Great Coffee: Putney Pods vs Swiss Capsules?

Options for home barista style coffee grew with Putney's Cafe Pods but can they beat the established brand?

Putney Firm Takes On Coffee 'Big Boys'

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Comment on this story on the

Following Putney based CafePod's acquisition of Big Cup Little Cup, I was contacted to review the expanding range of CafePod's by the Putney based company who make Nespresso compatible pods. As a fan of my Nespresso machine & coffees I was keen to see if I could expand my options, or even a new source for my daily caffeine hits!

The Putney based company offers pods which you can buy on the high street at Waitrose, Wholefoods and most recently in April 2014 TESCO's, unlike Nespresso which is on line or at their boutique stores on Gloucester Rd, Regent Street & Oxford Street. They have made them more accessible with in store sales at Curry's & department stores such as John Lewis, Debenhams & Ely's.

To ensure impartiality I (Taster 1) gave half the capsules to a friend who is equally passionate about having a quick but good coffee available from her kitchen! She will be referred to as Taster 2


This is the first stumbling block for me - the Nespresso capsules come in long thin boxes which are easy to store until required and then they slot in to my upright capsule holder which sits next to my machine. The cafe pods come in square boxes which are easy to store but more bulky and inside the box they are in sealed foil sachets- so no counter top storage! My friend encountered the same issues with her existing storage system.

I had previously tried the cafe pods when they were first available at Waitrose and found that the capsules did not fit my machine too well and I assumed the extra foil packaging was due to the plastic cover not keeping the scent and flavour sealed in the pod. I was pleased to see the newer pods fit better (although still a little tight) and have foil sachets - so I ask do they need the extra foil packaging?


Nespresso v CafePod

Appearance and packaging of is important on first impression but nothing in comparison to the importance of the actual taste of the coffee. I've been trying these coffees all week instead of my usual Nespresso and we both have mixed response to the flavours. We sampled four coffees from CafePod:

  Taster 1 Taster 2
Arabica Lungo (Strength 4) Nice - easy long coffee when drunk either black or with milk The nicest one, by far
Smooth (Strength 5)
I found this bitter and did not finish the supply quite nice, but not very strong
Intense (Strength 8) described as 'rich' & intense I found disappointingly weak not very! Tastes very like the medium strength Nespresso
Ristretto (Strength 10) Very nice -would swap this for my existing Nespresso Ristretto As good as the Nespresso one

In comparison with Nespresso, recycling is not as simple - with Nespresso you order recycling bags and the filled will be collected by the courier with your delivery if ordered or new to their service is labels posted to you to us the collect+ courier service - nearest outlet I use is at the petrol station on Sheen Lane in East Sheen. What I had not been aware of was that Nespresso then transport the capsules to Switzerland where their European recycling plant is located - not good on green miles!

With CafePods the box and the plastic capsules are recyclable (you need to clean out the granules (composter if you have one) and the foil must be binned. I am not sure that most households would bother with removing the foil - emptying & rinsing the pods.
Tester 2 agreed:
".. packaging was more difficult to store and to remove. The recycling part was not clearly explained (it was in small print on the box, I recall) and the time taken to remove the foil (not particularly easy) and empty the coffee grounds (again rather difficult) and then wash out the pod, I suspect, would put most people off."

Taster 2:
"I would probably buy it, to support a (sort of) local company, a UK start-up rather than global conglomerate; and to compost rather than send bags by truck to Switzerland. I doubt anyone else would, so they will have to convince on the coffee alone. The lack of an easily stackable product will not help.

Taster 1:
I would certainly buy the Ristretto again especially if I passed it in my locals super market (at time of publishing Waitrose have a special offer 20% off on certain CafePods - however I will still be buying my main supply on line from Nespresso as I do prefer the range of flavours available.

Sandi Bloomfield

October 17, 2014