How to Use Refillable Nespresso Capsules

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Coffee capsules are convenient, but they are expensive in use and the used capsules pose a waste problem, since they are difficult to recycle.

I have tried and failed to refill used Nespresso capsules and my first set of refillable capsules(with the carnival-like mask pattern on top) were very hard to clean after use.

I now use another type (with the metal top and 7 squares), and using ~1 per day I estimate my yearly savings at 100EUR and a reduction in unrecyclable waste of 5kg.

Concerning the taste of the brewed coffee: I must confess that they don’t match the level of original Nespresso cups. But I fill with Lavazza Rossa and it’s better than any of the compatibles that I’ve tried.

How does it work out economically? The original Nespresso are ~40 cents per capsule, the cheapest compatibles are ~20cents. A capsule has ~5 grams of coffee, which costs ~5 cents. So one per day for a year will cost 146EUR for originals, 73EUR for compatibles and (19 + 6)=25EUR for the refillable ones.

Why not use a moka, one might ask? In fact, we do! Most of the coffee we drink is from the moka! The Nespresso only comes in when I’m in a hurry, when I’m alone, or when one person wants a real coffee and the other person a decaf.

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Step 1: Buying the Right Capsules

Make sure to buy the right capsules! I ordered them over the internet, they cost about 1.5EUR each. I use 2 silver capsules for real coffee and 2 gold capsules for decaf. I have not found them in Europe, and they did take me 1-2 months to arrive.

Step 2: Filling

The filling is very similar to that of a moka: use fine-grind coffee (for moka or espresso) and push it in a bit. The capsule needs to be filled completely and the coffee needs to be compressed a bit so that pressure will build up, but you can’t compress it as much as for a serious espresso machine, since a typical nespresso can’t deliver enough pressure.

Step 3: Brewing

Make the coffee in the usual way. The capsule may not go in and out as easily as with the single-use capsules. For me it works best if the hinge is kept on top: it is the thickest and strongest part of the capsule and protrudes a bit which helps when removing the capsule. Enjoy triple: your coffee is better, cheaper and more sustainable!

Step 4: Cleaning

The capsule doesn’t need to be cleaned immediately, but it’s better not to leave it for more than two days: will get harder to clean and it may get mouldy and leave a bad taste. To remove the coffee, I open it and bang it on the inside of the sink: most coffee comes out as a chunk and can be added to the compostable waste. A quick rinse is enough to clean it. They can be dried immediately with a towel or left to dry up in a rack.

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