Introduction: Refillable Illy Iperespresso Capsules

Picture of Refillable Illy Iperespresso Capsules

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.

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.

Step 3: Espresso!

Picture of Espresso!

Here's a cup of espresso made with Illy espresso coffee from one of those familiar cans. The capsule lying on the counter is one where the top can be removed to add coffee.

Frankly, the espresso is better from a fresh capsule, but this method works fine if you have coffee that needs to be used up or if you run out of capsules.


alarmatwork made it! (author)2015-12-27

The best way to open capsules is by using a standard Can Opener.
This way you will get clean cut with minimal effort and no hazard of hurting yourself. Feel free to add my picture to your instruction!

UgoD1 (author)alarmatwork2016-02-08

You have found the idea here. See how to turn the can opener.

UgoD1 (author)UgoD12016-02-08

Ugo Donini

Exocetid (author)UgoD12016-02-09

A bemusing video. Illy spent an incredible amount of money in R&D to develop the Iperespresso system. What you get is pure, barista quality espresso EVERY time. No mess, no fuss, just perfect, consistent espresso. I drink it every morning, each cup is the same, day in, day out. No surprises, none wanted.

UgoD1 (author)alarmatwork2016-02-09

Passa a italiano

you found this original idea here:

not all openers are suitable for this . see this video about how to use can opener .

the O ring should be placed outside of the capsule to prevent water leacks

see this video:

Finally the full length video:

NellekeP (author)alarmatwork2016-01-08

i have tried to do this but the cutting knife of the canopener cannot get in between. I seem to have the same canopener asyou have in the picture. Do you have to get in there with a knife first to start it?

UgoD1 (author)NellekeP2016-02-09

Not every can opener is good for this. See carefully this video.

Exocetid (author)NellekeP2016-01-09

I commented before trying as it sounded like a great idea.

I use an Oxo Good Grip and was unsuccessful in getting it to work.

UgoD1 (author)Exocetid2016-02-08

Not every can opener is good for this. See carefully this video.

Exocetid (author)alarmatwork2015-12-27


Great solution to a tricky problem, thanks!

ans9 made it! (author)2016-04-06

I made capsule opener. to make easy.

NikosA9 (author)ans92016-05-18

could i buy this ?

ans9 (author)NikosA92016-05-19

I sell in South Korea.but I don't have experience international.

Bungalowmaven (author)ans92016-04-21

Oh my my what a groovy little tool, and beautiful too. Do you sell that device?

ans9 (author)Bungalowmaven2016-05-19

I have been sold in South Korea.
But I never sell to international.

Exocetid (author)ans92016-04-07

You should sell those.

JosephS167 (author)2016-05-08


Done...Save money and get to use a range of roasts and mixes

Ronin1306 (author)2015-05-01

New to the whole illy pods, has anyone tried placing filter basket from another machine in the x7

Exocetid (author)Ronin13062015-05-01

Make sure the warranty has expired ?

maksimovic.aleksandar.3 (author)2015-04-05


I have Fransis Y1 and after 2 years water can't go in capsule. Water is going left and right of capsule.

Is it possible to help me?

AFAIK, there is something like the end of a large gauge hypodermic needle that pierces the capsule when the door is latched. That orifice could very well be blocked, you might try sticking a wire in there to try to clean it.

Your warranty, IIANM, is up so why not disassemble it?

Here's a link to the service manual.

Exocetid (author)2015-02-14

Looks good.

frans.stracensky made it! (author)2015-02-14


Sorry Strange PIX upload sys??

tkjtkj (author)2015-01-12

Can we ask why the original capsules make better ? several possible reasons come to mind, including leakage thru the top seal, and the issue of the filter ... I'd sure like your opinions on those issues before i attack my own illy pods ...

Water must enter thru the small top-surface projection that has (if pod has been used) a punctured hole .. This implies that the sealing of brewing pressure involves only that small hole IF you find no significant leakage thru the outer rim of your now-removable cap.

How did you address the filter issue? Is it merely filtering the incoming water? If so , perhaps not really necessary depending on one's water source.

Thanks for this idea! Am looking forward to doing a bit of experimenting myself .. maybe build a 'lip seal' approach .. maybe a silicone rubber 'water input port' into the capsule ...

(my first attempts at removing the upper cap included soaking the rim in Goo-be-gone for over 24hrs... had no effect on the sealant/glue rim... One might want to put the pod in a vise to make your 'razor approach' safer ... make a vise jaw-protector of thick material, carved to partially encircle the pod? and use a new blade!! .)

Exocetid (author)tkjtkj2015-02-09

Let's just say that an original capsule fresh from the pack/can made by Illy is essentially a guarantee of perfect espresso. This is all the machine does and the Illy brand is recognized as one of the best, if not the best. I have owned an Iperespresso machine since they came out and it consistently, day in and day out, makes a perfect espresso in my opinion.

Now then, this is what you must contend with if you want to refill and reuse the capsule. Illy has the advantage because they have extraordinary quality controls that include the coffee itself, the amount, the tamp, the seal, which is, by the way, a plastic-weld, and other factors. What you want to do is reproduce all this.

Coffee-wise, that's the easy one. You can buy ground Illy espresso.

I think you can solve tamp and mass just by finding out how many grams of coffee Illy puts in a pod--I may have done that already in the Instructable.

Now the only variables are the seal and the filter. Frankly, I think the filter is just there to keep grounds out of the pull, so I just reused it. I imagine that it could get grody enough to affect flavor eventually, but at that point you could just get one out of a used Illy capsule. Alternatively, you could try to figure out what that filter is made of and make your own. Again, I don't see that as critical.

Lastly, the seal. Your idea of a silicone ring is excellent and may be the solution to the final hurdle.

frans.stracensky (author)tkjtkj2015-02-08


Kindly check out my post?


Exocetid (author)tkjtkj2015-01-12

The 'upper cap' is plastic welded on, so you need to cut, grind or saw it off. The plastic is quite dense and has give, so care must be exercised during removal.

The filter is an issue. I just reused it, but a more permanent solution is needed. Perhaps a disk cut from a Melitta filter. The filter is not filtering the incoming water since it is at the bottom of the capsule. It is filtering the coffee and also keeping the grounds in.

At this juncture, someone might do a 3D scan of a capsule and produce a refillable capsule using a 3D printer. Sealing would not be hard with some O-rings and the filter could probably be replaced with a circle of SS screen.

tkjtkj (author)Exocetid2015-01-14

Thanks for the info ... it's gonna be a while before this geezer gets his paws on a 3D-Scanner and printer ..

" Factory?? What's a factory?? I can just print my new car!"

wenli704 (author)2014-12-15

Good direction ! Thank you !

senomis (author)2014-12-05

I just did it and it works great!

onli (author)2014-06-30


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)onli2014-07-01

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.

pgalvani (author)2014-05-26

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)pgalvani2014-05-26

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.

jzagaja (author)Exocetid2014-06-04

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)2014-04-07

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..

jzagaja (author)2014-04-06

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

jzagaja (author)2014-03-16

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 :)

jgedgaud (author)2013-08-29

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)jgedgaud2013-08-29

Yep--you got it, but keep looking for one of those unfused capsules, they are keepers.

jgedgaud (author)2013-08-28

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)jgedgaud2013-08-29

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.

MarioGhittoni (author)2012-04-22

Check this on ebay...

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.

manokian (author)2011-12-20

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)manokian2011-12-20

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.

Ssm712 (author)2011-02-13

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)Ssm7122011-02-13

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 (author)Exocetid2011-02-14

Thanks. I'll buy a new carpet knife and try it. So you can reuse numerous times ?

Exocetid (author)Ssm7122011-02-14

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)2011-01-16

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!

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