Last Updated: 03-08-2020

7 Best ESE Pods 2020

You may have seen when searching for a new espresso machine, that some will accept ESE coffee pods as well as the grounds.

ESE stands for Easy Serve Espresso, which already appeals. But they are not the traditional pods which we would now use in machines from the likes of Nespresso or Dolce Gusto – think of them more as a little teabag, but with coffee grounds in instead.

It means you don’t need to cope with the hassle of grinding your own beans, and you have a ready-made amount measured out for a single espresso. They are also referred to as paper pods or bags.

Here are our picks of the best ESE pods around.

Our Top Picks

Image Product Details
Black Donkey Coffee Roasters
  • Capacity: 50
  • Variety: Variety Pack, Intenso, Supremo, Decaf, Devil’s Roast
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Illy Classico Medium Espresso Coffee Paper Pods
  • Capacity: 18
  • Variety: Medium
Check Price
Illy Decaffeinated ESE Pods
  • Capacity: 2 x 18
  • Variety: Decaf
Check Price

The Best ESE Pods

1.
Black Donkey Coffee Roasters

Specifications

  • Capacity: 50
  • Variety: Variety Pack, Intenso, Supremo, Decaf, Devil’s Roast

Giving you 50 paper pods, which should be enough for 50 single servings, these pods are convenient and you’re able to pick the intensity you like.

There is 7g of espresso in each pod, which is good for one shot. With the variety pack, you get 25 Intenso and Supremo, which should both give you a real boost when needed (levels 9 and 8 respectively).

Each pod is individually wrapped for freshness, in a foil bag, so while there is more waste than with just using the grounds, you won’t be able to taste a difference.

Black Donkey is a brand who also make plenty of non-branded pods for the most popular pod machines, so you know that everything that goes into one of these will be quality.

Reasons to Buy

  • Options available
  • Great tasting coffee

2.
Illy Classico Medium Espresso Coffee Paper Pods

Specifications

  • Capacity: 18
  • Variety: Medium

Illy is perhaps the main market leaders of ESE compatible machines, so it is no surprise that they make the pods too.

These pods can be used in machines such as Francis Francis, Dualit 3-in-1, Dualit Express-Auto 4 in 1, Delonghi, Gaggia, Kitchenaid 5KES2102, Krups XP5210 and XP5620, Morphy Richards Accents Pebble, Saeco, and SMEG ECF01.

These medium roast bags have a distinct aroma of chocolate, toast and caramel. It is gentle, yet with strength. You get enough bags for 18 cups of coffee, and you just pop it in logo side up for ease.

They’re also available in a dark roast option for anyone who likes a real kick.

Reasons to Buy

  • Top coffee roaster
  • Compatible with host of machines

Reasons to Avoid

  • Price

3.
Note d’Espresso Espresso Coffee Paper Pods

Specifications

  • Capacity: 150
  • Variety: Medium

Get through an awful lot of coffee? This selection of 150 bags should keep you fueled up for a while.

There are hints of chocolate and nuts, with a full-body, and a long aftertaste. They’re made with Arabica from South America and Robusta from India, for a perfect blend of both worlds.

Some people say that this coffee is not quite as strong as a lot of the other paper bags on offer, so we would say it is best for anyone who likes a mild intensity. You also have to ensure you put the pods in the correct way up, or you will just end up with a cup of water.

Reasons to Buy

  • Good price

Reasons to Avoid

  • Can struggle in some machines

4.
Lavazza Qualita Rossa ESE Espresso

Specifications

  • Capacity: 18
  • Variety: Intensity 5

These pods are really nice and smooth to drink, as you would expect from this brand. If you are already a fan of Lavazza coffee, then you won’t be let down.

The combination of natural Brazilian Arabica and Robusta is what makes the red variety so special and stand out. It is balanced yet full-bodied and will be the closest thing your ESE machine brings you to a proper coffee shop.

Reasons to Buy

  • Nice and intense
  • Tastes fresh

Reasons to Avoid

  • Price

5.
Illy Decaffeinated ESE Pods

Specifications

  • Capacity: 2 x 18
  • Variety: Decaf

Sometimes, you just don’t need the boost, but still want a nice cup of something warm to help you settle down with a book.

These decaf bags bring you all of the joy and taste of the traditional illy coffee, but with a lot less of the caffeine. Just place them with the logo facing upwards, then make espresso as you would normally.

Many refer to them as the best decaf coffee pods they have found, and while there aren’t that many around to compete, it is still high praise.

It can be hard to find decaf paper pods in the shops, so stock up.

Reasons to Buy

  • Same great taste

Reasons to Avoid

  • Information is printed in Italian

6.
Aromataste ESE Coffee Pods

Specifications

  • Capacity: 150
  • Variety: Medium Roast

You get 150 paper pods in this bag, which is great news if you are a household of coffee lovers and could do without the extra mess which using grounds can bring.

It is wood-fire roasted coffee, so is a really strong ‘nature’ taste. This may seem strange, but it was a method used for over 1,000 years before gas and electricity came along, and the oak wood imparts a natural sweetness to the coffee that cannot be achieved using other methods of roasting.

Each pod is individually wrapped for freshness, and packaged in a protective atmosphere. They are great value for money to say you get 150, and while it won’t be the best coffee you will have ever tasted, it ain’t bad at all.

Reasons to Buy

  • Huge box
  • Price

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not very strong

7.
Pellini Top 100% Arabica Coffee Pods

Specifications

  • Capacity: 108
  • Variety: Light Roast

Suitable for all 44mm machines, these 6 x 18 pods will not only keep you going for a while, but it also means that you don’t have to open the whole lot at once.

The coffee isn’t too strong, which is great for anybody who just likes a mellow flavour. Pellini coffee is commonly used in coffee shops around the world, so each bag contains decent stuff.

There is 7g of coffee in there, which is enough for one shot, and they come in at a great price for the amount and quality.

ESE Pod Buying Guide

Pod Size

For the majority of ESE machines, the paper pod will have to be 44mm. All of those featured above fall into this category.

As long as you have a suitable portafilter, you should be good to go.

Capacity

Each paper pod will make one espresso shot, as they contain 7g of coffee. So, think about how often you will use them, and how many you will need before you next make an online order.

There are some which come in boxes of 18, and others where you can get 150 bags, but like with everything else, the smaller the box the better the quality will likely be. You may prefer to buy a few from a brand like illy or Lavazza than risk a big, value box from a brand you aren’t familiar with.

Variety

This will usually be a roast level, which may fall under a certain name depending on the brand. Light, medium and dark are often available, but do bear in mind that they are often weaker than using ground coffee so you may want to take things up a level.

FAQs

Where can I buy ESE pods?

Online will be your best option. Sites such as Amazon, Garraway’s and Next Day Coffee have a good selection.

Finding them in stores may be a bit hit and miss as seeing they are not the most popular form of coffee, but you should still be able to find them in the likes of Aldi and Lidl where there is an excellent collection of coffee variations.

What types of coffee machine take ESE pods?

Easy Serve Espresso pods are accepted in espresso machines. You may be wondering how they are used, then? Well, they fit into the portafilter, and you then just use this as normal. The water will pour through the bag, bringing out the coffee.

Popular brands which make dedicated ESE machines include illy, Francis Francis, and Smeg.

Can I use an ESE pod in a Dolce Gusto, Nespresso or Tassimo machine?

No. These brands use dedicated hard pods, so the foil is pierced allowing the water to run through. They will not work with ESE pods and trying to use one will likely break your machine.

If you have not yet bought a coffee machine and know you want a pod option for convenience, an actual pod machine may be the best option. But if you already have an espresso machine, or know you will regularly use it as normal, it could be worth investing and buying some ESE pods when you just want a quick brew.

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