Refillable Illy Iperespresso Capsules




Introduction: 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

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

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!

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.

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42 Discussions


6 months ago

NEW, See the ultimate way to reuse Illy iperespresso capsules:


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

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

1 reply

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.

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!! .)

4 replies

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.

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.

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!"

Good direction ! Thank you !

I just did it and it works great!


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!

1 reply

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.

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?

2 replies

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.