Refillable pods, rechargeable pods, reusable pods… what else do we call them? We are talking about the same thing.
With the growing popularity of pod coffee machines, a multitude of brands and types of refillable coffee pods have also been appearing, which many users demand in order to be able to use the speciality or origin of coffee they like best (and also to save a few cents on each cup, it goes without saying).
However, the market is so dispersed that it is sometimes difficult for consumers to find their way around. There are dozens of manufacturers of this type of single-dose refill, and there are also different materials, each with its characteristics and different from the rest.
Are they easy to obtain, and are they all of the same quality? Well, not always. Let’s take a look at them below.
We will now review the market for refillable pods for the main coffee machine brands and pod formats on the market. We will cover all the main formats in-depth, but remember that on our website, we already have some specific reports for those who are most popular and have the most consumers:
- Refillable capsules for Nespresso
- Refillable capsules for Dolce Gusto
- Refillable capsules for Tassimo
- Capsul’in Nespresso refillable capsules
- 1 Advantages of refillable pods today
- 2 Disadvantages of using refillable pods
- 3 Are all refillable pods reusable? Differences
- 4 Rechargeable pods for Nespresso
- 5 Dolce Gusto rechargeable pods
- 6 Are there refillable pods for Tassimo?
- 7 Senseo rechargeable pods
- 8 Caffitaly refillable pods
- 9 Lavazza rechargeable pods
- 10 Illy rechargeable pods
- 11 Delta Q rechargeable pods
- 12 L’Or Barista rechargeable pods
- 13 Caffetino refillable pods: Opinions
- 14 Types of refillable pods, according to their material
- 15 Are rechargeable pods sold in physical shops?
- 16 What is the best coffee for refillable pods?
- 17 How do refillable pods work for any system?
- 18 Conclusion: our views on refillable pods
Advantages of refillable pods today
There are many advantages to using refillable coffee pods, but each individual user will eventually choose their own depending on their needs.
- Above all, they allow you to use the ground coffee you like best, or any coffee you like if you grind it yourself at home – you can even make your coffee blends!
- If you use them often and consume several cups of coffee a day, the savings are considerable.
- The refillable stainless steel pods are very durable.
Disadvantages of using refillable pods
Not everything is rosy when it comes to reusable coffee pods. Some of its main problems are these:
- Not all types of refillable pods are equally durable.
- The process of having your ground coffee blend, pouring it into the pod, closing it tightly, cleaning it and drying it for the next use if not disposable in the long run is slow and cumbersome. It eliminates one of the main advantages of single-dose systems over armoured coffee machines.
- There is no defined standard, so not all empty pods are accepted in all coffee machine models. Before you make your purchase, you should thoroughly investigate whether they are compatible with your machine.
- Sometimes you have to spin them very thinly to get the right point for grinding (traditional ground coffee, which you buy already packaged, doesn’t usually go well) and pressing. Sometimes the pods come with an accessory for this function, but it is not always the most suitable.
Are all refillable pods reusable? Differences
In a word: NO. Depending on the material they are made of, some refillable pods can only be used once (they are disposable, single-use).
This is usually the case with plastic pods that have an aluminium lid to seal them. These materials are very sensitive to high temperatures, and it would be unhygienic to use them over and over again to drink the coffee that comes out of them.
You can easily distinguish them, apart from reading the manufacturer’s specifications, because they usually come in packs of 100 or 200 units (each with its lid).
True refillable and reusable pods can be used in various ways, usually between 50 and 100 depending on the model, and are sold in individual packs or at most three units. You will not need more in the long run.
For example, here is a sample of rechargeable but not reusable coffee pods.
Rechargeable pods for Nespresso
And we started our review of the different rechargeable pod formats on the market with the most popular ones. In this case, the Nespresso refillable pods.
As this is one of the brands with the largest number of users, it is logically also one of the most alternative brands in this refillable single-dose market.
You will find them in all types and qualities, although our favourites are the stainless steel Nespresso refillable pods. Some even come with a dispenser and a specific cleaning brush to keep them in perfect condition for the next use.
Before buying your Nespresso refillable pods, one thing is clear: you must be very careful about compatibility. Certain models, depending on their year of manufacture, do not allow the use of single-dose pods other than the original ones.
Dolce Gusto rechargeable pods
The same thing we have said in the previous section is also valid for the case of Dolce Gusto. It is the format with the most alternatives on the whole market, both in terms of manufacturers and in terms of materials and distribution of the packs.
We should also highlight the stainless steel refillable pods for Dolce Gusto, the most durable and hygienic of all those available from Amazon for this system. In the chapter on refillable pods for Dolce Gusto, we certainly recommend one of these.
One piece of advice if you are buying refillable pods for Dolce Gusto: some coffee makers, such as the Lumio, do not always accept any single dose outside the official catalogue of the brand itself. Be careful!
As you can see, Nescafé refillable pods are a huge breeding ground for these products, and users of these machines have a lot to choose from.
Another story will be different for those who own coffee machines from other systems, as we will see later.
Are there refillable pods for Tassimo?
At the beginning of 2021, the first refillable capsules for Tassimo appeared on the market. These single-dose capsules have a unique generic barcode and also come with a cleaning brush and a measuring spoon so that you can serve your ground coffee every time you want to use it.
We talk about them in more detail in this post: Tassimo rechargeable coffee pods.
Senseo rechargeable pods
Philips Senseo coffee machines do not use hard pods but soft single-dose bags of the pad type. At first glance, this might seem confusing and make you think there are no reusable pods for Senseo, but in reality, there are. For example, a button:
All the ones you see here work in a similar way.
If you look for them on the Internet, you will also find them referred to as reusable filters for Senseo because what is offered is just that: the structure of the filter inside, which has a plastic mesh that simulates the paper of the single-dose bag.
It is a solid piece that you insert in the pod holder of your machine, and once the coffee is ready, you put it in water or under the tap so that it is like new.
As possible disadvantages of these refillable pods for Senseo, we can point out these:
- The plastic structure does not seem too solid.
- It is not clear how many uses each filter has. They are “reusable”, but we don’t know how much.
- Sometimes it is difficult to fit the filter into the pod holder, or to remove it because of the pressure it exerts once the coffee has been made.
Caffitaly refillable pods
Users of machines with the Tchibo or Caffitaly system (which are the same) also have the opportunity to try the refillable pods for Caffitaly, generally in stainless steel format and very well prepared.
Many of the single-dose machines we have seen on the net include accessories such as cleaning brushes or presses, so owners of a Caffitaly pod system are in luck if they want to try out the advantages of the refillable pods. Here are some of the most interesting options:
Lavazza rechargeable pods
Lavazza is a brand whose prestige lies mainly in the excellent quality of its coffee. This is the source of all its successes in terms of sales of machines and other consumables, such as its single-dose format.
From this point of view, it is hard to understand why A Modo Mio refillable pods are available on the market unless they are aimed at very demanding consumers who want to try better quality coffees than Lavazza’s.
Even so, as there is a demand for this type of product, we can also find, apart from the A Modo Mio, some refillable pods for Lavazza Espresso Point or even for the Lavazza Blue system. In other words, almost all Lavazza single-dose formats are covered by some refillable pod. Here are some samples:
Illy rechargeable pods
In the case of the Illy brand, all the options we find in the market are in stainless steel. There are currently no refillable pods for Illy plastic coffee machines. As the profile of Illy users is usually medium-high, we do not think that this could be a problem.
We must also point out that we are surprised that you can buy refillable pods for Illy when this is a format and a brand precisely reputed for the quality of its coffee. But well, that is not for lack of choice for the consumer.
Delta Q rechargeable pods
If what you have at home is a Delta Q coffee maker, then you will have fewer options to enjoy its associated consumables. You should always use the official Delta Q pods or one of the few compatible brands available for this format. For a long time, refillable pods were not manufactured for Delta Q.
Today we have found one, and only one, alternative on Amazon. It is a stainless steel refillable pod for Delta Q, as you can see in the picture.
Nor do we believe that this shortage will change in the near future because the demand for this format in our country is not so high as to justify the investment. But well, at least you can be satisfied with an alternative. Other formats, as we will see below, are not so lucky.
L’Or Barista rechargeable pods
The growing popularity and undisputed success of the Philips L’Or Barista coffee maker have led to more and more people looking for refillable pods for L’Or Barista, a format that we sometimes confuse with the Nespresso pods that but have nothing to do with it. At the moment, there are no refillable pods for L’Or Barista, nor will Nespresso refillable pods serve you – they have nothing to do with that!
Caffetino refillable pods: Opinions
Caffetino is not a pod format but a brand that markets consumables for the two main systems on the market. We have, for example, the refillable Caffetino capsules for Dolce Gusto or those for Nespresso.
They are sold in packs of 4 or 8 units in different colours and come with tailor-made spoons to serve the coffee. Depending on the manufacturer, each of the single-dose pods can be refilled and reused up to 80 times. We have not been able to verify this, obviously.
The only problem we encountered: the refillable Caffetino capsules are only compatible with some, not all, coffee makers. Fortunately, you can check which ones work on their website.
However, we warn you that if you are thinking of buying them, you are going to have a hard time. Caffetino refillable pods are manufactured in Argentina and only distributed in their country. They are not sold at the moment on Amazon or similar platforms, so hopefully, the situation will soon change, and we will be able to enjoy them here!
Types of refillable pods, according to their material
If we wanted to establish a classification of the current refillable capsules, there would be no point in going to the brands since almost all of them are Asian manufacturers that are not very well known in the sector.
There are few that have managed to make a name for themselves, mainly because they have specialised in this type of product and produce it for all brands of coffee machines and pods systems. CoffeeDuck or EmoHome/Emocup could be some of these examples.
So it is only necessary to look at the material used to manufacture the single-dose machines. There are three main types of refillable pods: plastic, steel and aluminium. We will see how they differ and how each one is used.
Rechargeable plastic pods
- They can come with or without a lid.
- Those that come with a lid are reusable, but normally admit less services than those made of steel. The cover can be made of the same plastic material, or silicone (much better).
- The ones that come without a lid must be covered by you, and they are usually single-use (not reusable).
- The reusable ones are sold in packs of a few units (3, 6, 10, depending on the manufacturer).
- The non-reusable ones come in packs of many units, almost always from 100.
Rechargeable stainless steel pods
- They have a cover, almost always made of silicone or steel.
- The container for the coffee – that is, the capsule itself – is made of stainless steel
- They are sold in packs of one or two units normally.
- They are easier to clean and more hygienic than plastic ones.
- The unit price of the refillable capsule is usually higher, but in the long run it will be easier to amortize.
Rechargeable aluminium and plastic pods
- The aluminium and plastic refillable pods are made up of two parts: the plastic pods, and the lid which is normally made of aluminium foil.
- The lids are usually enclosed in the pack, separately, as ‘stickers’ that you can use on your own to seal the pods once you have filled them with coffee.
- You can reuse them if you wash the capsule well and make the lids yourself (with aluminium foil), but this is not advisable because they are not intended for that purpose. They are refillable, but not always reusable. Be careful with this difference.
Are rechargeable pods sold in physical shops?
In view of the growing demand for these products, more and more users are trying to find them in their usual physical shops or in large supermarket chains.
It’s hard to find one in your area, so when it’s time to do your weekly shopping, it’s convenient to put your refillable pods in the cart as you do with your regular single-use pods.
However, the reality is different. No refillable pods are sold in any supermarket chain.
At least we have not found Nespresso refillable capsules in physical shops, nor other formats such as Dolce Gusto, so even less of the other systems we have listed above.
Once again, the best option seems to be to buy your refillable pods from Amazon, at least until their distribution through other channels is normalised.
What is the best coffee for refillable pods?
This is a very common scenario, but it should not be ignored. Let’s go over it: an ordinary user buys your refillable pods, usually to save money, and when he goes to fill them with coffee… which one does he use?
Well, almost always the typical ground coffee that he has forgotten in a kitchen cupboard. Or the cheapest one he has found on the supermarket shelves.
And, of course, if you are not very careful when choosing your coffee, the rest of the processes you set in motion will be of little use. The result in your cup will be mediocre.
In order to enjoy a quality coffee, since you renounce official formats, it is very important to know which coffee to use for refillable pods, as well as the correct way to serve and press it.
This is a delicate point because many capsule coffee maker users are not used to working with armoured coffee makers or filters, so they are “comfortable” and then do not know how to make coffee.
As to which coffee to use in a refillable pod, the answer is simple: anything goes, but quality. Choose the origin or blend you prefer. But be sure of two things (and here’s why):
- That the dose – measured in grams – is the right one, i.e. that you don’t over- or under-do the coffee.
- Before sealing the capsule, make sure it’s sufficiently pressed and compacted – again, just right. Just like you would do in a traditional manual espresso machine.
Finally, if you’re still not sure which coffee to put in the refillable pods, you can get ideas from our coffee bean pages or from the best coffee in the world. Don’t forget, as a rule, the better the raw material, the better the coffee in your cup, so don’t skimp!
How do refillable pods work for any system?
The time needed: 1 minute.
In this section, to finish off, we’re going to detail step by step how to use the refillable coffee capsules. The procedure, in broad terms, will be valid for any capsule format and for any brand of a coffee maker where you use it. And as soon as you get used to it, it won’t take you more than a few seconds to carry it out. Here we go:
- Open your refillable pods.
- Put the right amount of coffee into the capsule as indicated by the manufacturer.
If in doubt, between 6 and 7 grams should do the trick. It’s better to use a measuring spoon, in case your capsules don’t have one.
- Press the coffee.
The ground coffee should be slightly compacted inside the capsule, so that the result is not a watery espresso. Play with different levels of pressing to adapt the resulting coffee to your personal taste.
- Close the capsule and seal it tightly.
It’s very important to make sure that your pod, once loaded, is hermetically sealed and sealed, with no possibility of leakage. Whatever sealing system you have.
- Put the capsule in your coffee machine and start it up.
This step is the same as with a normal disposable single dose.
- After use, if the capsule is reusable, you should wash and dry it thoroughly.
To ensure that refillable coffee pods last as long as their manufacturer indicates, it is essential that you rinse, rinse and dry them thoroughly. If possible, immediately after use. Do not leave them in the coffee machine for long, especially if they are made of plastic.
Conclusion: our views on refillable pods
Opinions are for everyone, but in the case of having a capsule machine at home, we are strong advocates of using single-use (disposable, if possible the official brand) instead of refillable ones.
Why is this? Because the vast majority of users do not have sufficient barista knowledge to make a proper coffee and have to serve the ground coffee manually.
And users who do have this experience and taste for making good coffee will probably find much better options on the market than capsules for their day-to-day needs.
Yes, disposable capsules are more expensive, they pollute more, they leave more residue, but they also have a number of advantages that justify their use. If you’re not convinced, then the best option is still an armchair coffee maker, not a single dose.