocetid (author)  Ssm7123 years ago
I used the "homemade one" a few times until I used up what was left of some Illy espresso coffee that I had. I pitched it when I found the open capsule. I have only used the open capsule once to make what I call cat sh*t espresso; i.e., espresso made with Kopi Luwak beans ;-)

The key to using a reusable capsule is to hold the clamping mechanism down while it brews. The Francis Francis Y1, which I use, has a chrome bar at the front that you use to lock it down. I press down on this bar when I brew with the reusable capsule to help hold the top in place since the machine develops a fair amount of pressure. YMMV, but this works for me.
Exocetid (author) 3 years ago
Illy's quality control is not spectacular. A week or so ago I had a capsule pop open where the top just came out of the body (see diagram above). The top is plastic welded shut and this capsule did not get welded at all. Now I have a perfect refillable capsule, but I cannot pack it too tightly or the unit (a Francis-Francis Y1) will not be able to hold it closed.

I discovered by accident that cat-poop-coffee, we actually use a less publishable term for it in our family, makes great espresso!
notw8ing3 years ago
With Amazon subscription a can of capsules is $13.53 with free shipping
Exocetid (author)  notw8ing3 years ago
Whoa!!! Thanks for the lead--I just cancelled my account with Illy. That puts a pull at less than 65 cents, cannot beat it since I have yet to get a better shot from a barista anywhere.
notw8ing4 years ago
I dissected a red, and a blue iperespresso capsule. The red had 6.8g while the blue had 6.3g, (0.5g less coffee) which allows the water to flow faster for the "lungo" effect.

Did you find the blue espresso tastes "too smooth" at 2 oz?

Seems like 20 secs / 1 oz is better for the blue, but I think I like red single espressos and black for cappuccino, made with 1 oz espresso from each of 2 black capsules, plus (3 oz cold 2% milk steamed becomes equals ) 4oz milk.

I don't understand how your refilled capsule doesn't leak with the supposed high pressure. Did your 7g fill extract in 29s for 1oz top of crema / 35s for 1oz top of liquid? (extraction: 2s "hyper-infusion + 2s dwell + X seconds emulsification)

Exocetid (author)  notw8ing4 years ago
I didn't weight the coffee, I just went with what Illy published (7gm). I found that when I put 7 gm in the empty capsule the coffee "tamped well" as the lid had to be forcibly pushed in (with capsule upside down against the counter). I wondered what the difference between Lungo and Regular was! I like Lungo for cappuccino and that is all I use it for. I use the black for plain old espresso, but usually do a double anyway. It does leak a little, but nothing major. Since the top slips down into the body, the clamping mechanism holds it in pretty tightly. With further experimentation, a better seal could be developed, but I didn't have that much loose grind left ;-) Frankly, it is sort of a hassle to reuse the capsules and basically defeats the purpose of the system. I just wanted to use up the loose ground Illy that I had--and, of course, I was curious to see how the capsule was constructed. It would be nice if Illy came out with a reusable capsule, a screw lid would solve the leakage issue. Regardless, I love this machine and the espresso it produces.
Ssm712 Exocetid3 years ago
Love what you did. I will try it. Any damage to the machine ?
Where is the best place to buy pods online
Exocetid (author)  Ssm7123 years ago
No damage that I can tell. Frankly, I don't see how it could damage the machine, but you would want to be wary of leakage and possible spraying of hot water.

The dilemma with iperespresso capsules is that, to my knowledge, Illy has not licensed them to anyone, so the only place you can get them is from Illy.

Two arguments here:

1. Illy has a convenient and profitable monopoly, and/or

2. Illy has total control over quality and consistency.

Frankly, I have the monthly plan and get 32 capsules for $37 delivered. Slightly over a buck for each cup, works for me.
Exocetid (author) 4 years ago
...an afterthought. Illy uses 7 grams of espresso coffee in their capsules, so an easy way to get the perfect fill and tamp is to use a kitchen scale to measure your coffee for the capsule.